It's been emotional - Jesus Army Life, Day 309

The passing of a week leaves you with a lot to write about. I think there are two emotional moments I'd like to recount.

The first was my hugging a young disciple whose faith is on the rocks. I didn't want to, but I was so angry with the lies and thoughtlessness he's shown, things would have been worse if I'd flared up at him. Was I lying myself when I hugged him? I have wondered. It felt like the most emotionally hypocritical thing I could have done. I know this, I love him and will miss him terribly when he's gone.

The second was last night. This time it was a sister who was in tears because she missed someone. I think we could all empathise; the silence round the Agape table said it all. I know I felt the same, if not as intensely then with the same sense of misgiving. It was a genuine moment of grief. The relationships that last in this house are the ones that are built on love, and then sometimes, not even that is enough to keep your friends safe.

Do not lead us into temptation
but deliver us from the evil one.


Encouraging text - Jesus Army Life, Day 300

Received this text from a fella who's been coming round last night:

Hey tschaka thanx 4 the holy weekend and have a lovely spiritual week and godbless ur soul and cud say to every1 i said godbless and c u friday take care

Getting that text was a real boon to my soul. Violent men force their way into the Kingdom... may he be one of them.


Jaffa brotherhood - Jesus Army Life, Day 299

Of all the things I could write about: the brotherhood, great Saturday meetings, 'more than 24', friendships, intimate sharing over breakfast, discipleship, new friends, fireworks, spiritual flak, I wanted to write about this...

Yesterday, a tremendously wonderful brother taught me how to eat a jaffa cake biscuit leaving the orange bit till last! You have to chip off round the edge of the cake, then you need to nibble or scrape off the chocolate, and lastly you have to lever the orange bit from the cake part with your tongue. Of course this brother is an absolute expert when it comes to the practice of appreciating food. He's pretty good at other things too, like being a 'guardian of Zion' and always putting 'the Kingdom' first.

And I love him and think he's great.

And why share on this moment when there are so many other momentous occasions I could write about? Because sometimes it's those silly moments of togetherness that shine like jewels in your day. Life is great, it's tough but it's great, and it deserves celebration.


Not bored yet - Jesus Army Life, Day 297

I'm discovering God afresh. All this stuff about the reality of grace has shown me how much God likes taking risks. He wants us to believe in Him. He's the exciting God who created the world, who brought the man, Jesus, through death into eternal life, the God who heals, who rescues, who wants to be trusted.

But we can't believe in God when we play it safe. There's no life in that kind of security. It's only when we place our future on the line that we have something to hope in, and I'm finding it's only then that we really begin to discover faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for...

I don't want to live a boring life where the risk is minimal, where everything is ordered and where the reality of the gospel has no value because everything else is okay. I want to pursue a life unimaginable, where the pain of every day is payment for the excitement of seeing people discover a miraculous God. Where trusting God becomes a challenge and the hope of faith the only measurable quality of life.

Last night I was praying: God, I don't want to be a thankless man, I want to be a man who rejoices in your blessing, I want to be a man with Your soul, a man with a character of risky grace, a man who refuses to be anything but real, who refuses to hide away and sabotage his own self, a man who trusts in You.

And this morning I woke up singing.

I believe in Jesus,
I believe he is the Son of God,
I believe he died and rose again,
I believe he paid for us all.

And I believe that he's here now,
standing in our midst.
Here with the power to heal now
and the grace to forgive.


Condemned by grace - Jesus Army Life, Day 295

On Monday evening I had a good opportunity to thrash around the potential impact of God's grace on a person's life. Of course the grace of God frees us entirely to live for Him in a relationship of love and blessed opportunity which stretches into eternity, but, believe it or not, there's more to it than that.

Consider how God's grace, once accepted, entirely renews a person, but it doesn't just do that, it also marks him. I think that if we've truly received God's grace we can't stop Him working in us, bringing us round to His point of view, no matter how long it takes. Once we've tasted heaven we're spoilt for anything else. (Of course, we can resist and resist till the day we die, but that just leaves us apostate.)

As one of my friends heard God say recently:
"How dare you suggest my grace is not sufficient for you!"

