God at work - Jesus Army Life, 78

Boy, life is moving fast! I've been preparing videos for an event in Sheffield, coming up this Saturday. We were asked to put together four pieces with about two week's notice so things have been pretty manic.

At White Stone we've been praying and fasting in various ways over the last month. The focus has been making disciples. So last Sunday it was good to baptise three Christians from very different backgrounds and there are a few more baptisms to come too. God is at work. There have also been some difficulties for a few much-loved disciples. If you imagine you know who I'm talking about, chances are there are several others who you hadn't realised were struggling too... But I think the Spirit of God is at work here as well. God recently helped us to understand that we have to protect our relationships and make sure they are strong. Strong friendships help the weak feel secure. It is a command we dare not ignore. We are a family together, and seeing friends among us struggling effects everyone. As a result prayer has become more urgent, we feel more bonded, and spiritual life ripples out to those on the fringes.

So we are seeing breakthrough in all sorts of ways. I can't go in to detail, there is too much to say, but I am conscious that God's blessing is with us. For all the difficulties we are knowing the beauty of life together and rejoicing that we can know such life.


The New Monasticism - Christianity Today Magazine

I guess I should mention this too. Christianity Today recently wrote a couple of articles relating to community living: The New Monasticism - Christianity Today Magazine and Remonking the Church - Christianity Today Magazine

blogs4God | A semi-definitive list of Christians who blog.

Must mention blogs4God | A semi-definitive list of Christians who blog., a great guide for finding holy bloggers.

Quality investment - Jesus Army Life, 69

Time is moving swiftly at the moment. I woke up early this morning thinking about God and all the things I had to do. We have a young homeless chap staying with us for a few nights. I'm trying to help sort him out for work and accomodation, God willing. Later, I woke him up too with a list of things he needs to accomplish today.

Last night he came with me to help me interview a friend on video (part of my work). He's certainly a canny lad and someone I hope I'll know for many years to come.

At the moment it feels like life is moving very quickly. I have so many things to organise and friends to look out for, I'm learning to involve some friends in the things I'm doing. Eternity will be worth nothing if it isn't at least filled with snatches of time given to others, a quality investment into the relationships that matter.

Remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power. Never forget that you can still do your share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and frustrations and disappointments.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


Easing into Sunday morning - Jesus Army Life Day 67

Well, here I am sitting here eating a plate of breakfast beans, wondering what the day's going to hold. I've prayed already (I could hardly not, considering I led a meeting on prayer last night). Here at the community house there are a few people up and about. A couple have gone down to volunteer at the Jesus Centre Drop-In, another is just leaving on his bicycle now, he has to set up the sound equipment for the morning church meeting. I've only had one chat so far this morning, with a 'domestic sister' about how her work is going, she had got up to have a 'shepherding breakfast' with a church elder, just to talk about the challenges she's facing, I think the elder in question may have overslept. Oh, hang on, I can hear his voice now...

I'm waiting for the three young lads we've got staying this weekend to get up. There's bound to be some chaos once they do. And I'm teasing myself with the question: Do I get them up early in an attempt to avoid the madness: 'late for church', 'need the bathroom', 'don't feel like going to worship...' etc. or do I let them learn from their mistakes (do they ever?) I'll probably compromise and give them an hour to get ready.

I'm expecting to advertise the multicultural group this morning. I'm not sure what else to expect from the day... a sense of God's spirit this morning, a brotherhood time this afternoon, evangelism in the evening. Whatever happens I want to be ready, within me my spirit feels up for it and I want to be walking with God throughout today... after all I'm a soldier in the modern Jesus army.


Sharing Heaven - Jesus Army Life, Day 64

A useful time last night. We visited this guy I haven't seen for years, an African brother my friend had met and kept in touch with. He was very hospitable and we talked for a good while.

Normally I use Wednesday evenings to go to see my mates by myself, but I discovered that going out with another Christian friend is much, much better. Why? Because you take the Kingdom of Heaven with you. (Where two or three are gathered together in my name... Matthew 18:20)

When you're living in an intentional Christian community, living for a cause becomes inevitable. It's all about creating a slice of Heaven. And you'll either find a reason for continuing in that cause or you give up. You'll carry that sense of cause with you wherever you go. It lives within you and becomes your culture, your lifestyle, your focus; imperfect, but there all the same. By visiting someone who does not know that same "community experience" you can share a greater blessing. It is like the meeting of two worlds. You share something of your world with that person, and they share their life and their experience with you.

Coming home from that brother's house I felt truly refreshed. It had been good to share Heaven together as we approached it from our different angles. Not that we talked about spiritual things a great deal, but we prayed together at the end and touched hearts. A far better experience than just going round your mates to shut yourself off from the world around you. I felt refreshed by that brother, that was his blessing to me, we had engaed in love rather than fleeing from it.

