12 April 2009

Thought for the day

Esther 10 - Rivers of living water

The first three verses are extant in Hebrew and are included in the Bible, Hebrew scrollbut there is a further section which we only have in Greek (translated from the Hebrew in ancient times) and this is found in the Apocrypha.

In the Greek version is a verse that reads..
'And Mordecai said, "All this is God's doing. I remember the dream I had about these matters, nothing of which has failed to come true: the little spring that became a river, the light that shone, the sun, the flood of water."'

And a little later..
'Yes, the Lord has saved his people, the Lord has delivered us from all these evils, God has worked such signs and great wonders as have never occurred among the nations.'

We can identify with this! Yahweh is as good today to us as he was to Mordecai and Esther in their own time. He is faithful, what he has promised he will do. He is trustworthy and true. He sent his son to reveal the Father's nature to us, Yahshua came so that we might know the Father! This is true life, to know the Son and through him the Father and to be filled with their life so that we can worship in Spirit and in Truth. When Mordecai mentions the stream that became a river, the light that shone, the sun, the flood, he is talking about specific things. But the words resonate with deeper meaning for the church, don't they?

Yahshua is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What more could we ever need? Let's walk together in his victory. HalleluYah!

This demands sacrifice, I have to give up being me so that his life can flow out through me. If those rivers of living water don't flow through me and out into the world I will bring him no benefit. If I am a source of my own light instead of being a part of his great Light I am without real value.

I cannot serve him my way, I can only serve him His way. Have your way, Lord, in me.

ARCHIVES - From the meeting notes archives...

A year ago - We need to be out in the world meeting people and reaching them and this An archiveinvolves meeting them where they are. Being wrapped up in 'church' affairs, keeping the building clean, polishing the woodwork, managing things is not what it's all about!

COMMENT: It's interesting to see how this has developed. If anything we are now even more aware of the need to reach out, and one way we hope to do this is through a youth camp.

Two years ago - We are not called to do the impossible, everything we are called to do is achievable. We can do all things in Christ.

COMMENT: So we don't need to be anxious, he doesn't ask us to do what we cannot do. But, we'd better make sure that whatever we do, we do 'in Christ'.

Five years ago - Val saw an autumn leaf in the wind and explained that we are like that. We are completely free to go where the wind takes us. The Holy Spirit moves us where he wants us to be.

COMMENT: We can see this has been true. Nobody can prevent us responding to him, he chooses where we should go and makes sure we get there.

09 April 2009

Little Paxton - Camp

This was a quiet and relaxed evening, only Jim and Chris were there.

We discussed the plans for the Youth Camp A tentin July and its pre-meeting on 25th May. We still have no venue and are hoping to take this forward soon. But the choice of venue is out of our hands, we need to discuss it with someone else who is not available at present. We are not nervous, but we are depending on the Lord to provide whatever we need and lead us in the right direction.

Jim read Luke 22:24-27 and we talked about how, if you want to become great, you must choose to be weak. We discussed how the church belongs to Yahshua, not to us. This is a point made by Wolfgang Simson repeatedly, he knows how important it is. The church is not ours to rule or plan or build, not ours to order. It is Christ's - he gives the orders, we carry them out.

Chris was interested in Matthew 21:33-46, this passage came just before the passover meal shared by Yahshua and his disciples. He tells them the parable of the tenants and then he says, 'He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.'

This is an intriguing saying. Jesus is the stone.

If we fall on him we will be broken. We believers have fallen on him, we fall on him for his mercy, grace, and forgiveness. And he does indeed break us! In becoming believers, if we are serious about it, we are challenged to change our ways. We can no longer go on being the people we were, we are utterly broken.

But if Yahshua falls on a person, that person will be crushed. We usually think of 'crushed' as destroyed, snuffed out, but there is another possibility. Perhaps we could say that Christ 'fell on' Saul on the Damascus Road. Saul was crushed, not in the sense of destroyed, but in the sense of having a completely new and different perspective. His views, opinions, and certainties were crushed and he had to begin again.

Eaton Ford (day) - The napkin

As we usually do, we began by considering the people we need to pray for, then spent some time praying and listening Folded napkinto the Spirit.

We heard about the story of the 'folded napkin' that Chris had received in an email just this morning. It's a delightful story, but there seems to be little evidence that it really happened this way.

The story goes that when Peter and John arrived at the empty tomb, they saw that the grave wrappings had been thrown in a heap, but at the other end of the tomb, the napkin that had covered Jesus face was neatly folded. There was a convention that when a man ate his meal, the servant would watch. If the master threw his napkin down untidily this was a sign that he'd finished and the servant would begin to clear the table. But if the master folded his napkin this showed he intended to return to finish the meal later.

So the folded napkin in the tomb was significant because to Yahshua's trainees it meant, 'I am coming back in a short while'. It's still a great story even though it may not be true. But what is true (and is important) is that Jesus did rise from the grave and that he will indeed return!

One of us also had a picture of snow flakes falling. Each little flake was melting almost as soon as it touched the ground and at first it would be easy to conclude that the snow would never be able to settle. But snow is persistent and eventually the tiny, fragile flakes will win and the ground will be covered and everything hidden in a blanket of pure, white snow.

