Showing posts with label communicate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label communicate. Show all posts

10 May 2012

Groups of two or three

< Church is a network | Index | Groups of six to twenty >

Groups of just two or three have benefits and limitations. They are the smallest possible forms of church life and may develop spontaneously. They are powerful in communicating.

Groups of two or threeLast time we saw that there's only one church and it consists of a web of rich, multiple connections. At the smaller, local scale we are typically involved mostly with a particular group of some size.

If you are part of a larger church group I strongly recommend you also consider meeting regularly on a much smaller scale with no more than one or two others. If this is new to you, you'll find the dynamics and depth of sharing completely different.

The new partner (or partners) don't need to come from your larger circle such as a cell group or local congregation. In many ways it's better if they don't. If you are a Baptist why not meet with an Anglican and someone from a home church? All of you will broaden your horizons. Information will begin to flow through you between those larger groups which might otherwise have little or no interaction. These are significant benefits.

Another advantage of such small groups is that it's possible to meet daily. If you choose to try this you might like to keep the meetings very brief. Church of Two (CO2) is one suitable pattern for groups of two or three and requires about five minutes per person.

There's really only one important requirement, and it's this - the people in your group of two or three must be friends. Either you will start meeting with an existing friend or two, or you will need to become good friends.

What happens if a fourth person wants to join, or a fifth or sixth? The level of intimacy is eroded and the dynamics of the group will change. But there's a very simple way to avoid this. Instead of creating a group of four, one of the original three can help the newcomer by forming another group of two. When a third member is added, the helper returns to their original group. Alternatively the helper might become temporarily or permanently part of both groups.

Groups of two or three often form naturally. Let me tell you a story from my own life.

Ten or eleven years ago I began meeting at home with my sister and one or two other friends. Sometimes there would be just two of us, other times as many as six or seven. Gradually, as others joined us, we began to meet as two separate groups in different towns as this reduced our travelling needs.

Later, I was temporarily part of a small evangelical fellowship that was considering its future. In the end the decision was made to close down. As a result of meeting with them I became friendly with  Jim. Jim invited me to his home where he was regularly meeting with Sean one evening each week, we would chat about life, read and discuss the Bible, and pray together. We still meet like this, we are church expressed as a group of three men. A while later, Jim joined River Church in the town, but the three of us continued meeting as before.

I have also been meeting with Paul and Roger once a week during the daytime. at first for CO2, these days more for Bible study.  And I meet regularly with Sean, just the two of us. We have focussed at different times on hearing the Lord, outreach, and much more.

A couple of years ago I began going along to my wife's small group, part of Open Door. I'm not a member of Open Door but I'm very involved with the small group, it currently has around a dozen people each week.

Because I am part of all these groups I have connections through them to Open Door, River Church and more. I enjoy meeting in all these ways but the deepest and most intimate times are usually with the very small groups - just two or three.

Here are some questions
  1. How well connected are you within your church?
  2. How well connected are you with people in other churches?
  3. What differences do you see between connecting individuals and connecting churches?
Please leave a comment below.

< Church is a network | Index | Groups of six to twenty >

05 March 2010

Climate change - An update

There is really no room for doubt that we are affecting the world's climate in a wide variety of harmful ways. BBC news item on the Met Offfice reportA new report from the Met Office finds the evidence has stacked up even more strongly since the IPCC report in 2007. Read the BBC's news item on the Met Office report.

There's more Met Office information on their climate change page. Well worth a look if you want to know more.

(This update is intended to add new information to my earrlier blog 'Climate change - Truth or deception?')

01 March 2010

Climate change - Truth or deception?

Most scientists are agreed, we have a serious problem on our hands. A typical glacierPossibly less severe than we fear but just as possibly more severe than we fear. Meanwhile there are plenty of sceptics who claim the data has been fixed or incorrectly analysed.

It's no good speculating and it's no good just crossing our fingers. We need to know whether the science is sound or not. It makes a difference. Do we need to stop releasing CO2 and methane or can we safely continue as we've been going?

Whichever side of the debate you are on, I strongly urge you to take a good look at Dan Satterfield's latest blog post. He has no doubt which side he is on. I agree with him and I really want to encourage everyone to read his post and its two main references and draw their own conclusions. This is one of the best posts on this topic that I have seen.

30 December 2009

Church of Two (CO2)

At the House2House Conference in Dallas in September, John White demonstrated Church of Two (CO2). Sharing an experienceWe all had a chance to try an aspect of it for ourselves, there and then. I was immediately convinced of the value of CO2 itself and of its constituent parts, SASHET and VIRKLER. Read more about CO2, SASHET, and VIRKLER on the CO2 Flyer.

