29 October 2010

Eaton Ford (day) - Grain in the field

Paul and I met in the morning. We'd hoped to see one or two other friends but in the event this didn't work out.

Grain ripening in the fieldWe worked through CO2 together, first SASHET and then the things that Father has been telling us. Then we prayed for people that we know and for the work that he's doing in us and also through us.

And finally we read some sections of Mark together, picking up where we left off last time.

Mark 2:23-28 - We thought that this shows life is about people, not about rules. Jesus and the disciples were probably enjoying their walk through the countryside. They were probably talking and laughing together and discussing something prompted by the grain they were eating. They might have talked about the life that is in a seed, how it germinates and grows, how the life of the Father is in everything that was made.

But the Pharisees hold only the rules important, making them more important than people.

Mark 3:1-6 - This again shows the same thing, life is about people, not rules. These verses show us the anger and distress felt by Jesus faced with this attitude or rule following even if it prevents good being done for someone.

Mark 3:7-12 - Jesus was followed everywhere by the crowds. No doubt he could speak to more people by standing in the boat. They were pressing in because they knew he could heal them, this reminded Paul of the woman with the serious bleeding who just wanted to touch the edge of his cloak. The evil spirits recognised he was the Son of the Most High but he commanded them not to share what they knew.

Mark 3:13-19 - Paul wondered why Jesus gave some of them new names, could it be much like us calling a friend 'Rocky' because of his nature?

'Petros' (Peter in English) is Greek for 'rock', presumably a Greek translation of the Aramaic word for rock which is 'Kepha', the name Jesus gave Simon. 'Shimon' (Simon) is clearly an Aramaic name and means 'a man of Judah'. So Peter was originally 'A Judahite' and Jesus called him 'A Judahite Rock', more or less.

28 October 2010

Brampton - Traffic lights

We met at Sean's this evening, talked about a range of topics, and prayed together about the things Father is doing in this corner of England and our involvement in them. I felt that there is a huge move going on just under the surface.

Traffic lightsHe doesn't necessarily show us the details but he says, 'This is the way, walk in it.' We may not know what's going on, but it's enough that we know we are in the right place at the right time and travelling in the right direction.

The subject of the 'Filling Station' meetings at Moggerhanger came up again. This is intriguing and seems to have begun in and around Bath in North Somerset. The next meeting is planned for 15th November. Apparently Simon Holley (Kings Arms, Bedford) was at the October meeting so the interest is quite wide.

I had a vision of an autumn day, there was an area of grass and I knew that winter was about to begin. It started to snow and I expected that when the thaw came the ground would be muddy and unkempt. But as the snow melted I saw that a carpet of snowdrops and crocuses had grown up. Instead of mud there was a glorious carpet of colour and a wonderful fragrance. And the Spirit said, 'Remember this vision. When everything seems to be falling apart and you expect to see a mess remember this vision and be encouraged.'

Jim thought that God is putting us in positions where we can make a difference. There will be more beauty as we see more of Jesus. Our role is to talk with people and draw alongside them. We can have a positive effect on somebody's day merely by listening. I believe we have an awesome privilege and also a great responsibility to hear and see and share the vision.

We prayed for our friend David for continued blessing and to have the path made straight in his life. We also prayed for his family. Jim had a picture of traffic lights and knew it was for Sean in particular. He senses that Sean sees a stop light but the signals are beginning to turn green. The message was to be prepared for the green light and not to remain at the traffic lights too long.

I had a vision of oil and as I watched I knew that the oil represented the Holy Spirit. Oil acts to prevent sticking, whether we put it an engine or use it cook and egg. Oil releases us, it frees us to move.

Sean had said very little until the end of the meeting when he reminded us of the most important thing of all. He said that God is always the same. He told us of the value of a proper view of the Lord, this is foundational. We need to grasp this vision, this truth. We can only reach others when we have first imbibed the truth.

THOUGHT - Unbreaking the pot

If I drop a pot it will shatter into a thousand pieces, some of them quite large, others very small, some just the tiniest specks of dust. And what I have broken I can in no way repair.

PotsherdsI may decide to sweep up the mess and throw the remains in the bin, the broken pieces are no good for anything. If the pot has sentimental value the best I can do is gather the larger pieces and spend a while with a tube of glue. But it won't fool anyone, it will never be the same again. What was shattered in a moment cannot be mended even if I labour with adhesive for all eternity.

I'm happy to say that Papa is a whole lot cleverer than I am.

When a person is broken, shattered into a thousand disjointed shards by circumstances or by the unaware (or all too aware) actions of others, he is capable of making truly invisible repairs. He will never sweep up the mess and throw the remains in the bin. He can rebuild a person so that they are not just mended, but repaired, renewed, and fully restored.

This is a miracle, of course, but what we cannot do is possible for him. It may take much time but he is infinitely patient and he does the work with extreme care and attention, motivated by his perfect love.

He gave us free will and had his reasons for doing so. He will not prevent us from harming one another. Nor will he force restoration when we are determined to resist it. But he is a great encourager, he will leave no stone unturned, and he will never tire in his attempts to woo a broken heart or a shattered soul.

I cannot restore a broken pot to factory new condition. But he can! Just don't ask me how he will do it. I have no idea. All I know is that he reaches out to every one of us in ways we can respond to - even when we believe we can't. Sometimes people say, 'Oh, I understand, I know how you feel', when in truth they have no idea at all. But he does understand.

