No longer 'dead'

For those of you who need to know... I have a new mobile but the number remains the same.

The love of men - Jesus Army Life, Day 277

The love of men is a beautiful thing. (Cue unnecessary suspicion about my sexual orientation.) There is something undiscovered, something strong, something beautiful, mysterious, powerful about loving other guys.

King David wrote a song of his covenant love for his friend Jonathan. He said,
Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
2 Samuel 1

People conclude that this is a quote suggesting homosexuality too, but it was a lyric from a lament which the king taught the whole tribe of Judah - not the kind of thing you confess as upcoming ruler of a strictly heterosexual culture. It was the grief of a man who'd known the kinship of a true friend.

I don't know if the love of men can be better than the love of women. I'm not sure I've had the privilege of that uniquely feminine blessing, maybe once, maybe. But lately I have known the wearying experience of longing for my brother's good. Of just simply caring because nothing else will penetrate that stubborn defensive veneer. I've known the frustration of seeing a friend's life go down the plug hole and the tearful anger when others don't seem to care. I've known fathering, not only from my own Dad but that cherished sense of duty towards a man whom you can't but respect. I've known the camaraderie of friendship which fights for you when you can no longer fight, friendship that speaks out on your behalf, friendship which has sworn fealty with every choice he made (and it still surprises me).

And last night, I received a hug from a lad who's only been coming round a while. I'm not sure I've ever seen him hug anyone, but that simple touch spoke volumes, and it put a spring in my step for the rest of the evening. It told me that he was on board, he was into brotherhood and the sacrificial love which Jesus himself pioneered. You see, it said that he had seen the beauty of Jesus' Kingdom and it made me roar with delight.


Self righteousness - Jesus Army Life, Day 275

Sometimes selfishness comes up and smacks you in the face. And it hurts, especially when it's your own.

I woke up this morning feeling so grieved. The reason? Last night a brother complained about something and I was so busy dealing with the issues he was raising (it was a small problem), that I didn't sense the hurt and injury behind what he was expressing.

But another brother pointed it out and then I felt gutted. A little tip: If ever you feel you are in the right, you are more than likely in the wrong - simply by virtue of seeing your own righteousness before your love for your brother. That kind of attitude is bound to end up hurting somebody.

Sometimes we can be so busy protecting our own selves that refuse to see how we're contolling others in the process.


To love another

To love another as oneself is only the halfway house to Heaven, though it seems as far as it was prudent to bid man go. The "greater love than this" of which our Lord speaks, though He does not command it, is to give oneself for one's friends. And when one does this, or is ready to do this, prayer even for "us" seems too selfish--and it is unnecessary, for we then possess all that God Himself can give us. The easy renunciation of self for the Beloved becomes the very breath of life.

Coventry Patmore

There and back again - Jesus Army Life, Day 274

Last week was an excellent week, but so unlike Build Times that we've had before: less focused on those at the core, more focused on others at the fringe. But it was really great to see two of the crew give their lives to Jesus, and many others take steps forward into being more part of the household life. The transition hasn't been without some spiritual flak though and we can probably expect some more. It's good to see some well loved and familiar faces back after their Easter breaks too.

Apparently, according to our church pastor, we are experiencing normal household activity: growth, resulting in maturer saints sacrificing their own energy and interests (and sleep) for the sake of newer ones....


Good. Now I've got that off my chest, on with the work of church building and growth. And it's the Agape meal tonight...


Highs and lows - Jesus Army Life, Day 271

The Build Time has been going well, especially since one lass who was visiting decided to give her heart to Jesus. It's been a time of building relationships, and for the younger folk especially, a time to challenge their depth of faith. These times are of great importance because they set us up for the year ahead.

Yesterday we took a trip to Burton Dasset to run and play in the hills. There was a lot of rolling down hills and hilarity. For a large part of the afternoon many of us played a game of 'capture the fortress' which seemed to stifle as the opposing teams found themselves in a stale mate - any risk that was made just never really seemed to pay off. I often find these outings prophetic of the year to come, but if this one was anything to go by then we're going to be a people who don't really know what we're doing, frustrated by the opposition. Still, we remained together in the challenge so there is hope.

More frustratingly, I lost my phone somewhere along the line and I've been kicking myself ever since. I had a lot of valuable contacts on that phone. Grrrr.