In early December I began CO2 with a house church friend, Sean. After the first week we were clear that we very much wanted to continue, and after three weeks we both agree that our relationship with one another and our relationships with the Lord are deepening noticeably.

Because we can't meet face-to-face every day we decided to use Google Wave as our primary CO2 channel and I can tell you it works very well indeed. It's much better for this purpose than email. We create a new wave each day and we use clickable links to connect the days together, with an overall index to keep things organised. If we both happen to be online at the same time we can each see the other typing right on the screen. And when we're online at different times we can both add comments and make additions. Google Wave is a bit like email, instant messaging, and a wiki all rolled into one - but better than any of them alone.

Our experiences are similar to those reported by others commenting on 'Stories from the Revolution'. I had expected CO2 to be good, but it was trying it out for myself over a period of days that really convinced me. It's sometimes been difficult to keep going on a daily basis, but it is so worth the effort. My advice - don't give up, keep on keeping on and you will benefit.

Even if you don't have a partner for CO2, I would recommend doing the VIRKLER and SASHET exercises on your own each day. You will still see some useful benefit. But working in pairs or small groups will amplify the value greatly.

VIRKLER (particularly the hearing and journaling aspects) has deepened my awareness of the Lord's constant presence in my life.

SASHET has brought us closer to one another in mutual understanding, respect and trust.

As we pray with and for one another in the light of hearing the Lord's direction to each of us, I'm fully convinced we'll be led into church life and sharing the gospel in ways we could hardly have imagined at first.

In mid December I shared the idea of CO2 with the Christian Union at work and this is likely to lead to at least one more pair. Then this morning I did a first CO2 session with Paul, a friend from a different local gathering, and we'll try it for a week. I also expect to demonstrate CO2 to a group of friends some miles further west. And finally there's an opportunity opening up to begin sharing CO2 with a friend in the USA.

CO2 is not an end in itself. It is, however, a really useful framework for hearing from the Lord and at the same time developing broader and deeper relationships between individuals. In this way it stimulates spiritual growth and can act as both a building block for church and a platform for sharing the gospel. What a versatile tool!

Note: For a more recent update on CO2 see my article at 'All About Jesus'.

09 November 2009

What, Lord?

This is a message from four years ago, a message from the prime mover behind this universe to one of his children. Lacy Haugan I think it's just awesome. The King of Kings wants to make us aware that he has something to say to us. The initiative is his, not ours. Sometimes we go to him with requests, sometimes we'd do better to listen and let him speak.

I won't say any more, the words that Lacy wrote four years ago speak most eloquently for themselves.

Here's a link to Lacy's blog where the words were originally shared.

There have been a number of times in my life with God when I have been just going about my daily business, and all of a sudden I feel this strong tugging that just won't go away. Like a child pulling on my shirt, or someone tapping their finger on my shoulder over and over. It's an obvious attempt to get my attention. And it happened this week.

I absoluetly love it when God does that. I mean how amazing is it that the God of all the universe (which fits neatly into His hand, by the way), the God who has access to billions of people on the planet, not to mention really cool heavenly beings to fellowship with - how amazing is it that this Person will tug on my shirt to get my attention.

I seem busy...He looks, He waits, He ponders...still busy...I wonder if she'll notice Me if I just lightly tap on her shoulder. Tap, tap, tap... She looks up briefly as if distracted from her work...then begins to type again. I know she is busy. I like the good work that she does. But just for a minute, maybe we could talk. Tug, tug, tug... She feels the pull and slowly finds a stopping place in her work. Tap, tap, tap... And then she realizes: it's Him. A deep breath and a rushing in her heart, and then she asks smiling, "What, Lord?"

And that's when it happens. He shares things that I know are what He wants, because He brought it up, not me. He shares His heart, His desires, His true thoughts. I have not convinced Him of something this time, I have not begged for it, I have not schemed up the idea myself, for it was He who pursued me to talk. Amazing. Simply amazing that God Himself has things on His heart that He wants to share with me. Even more amazing that He will seek me out to do that.

And when I feel that tug, that gentle yet increasingly more persistent tap on my shoulder (I actually feel it in my stomach, not on my shoulder), my heart races with delight, fear, and excitement. For the things that He says these times are the kind that often require action, faith, and getting out into my risk zone.

Tap on me, Lord. Tug on me. And interrupt me from my work. I long to be sought after by You. I long to know what is on Your heart to share. Tug on me.

