Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The next person

Something I wrote a few years ago, inspired by life in Christian community, but relevant to anyone living with other people.

I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine.

He’s a great person – well, that’s if you can call him a person at all; I’ve never actually met him myself but I know of him.

He’s the one who always comes along after me wherever I’ve been, whatever I’ve done - or so I’ve heard, anyway.

Sometimes I’ve thought I’ve caught a glimpse of him from behind but he’s never actually there when I go back and look. But, somehow, he’s always the next to come along, whatever I’ve been doing.

If I make a drink, he comes along after me and makes a drink.

If I park a car, he comes along after me to park another car – sometimes he even drives off in the car I’ve only just finished with.

If I have a bath, he always needs the bath straight after me.

As I said, I don’t know his name so I’ve had to make up my own name for him – I call him the ‘next’ person, although he’d never answer to this name if I called him.

Anyway, this ‘next’ person has taught me a lot, you know. When I first found out that he was going to come along next whatever I did, it started to change how I go about things.

I’ve found myself thinking of the ‘next’ person in the things I do; after all, I wouldn’t want him to think I was selfish. Although he never thanks me for thinking of him (because he doesn’t always know I was there just before him) he would certainly notice if I kept on leaving things in a mess for him, whether or not he knew it was me.

The other day, I made myself a cup of tea using the last bit of water in the kettle. I was just about to walk away when something inside said, “What about the ‘next’ person?” So I thought I’d do him a favour and put some water in the kettle to save him having to do it. I didn’t boil it as I wasn’t sure how long he'd be but I knew it was only a matter of time before he’d come along after me. It may sound daft, me living my life around someone I’ve not seen but I know he’s there; he’s as real to me as any of you are.

Here’s a few of the other things I’ve started doing since I realised about the ‘next’ person:
  • putting the car keys away as soon as possible so I don’t forget – he always uses them after me
  • doing at least my own washing up so I don’t make it worse for him – when there’s time, I try to do others’ washing up too to save him having to do it or, at very least, I try not to leave my knive on the bread board so he doesn’t have to clear it up
  • parking the car so as to leave room for him to drive through after me
  • drying my feet before I get out of the bath or shower so he doesn’t have to walk on the wet bath mat with his socks on – I bet he hates that!
  • washing the hairs away after getting out of the bath or shower – otherwise he has to do it before he gets in the bath
  • putting a new loo roll actually on the loo roll holder when the old one runs out – he’ll only have to do it if I don’t!
  • getting a few more backup loo rolls when I put the last one on the holder so he can put a new one on when he finishes one
  • I’ve even started using the hand-towel, as opposed to a tea towel, to dry my hands so that germs from my hands don’t get on his cutlery! Call me a loony if you want.
  • Anyway, I’m sure there’s loads of stuff I do for him besides, and probably a lot more I could do if I noticed. He’s a good bloke, you know. I think a lot of him. In fact, I reckon I could go so far as to say I love him.

    What about you? What can you do for the ‘next’ person? You never know when he might come along…

    Monday, 6 August 2012

    Jenny Priestley - Celibate for God

    jenny-priestly-celibate
    When I was younger, I said to God, “Just take my life and use me in any way that you want to”

    I read this blog post the other day which is a bit of a snapshot of Jenny's life as a celibate.

    She answers four questions about her life.

    You can read it here if you like. Worth a read.

    Further Info
    Undivided Newsletter
    Jenny's full story - alongside that of famous missionary David Brainerd!

    Tuesday, 17 July 2012

    Coventry Jesus Centre - Talking of telephones...

    sesame-street-martians-discover-telephone
    I recently saw last year's annual review for Coventry Jesus Centre.

    And I was so impressed by all that the Centre has achieved that I had to blog about it.

    I've been a volunteer at the Centre since its inception in 2002, so I get to see a bit of the day-to-day action.

    It's been a pretty astounding ten years.


    (This video was shown to the children at a recent
    Sunday morning church event at the Centre, which
    focussed especially on the work of the Centre itself.)

    Talking of telephones ...

    - What kinds of people phone up the Centre in an average day?
    - Who uses the Centre during the week?
    - How does Coventry Jesus Centre fulfil its aim to welcome and help all kinds of people?

