A new start - Jesus Army Life, Day 517

Photo by Phil H of flickr.comWell, we just baptised our first man from Worcester. It was a good baptism although he has a long way to go. I think he'll do well.

Tomorrow he stays at home while the other men trek off to a leader's meeting. Sounds cruel? He'll be getting some leadership training of his own. In our church we hold to the basic teaching that men carry authority in a church household. Now, in reality, authority is won by the respect given to and the conviction of the person who holds it, whether they be male or female, but there is great significance in men learning to lead from the front. So tomorrow, as we leave for the meeting, this young disciple will be charged with leading the prayer time before the day's main meal. A small responsibility perhaps, but when you've never done anything like that before, and when there are several other mature sisters there, with far greater clout (in Christ) than you, it is an awesome and humbling thing to do. And it is a great initiation into the reality that as a man you will always be relied upon to look after and speak out for others - this is why it is so important for shy men to learn to lead from the front in humility.

I am told it is also "a means of grace" from the sisters to the brother - they hand over their right to be self autonomous to the brother and so he learns that he has to be responsible for others. The sisters don't have to do that, but in doing so they are bringing great strength and encouragement to him.

The elders meeting itself should be good tomorrow, it being the start of a new year. There will be opportunity to review our journey with God over the past twelve months and hear His Spirit for the time ahead, an important time of consecration I imagine.

Photo by Phil H of flickr.com


He answers prayer - Jesus Army Life, Day 515

Answered prayer:

  • Being bought a minibus by the Trust after we were told the waiting list was too long and we couldn't receive one till sometime next year.

  • A very irate young girl returning to apologise after praying with her intended enemy that she would do so.

  • People just turning up on the doorstep wanting Jesus.

Unanswered prayer:

  • Making avenues into the student community

  • Seeing a friend's relative find healing


Eternal effect - Jesus Army Life, Day 514

I've just watched Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ for the third time. I once heard a film critic describe the movie as a horror film and in many ways it is, it shows the real defeat of evil and is bloody, gory stuff. But if there is something macabre about the cross then it is at once both horrific and profound. No sentient Christian can watch that film and not remember that Jesus was dying for them. You count each wound, each spurt of blood, as an eternal payment on your behalf.

Photo by Giampaolo Macorig of flickr.comJesus is still at work today, but He has triumphed and calls others to follow in His footsteps. Tonight my friend watched the film for the first time and ended up crying over his sin. Two brothers (real brothers) came round for the first time and discovered church where people lay down their lives for one another. And I have seen two of my disciples on their way to finding Jesus again. These things are of great importance to my own heart. Jesus is at work, helping people to find Him. And His work shall continue until He returns.

Photo by Giampaolo Macorig of flickr.com


Love of my life - Jesus Army Life, Day 511

photo by Mr Austin Frothingslosh of flickr.comWell, here I am sitting in our lounge, listening to the various conversations going on. There is a lot of love around. No one is saying “I love you” exactly but there's just some good conversation. People are tenderly affirming one another, relaxing with each other, one sister is resting her head on another's knee, there's lots of laughter around, the lads are making a curry in the kitchen. It's beautiful really.

We've just recently come back from the Sunday evening meeting, which I led (it seemed to go well). And before that we spent the day at our mother-household which is always a heartening experience, a bit like seeing very close relatives whom you love very much. I guess the general feeling I have at the moment is that this is church growing and blossoming in health and it's good.

Not that there aren't issues at the moment. Once again I'm challenged by the progress of various young men, some are doing very well, some are struggling, which is distressing, and simply, it challenges me. I want to see God move in so many people's lives, and I know he will, but I'm impatient!

Beauty mixed with pain: Life.

photo by Mr Austin Frothingslosh of flickr.com


Wish list - Jesus Army Life, Day 509

by Farl of Flickr.comThere are so many gifts you wish you had. I wish I had the gift to reach my friends with my entire heart - the gift of saying the right thing at the right time. I often feel aware of that need because I'm painfully aware that I often get it wrong. I'm usually lost for words and fail to say the right thing; lightening wit is a gift I covet. Another gift I wish I had is the ability to inspire, I so want to share with others the beauty I see, whether it's in God or in them or in life generally. Finally, the gift I would love to have is the ability to make people laugh, I often do, but I'd like the ability to turn it on like a tap, it often evades me.

But then I'm just me, young, gifted, a child of God - I know that is what is important. And I know the strengths I do have, and in some ways I praise God for my weaknesses too.

Photo by Farl of Flickr.com


Time and tide - Jesus Army Life, Day508

by Dean Forbes of Flickr.com Days can begin slowly, in the first muttered words of prayer you mull over all the things that will happen in the hours ahead and you know you'll be in need of God's help, at other times you find your mind wandering, captured, barely able to think past your own vain imaginations. No matter what mood possesses you, all that space to think quickly becomes an illusion and you’re working on borrowed time. Thoughts may move at a snail's pace but real time flies by; before you know it, it's time to go to work, time for lunch, and it's time to go home. And then bang! You’re back into the bustle of community life, face to face with all the hopes and cares you tried to give attention to all those hours ago first thing in the morning. Hopes like: the newcomers experiencing the power of God, wayward disciples finding repentance, closing with that brother about some important issue, or simply making sure you've got enough time to relax before you go to sleep. And before you know it, it's another day.

But God remains true. Our heavenly Father is always working and He gives proper attention to what matters. And so the newcomers come and find a place of rest for their hearts, wayward disciples return a little meeker but much more loved, time is spent with that brother investing in things that will last forever, and time to rest…? This is the Kingdom of God we’re talking about! There’s too much work to do, we’ll rest when we reach the everlasting Sabbath.
Photo by Dean Forbes of Flickr.com


Treasure in Heaven - Jesus Army Life, Day 502

photo by kool skatkat of flickr.comSeveral people have been nagging me about posting an update on my blog. I believe the entirety of my experiences can be summed up in one word: wow!

The truth is that while there are many funny and profound experiences I could have written about lately I haven't been able to because I haven't found the time to do them justice (I'm waiting to get some kit to be able to write properly each evening). Life is great though, it has stretched from the mesmerising astonishment of realising that God wants to give us all His righteousness to the comically crazy event of slapping hair wax under my arms (... I was late for work and got a tad confused).

And so much has been happening in terms of growth at White Stone, lots of brothers staying over, new people, new friends, taking the gospel to Worcester, family life etc I do want to write... but I have to find the time.

Most importantly God has been great. His Spirit keeps reminding me a lot about patience so I need to get my head round that, but I've also been rediscovering the beauty of this "treasure hid in jars of clay" lately and I can't but love Him.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:45-46
Photo by kool skatkat