23 March 2010

Great Doddington - Hard to find the way

Sean was away so Jim and I decided to visit Great Doddington this evening. The way is not always clearWe chatted over hot drinks and shared news until Jody encouraged us to focus more intentionally on the Lord.

I had a picture of a large sheet of paper rolled up tightly. It was a map, but instead of being rolled with the map on the inside, it was rolled so that part of the map showed on the outside. The Spirit said, 'This is a picture of the plan I have for your lives, it is hard to unroll and mostly you can only see a small strip of the map. However, the plan is complete even though you don't yet see it all.

Jody pictured a winding and twisty path and was walking with a hole in her shoe. She realised that sometimes we need a rest on the journey. When we're not sure of the way he picks us up or he lets us take his hand. Sometimes it's misty, sometimes the way forward is unclear, like the rolled-up map. We need to hear from him, he knows the way even when we don't.

Jim read Luke 12:22-34 and then spoke about the importance of wearing the right kind of shoes. What we have on our feet when we walk is rather important. he also mentioned the disappointments we face in life, like a failed house sale. But verse 31 tells us that we must seek the Kingdom first and everything else will be OK, even when it's not what we wanted. We aim to arrive at the mountain top, but sometimes we just end up in a valley of despair.

I pointed out that our treasure is the thing above all that we're not prepared to lose. It might be money, it might be Yahshua, it might be anything, but where our treasure is, there our heart will be too.

Jim added a story he'd heard about a vicar and a taxi driver who arrived together at the gates of Heaven. The taxi driver was put in a seat at the front, much to the surprise of the vicar. Then the vicar was given a seat at the back and felt he had to complain, or at least ask for an explanation. Peter said, 'Well, it's like this. You bored people with your sermons and instead of being saved they simply dozed off. But the taxi driver frightened people so much by his driving that many of them prayed fervently.'

Jody shared a prophecy, that people are like embers. If they are glowing you can be certain that they're hot and still on fire. If they're grey and dusty it's hard to tell, but you may still feel some warmth. I added a few thoughts about faith, hope and love. Love is the source of faith because the Almighty is love! If we think faith is the most important thing we're badly mistaken. Paul compares them and tells us that love is greater than both faith and hope.

Peter read Hebrews 12:1-13 (especially verse 12) and reminded us that we really need to help one another. It's often a simple thing to encourage and lift one another up, we should always do this.

Looking back we all agreed that this was an exceptional meeting in which there had been a very clear and sustained thread. Yahshua had been present and had guided us by his Spirit. We all felt uplifted, strengthened, and encouraged.

22 March 2010

Colworth (CU) - Punk Monk

David had offered to lead today's Christian Union meeting. He based it on a section from the book 'Punk Monk'.A Maori Hongi David told the remarkable story of a young girl in Malaysia healed through prayer after a serious accident involving a van.

The section from the book was entitled 'The ancient art of breathing' and was written by Pete Greig, the head of 24/7. He described the 'hongi', the touching of noses and foreheads by Maoris after which a person is no longer considered a visitor, but a person who belongs in the land and shares the hopes and goals of the people.

Like the hongi, prayer is a reciprocal activity. We need to be unconditionally attentive, like Mary at Jesus' feet.

There is the 'hongi of community' (1 John 4:20). We can reciprocate in community, community is messy in a way that teams are not. Community is free-form in nature, teams are not.

There's a 'hongi of hospitality' in which we reach out and offer a welcome. Christian communities are a 'welcome waiting to happen'.

21 March 2010

St Neots (Open Door small group) - The greatest thing

There was no meeting at the Priory Centre this morning as it was not available for Open Door to use. Chatting after breakfastInstead, Donna's Small Group came over to our house for breakfast.

Not everyone could make it so in the end there were just five of us, but it was good fun, relaxing, and we had some really good conversation. The photo shows Barbara, Tony and Clive - evidently all enjoying themselves.

