20 May 2006

A new member of the family! (SQ)

Yesterday I met Meredith, my first grandaughter, indeed my very first grandchild. What an experience!

Meredith, aged 5 daysA grandchild is such a precious gift, new life. Even if I live to a very ripe old age I'm unlikely to be here for more than another forty years, but little Meredith may still be here in a hundred years time. OK, maybe that's not entirely likely - but it is possible and an awesome thought. What will the world be like in a hundred years time? We don't know, cannot know. Oh, there'll be a blue sky. Some days the sun will shine, some days it will rain. Volcanoes will erupt and earthquakes will rattle the land. People will fall in love, fight with each other, struggle with all sorts of problems, bring up children, complain they are short of time, starve to death, get excited when their team wins, die in accidents, win prizes, become famous.

But what will the world be like? Would someone born in 1906 have guessed in their wildest dreams that people would visit the moon, that I'd be typing this into a computer, or that this blog would be visible to almost anyone in the developed world within a fraction of a second of publication?

No, Meredith lives in a world we cannot predict except in the broadest terms. So broad that we must admit our ignorance. It was a heart-warming experience to hold her in my arms, to smell her milky breath, see her yawn and stretch. Meredith knows almost nothing of this world yet, but she is learning already. Sights, sounds, touch, taste, smell, all sending a meaningless jumble of signals to her little brain. Already it will be integrating and processing the input, recognising patterns and noting responses. How amazing, a human being in construction.

Within a mere couple of years she'll be walking and talking and understanding so much. Amazing! Maybe if I'm still blogging I'll post another photo in 2008.

And, wonder of wonders, another grandchild is expected in June so I shall get to see this early stage again and wonder at another new life.

I'll keep you posted!

08 November 2005

A photo gallery (SQ)

I've just added a photo gallery to the website. I could have built a gallery here on the site, but I chose to use Smugmug instead. Smugmug is just one of several good photo management tools available online, it's flexible and convenient, fast, and provides unlimited storage. I particularly value the way it automatically produces a series of image sizes, and it also makes uploading new images extremely easy and efficient.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I say it depends on the picture and it depends on the words! I hope these photos are worth something to you. I hope you enjoy viewing them and exploring them. Feel free to download them, modify them, print them, use them in websites or in any other way you wish for non-commercial purposes. Under the Creative Commons licence you must contact me if you'd like to use them commercially.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

I use Smugmug to store and manage my online photo collection because of its excellent facilities.

Visit the collection and browse around, there's probably something for everyone. The collection is small at the moment but I shall add more images as quickly as I can.

And while you're reading this I should mention the Wikimedia Commons. This marvellous website is a source of images available for anyone to use free of charge. Copyright information is provided for each image, but they're all available for personal use and many of them for other purposes too. Type a subject into the search bar (part way down the left-hand side of the page) and you'll usually be treated to a good number of relevant images.

It's a wonderful resource and it's getting better every day.

05 November 2005

The house church phenomenon (SQ)

Why do I call it a phenomenon? Because at heart I'm still a scientist (once a scientist, always a scientist) and every scientist knows that a phenomenon isn't something particularly amazing, it's just something that has happened and cries out to be analysed.

For some weeks now I've been reading about the Barna Report on house church meetings in the USA. There's been quite a lot of comment about it in the press, some of you may have noticed. (The Barna Organisation researches and reports on aspects of the church in America.)

One particular story in today's 'Daily News Record' made me think, it's called 'The Real Revolution Will Not Be Televised'. Considering how the institutional churches might respond, Luanne Austin suggests they should set up small meetings and market them in the same way companies target particular segments of the public. She writes...

You’re a Revolutionary. Real encounters with God just don’t happen on Sunday morning. They come from genuinely seeking and seeing God, every day of the week, in every action, interaction and transaction. You’ve never settled for the norm, the status quo. Trust that still small voice inside you. Look for God all around you, starting with one of our Tuesday night house gatherings.

Just remember, Jesus did say that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is there. What other resource does anyone need?

Well, yes, I agree - mostly. But can we 'trust the still, small voice' one moment and decide to 'start with one of [their] Tuesday night house gatherings' the next? I don't think so! It might be the right thing to do or it might not, but I need to let the still, small voice tell me.