Thanks to Lacy for writing this down and sharing it on line, and to the Holy Spirit for dictating it.

25 October 2009

A word from Yahshua

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 October 2009

Testing Google Wave

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

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

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

Using Wave like email - 9:25 am

Hi everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you guys think?


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

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

'Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.' - Winston Churchill (

Chris Jefferies (St Neots, UK)

06 July 2009

His Church and His Heart

I wrote the following text and posted it on the Relational Christianity website almost four years ago. The original postYou can still find it there.

It provoked little interest, but the Spirit impressed upon me at the time that 'it will return to you and then you will know that its purpose has been fulfilled'. I thought this had happened two years ago though now I'm not so sure.

But Frank Viola's book 'From Eternity to Here' and 'The Jesus manifesto' (written with Leonard Sweet) have made me wonder if now is the time.

For that reason I'm republishing it. The text is covered by Creative Commons copyright but free for anyone to copy, edit, and republish.

Christ's love for the Church

Perhaps these words are a wake-up call to the Church. Turn away from worldly ways, put all your energies into just loving Christ - it really is that simple. For all those who read it and understand it, this letter is a challenge. It is a call for real and lasting change in the way we 'do' church. The focus must shift from adherence to traditions, structures, and practices to merely loving the one who says, 'I will build my Church'. Does his Church love and trust the King more, or does she love and trust the World more? She can't choose both, it has to be one or the other.

A Letter to the Church – His words

My dear people, I love you so very much and I know the love that you have for me as individuals. But I have to explain to you that it's not enough that you love me as individuals, I also need to feel the warmth of my Bride's embrace, I need to see her eyes filled with adoration and love for me. The Church is greatly loved yet she's estranged from me, and I want you to know and understand how I feel.

When you are far away from someone you love there is a deep longing in your heart, a sadness, an incompleteness, a hollow emptiness. And when the one you love is devoted to someone else, then your heart truly grieves. Every thought, every movement, every sight and sound is changed to heaviness and sadness and yearning. And that's how I feel towards the Church.

How can this be?

My Beloved, my Church, my Bride-to-be, where are you? How can you be so far from me? Who has stolen you from me? It is the World that has stolen away my Beloved. Every day she gazes lovingly into the eyes of the World, she walks in the World's ways, talks with the World, rejoices in the World's companionship.

I am grieving for my Bride-to-be. Every moment of every day I think of you and long to be with you, but you don't hear my voice calling. My love goes out but doesn't return to me, my heart aches to be close to my beloved, but she gazes into the eyes of another. I want to walk with you, talk with you, hold your hand, spend each day with you. But my Beloved prefers the company of another. Now do you see how I feel?

Ah, what pain you cause me. How you wound my heart as with a knife. I watch you pass by, hand-in-hand with another. I see you talking and laughing with the World, planning your life with the World. How I long to be close to you, but you are already close to the World. How I long to see you smile at me, and laugh with me – but you smile and laugh with the World. I want to take you to my favorite places and show you all the wonders of creation along the way, but all the time you are walking with another.

Now do you see how I grieve over my Beloved, and why? To understand, to truly understand, you must see how the tears rise in my eyes, feel the wretched hollowness that fills my being, know how I yearn and yearn to gather you to myself.

I will never tear you from the world. Love cannot do such a thing because love does not coerce or demand. Love will only wait in desperate hope, broken-hearted and full of emptiness. I need to show you this, you need to understand how I feel even though it will be no more than the merest hint of what is in my heart.

I am calling you to turn away from the World and return to me. I am calling you, my Church, to stop and retrace your steps.

I am calling you to hear and obey my guiding and leading voice, not the voices of men and women. Turn away from every method, every technique, every system and turn instead to me for I am the Source, the Truth, the Light, and the Life. Above all I am Love. Look into my eyes and see yourself reflected there for I am always gazing upon you.

Don't misunderstand what I say, there are many individuals who love me, walk with me, and dance with me. I love you as individuals, but I also love the whole and it is of the whole Church that I speak here. The fullness of my desire is for my Church. I will dance with her, my Bride, my Beloved. I will rejoice in her when she returns my love, but until then I will walk in pain and anguish as she gazes into the eyes of the World.

Some further thoughts – Merely my words

We must track back before the House Church, back, back before the Charismatic Renewal, back even before the Pentecostal Azusa Street outpourings. We must retrace our steps back before the Methodists, before the Puritans, before Martin Luther. Back, back, back, before Paul wrote his letters, before the events of Acts. Right back to Calvary where our Lord poured out his very life in love.