    Here are some snippets on the kinds of charitable services operating at the Jesus Centre throughout the past decade since opening:

    The Bridge
    A place where people can drop in and find warmth, friendship, breakfast, showers, washing, and all manner of other help. 5500 different people used the service up to the end of 2011; 1000 in the year 2011.
    The Bond Scheme
    Helping people find housing, in particular through helping them gain access to funds that will help with their bond. By the end of 2011, 150 people had been housed and 49 had been helped into better housing.
    Your Learning
    Helping people learn ESOL, English for Work, UK Culture, Basic I.T., CV writing, interview skills, general reading. 189 attended sessions in 2011, with 42 certificates for achievement awarded.
    Hope and Help
    Support for ex-offenders.
    Money Worries
    Debt and budgeting advice.
    Recycle
    A bicycle repair service, with old bikes also repaired and sold on cheaply.
    Strum It
    A guitar class.
    Your Art
    A painting and drawing group.
    Your Fitness
    An exercise and fitness group.
    Your Future
    Short training courses for building capacity, e.g. photography.
    Your Weight
    A support group for losing weight.
    Well Maker
    A weekly healing prayer service, aiming to bring peace, health and wholeness to those who are sick.
    Bible Life
    A weekly Bible study group for those who want to get more out of the Bible.
    The Bible and English
    A great way to learn English at the same time as delving into the Bible.
    The Well Cafe
    The Jesus Centre cafe, open throughout the day, with nice food and a warm and friendly service.

    Many accomplishments in the past ten years, but there's still a lot to go for. Here's to the future - and here's to Coventry Jesus Centre! Well done staff, well done volunteers, well done friends and visitors - and well done to anyone who supports the Centre in any way.

    A final video:
    (This video was also shown to the children at the
    Centre, whilst discussing some of the ways in which
    the Jesus Centre helps people. A spurious link,
    perhaps, but it's a great video. And, besides, the
    Centre does have a fan or two, myself included ...)

    Further Reading:
    Annual Review 2011
    Coventry Jesus Centre website

    Saturday, 14 July 2012

    Celibacy

    celibacy-celibate-silver-ring
    Here are a few thoughts about celibacy.

    I don't always write about celibacy specifically, as I think celibacy itself is a means to an end, or various different ends, and it's generally healthier to focus on the ends rather than the means.

    But it doesn't hurt to home in on it from time to time.

    So here goes. Various thoughts about celibacy in no particular order.

    Some I've read or heard about, others I've observed, others are from my own experience:
    1.  Celibacy is a gift from God.

    2.  Celibacy is a choice.

    3.  Celibacy works well as a lifelong commitment, but can also be for a predefined time span.

    4.  Celibacy is often used as a word to mean being in between partners or being sexually deprived (Google it or search on Twitter to see what I mean).

    5.  Celibacy features as a discipline in various religions/faiths/ways of life.

    6.  Celibacy is seen to be restrictive by many people but can be surprisingly freeing.

    7.  Celibacy enables you to deeply appreciate married people.

    8.  Celibacy is not just for the Catholic Church.

    9.  Celibacy was taught and practised by Jesus Christ.

    10.  Celibacy is like fasting in many ways: abstaining from basic human needs (food, intimacy, ...) in order to focus on other things.

    11.  Celibacy is harder when you think about it a lot but easier when you forget about it and get on with life.

    12.  Celibacy requires the ability to change as the years go on.

    13.  Celibacy was taught and practised by the Apostle Paul, who wrote a large part of the New Testament.

    14.  Celibacy requires regular re-commitment because you become a different person as you go through the different phases in life.

    15.  Celibacy works best in the context of a common cause.

    16.  Celibacy can be a good option for homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals alike. (So can finding a partner.)

    17.  Celibacy is about love.

    18.  Celibacy can help you have more time for things.

    19.  Celibacy carries a flavour of travelling light, not being tied down, being flexible and adventurous.

    20.  Celibacy baffles some people.

    21.  Celibacy works well when you forget yourself and live for other people.

    22.  Celibacy can be offensive to people without really trying.

    23.  Celibacy is for your average normal person, not just for priests or holy people.

    24.  Celibacy should understand the needs of others.

    25.  Celibacy is in no way superior to other ways of life.

    26.  Celibacy should have a higher profile in the mainstream church.

    27.  Celibacy releases power in people.

    28.  Celibacy can make others feel at ease, knowing that you're not on the pull.

    29.  Celibacy has been blamed for child sex offences.

    30.  Celibacy can be a vow that you make or a decision from the heart.

    31.  Celibacy plunges you into the lives of others.

    32.  Celibacy touches something of heaven.

    33.  Celibacy works best in the context of some kind of community.

    34.  Celibacy enriches the kingdom of God.

    35.  Celibacy is about deep friendship with all kinds of people.

    36.  Celibacy is good for young people.
    These are just thoughts rather than definitive, absolute truths. If you want to add to the list, or discuss any of this, click on 'Comment' below and fire away.

    Tuesday, 3 July 2012

    A POET'S PRAYER

    Celibate Poetry - the poet touched by God

    A second poem from Wilf, sent to me recently. Surely this applies not only to the poet or the writing of poetry, but much more widely to anyone, whatever their calling or gifts in life.

