What is it about houses?
These floors know the first tentative steps of infancy. The stampede of children’s play. First breaths, short breaths, sighs and last breaths. These doors observe good night kisses, others slammed in fits of rage. Darkened corners watch frustrated tears, hear desperate prayers.
Yesterday evening… candles flickering, lively chatter, warm embrace of old friends. The scene? – The packed chapel at YWAM’s Harpenden headquarters. One by one our friends Joyce, Dave, Terri, Dan, Jeanette, Johnny, Heather and Osana stood up to testify about what God had been doing in their lives during the last five months. They were the latest YWAM multi-national Crossroads team and were graduating: testifying, receiving their certification and being commissioned for the months and years that lie ahead. A group of us went down from Coventry; earlier in the year they had helped us in ESOL classes, attended our international Bible study and we had bonded well. It was wonderful to see them again.
Every now and then it’s important to take stock, to properly process lessons as they come and to celebrate all God does. So I’m writing this mainly for myself. Hopefully you may find some of this useful and/or thought provoking too.
“We’ve come to join!” said the young Iranian as he cheerfully burst into the tiny training room at the Coventry Jesus Centre followed by three other young guys. Somewhat startled, we women (six of us) looked up from our Bibles and hurriedly put out extra chairs for our unexpected arrivals. It was 2014.
Have you ever had a mundane conversation that left you unsettled, in a good way? I’ve just had one of those.
It was about a friend coming to stay at our house, and the planned days happened to coincide with the same days of the week we regularly have three or four others staying. I was naturally reluctant as I didn’t want the house to be too full.
They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
At times in the past, as a church we were very focused on “doing more”. For example, we used to sing a song with the line “Lord, we will do more”.
In every generation of Christians, there have been those who have thrown away their inherited ideas about what it means to be a Christian and what the Church should look like. They have thrown away their preconceptions and simply opened the Bible and sought to put into practice what they read there.
God loves a sticky wicket.
It seems He loves to stack the odds against Himself, and often, it appears, also against His people.
Think of Gideon’s army- God whittled them down from 32,000 to 300. That’s 0.9% of their original number. He deliberately and openly thwarted their natural strength because He wanted to be their strength.
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” – Autumn, described famously by John Keats, seems to bring out the poet in all of us. To some, the season of new beginnings, with the start of the academic year, the end of Summer and the onset of everything being suddenly flavoured with pumpkin (blame the Americans!)
Every culture or group have traditions that grow over time; some of them good, some of them eventually a bit pointless. One tradition that we have in the Christian community house I live in, revolves around peoples’ birthdays. Everyone gets a cake (or pavlova, or cheesecake, or fruit salad, depending on their tastes) and we all sit around, eating and taking it in turns to tell that person what we appreciate about them. We also pray and ask God if there’s anything He wants to say to them. (Disclaimer: it is my birthday soon, so this might be why I’ve been thinking about it!)
In this third and final blog post of my Jesus Church series, I’d like to talk about money. Twice, John points out that the ‘Jesus Church’ had a central fund that Judas was responsible for (John 12:6, John 13:29). The income that the church received, probably from donations (Luke 8:3), seems to have been pooled, and the surplus given to the poor.
Most people seem to think that the Christian church was born on Pentecost day in Jerusalem, as described in the book of Acts. Ten days after Jesus had risen to Heaven, the Holy Spirit was poured out on over a hundred disciples and they started to speak new languages (Acts 2:1-4). After Peter had powerfully preached the Gospel, 3,000 were saved and baptised and suddenly there was a church in Jerusalem, in which everyone had everything in common, miracles abounded and people were converted daily (Acts 2:42-47).
The Arctic is alarmingly warm this year, in fact, 20 degrees hotter than usual. What scientists have been warning us against for decades is becoming reality. If nothing is done, we might see an enormous climate catastrophe that would kill and displace hundreds of millions.
WHEN Jesus was on the cross he cried out: “It is finished” (John 19:30)
The work that the Father had sent him to do, he had done. And this work was to show us how to live, to show us the kingdom of God, to show us how to live in right relationship with our Father and each other, to show us the beauty of living to serve, to show us the power and glory and healing of the reign of God.
I was grabbed recently by something in a piece of literature put through my front door. Unusual, I know. It was a prayer diary for the Middle East. In it I found a prayer for government officials to return to displaced peoples equality, dignity and responsibility. Lack of these things, or violent suppression thereof, in many countries is the very reason many refugees are fleeing in their droves. And it really got me thinking.
Since the 70s we’ve been called Jesus Fellowship. On April 7th 1987 we took on Jesus Army as our second, parallel identity, a public brand under which we’d reach out to the UK for Jesus. This post is all about names.
Why do names matter? Names shape culture and values, they help form first impressions. Choosing a good name for a church is no quick fix to changing a culture, but what organisations choose to call themselves carries weight both in gathering members around a vision and communicating to outsiders.