And when we arrive back at that point of beginning, then and only then can we see the Church stripped of all her love for the World. Why? Because love of the World began to creep in right there, right after the beginning. Just as, in the Garden of Eden, love of the World crept in right at the completion of creation, so in the Garden of Gethsemane it began to creep in at the completion of the work of redemption. We see it even before Love gave himself up to death, we see it in Peter's use of the sword. We see it later in Peter's denial. We see it in Ananias and Sapphira, in the divided Corinthians, in the foolish Galatians.

Now is the time for the Church to throw off her love of the World, and to turn to Christ who loves her and aches unceasingly for her love in return. He demands her undivided attention, He will accept nothing less.

What does this mean in practice? It means we must stop working for Christ and instead just love him and let him begin working in us. It means we must stop looking for the latest book, and listening to the finest teaching; instead we must look into his eyes and listen to his sweet voice as he teaches us and reveals his purpose. There are many who already know him as a personal Saviour and friend, now the Church as a whole must come to her Lord as Saviour and friend. Do you see the distinction between the many and the one? Although he loves us greatly as individuals, his best and finest is saved for pouring out on his Bride, the Church, in her wholeness. But this can only happen when she turns to him and walks with him along the paths he will choose.

Come, Church of Christ, come. Turn and see his love upon you and respond. Receive his love, dance with him, rejoice in him, make him glad. He is waiting for you, patiently and in great pain.

Chris Jefferies – August 2005

This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution License. To view a copy of this licence, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

26 June 2009

Friendfeed as a personal hub

Spyros Heniadis, writing on his blog about Facebook and Twitter, makes some very good points as he compares and contrasts the value these two giants have for him. FriendfeedHe finds Facebook less than totally appealing, and he finds Twitter much more useful that it might appear at first sight. (And Twitter's raging success must have some basis other than sheer fadness.)

I agree with Spyros, I have a lot of friends (real ones almost entirely) on Facebook but I don't spend nearly enough time there to keep up with all the stuff they post. And the Facebook applications mostly drive me mad with their inane and persistent in-your-faceness. I always click the 'Ignore this request' button with a slightly guilty feeling of having 'jilted' someone I care about.

And I agree with his remarks about Twitter too. It took me a long, long time to understand it, but now that I do I'm beginning to appreciate it. I also use Friendfeed - a lot. If you want to see how, just visit my stream.

You'll notice it contains posts from Twitter, Delicious, Moblog and many more. All of them are added automatically whenever I post to those sites. And when I write an item on my blog Friendfeed picks that up and adds it for me too along with all those other sources. And I can fill in my 'status' on Friendfeed just as I would on Facebook or Twitter. All the output from Friendfeed can appear in Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else I like without me lifting a finger or striking a key. I love it!

It's well worth a try. Like Twitter it's really simple and very easy to use.

16 June 2009

Eyewitness report from Tehran

This is an eyewitness account of the events in Tehran on 15th June 2009. It was posted on Facebook, Street protest in Tehranwhere you can read the original version.

In case you can't see the Facebook copy, here it is in full...

I left my home in Tajrish along with my family at 3 p.m. We went down Valiast Street which is the main northern-southern avenue in Tehran and entered the Evin Exp'way which leads to Enghelab Street. We knew that people are supposed to gather in Enghelab Sq. (Revolution Sq.) at 4 and march toward Azadi Sq. (Freedom Sq.). From Gisha Bridge onwards, we saw people walking down. Cars were blowing their horns and people were showing victory sign. We went to Navvab Street and parked our car at the end of the street. Then we took a taxi to bring us back to the Enghelab Street. On our way, near Jomhouri Sq. (Republic Sq.), I saw a group of about 20 militia with long beards and batons on motorbikes. My hand was out of the car window with a little green ribbon (the sign of reformists) around my finger. One of the militia told me to throw that ribbon away. I showed him a finger. All of a sudden, about 15 people attacked me inside the car. They beat me with their batons and wanted to pull me out. My wife and my daughter who were sitting in the back seat cried and hold me tight. I also hold myself tight on the chair. They wanted to shatter the car windows. The driver went out and explained that he is a taxi and we are his passengers and he has no fault. After about 5 minutes,they left. My elbow hurts severely. Then, a young man from their group came and kissed my elbow! I told him: You know, I don't hate you. I am like you with the only difference that I know more and you are ignorant. He apologized and left.

We joined the crowd in Enghelab Street.

