Just had a tub of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream with two friends.


*cough*     ahem.

Building together - Jesus Army Life, Day 248

You can't help but love life really. Yesterday I felt very down, but I'd picked up by the evening (about as soon as I'd finished work - lol). We worshipped together last night, which was great and it was fantastic to hear the younger guys spontaneously singing later on that night. It wasn't surprising though - they'd just had a session on the Holy Spirit. All the same I'm glad - there's some real discovery of God going on among some unchurched youth.

It's going to be important to get these guys really bonding strongly together and supporting each other in their faith in Jesus. It takes time, but we'll see what God can do. It's their church, and they'll be the guys who'll make it happen.

Tonight I'm deliberately resting. I'm gonna have to avoid the guilt feelings of not doing more, but I've reached a point where if I don't stop something is likely to blow.


Fire in our hearts - Jesus Army Life, Day 247

So, she finally made covenant. Those who know who I'm talking about will rejoice with me, those who don't will hopefully enjoy this piece none the less.

It's never easy laying down your life to build with others, but it's important. It's crucial if you want to see Jesus made beautiful among His people. And covenant is beautiful. The experience of people committed together, wanting to be open, dedicated to relationships of love, sharing an adventure in God. There's nothing quite like it. There is beauty in its power, God finds a committed people attractive: "where two or three of you gather together in my name;" the Holy Spirit longs to dwell in a Body consecrated to Him, people walk in through the door and are aware of the presence of something good and wonderful. Jesus. His love. His life-changing power. His people bonded as one.

Well done to the sister who joined the ranks of the committed. May you discover many treasures along the way. You're an inspiration, believe it. Others are considering covenant too. It's something you do because it is the desire of your heart, you want to join with others you love in the same vision and purpose.

Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried."
Ruth 1

Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt... So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, "May the LORD call David's enemies to account." And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
1 Samuel 18; 20

I went out to the woods with a couple of brothers last night (neither in covenant). We lit a bonfire. It was so relaxing. I think a hearth-fire should be integral to every home. You can understand why people in ages past didn't need a television when they could just sit round a fire talking, laughing, singing. These are the relationships that matter. May there be many more, and may they last.


Risky faith - Jesus Army Life, Day 245

Thank you Lord for people.
Thank you Lord for friendships.
Thank you Lord for grace.
Thank you Lord for challenge.
Thank you Lord for youth.
Thank you Lord for opportunity.
Thank you Lord for Jesus.
Thank you Lord that you suffered for us.
Thank you Lord for direction.
Thank you Lord for training.
Thank you Lord for memories.
Thank you Lord for hope.
Thank you Lord for creation.
Thank you Lord for covenant.
I trust You.

I was told a long time ago, that when you can't find the heart or strength to pray, you should just find things to thank God for. It usually cranks your spirit-life into power.

Just for the record, we had a great leaders' meeting last night. There was a good sense of working together, finding unity and a willingness for risky faith. Good stuff.


Community is working - Jesus Army Life, Day 244

Hmmm, well this weekend has been fantastic. It started back on Thursday when we picked up a friend who's heart is for community life but who has been struggling loads with various issues. He's stayed before so it's good to have him back and he's going to be staying for the week to see how he gets on.

Then there was praying for a female youngster on Thursday evening. She was grieved about a particular issue and has slowly been opening her heart up to God. The sister who joined me to pray for her has been helping her for some time now so this was another step on the journey. All credit to this esteemed co-worker in Christ for her loving diligence.

On Friday evening I caught up with a friend I haven't seen for ages. That was sweet enough in itself. Then on Saturday we had a conference for men which was attended by about 600 fellas. I always find these conferences convicting and this one was no different. I've been trying to make my way back into a deep relationship with Jesus after having been dried out through a lot of stress-pressure stuff. I received some prayer in the evening which was helpful. And my struggling friend found something of God again too, which was great.

Sunday was beautiful. It always is when the community family gets together in the morning - we talked about who was 'anchored in the harbour of our heart'. There was an afternoon meeting for Drop-In team leaders which might sound boring to you but it's vital to me. I haven't led a drop-in session for three weeks and I always feel out of it and a bit nervous when I haven't done a session in a while.

But the evening was the corker - I was involved in helping baptise three people. One of them is a close friend of mine who met the church last year through that same diligent sister. It's a privilege to have known him and see him changing and conquering his fears as he's come to know Jesus. It's just good to be with him on the journey. When the baptisms had finished a fourth person came forward to be baptised. He'd only come along to church for the first time that morning but he obviously liked what he found, mainly Jesus. A few guys already knew him and so we baptised him and he was obviously filled with the Holy Spirit.