As we sat and chatted together the subject of love was raised. I mentioned the idea that faith - often regarded as the greatest thing to find and cherish - is not only subordinate to love but is, indeed, the result of love. I explained that in Victorian times Henry Drummond had written a great treatise on love. He called it 'The Greatest Thing in the World'. Tony wasn't aware of Drummond or his writings, so I printed a copy a few days later and gave it to him.

If you haven't read 'The Greatest Thing in the World' I strongly recommend it. It's dropped out of popularity which is a shame. I think every follower of Jesus should have the chance to read this short, inspiring work.

19 March 2010

Eaton Ford (day) - On the shore of Galilee

Roger, Paul and I began by running through CO2 together. The Sea of GalileeWe shared hopes and fears, successes and difficulties, and some of the events and issues in our own lives as well as those of some of our friends. We spent some time praying through these things.

We shared a simple lunch afterwards, sausage, chips and onion rings from the local chippie. Roger needed to get home promptly so he left after we'd eaten but Paul and I read Mark 1:9-20, discussing it as we went along.

We noticed how Jesus was baptised and the Father spoke confirming and encouraging words to him in a short time, perhaps just a matter of seconds or minutes. Then, immediately afterwards, the Spirit sent him into the desert for a far longer period of time (40 days) during which the enemy speaks words of distraction and temptation to him.

In verses 14 and 15 we see Jesus beginning his work before the first disciples are called. It's interesting how he called them. He followed the same procedure as other Jewish rabbis saying, 'Come, follow me'. These words would normally be used as an invitation to the best students to come and follow a particular rabbi. Young men who didn't come up to scratch were rejected and sent home to follow their father's trade.

But Jesus invites the rejected men to follow him! He calls fishermen. They were fishermen because no rabbi had thought them worth calling, but Jesus does! No wonder they followed him, it was an amazing offer, too good to be true, better grab it now before it's withdrawn again!

17 March 2010

THOUGHT - Revival

Every picture tells a story, or so they say. Wild Arum (Lords and Ladies)This one certainly does!

Walking along a country road near my workplace yesterday I noticed little green shoots at the base of the hedge. I took this close-up shot.

This living green shoot is growing up from the root after a long winter. It is alive, it is healthy, it is fragile, and it is surrounded by the dead and dried debris of last summers growth.

This green shoot speaks to me about revival. Revival must always come direct from the root, that is where the life remains, preserved through the cold, harsh winter. Revival is never a matter of persuading the old, dead leaves to grow again. That's simply not possible. Those dead leaves are no longer connected to the tree, there is no potential for new growth. Old leaves have the shape of life yet they are dead.

In church life we need to see the difference between what lies on the surface with the shape of last years life and what may be hidden below the surface, connected to the living root. When this hidden life bursts up through the dead remains we will recognise it for what it is. The new leaves are vivid and vibrant, the old ones are dull and decaying.

Revival will always look like this. Vivid, vibrant, fragile, tender, soft, pliable, and growing.

Thank you, Father, for times of refreshment and glorious revival. In Jesus' name we ask for revival in our day. Fresh, new shoots that are bursting with life and energy, living because they're attached to and nourished by the root. They're there already - believe me, I'm beginning to see them all around!

Click on the image for a larger version, and read about this wild arum on Wikipedia.

16 March 2010

Little Paxton - Neighbours and community

Jim and I met at his home, just the two of us as Sean is on holiday. As we talked about life and work and following Jesus it became clear that both of us have been feeling the need to be more focussed on Christ and on him alone. A village community in CornwallEverything else (work, interests, home) must take its place at some lower level in our thinking and particularly in our hearts. What we are and what we do must come from relationship with Jesus first.

Jim read a section from 'Permission Evangelism', a book he's been finding encouraging and challenging.

We need such a deep vision of Jesus and his love for his people and for the lost. We need to learn to touch people, build them up, and encourage them. It's not primarily about how we meet (in small groups, in the home, in a hired hall, or a purpose built auditorium). What really matters is the foundation that we are resting upon. If that foundation is Christ we will do well. Everything we are and do, all we stand for, our reaction to circumstances, our response to our neighbours and our community, all of it springs from the Life of Christ within us.

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