The institutional church is going to muscle in on the house church. (If we can't beat them, let's take them over!) Fortunately it doesn't work that way. All over the world, not just in the USA, Father's people are meeting in small groups as and where the Holy Spirit leads them. These people realise that there's only one Leader to follow, only one Shepherd, and only one Church. Most of them will not be deflected or swallowed up. The people I worry about most are those already in larger organisations who may be drawn into yet another subtle counterfeit. Just the fact a garment has the right logo doesn't prove it's genuine, especially if it comes at a bargain price. Caveat emptor.

Getting started with the new blog (SQ)

I've been beavering away part-time on this new site for months. My old website is years old and looks it, this new one has all the tools I need to keep the content fresh and well-structured - at least I hope so!

First off is this blog. At the outset my idea is to comment on anything in life that strikes me as interesting or noteworthy. And the first noteworthy thing I can think of is that, well, here it is at last. A brand new, scarily empty blog. Come back in a few days time and see how I'm getting on. You can use an RSS or Atom feed to keep an eye on new entries (or you will be able to when I work out how to set it up), or you can just stop by from time to time. You will be most welcome.

Maybe, with winter coming on in the northern half of the globe, we can have some nice fireside chats.

(This was the first post to a new blog built using Squarespace. Hint - click the label 'sq' below to show only the Squarespace posts.)

13 October 2005

What do you see here? (KN)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well here's a new twist on that thought. I provide the picture, and you write some words!

Buildings and skyIt's not difficult, here's a small photo to work with. You can view a larger version in a separate window while you write your comment, or you can even download the full-size original. The photo is copyright but the terms allow you to use and reproduce it.

The idea is not just to write any old comment. Instead, look at the picture and ask yourself if it speaks to you about our heavenly Father, about the human condition, or about our relationships with him and with one another. Can you bring an encouraging message out of the picture?

Let me show you what I mean. The lower part of the picture is man-made, it rests on the earth, is grey, hard, and unchanging. The upper part of the photo is of the sky - it's not made by human effort, is owned by no-one, is not bound to the earth, and is gloriously colourful, bright, and changes moment by moment.

Go on, have a go, write a comment. It's not a spelling or grammar test, there are no right or wrong answers, and there's no prize except the prize of encouraging people and opening eyes and minds to the truth. Expand on my thoughts above, begin with new ideas of your own, or reply to other comments already present.

Thanks for your contribution, and may your words be a blessing to others.

(This was my final post to the Koinonia blog. Hint - click the topic 'kn' at the top of the page to show only the Koinonia posts.)

Comments copied from the original Chris Jefferies' Blog.

Comment from: Steph [Member] Email · http://www.es-creative.com
The commerce, machines, contructions of "man" cover the earth. The extent of the social constructions of human beings is so vast, it is often difficult to see the simple, raw beauty that God created when he spoke the world into existence. Alas! So many will look upon the social construction of reality and say "where is God?" Others will hang their heads low in disappointment and bemoan the loss of the Father's original imprint of LIFE upon the globe.

We, however, have the opportunity to "raise our eyes to the hills" and remember from "whence comes our help!" Every day the sun rises over the earth and the glory of the Lord is available to behold. If we would but search for Him as Song of Solomon's maiden searches for her lover, we would find Him. Look, over there, coming up out of the valley, "my Lover stands radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand!"

I see a similar picture of Christ when I view the above photo. He is steadfast, ready and wise, ever-beautiful, unchanged by human ideas or culture. He is the Alpha and Omega, the same yesterday, today, and always.

What a glorious reminder in that photo Chris. The "sun" remains and is always the diligent counter to anything that fails or corrupts here on earth. So much happiness and joy in life overflows or diminishes; it's all in what we choose to behold, isn't it?

14/10/05 @ 03:20

Comment from: Kay Harvey [Visitor]
The picture reminds me of the end of my daily labor to go home and retreat from the world of busyness, and rest with Him. Kay
19/10/05 @ 15:41

Comment from: Chris [Member] Email
Thanks for your comments, that's two very different thoughts so far, I think it shows how powerfully the universe displays the nature of the Almighty to those who have eyes to see.