Driving people home that night. The sister we'd baptised that evening couldn't stop talking about how drunk in Spirit she felt, "like being stoned, like a 1000 pills." I was smiling inside too, especially as the young teenager we'd prayed for a few days before was there too and listening. I'm praying it had some impact.

The three teenagers we baptised had all come round to White Stone in the last year, the other man had started attending our Jesus Centre activities. As our household leader said: "Community is working." Amen, and the Jesus Centre is working, Church is working.

(PS. I haven't time to tell you how earlier in the week we laughed ourselves silly about how exhausting all this stuff is. Praise God!)


Who's the loser? - Jesus Army Life, Day 240

I just lost my post. It was about Christians struggling with weed and the Afghan Christian possibly about to be sentenced to death for his faith. Not much comparison you might think but my conclusion was that Jesus must be close to them both.


Bashing down the door - Jesus Army Life, Day 238

I wish I could divulge more information but it wouldn't be fair on either of the people I'm thinking of (rest assured if you're thinking it's you it's probably not). I'm just reflecting on how interesting it is that occasionally the people you would never imagine finding their way into the Kingdom sometimes do!

I love God, he moves in mysterious ways - must be a groovy dancer.
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
Matthew 11


The wonder of life - Jesus Army Life, Day 237

When your own life is attached to so many others, it's beautiful. And truly, it's subject to the winds and storms of many other friends' lives. And yet you can stand as a rock while others rise and fall about you. But your life too undulates with many pleasures and pains and then only Christ seems to be a constant friend. And still even his mystery allows us to wander winding paths with him; climbing mountain tops and descending into gullies of despair. Like a beacon in the mists of unnavigable existence Jesus provides direction and lights our way home. And I wonder if, when friends find themselves buffeted by so many troubles, the friend who stands firm can also be a beacon to them?

Forgive my ramblings. Last night, at church and after, I saw both triumph and desperation in various faces. It is good to be connected to so many lives, and to be able to help where I am able.
Yesterday afternoon we had a leaders' meeting. One of the notable comments was the huge respect we had for all the team at White Stone, especially the household sisters, all of us are worn out from the work of friendship building/disciple making and living sacrificially to win hearts for Christ's Kingdom. We need to look after each other.


Exploring Koinonia - Jesus Army Life, Day 236

Yesterday we were visited by Spirit Life, a church household in Oxford which is hoping to start a common purse between its members. The 'CP' (common purse) is the keystone of community life and causes a church to truly become involved in one another's lives - what is referred to in the bible as koinonia.

It was truly wonderful to be host to this marvelous bunch of people who are simply hankering after the work of Christ's Kingdom among them. They are very special and carry a deep well of blessing together.

They arrived for a leisurely lunch followed by a walk in the local woods together. In the evening we simply shared our spiritual life. There was quite a lot of prophecy about moving in God's fire.

Spirit Life are embarking on a rich adventure together. They already share two houses situated next door to each other on an estate. It is a journey many fear to take, but I am sure they will find wonderful treasures of the Kingdom on the way and bring God's blessing to numerous others.


Life! raw, serious and gutting - Jesus Army Life, Day 231

Last night all the household leaders gathered their disciples together for teaching and ministry. There were five of us in my room and it felt good to be together. There is something about male spirituality that is very raw and powerful. It is not refined, it is honest and unreserved. It's a blessing to get a load of guys together who are passionate about God and wanting to learn to put him first before anything else.

I spoke about learning to be spiritual men rather than fleshy, corrupt men. And I tried to be open about how God would break us in order to train us.

We worshipped and prayed for each other. "It felt serious" as one participant commented. It was a time of learning to be a shepherd for me.

It was also a time of saying goodbye to one of the disciples. He has to leave town for a while. That in itself was gutting.


Loving the world - Jesus Army Life, Day 227

I invented a little rule a while back:

Almost everything in this world is designed to lead you away from Jesus.

Shocking as that might sound I find it is generally true.
Okay, I don't know if things are 'designed' to keep us from Jesus and, yes, I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule but this maxim seems to work most of the time. (And for those out there not down with the Christian lingo - 'world' here doesn't mean the natural world but everything that is part of mankind's system of living, and yup that includes religion.)

Smallprint over. Consider these verses...

What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.
Luke 16:15

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
1 John 2:15-16

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Colossians 2:8

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12

Sometimes I find it useful to remember things in this light. And it leaves me feeling angry that so much can be destructive towards people finding faith in Jesus.

Cue discussion...


