A winning heart - Jesus Army Life, Day 397

Photo by do.se of flickr.comRecently I asked God to teach me more about the power of prayer. I didn't have long to wait for my first lesson. The church had a three day festival coming up and I felt pretty desperate for God to do something in all the guys I take care of. So I prayed.

The weekend was certainly dramatic with healings and deliverances. The power of God was there. One of my friends was broken to tears, the first night, received the gift of tongues on the second and was bowled over by the Spirit the following day. Another two received effective and obvious deliverance from evil spirits that had afflicted them. I continue to pray for some of the other guys.

God touched many of the youngsters we had around in a variety of ways and one can but love Him for it. A week ago at Agape the leader spoke of winning our youngsters into real discipleship. He spoke from Matthew 18 about how we all get things wrong and have to be won into maturity by our brothers and sisters. We can't expect people to suddenly be perfect.

It was a beautiful message for me because for the first time I felt seriously able to bridge the gap between the pledge of baptism and the covenant commitment we celebrate as a church. Not every member of our church has made a covenant but every member is baptised. The difficulty is that, while they may not be seen as such in today's individualistic world, biblically entering into the new covenant with the church and being baptised are the same thing (as evidenced in Colossians 2 and 1 Peter 3). However while baptism is about initiation, covenant is about perseverance. How do our youngsters move from baptism into the maturity of covenant commitment? We win them - it's all about our love, and having big enough hearts to keep them, in spite of their imperfections and failings.

I hope you can see where I'm going with this. The power and strength of the church relies upon the sacrificial love of its core members. It's what we're called to.


Apostolic authority - Jesus Army Life, Day 389

Last night the elders and other trainee leaders gathered together to consider the affairs of the church. It was great stuff, with a review of our thinking on multiracial church, teaching on deliverance ministry and a stern message about being an apostolic church.

This last subject has caught my vision somewhat. There is great certainty in knowing that there are leaders within the church not only willing to provide direction and vision but an authoritative rule for the purpose of modelling the Kingdom of heaven. I can see people clutching for their notions of independence even as I write, but heaven is not filled with independent people. The authority of Jesus has been given to His church (Matthew 18:18-20) and apostolic men are gifted with the servant role of leading God's people into being a people of light. It is an interesting balance of power between the church as a whole, its governing elders and its apostles and prophets providing the foundation, but it's inspiring too and I'm excited!


The Separate Supper - Jesus Army Life, Day 388

On Sundays, after church, we've started having segregated supper scenes. The split is along gender lines, and, if you think that's strange, the lads love it! (I can't speak for the sisters because I haven't asked them yet.)

The youngsters weren't really getting the point about not flirting and entering into the strength of same-sex friendships, so we decided to push the issue. The suppers are fairly popular and we usually have a dozen or so guests back after the evening meeting. Upon arriving the men and women split off into separate lounges to eat and drink together and it's that simple! We still have meals together on other days of the week but this helps to make a point about the need for our relationships to be holy and wholesome.

But I was quite surprised that the younger ones would get into it so quickly. "Yeah, it's a time for men to be men and women to be women" summed up one disciple after I explained what we were doing. And that's just it really, we want both the young men and women to feel good about themselves without having to perform/feel uncomfortable around the opposite sex. We want them to grow into maturity without inhibition, knowing who they are for themselves, rather than defining themselves by how sexy they are. You can't reveal your true emotions, laugh without fear, test yourself against people of the same mindset, when you are feeling self-conscious about that girl you fancy.

Of course we want our youngsters to grow in respect for the opposite sex, and this really helps that. And naturally, you can't truly respect others intimately unless you respect yourself.


Now... this is my serious face - Jesus Life, Day 385

The trouble with having other bloggers living in the same house as you is that you're likely to write about the same thing... So, while James (shock! horror! I mentioned his name - no one is safe now...) Ahem. So... while James writes about the fun and games we had last night I'll stick to the more boring subject of how we had more of an evenly balanced age range.

This was good because sometimes I think we fear bringing older friends round to a youth mad-house! One member brought his (adult) friend round and we actually had time to sit around and chat, which was great... and then we had the games...


Shout out - Jesus Army Life, Day 383

Just want to send a big shout out to all the guys who've been staying over the last week or so - you guys are quality and you know it. It's been a privilege sharing the work with you. And I'm praying now that God speaks into your lives in a very real, noticeable way. Amen!


Together again - Jesus Army Life, Day 382

by SunFlowery on flickr.com Last Tuesday we washed one another's feet. There was great joy and intimacy in this sacramental act: sisters and brothers in separate groups, smiling, laughing past the embarrassment, speaking words of encouragement and appreciation. Friendship encapsulated in the guise of the most honourable position on earth - that of a servant.

It was refreshment we were going to need: the following four days exhausted us with the difficult work of constantly giving and constantly meeting new people as we took the gospel to the streets of Worcester and Coventry. We had a great time but it was difficult.

On the final day we geared up for a gospel music extravaganza and the place was packed. Not because of the work we'd done alone, but because the show, Goldsmiths, has a reputation for being a good message with a good time. I'm in contact with some people we met over these last few days.

Tonight the core team gathers together again. We'll have to see what the Lord does and what our hearts are open to but I'm counting on our need to lean on Him, our Servant King, and His ability to come through.


Scots Family Pollocks Pacific Adventures

Scots Family Pollocks Pacific Adventures

I thought I'd post up a link to Nigel's blog. A great man (believe it) and a great influence on my life and understanding as a Christian - though I still can't understand why he likes wearing shorts so much...


Fighting - Jesus Army Life, Day 378

In a prayer meeting recently a sister prayed about fighting. I wish I could remember every word. Specifically she prayed about learning to fight, not physically but with all our energy for people to break through to God. We've got to get rid of the idea that fighting is innevitably bad. If you don't know how to fight, if you cannot stand your ground, you can't win. The enemy wins instead.

It's no use standing still and hoping that something's gonna come to rescue us, we can't just expect blessing to come; there is a struggle to be won. We have to be willing to work with God and not just sit back. We have to give him our energy and focus on what needs to be done to win through. That's not to discount God's ability to help, but we need to work with him.

That's enough conviction for one day.


Sleeping over - Jesus Army Life, Day 374

I sleep in a room with three bedspaces in it, but currently I'm the only one in there. From time to time (mostly weekends) people stay over and it's great when they do. There's something really cool about sharing your sleeping space, something that harks back to schoolboy days of having your mates stay over. It's certainly a way to make friends quickly. I like that.

We've got a church-wide focus on increasing the number of people living in community at the moment, so I've faith those beds are gonna be filled and soonish. People are certainly keen on the adventure of community, but it's a steep learning curve and we want people to know that when you stay in community you're a disciple - it's a life of fun and sacrifice at the same time.

Last night, I had to explain that to a lad who stayed over and is keen to stay a lot more often. I hope I didn't put him off..... but as our pastor says, "you know a disciple because when you close a door for them they climb in through the window!"