And this also means we need to trust God's grace to be at work in other people, our brothers and sisters, who might not be progressing the way we want them to, but that doesn't matter, because our job is to love them and forgive them, and forgive, and forgive, and forgive. Grace, grace, grace, grace, grace. We have to remember that it is only when a disciple gives you permission that you can actually train them and expect them to follow your lead as you follow Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit who is the comforter, the 'paraklete' in Greek. If I remember rightly this word also means the one who encourages us or gives us a kick up the backside if necessary! No one can get away from the hound of heaven.

Grace also means that we have something to live up to. I learnt that church leaders are redundant if they don't lead their people into finding God's grace. Ultimately, they have no other spiritual purpose. God calls us to find Him and to find Him and to find Him. He gives us a particular job to get on with and we can play at anything else, but we won't find our spiritual life really moving until we join Him in the work he has called us to. We need our God, and if we walk along any other path than that which He has designed for us we find ourselves lost. Once again, it comes down to the fact that grace condemns us to a lifetime of following Jesus.

As a church we find that we continuously break into God's grace by the prophetic word spoken to us and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Spirit gives birth to spirit. We can sense God's grace coming, calling, leading, and we must champion it, communicate it to others, talk it up, pray it up, speak into it and act on it till we prepare our brethren for that move of God. God will continue to break our hearts until we do.


I believe - Jesus Army Life, Day 289

It's been an interesting few days for me, not least because I find myself constantly thinking and praying about several of the younger men who, in some part, look to me for direction. Just yesterday I had a phone call from one who, by his own admission, is to blame for his problems. But he just wanted to come round because he feels life is a particularly desperate. I hesitated for a moment, knowing I was supposed to be leading a group for a friend that evening, but said, "yes, come round". Somehow we'd work it out... but he never turned up.

I still feel angry about a world where people can find themselves trapped and screwed up. But I feel for those who get caught out. And I know that the responsibility falls to me to advertise, through my own life, a better way.

Either Jesus works or He doesn't. I believe He does, and I believe that I'll be able to tell you my prayers have been answered.



You've probably heard of the Johari window - where you learn what kind of person you really are. But I was loathe to advertise mine (a nifty one you can do via internet) because this site is about White Stone community not me and, well, I'd thought I'd be blowing my own trumpet.

But now I've got a good excuse because there's not only my Johari window but also my Nohari window - so you can point out my bad points too. Be brave, I'd love to know - click on both and tell me what you think.

And you can see the results here and here.

Adventuresome - Jesus Army Life, Day 287

I'm thinking about the necessity of adventure within community. Let's face it, the whole world can come into your lounge at some points, but there is an understandable shortage of worldly entertainments within community life. So what is a young man seeking adventure to do?

There is the adventure of God, it is the most magnificent pursuit available to man - but how does that work out on a daily basis, when hours seem to pass slowly and nothing is really presenting a challenge?

Where does the sense of adventure come from then? Suggestions gladly welcome...

PS. This is not so much for me as for some of the younger lads here with us.


Marching trees - Jesus Army Life, Day 286

Great weekend. The highlight was definitely not marching round a tree out in the open (in preparation for our very successful march through town) I refused to do it! Though I see the funny side now.

Evangelism was good. We met some great people including a kind chap learning to play Spanish guitar and a guy who said he was almost ready to give up everything for Jesus...

The highlight however was Sunday supper which involved just those who live in the community. It was bliss just to remember who we are - if that makes any sense. Folk suddenly got creative and started putting up pictures and planning decorating - oooh, never a good subject in community, everyone has their own opinion on what colour we should have. But it was amusing nonetheless.


Evangelism - Jesus Army Life, Day 285

We're evangelising in town today. My hope is that we can meet some genuine people with real opinions, real questions and a real search for God. That should include just about everyone but often people aren't so quick to drop their masks, still one or two good people would be nice. I'm sure we'll meet a lot of different people of a variety of flavours and opinions. My prayer is simply that God would be at work in it all as the message of Jesus is shared with everyone.


Give it up for community

Just thought I'd let you know about a song we've released on the internet about Christian community. See what you think.

Give it up

You can listen to other online songs in the JA Vault, the quality is deliberately low so that they're easy to download - well, that's our excuse and we're sticking to it.

The space to be - Jesus Army Life, Day 284

I like waking up early. I love waking up to the promise of many hours ahead. I like getting up and getting active and still having time to dilly dally when I need. I love musing on the things of God, exploring the hidden corners of His character as He reveals it to me through this journey with Him. I like having time for breakfast. I like the familiarity of all those morning noises as the children thump across the floorboards above, and the cat comes to say hello, even if everyone else is still too tired to.