Sticking around - Jesus Army Life, Day 225

We talked a lot about the Holy Spirit tonight, how he never leaves you the same. And then we prayed for a lot of the younger guys. Things did happen - the guy I was praying for found he wanted Jesus more than anything. And afterwards a lot of people seemed to want to kindle more real relationships with others, especially the more mature Christians around them. Good stuff.

The last two weeks I've had a friend staying. He had to, someone trashed his car and he's from another town. It's been great seeing him find a thirst for the Kingdom of God again. I value him loads and it's been a blessing to have him stay.


'Despond' orig. meaning: lack of promise - Jesus Army Life, Day 224

I got up late this morning...

For some reason I have started waking up early again, but then I drifted off to sleep and woke up at 7.25am. Not a big problem, I still had 25 minutes before I had to leave the house, except the transport deacon then pops in and asks if I knew I was on the early transport that morning!! Grrr, the only time I don't check the transport list! You'd have thought someone could have let me know! So, we left 10 minutes late, no one seemed to mind but I apologised to the brother who was supposed to be on the shop floor by 8am.

I'm not sure why, but I've been feeling very despondent recently. I've been choosing not to let it get to me, but these things do have a habit of sneaking up on you. The church has been receiving quite a bit of input on 'soulishness' lately. Basically the teaching amounts to the need to live from and feed our spirit not our soul.
For whoever wants to save his life/soul will lose it, but whoever loses his life/soul for me and for the gospel will save it.
Mark 8:35

It's been quite interesting because it's given me some insight into the anatomy of the spirit (if you can use such a metaphor). We know when we're operating from our spirit because we speak and move with the energy of God ("dunamis" is the ancient Greek word here meaning dynamite or power). We are driven by the things of God's agenda: love, justice, the church, good judgement, physical and spiritual restoration. We manifest the fruit of the spirit: peace, joy, faithfulness, kindness etc.

It's something I've never really learnt before - just one of the gaps in my understanding I guess. I've always wanted to have a good understanding of when I'm living from my spirit too. Even Paul always seemed to assume that you just knew:
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
Romans 8:9

It always left me somewhat confused. I used to conclude that if my spiritual experience was so different to others' (which it often seemed to be: more peaceful, less dramatic, but apparentt nonetheless) I just had to discern on my own when I was operating from my spirit and when I was not. Now, I have a bit more to go on, and some positives to identify my own spiritual activity with rather than being left to wander through the mysteries of spiritual life.

What does this mean for my recent feelings of despondencyy? Nothing really, my moods have always been circumstantial and superficial, God has always been at work under the bonnet, but now I just have more understanding of the self to get my teeth into.


Happiness is...

A late night conversation with a peaceful friend over mugs of hot flavoured milk.

We must not wither - Jesus Army Life, Day 233

This weekend a disciple and I planted a couple of trees in the community house garden. One of the trees, a Victoria plum, had a rotten root and I'm waiting to see if it survives. Over the years I've seen a few folk come and go but I've also seen those who have grafted themselves into White Stone life. I hope this young man will be one of those; he is keen and willing, he's taking part in meetings and longing to gain more of the Spirit life. Hopefully we'll be working together and calling many others to be disciples for years to come.

Should they thrive the trees we planted could live longer than both of us. My own dream is that, as we continue to nurture Kingdom of Jesus life among us, through the fruit we produce the Christian church might also become deeply rooted in the UK once again and send out its shoots across the world.


Resting - Jesus Army Life, Day 230

I've been taking time to rest these last couple of days - not something I do regularly. Generally, I'm not very good at relaxing and lazing about so I felt a bit guilty when yesterday evening two teenagers individually rang up to ask if they could come over and I said no. Admittedly, one did ring at 10.30pm but I don't like being unavailable. Still, I'm sure it's okay to say no once in a while.


Mandate - Jesus Army Life, Day 227

I want to live for the Kingdom of God. I don't want any other agenda. Those I rate are those who fight alongside me. I choose the beauty of Jesus' church over every other commitment. I long for the new nation, a people totally motivated by the love of Christ and I'm determined to sacrifice my all to make it happen.

Why? Because there is no better way to glorify Jesus, the one who saved me, than to give my all to bring to reality the Kingdom he desires. That's why I live in community, because it is the best, most enduring way to build solid church, because he lived in community with his brothers too.

What else is there but to live for a people who love one another? What other way? To live for yourself? To live to better a society that insists on dragging itself down to destruction?

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:12

This is my only passion: to live for Jesus and his Church. Please don't confuse me with some 'flesh-bag' whose aims and ambitions are diverted this way and that. If that's the case you've got me all wrong.