I'm sure there's much more about him that could be mined from this image. Anyone else care to contribute?
20/10/05 @ 05:21

Comment from: jimp [Visitor]
Couldn't tell IF that was sun rising or sun setting.... don't matter for "from the rising of the Son to the going down of the same - the Lord's name is to be praised!~

and prasing Him is easy - in light of the cities that man's hands have framed - that pix w/ sun -reminds me and encourages to be ever vigilant - those cities we don't look for = we hold out for the city who's builder and marker is God! \O/


Good shot, Great reminder, ChrisJ
29/11/05 @ 18:33

Comment from: Robert Gillard [Visitor]
It's funny but didn't I read somewhere that God hates cities. After the flood, folks started builing cities and trusting in the walls to save them. These days cities divide people, get people mad, all cooped up together like rats in a cage. I remember some guy did experiments where he put lotsa rats, all jammed together, in a cage. they got mean and anti-social real quick. Sounds like a city... But that sky!! Look up your redemption draweth nigh. The Son (sun) of Righteousness has risen on you. A sky like that is best viewed from a desert. A dry and weary land where no water is. Thus have I beheld thee in the sanctuary. I've seen skies like that from my desert places and my heart leaps within me.
30/12/05 @ 03:31

Comment from: S. R. [Visitor]
The first scripture that came to mind (which seems odd) was "...open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." And also, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field..."

And in this context, the glory of the sunset reminds me of the scripture, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field."

Normally, these scriptures would be applied if the picture were of a wheat field, but could we say that perhaps if we were to broaden what we see, and see with the Lord's eyes, i.e. having the mind of Christ, that we will see His desire?
04/01/06 @ 10:59

Comment from: Shirley Miranda [Visitor]
The creative God is displayed through the creativity of man as seen is great architure. However, when placed next to the Creators artwork, it pales in comparison. His glory can not be outdone.
30/01/06 @ 16:48

Comment from: Sue [Visitor]
I look at it as a sunrise, there are many people asleep in those buildings, they are missing the beauty that God sending our way. But also picture a lot of people awake, watching and marveling at the beauty God is sending their way, and they thank Him
03/02/06 @ 20:59

Comment from: joshua kelly [Visitor]
I see what has become of mans doings here on earth. Not to say all is bad. But, my first thought is it looks like low-income housing or possibly vacant and inhabited by homeless folk. It makes me thankful we have a hope of a place not made with human hands to reside in eternally. Oppresive picture even with the sunset. What have we become? A culture subject to so much failure and also success at the cost of many lives being pushed to the lower part of society. But the ones making money in this area would ofcourse disagree.
13/02/06 @ 11:10

Comment from: David E. Gregory [Visitor] · http://www.oneamericansdream.com
I see what I would rather not see, i.e. a big city. I live in the country, and I would greatly prefer to see the sky over the country. On the other hand I know of some folk who live in the big city and their God is just as close to them as my God (the same God) is to me. I am (or have been) very survivalist minded, meaning learing how to be self-sufficient, and I am learning somewhat painfully that it is all a mirage. There is no such thing as [absolute] self-sufficiency, nor did God intend there to be. The city is dependent on the country for growing food, and to a large degree, at least, the country is dependent on the city and the business enterprises that are more easily put together in the city for the mass transportation of the country's food nationwide.

There is another aspect that I see, because I have been in construction most of my life. All of those buildings, without exception, existed in someone's mind before they ever existed in brick and mortar and steel. All of them started on an architects drawing board, and the contracts were let out to dozens of contractors before there was so much as a shovel full of dirt turned over. So in reality all of those buildings represent the genius that God put into man that is part of the unimaginably brilliant and complex image of the Creator God himself.

And, of course, while most men don't see it (they are blinded by the sheer 'glory' of the physical building just as the pharisees of old were blinded by the 'glory' of the temple) God is building his own building, but it isn't in the buildings you see here.

And yet, even those who (in my opinion) have the misfortune of being stuck in the big city have the same privilege of looking UP, and seeing the same glory of the sky (almost, because there is less smog in the country)as those in the coutry. And if there is faith, then God honors that faith no matter where he finds it.