Mags posted something special and touching yesterday. As I read it tonight I saw a picture of a broken pot. I understood that nobody can restore a broken pot and nobody can restore a broken person. And in that moment I knew I must write about the broken pot.

A pot may have all kinds of functions. It might contain something precious like the jar of nard (John 12:3). But a broken pot can contain - nothing! Restored, it can again contain something precious.

The jar of nard was made to be deliberately broken to release the precious contents - but broken at the right moment and in the right way. The jar was not made to be carelessly dropped, trampled underfoot, or hurled against a wall in anger.

There are two kinds of brokenness. There is the empty brokenness of damage and there is the brokenness of sacrifice. They should never be confused. We must first be restored so that we can contain a treasure, and then we can be broken in a pure, fulfilling, and purposeful way. Broken for glory, broken to bless others, broken to release the treasure contained within us.

How great is the One who restores us, fills us, and shows us how we can be broken for glory and for blessing to release a treasure. He is the treasure! The enemy wants to break us by crushing us, but Abba will break us by loving us. Our breaking will be beautiful like a fragrant flower breaking from the bud or a butterfly breaking from the pupa.


See also:


26 October 2010

Corby and Little Paxton - Helping the move

This evening, instead of our usual meeting, Sean and I helped Jim, Pam and their daughter Beth with a house move.

BarmbrackJim and Pam's oldest daughter and her partner were leaving their flat in Corby and moving to a house in Eynesbury (a district of St Neots). The house is not yet ready so for a few weeks they'll be living with Jim and Pam in Little Paxton.

We travelled to the flat in Jim's car and spent the first part of the evening cleaning the flat, packing items into boxes, and loading them into cars for the trip to Little Paxton. After the drive home we stacked the boxes in Jim and Pam's lounge turning part of it into a temporary store room! And then it was time for a cup of tea and a lovely slice of barmbrack with butter.

It's good to do practical things together, this is church life too.

19 October 2010

Brampton - Filtered from harm

It was good to have Rachael with us this evening. There was no meeting in Great Doddington as Peter and Jody are visiting Canada, so Rachael travelled down to Brampton instead. Jim also joined us as he expected to be busy on Thursday.

Anti-virus softwareJim began by asking whether we really ever give 100% to Jesus. We had to admit that it was never possible to give 100% all the time. Some people might manage it occasionally, but not consistently!

Jim explained that Moggerhanger Park has started a regular 'Filling Station' meeting and the topic of 100% had been mentioned there. He said that the meeting was very good so I'd like to get along some time to see what it's all about. Future meetings are planned for the third Monday evening of each month, there's a schedule online.

Sean mentioned Zac Poonan, a church planter from Bangalore's Christian Fellowship Church. Sean had come across Zac's material online and had found some of it very good. One particular theme was asking for grace in times of temptation.

Jim said that we used to live under the law that told us, 'Don't do this, do that.' But we do need to live under grace and to treat others with grace too. We tend to make assumptions about people, but we have enough sin of our own without thinking of judging others. I was reminded of Galatians 2 where we read of a situation much like today with differences of opinion about law and behaviour.

The idea of sowing seeds also came up. Jim pointed out that I'd given Cornerstone free drinks cards to Sean who had passed them on again to a friend at work. This led me to thoughts about watering young plants. Paul wrote, 'I sowed the seed, Apollos watered it, but the Almighty made it grow.' (1 Corinithians 3:6). We can only do our part, we work with one another but we are not responsible for the growth. Jim then shared how, when Jess had prayed for healing of someone's badly swollen finger, the swelling had vanished while they watched. He mentioned Colossians 3:1-5 and how this brings us back to the idea of 100% for Jesus. We must 'set our hearts on the things above'.

We discussed how, if we're to follow Christ, we must have been given the capacity to follow him. We can pray to be drawn closer to him day by day. I had a picture of a man in prison, I saw the iron bars and at first thought I was seeing a caged animal. But no, it was clearly a man in prison. We can still come alongside a prisoner even if there are iron bars between us. We have the Spirit of Christ within us and we are to draw alongside those are 'imprisoned' in sin and despair.

Rachael saw a PC screen and noticed a tab saying, 'God's spam free virus filter'. He keeps harmful things from us. He is very protective of those he loves.

SCIENCE - 500 planets

Not that long ago (pre 1994) we only knew of nine planets, and one of those has been demoted to dwarf planet status. Today we know of nearly 500!

An artist's impression of an exoplanet systemThe reason for the huge increase is that astronomers are discovering planets around stars other than our own Sun using several techniques.

Sometimes this can be done by accurate measurements of the parent star's brightness. If a planet orbiting the star happens to pass in front of it, it will block part of the light and the dip can be measured and timed.

Another method involves tracking the position of a star very accurately. If it wobbles to and fro ever so slightly this is evidence of a smaller object in orbit around it - a planet or a faint companion star.

More recently it's become possible to image some of these planets directly by detecting the light they reflect from their parent star. This is pretty tricky, but just about doable using current telescopes. Of course we can't see any details, the planetary image is essentially a highly blurred point source. But it's still a very impressive feat of technology.

'Discover' magazine's website presents a gallery of these images, with good explanations in terms most people will understand. It's well worth a look.

The number of exoplanets will continue to rise and will soon pass the 500 mark. And one day, with better telescopes, it may even become possible to see some basic detail on some of these planets. But that is probably a long, long way off.

See also: Fomalhaut b

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