Global Rich List

This deserves some attention. Find out how rich you really are in comparison to the rest of the world. It makes you think... Global Rich List


Heaven advancing - Jesus Army Life, Day 63

Quick post tonight. I'm off to visit some friends with another guy from the house, should be a good evening.

On Monday I went to a Poetry Evening in Oxford, the experience was delicious. (As delicious as the Leffe Brune I tasted there for the first time too. I'm an instant fan.)

Last night we had Agape. A time of rich prayer. We've reached a point where together we touch many lives and we want to see the work of God in each one as the Kingdom of Heaven advances!


A Day full of lives - Jesus Army life, Day 61

A day full of lives yesterday. In fact it's been a busy weekend... On Saturday we went to Nottingham to support the church in that city. It was a good time to make friends with one of the guys we met on our recent evangelism campaign. I like him, there is an innocent nature about the man and hopefully we'll see him again soon. Many of the teenagers were there too, it definitely feels like we are a growing family.

Still, if Saturday was full of activity, Sunday was more so...

We had a house-family breakfast which focused on prayer rather than sharing on a heart-searching issue. It gave the event a different feel but the prayer was motivated by the question: "Do you care?" I think we responded in the only real way we could.

During the morning church meeting a rival gang of teenagers turned up. Any tension was quickly dispelled when a young disciple invited them to White Stone for lunch. He moved in love and it worked, credit to him. So we had more young people for the afternoon than usual! But I missed half the sermon because of all the teenage activity (someone decided to get their lip pierced in the car park) and ended up having an extended 'quick word' with a young lass about not flirting. Not the wisest thing to do.

Later, after helping a friend move some of her boxes (she's moving out this week, more on that another time...) and chatting to our domestic manager about a few home issues, I typed up some notes for a friend who is thinking about our church covenant. He's asking some important questions about what he believes which is good. I know I went through a similar questioning process when I joined this church so it will be interesting to see what conclusion he comes to.

At the evening meeting I sat down at a table with a mate who has such a chummy nature, you feel like you're old friends, but I didn't stay long, I was roped into some amateur dramatics, and then I was called outside... I found a young lad in a crisis. He was crying because someone had pulled a knife on him earlier in the day . I don't know if it was the right thing to do, but I immediately called over the lad I knew was responsible. This second teenager hadn't threatened the boy himself but had involved some of his nastier friends in their dispute. I wanted to face him up to his trouble making. The instigator was repentant but I don't know how deeply. He himself is homeless and trying to cope with a number of problems. Hopefully the result will be there won't be any more trouble, but it did little to comfort the first chap. I found a little later still crying, something to pray about I guess.

I actually ended up praying for the second teenager instead. He was cold turkeying from alcohol withdrawal so I prayed for him and sorted him out some blankets for sleeping on the streets that night. I was frustrated because I felt powerless to do any more for him. He came back to our house for a meal before we dropped him off in town. At least he's visiting a drugs and alcohol centre today for help. He is due to get a place, but there have been complications. I've since spoken to our house-leader about the situation and we're going to see if he'd like to stay with us until his accommodation is sorted.

I didn't mention that I met the young woman in trouble whom I wrote about the other day. It was the first time I'd met her so I didn't let on that I knew what she'd been through. The latest news is that things seem to have cooled off for her.

At ten o' clock that evening, after an enjoyable supper, I gave the brother of a White Stone resident a lift back to Rugby. It meant I didn't get back till an hour later when everyone had gone to bed. Everyone that is except one friend who I found sobbing downstairs. Knowing they were going though a fairly private issue there was not much I could do. I made a drink for this very dear friend, offered some reassurance and encouragement and make my way to bed. I know this friend will find Jesus in the midst of distress. One of the strange lessons of Jesus Army life is knowing when to help people and when to let them work things out for themselves.


Already lost - Jesus Army Life, Day 58

Over 30 people here for dinner last night, including a couple of guys we'd met on the campaign. Thankfully, the house wasn't over run. Either we or the teenagers are learning to cope with all the excitement.

It was a good evening. After a short talk and a song for grace I spent most of the time with a Tanzanian man we'd met. Together we ate and chatted about nothing in particular, he offered to help with the washing up and then wiped down the surfaces and then swept the floors. We went out to watch the bonfire the teenagers had created. He told me he wished he'd known about this place when he'd first arrived in Coventry. He spoke of the relief he felt as we all worshipped together. I think it was the family atmosphere he was most appreciative of, though I know he's been looking for a way back to God.

Today he texted me apologetically. He'd been offered a job in London. It's great news for him, he really needs the work. But for me, it was disappointing to be separated from a new friend so quickly.

Tonight I went to the prayer meeting. A refreshing time in itself, but one of my prayers was for my new friend, that somehow he'd end up working closer to home.


Friendships for heaven - Jesus Army Life, Day 57

Last night was a bit of a non eventful.