(If you know I should have your number, email me.)


All of a blur - Jesus Army Life, Day 269

When I've got my head together I'll talk about the Alive Weekend Festival: four days of national church gathering, sharing vision, receiving the Spirit. It's all a bit of a blur to me at the moment, I know there was some convicting stuff going on and a powerful move of the Spirit too, but looking after the video team and a few young disciples seemed to dominate much of my spare head space. I decided to give my heart to Jesus even if my head couldn't take it all in... and that's why I need to let things settle first. But I probably won't ever get time... it's the Power Weekend in three weeks! Life goes too fast.

Some of the household has taken time off to re-centre ourselves and the household in its own part of the vision and the work of the church (not me, I had to work yesterday and a couple of others are working today). Still yesterday sounded interesting. I returned home to find the house filled with teenagers (a couple of girls had brought their mates around). Everyone had been doing DIY/garden work together - something we used to do as a whole church in the early days and still do a little... harvesting gooseberries, plums etc. In the morning there had been a workshop on 'Being a disciple - teachable and up for challenges'. It sounded pretty good. The mandatory trust exercise was being helped across a road blindfolded! Disciplines were handed out too (I've spoken about those before). In the evening we had some teaching on what it means to be a disciple - lots more spiritual stuff on moving in the power and life of Jesus.

So, as you can tell, a lot to take in. Hope it settles eventually.


Quirky - Jesus Army Life, Day 262

(I'm just getting back into the habit of writing daily blogs properly, so please forgive the following entry... I just couldn't think what to write about...)

Yesterday, one of the cars we share: 'DBD' (we always refer to cars by the last three letters on the registration plate) started overheating on the way home from work. It was a bigger problem because we were on the motorway at the time, but all the normal causes: radiator fan not working, no water, low oil, seemed to be working fine. Myself and two other brothers got out to pour over the engine, scratching our heads, wondering what to do, but there was no solution to the problem. We just put the internal heater on full and drove the rest of the way home at 50mph.

Our most technical of brothers commented that this was typical: a car always seems to go down before a big Festival Weekend. (The giant marquee is being set up in a field in Northampton in preparation as I write.) But we've arranged to borrow a minibus from another community house so hopefully it shouldn't be much of a problem - though it's anybody's guess how many young friends we'll have coming... Personal organisation isn't their strong point, but then again, it's not mine either. (I was heard commenting recently that you can always tell what the sisters are doing about five months in advance because their requests for transport will be written into the transport book. Me? I have to put a daily reminder on my phone just to remember to ask myself if I need any transport!)

But DBD has other issues too, it's a bit of an attention seeker really. Its alarm/hazard lights will always start flashing after a while, as if the slightest touch from some shadow had set them off, but try to make them flash deliberately and they stubbornly stay quiet. At work people will kindly come to tell you that the lights are flashing but after several times of switching them off you can't be bothered to respond any more. The garage knows about the problem but hasn't been able to solve it. Just another quirky car I suppose.



To the most excellent geezer who made covenant last night - nice1 m8. You've got a great adventure ahead of you, glad to be walking with you.

Editing life - Jesus Army Life, Day 261

Hurray, hurray! I had six hours non stop sleep, first time in weeks! Boy am I grateful. I've been playing Hillsongs songs all day just to celebrate - that's how grateful I am. (usually I can't stand more than 5 minutes of the stuff.)

Did I mention Zion-speak the other day? Hmmm, feels like one of those subjects you can feel cooking up inside you until you just have to blog all over the place about it. For now I'll just settle with a quote from an email I sent to someone who complained that I'd edited their work too enthusiastically.
If you can write a politically correct, grammatically correct, clear, concise,
unabbreviated, non waffly, non insulting, non parochial, non boring, non Zion-speak, uncliched, unrepetitive, well structured, dynamic report I won't need to change a thing.

Now just to get the rest of this life sorted out, then I'll be happy...


