Debris - Jesus Army Life

In Christian circles we talk about 'the battle' like we're hardened veterans facing an old enemy. What it means is that we've been going through hard times. At White Stone that has certainly been true and, although we've come through, it has not been without its losses.

At the latest sign of trouble on Sunday we rallied together for some prayer and a sister had this prophetic picture. I thought it was quite meaningful so I've put it up here.

A picture of a single room house, (like in Jesus’ time), representing White Stone. There had been battle, turmoil but this was over.photo by onnufry of flickr.com

However there was lots of dust and debris left behind. When the woman tried to sweep this away the dust flew up into the air and caused confusion; she could not see properly.

What you have to do in that situation is sprinkle water on the floor. The dust sticks to the water and you can sweep it away.

The Holy Spirit is saying ’Many of your battles from 2008 are over, but you cannot see that clearly and feel like you are still in the battle. Ask the Holy Spirit to come like rain to cleanse you and the house and then you will know the truth and be able to move on.
We should keep inviting the Holy Spirit when we pray or worship alone or together. As we do so we will feel cleaner and see clearly. This is not a one time event but a continuous need at the moment.

Jesus promises, "the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Amen, let Him pour.

Photo by onnufry of flickr.com


Broken hearts - Jesus Army Life

Broken hearts - I don't think I'm just talking about the love broken variety, though I guess they are the more popularly known type. Can hearts get broken over a long photo bt Sister72 of flickr.comperiod of time,with small repeated breaks until they are entirely bent out of shape? Or is it just a sudden experience? Hope and joy and everything you built your life on suddenly being snatched away? I don't know, but I'm realising that it can be a significant and devastating part of the human experience.

How do you help someone rebuild their life when they can't find the juice to start again? I know people who have obviously been broken in their lives because something has happened to them through no fault of their own. They pick up their life and rebuild it, they keep a positive outlook, but you can see that something is missing, or at least you can once you've known the experience yourself.

So how do you fix a broken heart?

Open heart surgery?
Hope on a drip feed?
Life transplant?
Faith transfusion?
Joy cream for the itchy bits?
Love pills? (prescription only of course)
Or Amnesia anaesthetic? (which can strangely be bought over the counter)

photo bt Sister72 of flickr.com


Jesus Army Life - 'Go to bed for Jesus'

There's a lot to be said for a good night's sleep, especially if it is followed by an early morning walk. It's a wonderful thing to go out praying into the dark and see the light break through into a tender dawn as you do so.

I would prefer to be part of the bustling life that happens in every Jesus Army photo by aphasiafilms of flickr.comcommunity house on a Thursday night - it's friendship evening so a big meal is cooked and lots of friends come round. However, I find that I'm pretty worn out at the moment, so I opted for an early night. And I feel grateful for it. Rather than snatching a few minutes of prayer I was able to stroll round the park and sort out some thoughts and questions with my heavenly Father.

By all accounts it was a fun evening though, with new friends (someone I met a year ago) and some joyful camaraderie. A chance to relax in the middle of a busy week.

photo by aphasiafilms of flickr.com


Jesus Army Life - Just need to talk

When you go through hard times, as I have recently, the most important thing you need to do is talk.

It's an interesting word talk - because it doesn't mean give someone a brief 5-point outline of your problem; it doesn't mean attempting to win an Oscar for looking miserable until a friend asks you what's wrong; it doesn't really mean dramatically entering a room and demanding that your friend stop everything to give you the next 30 minutes of their time (though if nothing else is working it's better to try this than nothing at all).

Among friends talking means conversation, obviously. It's about a sharing of emotions, ideas and opnions. It's about mutual affirmation and encouragement and, if necessary, a bit of a reality check.

So when did you last talk?

photo by steveharris of flickr.comI have many friends, for which I'm very glad. I'm due to go for a walk with one at lunchtime, and I hope to catch another before dinner tonight. Friends make you a priority - which is important because when we're living in a fast paced life it's easy to forget important things. And when you're feeling negative, no matter how many friends you have, it's too easy to feel forgotten.

But the reality is we really can go through several days without 'talking'. Last night I had an hour's conversation with a friend just because they needed to share something that was on their mind. The chat did me a lot of good too and despite going to bed late I slept better than I have for a long while. I know I need more conversations like that.

I think I need to create a new standard message for texts on my phone: "Need to talk to you about some of the stuff I've been going through. Do you think you might have time later?" I'm going to do it now - it just might revolutionise my life.

photo by steveharris of flickr.com


Jesus Army Life - Old friends

photo by Joshua Rappeneker of flickr.comI bumped into an old friend last night. He came along to the Jesus Centre and it was good to see him catching up with lots of people who have time for him - we had only been talking about him a few days before.

One of the things I've realised about life is that when you go out of your way to love people they seldom forget. People can come into your life and then leave you perhaps travelling across to the other side of the world, they may even slam the door as they go, but they never forget you. Sooner or later you will hear from them in one way or another and you realise they still think about you.

And that is one of the most wonderful blesssings I know.
photo by Joshua Rappeneker of flickr.com


Changing rooms - Jesus Army Life

photo by thom82 of flickr.comThe day has come. The brothers are moving into the big sisters' room (only because the sisters are moving into the space created by some newly constructed bedrooms). But we knew this day would be ours!

Now, we've many temporary guests but the call must go to those who want to build community to make it a shining light of God's Kingdom forever. And they will come...

photo by thom82 of flickr.com


Soldier girls - Jesus Army Life

Yesterday morning the male leaders at White Stone met to discuss household issues. There were some serious matters on the agenda as loved brethren were going through a tough time. Many of us were stressed and tired and feelings were running high.