I worked in the World Trade Center for six months when it was under construction in 1971, and while it was an experience, no amount of money (aside from the distinct calling of God) would compel me to go back there, entirely apart from the tragedy of 9/11.

David E. Gregory
Belgrade, Maine
14/05/06 @ 19:06

Comment from: jeffrey hosman [Visitor]
When i first looked at this image it was as if i heard The Lord Saying....

"When it is evening you say 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red' and in the morning 'It will be foul weather today for the sky is red and threatening '.
Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. "
Math 16:2&3
25/07/06 @ 19:58

Comment from: jeffrey hosman [Visitor]
The 2nd thing i heard was The Lord Saying...( after i read all the many other wonderful comments which i had not done up to that point )..

I heard The Lord saying...

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones
those who are sent to her!
How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
Math 23:37 nkjv.

Thank you for providing this opportunity to comment, Chris.

It's a GREAT Idea!

Thanks to all contributors so far...all great comments I think!


25/07/06 @ 20:14

Comment from: Walter [Visitor]
I see a city whose inhabitants need evagelism and discipleship.
17/11/06 @ 05:58

Comment from: Larry Baker [Visitor] · http://wwww.101computers.biz
I see the machinery of life. I see that every bulding must contain some element that gives life to the larger body. Every employee in every building contributes to a product or service which supports the bigger world. First glance gives the impression of how small I am, but when you think of it, all componants of society are small.The factory worker is a small cog in the big machine, but without him, no end product to benefit the population. I think that we can look here and see that the body of Christ has even more members than Paul mentions in the Bible. The complexity and balance of a city is the result of a "bigger picture", of which all Christians participate, in a small cubicle or a wide open area. Within the walls of this city, you may find a thousand christians talking to their co-workers about the kingdom of God.
03/04/07 @ 02:25

Comment from: Kate [Visitor]
What I see is simple, even in the midst of all this humanity, God's glory shines. God reaches out to every eye to bear witness to His love, the rays of the sun he Created touch us. Christ comes to meet with us no matter who or where we are. His power out shines our attempts to claim we don't know He exists, we didn't know better, we didn't think anyone cared, we don't realize that everything we do MAKES A DIFFERENCE in God's eyes.
There is black and white, good and evil, right and wrong, (yin yang, karma, blah blah blah)...

...and then there is grace.
22/04/07 @ 23:36

07 January 2005

Eaton Ford - Paint and light

< 15th December 2004 | Index | 23rd May 2006 >

Rosie reminded us about the great wave we were shown during our last meeting, which sadly I didn't mention in the notes. Of course, since that meeting the dreadful tsunami has struck coasts throughout southeast Asia. Thinking about this we knew that the wave picture was not a warning of disaster, but an illustration of the way he lifts us and carries us along in the direction we should go.

Paint in waterThere is such power in a wave. And the tsunami made that clear in a truly terrifying way. Yet there's nothing to fear in his wave, the power is there for our benefit, not to destroy. But this evening Father had a different message for us. He showed us an artist at work with watercolour paints. As the artist dipped his brush into the water, the colour swirled through and transformed the colour of the water. In the same way, Yahshua's presence in us swirls throughout our being and gradually changes us into his colour. He has dipped himself into our lives and we will never look (or feel) the same again!

And again, we were shown clouds parting and strong sunlight shining through. He is the clouds, but not only is he in the clouds, he also becomes visible to us as they part. We had such a strong sense that he has chosen to reveal himself to his people.

Sunshine through the cloudsAnd he is making himself visible in many ways. He does this for us in his creation. He does it throughout history. He wants everyone to see, but not everyone chooses to see. But we also know how important it is; seeing him is far more powerful than just hearing his word!

He reminded us of 'Doubting' Thomas. Yahshua told his disciples, 'Peace be with you. Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.'

And finally he made it clear to us that he only shows us what we need to know. There is so much more that is hidden for now, what we need is shown to us as we go along. It is given at just the right moment. When a beam of light shines through a hole in the cloud it only lights the next step for us, not the whole journey. We can only live one day at a time, so why would we need to know the details for tomorrow? It's not our plan we are following, but his! Praise you father, you give us all we need, right when we need it! Thank you.

< 15th December 2004 | Index | 23rd May 2006 >


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