Read carefully:

What I saw today was the most elegant scene I had ever witnessed in my life. The huge number of people were marching hand in hand in full peace. Silence. Silence was everywhere. There was no slogan. No violence. Hands were up in victory sign with green ribbons. People carried placards which read: Silence. Old and young, man and woman of all social groups were marching cheerfully. This was a magnificent show of solidarity. Enghelab Street which is the widest avenue in Tehran was full of people.

I was told that the march has begun in Ferdowsi Sq. and the end of the march was now in Imam Hossein Sq. to the further east of Tehran while on the other end people had already gathered in Azadi Sq. The length of this street is about 6 kilometers. The estimate is about 2 million people. On the way, we passed a police department and a militia (Baseej) base. In both places, the doors were closed and we could see fully-armed riot police and militia watching the people from behind the fences. Near Sharif University of Technology where the students had chased away Ahmadinejad a few days ago, Mirhossein Mousavi (the reformist elect president) and Karrubi (the other reformist candidate spoke to people for a few minutes which was received by cries of praise and applause. I felt proud to find myself among such a huge number of passionate people who were showing the most reasonable act of protest. Frankly, I didn't expect such a political maturity from emotional Iranians who easily get excited. My family and I had put stickers on our mouths to represent the suppression. Placards that people carried were different; from poems by the national poet Ahmad Shamlu to light-hearted slogans against Ahmadinejad. Examples include: " To slaughter us/ why did you need to invite us / to such an elegant party" (Poem by Shamlu). " Hello! Hello! 999? / Our votes were stolen" or " The Miracle of the Third Millenium: 2 x 2 = 24 millions" (alluding to the claim by Government that Ahmadinejad obtained 24 million votes) , "Where is my vote?" , " Give me back my vote" and many other.

We arrived in Azadi Square where the entire square was full of population. It is said that around 500,000 people can be accommodated in this huge square and it was full. Suddenly we saw smoke from Jenah Freeway and heard the gunshot. People were scared at first but then went forward. I just heard the gunshots but my sister who had been on the scene at that part told me later that she saw 4 militia came out from a house and shot a girl. Then they shot a young boy in his eye and the bullet came out of his ear. She said that 4 people were shot. At least one person dead has been confirmed. People arrested one of the Baseeji militia but the three others ran away when they ran out of bullet. At around 8 we went back on foot. On the way back people were still in the street and were chanting Allah Akbar (God is Great).

I was coming home at around 2 a.m. In parkway, I saw about ten buses full of armed riot police parked on the side of the street. Then I saw scattered militia in civil clothes with clubs in hand patroling the empty streets. In Tajrish Square, I saw a very young boy (around 16) with a club who was looking at the cars to see if he can find something to attack. I don't know how and under what teachings can young boys change into militia.

I came home. Tomorrow, people will gather again in Valiasr Square for another peaceful march toward the IRIB building which controls all the media and which spreads filthy lies. The day before Yesterday, Ahmadinejad had hold his victory ceremony. Government buses had transported all his supporters from nearby cities. There was full coverage of that ceremony where fruit juice and cake was plenty. A maximum of 100,000 had gathered to hear his speech. These included all the militia and the soldiers and all supporters he could gather by the use of free TV publicity. Today, at least 2 million came only relying on word of mouth while reformists have no newspaper, no radio, no TV. All their internet sites are filtered as well as social networks such as facebook. Text messaging and mobile communication was also cut off during the demonstration. Since yesterday, the Iranian TV was announcing that there is no license for any gathering and riot police will severely punish anybody who may demonstrates. Ahmadinejad called the opposition as a bunch of insignificant dirt who try to make the taste of victory bitter to the nation. He also called the western leaders as a bunch of "filthy homosexuals". All these disgusting remarks was today answered by that largest demonstration ever. Older people compared the demonstration of today with the Ashura Demonstration of 1979 which marks the downfall of the Shah regime and even said that it outnumbered that event.

The militia burnt a house themselves to find the excuse to commit violence. People neutralized their tactic to a large degree by their solidarity, their wisdom and their denial to enage in any violent act.

I feel sad for the loss of those young girls and boys. It is said that they also killed 3 students last night in their attack at Tehran University residence halls. I heard that a number of professors of Sharif University and AmirKabir University (Tehran Polytechnic) have resigned.

Democracy is a long way ahead. I may not be alive to see that day. With eyes full of tear in these early hours of Tuesday 16th June 2009, I glorify the courage and bravery of those martyrs and I hope that their blood will make every one of us more committed to freedom, to democracy and to human rights.