I'd planned to go out to meet a Turkish guy with a friend who speaks the language but the friend had called to cancel. Plan B was to catch up with some other people I know, but one by one each prospect fell through.

I ended up in the prayer-shed mulling over with God some issues facing one of our young disciples and remembering how much of an attractive harlot the world really is.

I did however receive a phone call from a man I met during our campaign. We're going to meet tonight. He's a very decent guy with a very sad tale to tell. I'm hoping he sees the beauty of the Kingdom of God and falls in love with it, but hope is nothing without faith. So I'm trusting myself to the Spirit's work with faith and love. It's good to build friendships for heaven.

Some progress on yesterday's issue but nothing substantial yet.


Helping in a crisis - Jesus Army Life, Day 56

A friend of mine is in touch with someone who has been treated in the worst possible way by her ex. My friend is very stressed about it and the woman is most likely living in fear for her life. Of course the police need to be involved, however, it's not always easy persuading a victim of crime to take that route. In this case we don't know the people involved but we trying to help. I can't go into details.

As a bystander the worst feeling about this kind of situation is the powerlessness to help. You want to intervene, but you cannot, not without permission. You can give information, you can counsel and support but without taking direct action what more can you do? I wonder how many times I have to be a bystander in this kind of situation before I take a different perspective? This isn't the first time I've been privy to another's suffering.

The only suitable response is to lay your life down for the person in need.

It's worth knowing the police don't need a victim's cooperation to prosecute if there's enough evidence. And I've heard that sometimes the police will receive useful information from victims but respect a wish not to press charges simply because the information alone alerts the police to a dangerous individual. But I'm not sure about this last point.

Is prayer any use? Yes, though the effect is unknown. I've been praying for breakthrough in this situation.


'Regionals' - Jesus Army Life, Day 55

Last night we had a regional leaders meeting. Not boring! Well, church governance might be for others but for me it's great stuff. Picture of me in the absence of anything better...Someone pointed out recently that the reason I like this governance type thing is because I'm a bloke. I get my kick out of being involved in decision making. The woman who related this to me suggested that it's not the same for the female variety, which I don't really understand, but if anyone can explain it to me then that will be fine.

What did we talk about? Families in the church, authority, other ongoing stuff.

The families bit was interesting because we looked at how families are the normal units of committed relationship, but because as a church we are strong on committed relationships that can subvert the family unit. It can also add a lot of support for the family in the absence of the nearby extended family today, but with the negative aspect in mind we want to begin thinking about how we can encourage families more.

The authority stuff was useful too. We focused on how people who are happy to submit to authority can often be problematic at a later stage because they usually submit out of their own strength and sense of virtue whereas a Christian needs to submit to authority out of love for God. I think a lot of the leaders recognised themselves in this. It was quite a touching time.


Glad to be bonded to you? - Jesus Army Life, Day 54

Here I am, sneezing away because I've just moved offices and there is dust everywhere! What has that got to do with living in a Christian community? Well, I work for my church so I kinda take community life to work with me. But if I did so before, I do so now more than ever: from today I'm sharing an office with the same guy who introduced me to this community church, the same chap who heads up the community house we all started together, he's also my closest friend. Can you get any closer in community? Well, thank goodness I'm not married to the fella! (Should I mention that he asked me??... he was at the time alluding to a covenant of fellowship... erm... dig hole, dig hole.)

So, we're working together, traveling together, living together, building church together. You can probably count the days till our first argument, but we've been friends for eleven years. They say love is stronger than death. Let's hope so.


Fishers of men - Jesus Army Life, Day 51

We've had a good campaign so far. Most importantly we have made a lot of new friends, people I know I'll see around town and stop to talk to and some who will want to come along to church.

Campaign fatigue has set in though. I guess that is part of the battle. You won't know that talking to people all day is tiring until you try it! Still, we've had some successful marches, public singing and prayer times without an ounce of hassle from the authorities.

I could tell you some heart rendering stories, such as that of the man who gave up his job and survived on benefits to look after his sick wife and when she died he found himself evicted from his home or that of a young man who hasn't worked for two years after being involved in a car accident. Real lives, real challenges, may there also be some real results.

It's been good getting to know more of the goths and chavs. Many hearts of gold with twice as thick skin.

The team effort has been excellent. Strong faith has helped us this far. Continuous faith is necessary to see God move in many of these people's lives.


Spiritualised activity, Jesus Army Life - Day 50

Well, there's a lot to say and not much time to say it.

We've embarked on our evangelism bus tour. It's full of action with marches, door knocking and singing times. 'Commuter evangelism' is certainly fear-breaking: you ride about on a bus or train witnessing to the passengers. As I said, full of action. We'll be doing this for the next three days so forgive me if I don't have time to blog. I will try though...

Also, at White Stone, we're beginning a month of prayer and fasting. We want to see a shift in terms of people we know becoming disciples, so we're putting our efforts into that.

There's a lot of inspiration around at the moment.