Waiting - Jesus Army Life

We just had a weekend where we invited lots of friends to stay. It was a great celebration of community life.

The house was full of people and there were various activities including curry night, games, household chores, sharing in a common purse, an afternoon walk, an time of teaching and fellowship, pancakes and Sunday church. (Believe it or not these are the kind of things we normally get up to on a weekend.)

And this was happening in our community houses up and down the country.

There was so much life buzzing around our house I began to wonder if community-life is the answer to our church's much-sought-for rejuvenation? Even though we are a youngish church, full of young people, our heart's desire is to once more move forward with the power of God.

Could regaining a 'community' focus be the obvious solution? Our church began through being together and sharing together out of love for Jesus. So why shouldn't it happen again?

But after 40 years how do you keep that kind of momentum going?

Last night, as friends and saints met in houses around the UK, to break bread together and share in our covenant with Jesus, we asked the question:

How does God teach an 'activist' people to trust more in what He alone can do?

After four decades of community-living and 25 years as a 'Jesus Army' we are somehow still all waiting for the answer with baited breath.


What is truth?

"What is truth?" Asked Pilate.

I believe that I'm beginning to understand his question a bit more.

In a world where truth is held highly there should be no hypocrisy, but actually the opposite seems to be true. Whether it be politics or religion, or perhaps even justice, truth can be a slippery thing.

You realise there are shades of truth or as the politician, Sir Robert Armstrong, put it, it's possible to be "economical with the truth."

It doesn't necessarily mean that you're lying, it's just that you realise that truth has the power to build or to destroy and you have to become cautious in how you use it. Isn't that what we employ diplomats for?

A friend, and he is a friend for he told me the truth, sent me a message last night:

"Thought you spoke very well this evening. You can rattle on a bit ;) but tonight the message was clear."

It's amazing how negative parts of truth stick with you. (That's one reason to be economical.) All day I've wondered why people never tell me that "I rattle on a bit"? But then I remember that he's not the first, several friends have told me the same thing in similar ways, but other friends haven't.

And in focusing on just one element of his message, I've almost missed the greater and more encouraging truth which my friend wrote to me - that I spoke well.

And, of course, it occurs to me that we can make the same mistake when considering other truths too, especially God.

Anyway I rattle on.

I need the truth in order to grow, but I also need real friends who will love me enough to help me understand it. Without truth and friendship I'm lost.


Living - Jesus Army Life

  1. I want to live.
  2. I want to know what it is to live for something good.
  3. I want to look back and know that the choices I've made have not been selfish.
  4. I want to know that I've given my energy to something worthwhile.
  5. I want the relationships I've made to have been productive, to have produced joy and goodness.
  6. I want to savour the small detail of life. I want to know what it is to be thankful.
  7. I want to inspire others to savour life too, to think, to feel, to taste the beauty. And I want their beauty to be different to the beauty I know. I want us to share together in the immense gladness there is existing on this planet.
  8. I want to pay attention to the misery experienced by others. I want to be courageous enough to allow myself to feel it keenly - so that I am motivated to live and act on behalf of others.
  9. I want to speak, and for my words to cause a rhythm which ripples through the lives of others.
  10. I never want to die without living.
  11. Summer time in Pigtown
    Summer time in Pigtown
    by Bukutgirl, on Flickr


One heart and soul - Jesus Army Life

What was it that motivated the first Christians to share everything?

I don't think it was an idealistic vision to be one, neither do I feel that there was some utilitarian economic mission. When I read about the first Christians it strikes me that it was simply something they had to do, as if nothing else would be satisfactory.

Imagine it. The Holy Spirit fills you and your friends with God's powerful life. Wouldn't you want to keep meeting together as much as possible?

If God gave you a sense of his love for mankind - his desire to be close to them - the nearness of his heart. Wouldn't that make you want to love others as fully as you could?

Bird Houses / 20071230.10D.46705 / SML
"...and the birds perched in its branches"
(Bird houses by See-ming Lee)
Yes, there were practical reasons: not everyone was from Jerusalem and, if they were going to stick around, they'd need a bed. There was vision: Jesus had been with them everyday, sharing in the same common purse. But the temptation, even after Jesus had overcome death itself, was to give up - Peter returned to his day job. And, while there were 500 witnesses to Jesus' resurrection, only 120 were gathering at the prayer meetings. I get the sense that no one knew what to do next.

It was the compelling power of the Holy Spirit that caused the first Christians to come together as a church everyday, eating together in awe of God, sacrificially contributing so that the church could continue its current lifestyle.And it was successful, the numbers involved in sharing increased, so much so that they had to appoint seven men to look after the food distribution (one for every day of the week?)

But what now? I don't get the sense that Christians felt it was mandatory to live together. The idea seemed to tail off outside Jerusalem, though there was still a notable desire for believers to live under the same roof and not keep money selfishly to themselves.

Yet surely today, community still needs to be under the compulsion of the Holy Spirit? The drive to share needs to come from within. It needs to be something that God does.

I'm mindful of how the Bible tells us that the first people on earth desired to build a place which would help them always be one (Genesis 11). God saw it and knew that there could be no right oneness on earth without him - he confused their language and scattered them. But when God eventually gave a spiritual tongue that all men could speak (Acts 2:8), they were drawn together, their heart was for him and not for themselves.

I think that always needs to be the foundation for community - a desire for God that unites many individuals in his one life. Without it, I'd be reluctant to try.


An observation or two - Jesus Army Life

I'm sure I've written about my journey to work before. Simply put, it's a west to east, east to west journey, which means that I get to enjoy a little sunrise and sunset each day.

If not full strokes of coloured clouds then there is, at least, a different intensity of light to that of the full blown day. The hues of the rural landscape are more distinct, clouds tend to forming or drifting apart, and the sense of anticipation, of fulfilment or relief at these times easily drowns out the mundanity of just another day.

That is, when I take the time to notice.

Sunrise over a field
Sunrise over a field
by Kimberly Gauthier
At one point in the journey there is a long enough gap in the line of trees to reveal a stretch of valley leading towards my journey's destination. Whenever I gaze over it, it reminds me of a scene from The Shire of Hobbit lore: a patchwork of colour, undulating hills, a hazy distant light. It's inspiring.

And, if you're lucky, as you pass by the canal, there will be just the right mix of fog and sun to create a golden glow, narrowboats look sleeping monsters as you fly by. On the return route you might just spy a lake with the sun glistening in its reflection. Something within beckons to another world far away from the daily commute when I see these things.

But, normally, I'm too lost in my own thoughts to see.

It seems to me that blogging can be a bit like these scenes on my journey. Sure enough there are less interesting things to see as well, but surely everything is worthy of note, if I take the time to see it.

Sometimes life whizzes by at such a pace you forget to notice. It's too easy not to pause and appreciate all those glorious details of life. Sometimes writing is like looking up and out of the window, just to take in the view, before life flies by again.

This year I got married, twice, to the same person. And it's all happened so fast I've barely had a chance to appreciate the amazing things that have happened. But, as I take a moment to take it all in, I'm bedazzled by what God has done in my life, the woman God has given me and the journey we've travelled for us to be together. But, perhaps, if there's time, and you and I both pause long enough, I could share with you some of the delights of this story we're living, and together we can breathe in how sacred life actually is.