Viva Freedom, Viva Democracy, Viva Iran

05 March 2009

Report from Chepstow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 February 2009

Multi-authored blog, anyone?

I'd like to be part of a larger Christian blog. Some of the most widely read and effective technical blogs put out five or more posts daily. Editing a blog postBut individual bloggers post daily or less, often much less. Here on The Scilla Blog I'm doing well to manage a post every week, recently the rate is down to barely once a month. In some cases, multi-authored blogs might be the answer.

Why are blogs with frequent posts more widely read?

Quantity or quality? - OK, it's not all about quantity. The best blogs are those that combine good quality material on interesting topics with multiple posts daily. One of the places this is done to good effect is in the area of electronics, computing, and technical stuff.

Take a look at the blogs listed below. Even if you're not interested in the topics, take a quick look and get a feel for the quality and sheer quantity of the items.
Clearly, this is much more effort than one writer can produce.

Most of the really successful blogs are run by companies or societies. Possibly a very enthusiastic full-time writer might make a brave attempt, but most of us have day jobs, families, education, as well as homes and gardens to care for. To populate a blog with, say, five posts each and every day would need 35 people each posting once a week.

A shared blog - So what I'm asking is twofold. First, can any of my readers recommend a good, multi-authored Christian blog that I could join. And secondly, if nothing suitable already exists, is there anyone out there that would like to share in setting one up?

I'm looking for a blog that focuses on wholesome, interesting comment covering world news concerning the Church, teaching items, reports on meetings and conferences and so forth. I'd prefer it to be open to all points of view but failing that, primarily supportive of house church, organic church, simple church (whatever you call it). But above all it absolutely must be honouring to Christ and giving him the glory in everything.

I've tried hunting for something of this sort online, but I've drawn a blank so far. There's a website called blogs4God that seemed a good place to start, but it doesn't quite hit the spot. Am I too fussy?

Why The Scilla Blog? - When I started The Scilla Blog I intended to post material that would be of interest to a wide audience, I just wanted to post about all my interests. I hoped that someone interested in astronomy might discover that archaeology is fascinating too, that a photographer might find a new insight into Christianity, that local people might find out more about the internet. But now I'm feeling the need to be part of something much more focused, something that I know I can't do on my own.

I don't plan to stop posting to Scilla, but I'd like to be posting elsewhere too - but not on my own. Most of all I'm looking for a place where I can post when I'm inspired to do so even if that means three times in two days and then not at all for an entire month.

21 December 2008

The Drew Marshall Show

Drew Marshall presents a Christian chat show in Canada. He has the most amazing guests and some truly extraordinary conversations. The Drew Marshall Show
And most of them are available online, not only live but as a library of MP3 files for download.

I encourage you to go and listen.

As a starter you might like to try one or more of these...

Drew has such a wonderful, relaxed, jokey yet serious manner. He puts everyone at ease and his guests just settle down and talk openly and easily. Despite his chilled manner, Drew asks some very direct questions and expects straightforward answers. This is radio interviewing at its best.

But to see the full breadth of the interviews you need to go to the show's website and browse around a bit. Once there, click the 'Listen' button just below the banner and you'll find a page for each year. Each of these pages is filled with interview notes and links to MP3s, you'll need to scroll and scroll to see it all.

The files are added to the website once a week, six or seven days after each show goes out.

Hint: Do you have to drive to work every weekday? Many of us do. Download some of the MP3s, load them onto an MP3 player or cut them to CD and listen as you drive. The journey will fly by, I guarantee it.

28 November 2008

Look, no connection!

You are in a remote African village, in the middle of Antarctica, on a small Scottish island miles from the nearest town. You have no mains power, no internet connection, no phone connection - not even mobile coverage. SolarNetOne serverYou need to provide full internet and Wi-Fi services to hundreds of people.

How can it be done? Read on!

One solution is SolarNetOne, designed and built specifically for the purpose.

It uses a solar panel and battery system to provide a reliable long-term source of energy, and a low-power server using a satellite connection to access the internet. Internet cafe service is based on a client server system as this reduces the power requirements, and Wi-Fi coverage over a two mile radius is included so anyone with their own computing system and power supply can connect to the internet very simply.

SolarNetOne really is a complete solution.

Zee M kane writes...
SolarNetOne is a collaborative effort spanning several continents, organizations, and technical disciplines. The goal of the effort is to develop a feasible, sustainable solution to bring the internet to places that have no connectivity, no phone service and no electricity.