Fighting - Jesus Army Life, Day 260

There's a battle on and we're determined to win. With so many new ones longing to find the life of Jesus we can't give in to sickness or tiredness and we can't afford to lose heart. Some are rushing to the frontline strength of covenant to join the work. Some are being tended to in love, their spirits sapped by affliction. But we are of the tribe of the Holy Spirit and we do not give in! We stand together. We declare the victory of Jesus over the darkness. We unite in his love, his power, his sacrifice and work to rescue friends caught in the bondage of this world. We're facing down the enemy. We're moving in faith. Sickness banished, sin cleansed by his blood. Freed to know the eternal blessing of our Father God. Brothers united, new recruits entering the Kingdom. Jesus reigning in our hearts. His glory is all! And it's working...

This weekend we celebrate the victory of our God at Alive weekend. It's important stuff and boy, do we need to be receiving from God at this time. Pray for us.


Build time - Jesus Army Life, Day 259

I've just seen the timetable for our household's 'Build time' - it looks exciting. Lot's of opportunity for sharing and challenge and being together, plus some basic teaching on the words of Jesus.


Cheating today - Jesus Army Life, Day 253

I'd like to write something sensible but I'm dog tired and it probably won't come out straight.

So instead - I'm going to cheat and put up the report our household leader wrote for our church bulletin today. (I'm always asking others if they want to contribute anyway...)

WHITE STONE, COVENTRY: “Jesus baptises us in the Holy Spirit” is the word at the moment and we’re seeking to allow opportunities for our young crew to experience this on Thursday nights. But not just the young – 'MP' (in her eighties) spoke in tongues for the first time last Tuesday – it was beautiful.

'A's settling into covenant – it’s wonderful to see God soaking deeper into her heart. Meanwhile, 'D's about to dive in to covenant. So it’s all ‘go’ on the covenant front (be patient, 'H', your time will come!) There’s a real sense around that White Stone saints like being White Stone saints!

Obviously in the actual article the names are printed fully. But I thought I'd stick to tradition. I wonder how much "Zion-speak" you can pick out.


Mobile church - Jesus Army Life, Day 252

We had our annual Common Purse meeting last night. It went well, no surprises, except that we have to cut down on transport costs a bit. Our general costs are well under £60 per person per week and other income goes on miscellaneouss need and charitable giving.

At White Stone we drive everywhere - I don't mean just down to the local shops, but all over Coventry and beyond - Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays we're picking folk up and dropping them off (we're starting to say that Mondays and Tuesdays are our weekend!) There's a lot more dropping off than picking up but it's a service we like to give to people who otherwise would not be able to make it to our gatherings.

There are four cars and two transport deacons (one does weekends). And sometimes they're organising over 30 people, though only 13 of us live in the house. With about one national gathering a month we're quite a mobile church and we all travel along to those bigger meetings. In the first two decades of the church's existence we often formed convoys up the motorway, as we traveled to some city or other.

I often think of us as a church on wheels - going to where the people are. Our vehicles are usually easy to spot too because of their bright colours, whether serving working girls in the red light district, meeting people on the street in London, or converging upon a particular meeting point.

So, while I'm glad that we're often car-sharing and being apparently environmentally friendly, I'm not sure how we're really going to cut down on costs. I'm not sure advise to 'not pop out so much' is really going to cut it. Each car probably does about 12,000 miles a year.


Bored - Jesus Army Life, Day 251

It's been a good weekend. I think I enjoyed the Saturday evening meeting most of all. We spoke prophetic words over those who had recently been baptised. Last week, one of the three had been knocked to the ground and kicked simply for wearing his cross. He seems to have taken it in his stride. Interestingly the Sunday morning sermon was about persecution. We prophecied lots in that Sunday morning meeting too: lots of stuff about the need to engage with God and not be lazy about His glory.

Funnily enough, on the Saturday night I had hoped to go to a friend's party but lack of proper sleep lately had totally wiped me out.

One of the things which has challenged me lately is the question of how community life can be more engaging for teenagers. Yesterday, I took three lads off to skim stones and walk along the wind swept shore of Draycote Water about 10 miles away from White Stone. It helped them expend some of their energy. The trouble is that at that age they so quickly decide that they are bored instead of seeking ways to pace themselves through the day. There is always something to do or someone to talk to in community, but at their age I wouldn't expect them to see that. It falls down to the adults to involve them in what they are doing or to do something with them - but often the teenagers will find those things boring too.

I find myself thinking that for both the teenagers and the adults it comes down to a choice to love, and to give themselves into the work of loving others. Love is many things, but it is never boring.