Imagine the surprise when we walked into the 'Quiet room' to find a room filled with colour, balloons hanging from the ceiling with messages of encouragement and scripture reminding us to trust in the Lord. A sister leader and her disciples had been busy the night before creating gifts of love for us.

We held the meeting in a relaxed if not slightly surreal atmosphere.

It reminded me how great the women in our household are. When the battle is on they are willing to be there right beside their brothers, encouraging them to stand in the fight, communicating by their own grace a trust in God and the Church to do the right thing. It was humbling and precious.


Jesus Army Life - Syncopated Rhythms

Living in community it's quite important to be deliberate in showing love to your friends from time to time. The temptation can be to just live out the rhythm of community life, rather than live spontaneously for people.

Rhythms in life are healthy but without something to draw attention to their beauty you are unlikely to realise how good they feel. So in community we live out a pattern of love for one another, but we've got to keep finding ways to highlight the love we feel.Photo by of Mrs.Maze flickr.com

Little gifts or notes can be good, as can long conversations with a friend, sometimes it's just about helping someone with their regular chores... Whatever it is, it's got to keep happening or the constant rhythm is in danger of becoming mundane. And people in danger of forgetting that they really are loved.

Photo by of Mrs.Maze flickr.com


Jesus Army Life - London Day

Once a year our whole church heads down to the streets of London for a Jesus party. With carnivalesque atmosphere we march from the top of Oxford Street down to Trafalgar Square. There's colour, there's dancing, there's music and drama. We always meet lots of people and we always have a good time proclaiming our faith in one of the world's most important capitals.


A moment of beauty - Jesus Army Life

It would have been romantic had the moment been shared with someone else. As it was it was with my butch builder room-mate. But there at midnight, leaning out of the window and watching the rain descend on the street below under the shimmering glow of the streetlamps, it was still beautiful.

Earlier in the evening the members of the community had had a meal together, prayed together and deliberately taken the time to relax in one another's company. We spoke about individual member's strengths and laughed at our foolishness. It was an evening of restoration.

My room-mate shared later how he had buzzed with pride and joy as he realised he was sharing his life with many, different wonderful people. We rang a friend we hadn't seen for a while and we chatted with him. And I apologised to my friend for my recent moodiness. We spoke of love and of friends whom we love. And I retired late that night to sleep deeply, with the window slightly ajar, the cool breeze on my face, the sound of rain pattering outside.


Dancing in worship - Jesus Army Life

The best thing about this weekend? Enjoying the fellowship of a committed Muslim as we danced together before the Lord at our gospel event.


Loneliness - Jesus Army Life

Loneliness is an interesting feature of humanity. It is said you can be lonely in a crowd and I believe it's true.

Loneliness is not only an experience caused by the absence of friends, it's something that happens on the inside too; it can cling to your heart like the shawl of a corpse once poisoned by neglect. The body still inhales and exhales, the lips smile, but it's a veil, the soul inside is lonely.

I'm told some people simply don't do 'lonely', I can't say what it's like for them, but I know some do (I do), and for some it feels so inescapable it is like a mantrap snapped tight around their life.

Even living in community you can feel alone sometimes, though there are good friends there to help. It's not about self pity but there are times when we can all be vulnerable to this particular state of the soul.

So how about you - do you do lonely?

Can you understand what I mean? (Is anyone out there...)


Father's love - Jesus Army Life

I'm in awe of the Father's love. In all his commandments, like a true father, none of them are just to make us obedient unwilling servants, but they are for our good. As with a father guiding his son, they are for learning the right way to live. The real blessing of the relationship is our learning to receive what He has to give - to be as open as possible - and He wants to give so much!

"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Luke 10


Jesus Army life - Affirmation

photo by beDub of flickr.com Looking after one another has to be one of the main activities of community life. If we're not okay then we can't help other people. But the busyness of community can lead us to retreat into our shells rather than give as we should.

It's a vicious circle: you think no one has noticed the difficulty you're experiencing, so you start to look after yourself, and paying attention to yourself means you're less likely to notice other people's needs and they in turn can feel uncared for.

The reality couldn't be further from the truth. In community we're desperately interested in how others are doing, we're in it together, we want to share our lives. But it doesn't take too much to make people feel like they've gone unnoticed.

Sometimes we have to slow down and remember who we are together. It doesn't take too much for the love to begin flowing again: a quick caring word, a laugh together, a helping hand - just that little bit of attention and affirmation. We have a maxim in our house: If you want to be feel happy, make others happy, if you want to be loved, love others. It works.
photo by beDub of flickr.com


Learning to love God - Jesus Army Life

How do you learn to love God? Or if you love God already how do you grow to love him more?

Photo by canonsnapper of flickr.com
I'm not sure, but I guess it's about letting God fill your life in every way, giving him every part and hiding nothing from him, and, practically, choosing to be obedient - denying yourself so he can then fill you even more.

For me I know I tend to approach God by trying to understand things rather then opening my heart to him but I'm slowly learning the heart has some advantages over the head.

Any suggestions kindly received.
Photo by canonsnapper of flickr.com


Choosing - Jesus Army Life

Making life decisions isn't easy, but you can't really hide away from them - they knock around your subconscious until you face them.

(And it's difficult asking God when you can't trust your own heart.)

So what do you do? I guess you can always change your mindphoto by Brave Heart on Flickr.com - but the prospect of doing so can seem almost as scary as making the decision in the first place. Call me a coward.

I don't think I'm normally like this. Perhaps I've been burnt too many times before. You can lose hope after a while - it can seem safer not to bother trying at all - but that's not really going to help anyone.

And the positives? Prospects of change, greater service to God, times of blessing and joy. What's the risk?

It's the fear of the great unknown - but when you've climbed onto the diving board, you can't really choose not to jump, no matter how stupid you look when you enter the water.

Photo by Brave Heart on Flickr.com