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God sees diamonds

simplyorthodox:

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If you fall, rise and you shall be saved.’ You are a sinner, you continually fall, learn also how to rise; be careful to acquire this wisdom. This is what the wisdom consists in: learning by heart the psalm, ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness,’ inspired by the Holy Spirit to…

hitrecordjoe:

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farah-the-bookster:

"We must find ourselves in fiction." #hitrecord #tinybookoftinystories

I’ve been doing some thinking about the symbolism of rain… On Sunday we went into Caen to pray, and got soaked. We huddled under umbrellas as the heavens opened on the city centre. We chose to take the rain as a symbol not of God’s indifference but of his blessing. Far from driving us from the streets, it was calling us onto them… This morning I read some great words from an ancient Hebrew song “Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.

Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
 and our land will yield its increase." (Psalm 85:11-12, ESV) Rain is not used here as a metaphor for God’s blessing but as an actual evidence of it. How will we eat unless the sky pours out its blessings?

The same image is used by the prophet Isaiah as evidence that earth and heaven were designed to connect; to interact. They are divided, just as the sky is divided from the earth, but they live in a eco-system of mutual interaction. The sky gives blessing and the earth responds in fruitfulness (Isaiah 55:10-11). We were made to live in just such an eco-system, receiving from God and offering back to him the fruits of his blessing.

Two things strike me about these images of earth, sky and rain.

The first is that they are about relationship. The rain doesn’t simply communicate from sky to earth, it connects them. It bridges the divide, united them in a single organic system. This image is used throughout the biblical narrative as a picture of God’s intention for us. Relationship, not rules, dominate the biblical worldview.

The second thing that is significant here for me is that neither party to the deal is passive. The sky gives rain, the earth gives back fruit. Both bring something to the party. God does not ask us to be passive recipients of his blessings but to take them in, letting his presence and purposes soak deeply into us so that they change the fruit produced by our lives.

Don’t just receive blessing. Don’t just look for what you can get. Receive purpose. Receive a call to more. Receive transformation. Rain doesn’t simply wash the desert. Given time, it makes it bloom.

MAKING BETHANIE BEAUTIFUL…

We’ve already posted these pics on facebook, but I wanted to put them here by way of illustration of one of the key activities God has called us to in this season. We have been given this remarkable property in the heart of Normandy. It is a thin place; a deeply spiritual environment; a location with a long history of prayer. We know that for years to come it will be a place of encounter with God. Even in our five short years here we have welcomed guests from four continents… And because we know how much this home will matter to people in the coming years, we feel deeply called to make it beautiful. Not beautiful for the sake of indulgence, like a catwalk model dressed up for the day, but beautiful for the sake of hospitality, like a gallery you love to visit; a cathedral you find peace in; a wooded walk that always brings you to your senses. We feel called in this season to bring out the beauty of Bethanie so that for generations to come it will be a place of welcome, of peace and of the presence of God. Our core philosophy is to do it all ‘free or for a fraction of the price’ and so far that’s just what we see happening. There is beauty, too, in simplicity…

This weekend we inaugurated The Apple Barn as our new dining room at Bethanie. A great atmosphere as we enjoyed family meals for more than 30…. Still to do (at the end of this month) are a more permanent floor and a wood burner. We’re looking forward to many years of gathering at God’s table here.

Gemma’s World… Great to visit born-to-bless Gemma Cherry in her new cave. At Bean Encounter, Stafford. Great coffee, great food.

gerardjkelly:

A grey day waiting to board the ferry at Dieppe. Autumn comes to Normandy at last.

Morning Prayers, Bethanie. From this term members of our church are joining us at Bethanie for prayers 3 times a week. As well as local and personal issues, we pray:

On Monday for the UK, Holland, Germany and northern Europe.

On Tuesday Croatia, Bosnia and all points East.

On Thursday Normandy, France, Spain and Europe’s Catholic south.

We always pray for those we know and work with in these regions, but please do let us know how we can pray for you.

Great church weekend at Bethanie, exploring the foundations of our church in four objects: the tent, the table, the treasure and the towel.

Bethanie’s new season. Summer has lingered longer than we thought it might here in Normandy, but that doesn’t change the sense of autumnal expectation in the air. With newness breaking out around us - a growing church, intriguing kingdom projects and incomers from three continents - we are looking forward to a year of growth and fruitfulness. Prayer weekends will take place on the first weekend of every month: Our door is open!

(image reblogged from readpenguin)

First paragraph from The Picture of Dorian Gray…

Here are the opening lines of ‘The Boy Who Loved Rain. Want more? Pre-order now at Amazon.

Colom woke with a start, the dream slipping away like water from a bath. Only the question, the puzzle remained strong. Once again he was at sea, trying to push himself towards a muddy shoreline, where he might just find a grip and pull free. There was nothing to push against. Every time he felt he was moving closer, the drift took him further away. If he couldn’t get to the land he would surely drown, when his tired limbs surrendered at last to exhaustion. He knew that the ocean wanted him, had claimed him. He knew that in the end he would not have the power to resist. Nor would his sister, thrashing just as he was in half-darkness at the edge of his peripheral vision. He couldn’t get to her, couldn’t propel his body in her direction. And even if he did, what use would he be? They could drown together, or they could drown apart; either way they were both going to drown. 

He woke up trying to solve the riddle, as if the question had been set for today’s exams: “My sister is drowning, and I can’t reach her. But I don’t have a sister. How can I save my sister from drowning, when I don’t have a sister?”

(via thetinhouse)

Fascinating gathering this morning in the crypt of the Basilica of Lisieux, gathering Priests, staff members, volunteers and activists from across the Diocese of Bayeux, Lisieux and Caen. Guest speaker was Yves Le Saulx, recently installed as the Bishop of neighbouring Le Mans.

I wasn’t able to stay for the whole day, but what I did hear was encouraging and inspiring. The aim was to discuss the ‘conversion of the church towards mission’ - a favourite theme of Pope Francis and a process of which Le Saulx is a product champion. His presentation would not have been out of place in a Spring Harvest seminar…

This was no youth meeting (!) but the sense of real faith, relaxed worship and a genuine orientation towards mission was refreshing - and would have surprised if not shocked many I know in the protestant / evangelical world. It has been all too easy in recent decades to write-off the French catholic church as nominal and superstitious. There are still numerous Protestant analyses of religion in France that count “christians” but exclude catholics. Such bean-counters need to meet Michelle from Bayeux. She took the vacant seat beside me under the ornate mosaic ceiling of the crypt, and at first I thought she seemed a little downcast. When the worship team began, she came alive, and when we were encouraged to bless one another she prayed for me by name with words of depth and power. Michelle, like many of the 300 or so gathered in Lisieux this morning, is connected to the ‘Chemin Neuf’ community. She spoke with genuine affection and passion of the journey of faith the community has taken her on. Hers is a deep faith, rooted in catholic tradition and brought to vibrant life by the Holy Spirit.

I am so glad that Michelle and thousands like her are praying and working for spiritual renewal in France. I’m learning to re-draw my own inner maps to take account of their powerful and positive influence.