04 November 2009

Weird and wonderful maps

I love maps and plans. I always have. Most likely I always will. They encapsulate a place, a landscape, an idea, a society, politics, history, The World at nightwhatever may be of interest to whoever created the map.

Maps convey so much in convenient, overview form. I can pore over a good map for hours and hours.

So imagine my delight at discovering 'Strange Maps', a blog that's updated every day or three with yet another wacky map. Some of these are awesome, most are amusing or intriguing, all are fun providing they're not taken too seriously.

Take a few minutes to view a few of the posts, you won't be disappointed. Here are some that I particularly recommend for the cartophiles amongst my readers.

03 November 2009

Great Doddington - Letting go

Jody spoke about the shrewd manager described in Luke 16:1-15. He was about to lose his job, so let his master's debtors off with part payment. A clenched fistThat way he was sure to have friends when he needed them. This was dishonest, but the master was impressed by his ingenuity.

She also reminded us of the widow in Luke 18, we should keep praying and never give up. I added that we need to have a right understanding about Yahshua. In all the varied circumstances of life concerning people and events, we need to know he's always with us and is more than able to do whatever he thinks we need.

Jody thought that we need to 'let go'. There's a temptation to, as it were, ball up our fists. But we mustn't do this, he wants us to relax. We are in Christ and he is in us so we can certainly have peace!

Rachael remembered the old Batman TV series. Batman and Robin were sometimes shown climbing up the side of a skyscraper but what they were really doing in the studio was crawling along the floor! Sometimes life seems such a struggle, it's as if Jesus want us to scale a high building. But our perspective is wrong. When we adjust and see it from his point of view, what seemed hard is really easy - all we have to do is crawl along the floor.

We spent some time in prayer for people we know, including one who has to undergo a rather difficult procedure in hospital. We also prayed for Jody and Peter's house and that it would be a place of blessing and peace for the people who move into it in future.

I commented on the still quietness that enveloped the meeting, it was not an uneasy quietness but seemed to me to be evidence of the peace and love of Yahshua in our hearts.

Rachael read Proverbs 27:9-10 which reminds us of the importance and value of local community.

02 November 2009

Colworth (CU) - Be wise

Andy brought some thoughts on the topic 'Wisdom' based on readings from United Christian Broadcasters Ltd (UCB). Wise as an owlThe comments covered Deuteronomy 32:29 and were published on 29th and 30th October. We read verses 24-47 for context.

Andy reminded us that wisdom is needed in deciding where to put our effort and how to spend whatever resources we have. In many ways it's the art of knowing what to overlook since we simply cannot aspire to do everything that might be possible. We need to avoid doing petty things and instead focus our energy and time on  what will be useful.

01 November 2009

St Neots (Open Door) - Obedience

Today I met with the saints in big church in town. Gavin and Fiona live near Peterborough and will soon be leaving Open Door to begin something new in their home area.Paying attention Gavin spoke about obedience - their own original plans and intentions have had to change as the Lord has unfolded his plan for their lives.

He read Hosea 3:1-5 which provides an example of obedience in the extreme. Hosea's wife was a prostitute and had ended up in the slave market, his love for her was such that he was prepared to spend all the funds he could raise to buy her back. He had married her in obedience to the Almighty and now he was showing his love to her again, also in obedience.

We need to see ourselves, as Hosea clearly did, through the Lord's eyes. And it's not just a matter of words but of actions and truth. Like Hosea's wife Gomer (and like Israel in Hosea's day) we need to know just how much we are loved and how much we've been forgiven. Obedience needs to be like Hosea's - motivated by love, progressive, in accordance with Father's will, and clearly set forth in his word.

Here is my own understanding of Gavin's analysis of obedience.

Motivated by love - there are so many other possible motives, but none of them is sufficient. We might want to please the Lord, or achieve something for him, or see more people join the church, or be useful. All of these may be commendable, but without love they will be worth nothing.

Progressive - we cannot see the end from the beginning, but Father can. When he guides us he will usually show us the way step by step and we need to take those steps in faith, trusting that he will show us the next step, and the next, and the next.

In accordance with Father's will - there is no point in trying to achieve my goal. The Almighty always has in mind his goal. Don't pray, 'Lord, please prosper my efforts to do something for you'. Instead find out what he wants you to to do and pray for that.

Clearly set forth in his word - the principles are all there. Obedience is not difficult to grasp, it's simply a matter of loving the Lord and loving one another. Those are his commandments, if we obey those everything else will follow.

Gavin and Fiona are clear where their future path lies, though of course not ultimately where it will take them.

Gavin continued with a reminder that we need to hear his word to 'go again', and it must be from the heart. Hosea heard and acted, and like him we must give up self in order to love and obey. Are we living messages of love and obedience in the world? Do others see the Lord through us? We must be good news, not merely preach it.

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.

26 October 2009

Colworth (CU) - a house of love

We considered chapter nine of Neil Carter's book 'Christ in Y'all'. Usually someone leads our CU sessions and I'd volunteered today.

Chris In Y'allI thought this chapter would be a real spur to some useful discussion; and so it proved. I read the first three pages and then we shared our thoughts.

Dudley was impressed by the simplicity of Neil Carter's approach. He's right, and I think this is one of the strengths of the entire book.

Andy pointed out that human involvement adds complication. He gave the example of Methodist 'stationing'. Those looking for a ministry make a written statement of their objective. Congregations looking for a minister also write such a statement. Then an attempt is made to match up the people with the posts. This a complex arrangement, the only way through is to trust the Lord.

We were struck by the thought that love is active, it's not just a feeling. One of us mentioned that when his daughter says, 'Love me Daddy', she means she wants a hug.

Another thought was that we sometimes see non-believers displaying selfless love, but we are looking to love one another with Christ's love, and this is an entirely different matter. Neil Carter quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer who wrote, 'There is a human love of one's neighbour...Human love is directed to the other person for his own sake, spiritaul love loves him for Christ's sake.'

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