Developed by Florida based GNUveau, the system is a solar-powered Internet “hub” (running Ubuntu GNU/Linux). The terminals includes access to web browsing, email, voip, office, multimedia, software development and web development tools as well as 15,000 other applications. Wifi coverage spans a 2-mile radius, with no fuel costs, no polluting emissions and a long lifespan of up to 20 years with proper maintenance. The entire system, in fact, operates on about the same amount of power as a 100-watt light bulb, GNUveau says.

It's not the most elegant approach in terms of appearance, but much more significantly it's robust and readily maintainable and consumes only 100 W of power. The entire system can be delivered in a single small van (if there are adequate roads). The small bulk means delivery by small aircraft or boat would also be possible.

The guy behind all this is Scott Johnson. Well done Scott, you get my vote! This is real, practical help to people who need it. Katsina State University in Nigeria is already benefitting. Hopefully many more installations will follow.

For more information take a look at the following resources.

28 September 2008

Golden threads

Connections between believers are like braided bands (actions, conversations, thoughts etc). Most of the threads are made of ordinary brown or grey cord, but woven in among them is a golden thread which is the Lord's presence. KingfisherWe need to ignore all the worldly threads and search out the golden one!

As we grow, do more and more threads of gold replace those worldly cords? They should! The bands hold us together and the golden thread, weaving this way and that, touches each of the worldly threads, again and again.

I think this idea came out of one of our meetings, though I can't be sure. Whatever its origin, I jotted it down as something to develop as a blog post. So here goes.

The idea is that as we live in relationship with one another, much of the traffic between us is the stuff of normal life. We talk about family issues, our children, our jobs, places we have visited, things we have done. We talk about the weather, politics, what we have grown in the garden, recipes we have tried, the car, the dog, TV, a new song at church. This is normal. It's the conversation of the world.

But in amongst it there are threads we did not put there. Threads that have come from heaven.

It's not just a matter of words, the same is true of what we do or fail to do. We express ourselves to one another by our actions as much or more than by what we say. Whether in word or in deed, such golden threads were visible most clearly in the life of Yahshua as he interacted with his followers and with the religious and government authorities of his day.

Fishermen - Let's look at a few examples. The first one is very simple, Yahshua was walking beside Galilee and saw two men casting a fishing net. He must have seen this often before, yet on this occasion he said, 'Come with me - I'll make you fishers of men'. And they just dropped their nets and followed him (Matthew 4:18-20). In amongst the everyday things of walking along the shoreline, casting nets, and friendly conversation comes this golden thread moment. There is a spark of otherness here, a flash of spiritual life. The Master speaks the words the Father gives him, and the hearers respond as he knew they would. Words like this do not come from human intellect, they come straight from the mind of Yahweh.

These moments are like the blue flash of a darting Kingfisher seen out of the corner of your eye - gone again before you can pay proper attention to it. Although you didn't see it clearly, you know that something significant happened and you hold your breath in wonder.

Loving enemies? - Here's another example, from Matthew 5:43-48. 'But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.'

Once again we sense a golden, heavenly thread. There's an other-worldliness about the idea of loving our enemies. How could that arise in ordinary, worldly conversation? It's the wisdom of another place, sheer foolishness to humans. Yet if we live this way it reveals us to be the children of the Most High!

New testament letters - The four gospels are full of such threads, and Paul and the other writers explain the principles in their letters. See for example Ephesians 3:7-13 where we learn that 'the gift of the Almighty's grace' is involved. Paul says he explains 'unsearchable riches' - how can anyone share what is unsearchable? Only when a higher power acts where we cannot. How otherwise could anyone make a mystery plain? How can Paul's sufferings be for the Ephesian's glory? Do you see strands of heavenly gold here? They are inexplicably woven into the lives both of Paul and his Ephesian readers.

So what of our lives today? - Yes, these golden moments still happen for those who have faith in Yahshua. The Kingdom of Heaven touches believers in just the same way it did in New Testament times. The illogical logic of eternity, the foolish wisdom of the Most High, these invade our hearts and minds and change us forever.

It's merely a matter of moving our attention away from the mud beneath our feet, the earthy worldliness of the river bank, and looking up to see the living water flowing in the river, the Temple which is its source, and the Glory of the Almighty that surrounds us. He is with us (Emmanuel) and he fills us, there are golden strands running everywhere in our lives. And we recognise them every time we catch the flash of one of those golden moments.

Sometimes it's a sudden insight, sometimes it's a word spoken in a meeting, sometimes it's a certainty or an assurance that wells up in the most difficult circumstances. But the golden threads are always there.