I love getting home. I love the greetings that are shared as friends in community see each other for maybe the first time that day. I love the business of the kitchen as hungry saints clamor for toast and cups of tea or coffee. I love that peace just before the melee of the evening meal together.

I enjoy the evenings after everything has finished. The rustling of the paper as someone catches up with yesterday's news. The blessing of beautiful friends sticking around, hanging on for that one last drop of brotherhood and fellowship. The peace after the activity. The appreciation of tired goodnights as friends retire to a last chat with their room partner or a few more pages of that engaging book before they go off to sleep.

And yet, and yet, there is a fight to be had, there is work to be done, we have a cause to strive for. And I would gladly sacrifice all this to the greater work of building Christ's church. Even where we are, after almost four years at White Stone there is much to do and our household must not settle. Coming as far as we have in this short time, gaining so many brothers and sisters, means that we can go further, and, God willing, become a mother church to many others.

Further happiness

Among Christians so much prominence has been given to the disciplinary effects of sorrow, affliction, bereavement, that they have been in danger of overlooking the other and more obvious side: that by every joy, by every favor, by every sign of prosperity--yea, and by these chiefly--God designs to educate and discipline His children. This one-sided view of the truth has made many morbid, gloomy Christians, who look for God's hand only in the lightning and never think of seeing it in the sunlight.

F. E. Clark


Thursday night tonight - Jesus Army Life, Day 283

Thursday night tonight. That means lots of people round for dinner, crowded dining room, catching up with friends, eating a hearty meal, motivating the washing up, trying to motivate the washing up again, separating youngsters (for all those reasons), receiving some spiritual input, begging for the guitar to played in tune (or at least quieter), keeping an eye out for anyone who needs a listening ear or some prayer, having a laugh, crowding round the fire, driving folk home, collapsing on the chair, sharing hearts, remembering its all worth it and going to bed.


Happy? - Jesus Army Life, Day 282

I've been musing about happiness lately. I've been thinking about how important it is. There's a well used saying about happiness not being the destination, but the way you travel. I think that's true and more: happiness is a tool for life. It's a great measure for how you're coping with the everyday challenges. It's a profound indicator of how much positivity you're bringing to a situation.

The ability to express liberty, to produce life is fundamental to what a Christian is about, it is the simplest evidence of the touch of God (finding full expression in all sorts of miracles and supernatural activity). Jesus came to bring life to the full remember? I'm not talking about some shallow feeling of bliss and I'm not denying that depression isn't a real issue, especially for Christians, but I am saying there needs to be a certain factor of joy or love or beauty to our existence if we want to bless others. We need to find that elemental joy and appreciate it, we need to drink from the God who gives it, not for it's own sake, but because God is a God of change, exciting change.

Joy. The ability to see beauty and relish in it. The exquisite blessing of knowing a fullness in your life. The freedom to dance and laugh as though there wasn't a care. It's vital because it produces real sustenance with which to serve. It's a necessity for navigating through the drudgery of life's problems. If you want to give rather than receive, if you want to retain a certain dynamic energy in what you do you need a certain basic happiness. It keeps everything else buoyant.

For the record I think I've known depression, I've known the temptation of suicide, I've known that reality of lack of vision for anything, a despair at facing another day of work, feeling like you want to cry but never getting there, the craziness of sleepless nights, lack of motivation, experiencing lostness and loneliness, overcoming addiction, the tension of an unexplainable pressure. I don't like to admit it but to some degree I've known those things. And that makes me want to shout this all the louder. That's why I believe happiness is partly a utility not just an emotion, a tool for life. That question: Are you really truly happy? can plumbs the depths of our soul and stir up a legion of monsters inside. It can also point the finger on the map and say: You are here.

With my character I can be a fairly moody, melancholic sort (I'd like to say dark and brooding if I could be all Wuthering Heights about it!) I can't manufacture happiness just for the sake of it. I can't stand superficial cheerfulness. But I'm also a secret comedian, kindling laughter in those who are near me, the people I trust, the friends I love and mates I care for. And I'm choosing to extend my boundaries, I want to bring others into that circle. The reason is simple: it's because I have been saved by the King of the Universe, His Spirit within me has blessed me with enthusiasm and life. And I don't want to deny the amazing gift of delight He has created within me.