And the Lord says, 'The snow will prevail - like me!' He changes our lives little by little, one small touch of his purity after another. In the end we will be visibly changed. Sometimes we feel we will never get there, but he says we will.

06 April 2009

Great Doddington - Fresh bread

As we met and chatted over coffee, foremost in our thoughts were our children and the urgent need for employment in one family in particular.
Fresh bread in the morning
Glenn told us about meeting people during a church outreach on the streets of Rugby, offering to pray for needs and talking about the hope we have in Jesus. There were some difficulties with the town centre security staff who tried to stop the street work going ahead.

Barbara shared her concerns for elderly folk with various degrees of loss of sight who have been suffering frightening hallucinations. We talked about this for some time as well as praying both for the old folk and for Barbara herself in reassuring and encouraging them.

Then our thoughts turned to the attitudes that sometimes exist in church organisations. It's incumbent on all of us to deal very humbly with one another, to accept and not reject, to comfort and not to frustrate, to encourage and not to criticise. Chris mentioned how he'd listened to online audio of Wolfgang Simson saying very clearly that the church does not belong to us, it belongs to Christ. We can do things our way if we want to, but we cannot expect the Lord to bless it. To see success we must follow the King.

Sherrelea read from 2 Cor 10 and reminded us that we all belong to Christ whoever we are and whatever our gifts and abilities may be. How badly we need to get our priorities the right way round! It's not enough to be pleased with ourselves, the only thing that counts is whether Jesus is pleased with us!

Chris shared a picture of still water in the form of a very murky pond. The water was very dirty, stagnant and filthy. But because it was still it provided a faithful reflection of the sky above, blue with puffy, white clouds and the sun shining brightly. And the Lord said that when we look at the pond we can see the murky filth or we can see the beautiful sky. It is simply up to us to focus on whichever we choose.

Jody prophesied, 'You are like the aroma of fresh bread in the morning or the fresh greenery in the garden. Look and listen! You can hear the birds singing, children's laughter. Know that I am in these precious moments with you, remember that I am the Lord. Remember the scents, smells, and sounds and know that I've placed these things in your hearts as memories. Memories to remind you that I am with you.'

She continued by reminding us how Moses mother had given up everything (her son) by placing him in the water amongst the reeds (Exodus 2:1-10). She had to take the risk in order to have any hope of his survival. And the Lord said, 'You have felt like that mother too, and just as I delivered the child into a place of safety and wealth, so I will also take those things you give up that were precious to you, and I will put them into a place of safety also. The things that are most precious to you are precious to me too. But you are the one who has to let go.'

Sherrelea also prophesied, 'I will give you rest and help. Trust me, come to me, rest with me, trust me. My burden is light, my yoke is easy.' Then she described a picture the Spirit showed her of a person lying in the road, unable to get up. And she knew that, like the man in the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus will always pick us up in our helplessness. He says, 'I will carry you.' He will not leave you lying in the road.

Glenn pictured Jesus speaking to Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). We've often heard the words Jesus spoke to him, '...[so] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.'

On the one hand we are reaching up to the Lord, but with the other hand we are to reach out to the others around us. Jesus has accepted us, we have received his non-condemnation (forgiveness).

He said to us, 'Let go of the anchor that holds you down. Let go! You will no longer feel the weight and dragging of that anchor. You are not condemned, you are accepted. So reach out with both hands, not just with one.'

05 April 2009

'The Shack', blasphemous?

More than seven million copies of William P Young's book, 'The Shack', have now been sold around the world - and it's still selling well.

Most of those who've read it have found it helpful in opening their eyes to the love and nature of the Father. But some have found the book disturbing in various ways. One cause for concern has been Young's depiction of the Trinity.

In a recent blog post, Candice from Kansas writes

So many people I know have read The Shack, but I'm opting not to because I can't get past the blasphemous depiction of the Trinity. I've heard people say, "It's only a fictional book", as if that makes it all okay. I've also had a friend tell me recently that reading it "changed her life". Which is it? A harmless work of fiction, or a palatable twisting of truth?

I would begin by gently asking, 'How can you have an opinion on the book's depiction of the Trinity if you haven't read it for yourself?' All you can do is base your opinion not on the book itself but on someone else's opinion (in this case a review by Dr Gary Gilley). If my only knowledge of 'The Shack' came from reading Dr Gilley's review I would certainly be a little anxious about it too. But having read the book first I would have to say Dr Gilley is quite selective in his choice of quotes. I don't really recognise the book or Young's intentions in the words of the review.

Candice, if you do read 'The Shack' for yourself (and I hope you will) may I also suggest you listen to a radio interview with Paul Young in which he tells how and why he came to write the book? I'd be most interested to hear what you think.

Maybe later you could post again on your blog and share your own thoughts about the book and its author. Tell us what you think is good and what you think is not.

I don't believe this book is either 'a harmless work of fiction' or 'a palatable twisting of truth'. I think it's something far more wonderful and amazing, the Lord himself opening his heart to hurting, helpless, humans. Paul Young didn't write it for publication, but Father had other ideas. The full story is there in Paul's interview.


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