Just read Paul's words as he writes to the church in Philippi 2000 years ago (Philippians 2:13-16). They're just as true for us today as they were for the Philippian believers.

The Almighty is at work in you to bring about his good purpose in your lives. Do everything without grumbling or arguing so you may be blameless and pure and become Yahweh's own offspring without fault in a twisted, ruined age. You shine like the stars in the heavens as you offer to others the word of life.

22 July 2008

MIT's Simile

MIT stands for 'Massachusetts Institute of Technology', right? That's widely known.

But what does Simile stand for? If you don't already know you will never guess, it stands for 'Semantic Interoperability of Metadata and Information in unLike Environments'.

Sooo... why exactly am I interested in this? It has something to do with my day job.

A portion of that day job is hunting for useful technology for the web development team I'm part of, we create intranet websites for Unilever. The thing is, MIT's Simile project 'seeks to enhance inter-operability among digital assets' and is 'fully committed to the open source principles of software distribution and open development'. To put this another way, they develop some very cool applications that work together and they release them for use and adaptation by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose.

The application that first caught my eye is called 'Timeline' and it is amazing. The code is stored on MIT's servers so there's nothing to install and download. The data is stored locally as an XML file. If you're not a techie person and you're still following along, just take a look at a couple of their example timelines, one on religions, the other on dinosaurs. They are so cool. Just drag them sideways with the mouse.

The other applications are good too, if you develop websites many of these may be a perfect way of making your site truly impressive, just by embedding stuff the way you would with Google Maps or You Tube.
  • Timeline - timeline generator, described above.
  • Timeplot - is a similar application but generates time series graphs from the data.
  • Exhibit - displays data as presentation graphics.
  • Gadget - summarises large XML datasets.
  • Welkin - displays data in mathematical graph form.
  • Fresnel - is a developers' tool, a vocabulary.
And there are many other projects and services available, just take a look at the Simile home page.

Quite apart from the effectiveness of the individual offerings and the fact that they are free to use, the Simile project showcases how web components should be designed and built. Congratulations and thanks to MIT and to everyone working on aspects of the Simile project.

18 July 2008

What's the purpose of the Scilla blog?

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Most blogs focus on a particular topic, but this one covers all sorts of topics. One reason for this is that to post enough items to keep a blog interesting takes time. Posting to two or three more focused blogs would take two or three times as much effort, otherwise they would be updated two or three times less often.

I have lots of interests, lots of stuff to share. I want this blog to reflect real life, I want it to be a way for my friends to keep track of what I do and also perhaps an introduction to areas of my life they might know little about.

Do you compartmentalise your life? I do. Not deliberately, but when I'm with scientists we talk science, when I'm with Christians we talk faith, when I'm with photographers we talk about images. It's natural. To help you I've provided a tag cloud at the top of the left hand column, click on topics that interest you and you will only see posts on those topics.

Over the next few days I plan to begin posting brief introductions to each of those topic areas explaining why I'm interested, what it involves, and how it affects my life. These are not going to be technical posts, they'll be light and easy to follow - for anyone. I promise!

Have you ever thought that there must be connections between all the different things you do? If in no other way they are linked because they're all things you enjoy, or else you do them because something else about your life demands it. Either way, there's a link.

I'll try to draw out some of the links I see as I go along. Some are clearly linked, like astronomy and photography, or photography and garden, or transport and environment. But what about garden and persecution?

I plan to work through in alphabetical order so I'll be starting with astronomy and working right through to underground church.

These posts will be interspersed with others. There are bound to be items just waiting to be written on a host of other things.

Watch this space...

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05 October 2004

Why not come and join us? (KN)

A Small Town CommunityIf you are enjoying the items on this blog, maybe you'd also enjoy discussing matters of relationship on the Koinonia Life Discussion Forum.

The list centres on how we share our lives as believers, how we relate to one another, and how together and individually, we relate to the Messiah. These are interesting topics and are at the heart of what it means to be a part of his body here on earth.

Of course, talking about these things in itself gets us nowhere. We must live the life, not just chat about it! But for those who are living the life (or trying to), a chance to bounce ideas around and hear the opinions and experiences of others can be liberating and helpful.

The group is a friendly and encouraging place where people try to help one another. The objective is to avoid argument and confrontation, but focus on building one another up in love.

If you want to know more, why not read the main information page at Koinonia Life and see what you think. If you want to join the list just click the 'Join This Group!' button at the top of the page to start the process.

Come on in and share with us, you'll be made very welcome!


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