    A POET'S PRAYER

    You
    Who were the Word
    Before a word was spoken
    Make me what I write

    May the hand that grips the pen
    Be gripped first by You

    Before this pen touches paper
    Oh Lord God touch this man

    So that everything I write is
    The authentic history and geography
    Of a life lived for You
    Told
    In all honesty brutal and beautiful
    Wilf - June 2012

    Monday, 2 July 2012

    LIFE WAS HARD

    Mountain Summit - represents poem written by a celibate about his life
     
    Another one of Wilf's poems, recently sent to me. I like it because it is simply written but says so much.

    LIFE WAS HARD

    Life was hard
    And even now when I think of the hardest parts
    (Some of which were the longest)
    There is still a ball of pain
    Which swells at the memory.

    It often seemed impossible
    But then it wasn't lived because it could be lived
    Rather because it had to be to follow you
    And if You hadn't been You
    It wouldn't have been so hard then
    Nor so wonderful now
    And when I think of that
    It doesn't seem to have been hard at all.
    Wilf - June 2012

    Thursday, 28 June 2012

    Ten thousand pageviews

    Rejoice with me, the Single for Jesus blog is about to reach ten thousand pageviews.

    Here's the snapshot of the pageview count at the time of writing this post:

    Single for Jesus pageview count

    And the real-time pageview count is at the bottom of the sidebar on the right.

    It's edging up to ten thousand, and will probably be there by the end of the day.

    That works out as about 400 views per month, 100 per week.

    Thanks to everyone who reads my blog - I really appreciate it, and I hope it provides inspiration to all who call in. Many blessings to all.

    Some astounding news

    good-news-jesus-christ
    Sack living for the old, normal, natural things. The comfortable things. The predictable.

    Sack living a this-is-how-it's-always-been kind of life.

    An everyone-else-does-it-so-it-must-be-the-way-to-go kind of life.

    A norms-of-society-don't-rock-the-boat-live-a-decent-life-get-a-job-have-a-family-buy-a-house-with-a-nice-little-dog-two-cars-and-a-beautifully-paved-drive-all-nicely-placed-in-the-middle-of-the-road kind of life.

    Sack that!

    Living for Jesus is about the never-seen-before, not the always-been-there; it's a journey of discovery into what's on its way, what's coming in, what is destined to be.

    It's about the new, not the old.

    And the good news of the New Testament is exactly that - news! The news, or new things, as spoken by and lived out by Jesus. The news, or new things, as freshly passed on to his disciples. The news, or new things, as startlingly endowed with power by the Holy Spirit.

    The strong, exciting, life-changing, brand spanking new things, fresh out of God's exceptional, inimitable, omnifangled heart.

    And, in Christ, it's available to anyone and everyone.

    Here's a short burst of the kind of news I'm talking about:

    ________________________________

    New Birth 

    (John 3:1-8)

    New Birth in Jesus
    Dead, buried and
    risen with Christ

    ________________________________

     New Wine 

    (Matthew 9:16-17)

    New Wine in Jesus
    Drinking of the Holy Spirit

    ________________________________

    New Covenant

    (Luke 22:17-20)

    New Covenant in Jesus
    God's promises made new;
    life poured out

    ________________________________

    New Creation

    (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)

    New Creation in Jesus
    If anyone is in Christ,
    the new creation has come!

    ________________________________

    New Man

    (Ephesians 2:14-16)

    New Man in Jesus
    A new kind of humanity
    through the power of the cross

    ________________________________

    New Earth

    (2 Peter 3:11-13)

    New Earth in Jesus
    As if heaven wasn't enough,
    there's a new earth on its way!

    And, of course, we mustn't forget the new commandment either.

    Ahhh, it's good to be in the news.

    Monday, 25 June 2012

    Drum solo without bass pedal

    Nothing like revealing your past online. By video.

    It's a little-known fact that I was a drummer in various bands throughout my teens.

    Here's a snippet of one of them.

    The band was called 31 Flavours and this video is a snippet from a pub gig somewhere in Essex.

    My bass drum pedal breaks shortly before I'm supposed to do a drum solo, but I still manage to pull off a half decent solo, much to the amusement of the rest of the band. Great fun.

    The year is 1993 - nineteen years ago and I've got the haircut to prove it.

    Wednesday, 20 June 2012

    People are Beautiful

    Some Beautiful White Stone Jesus People
    People are beautiful.

    I walked past a man in the street earlier on.

    Looked at his beautiful face, adorned with wrinkles and crowned with wizened, grey hair.

    As I crossed the road to the post box, I thought about how beautiful his story would be if I asked him.

    How many billions of beautiful stories are there out there that I'll never know about?

    Maybe I should have asked him about his life.

    At the post box, I posted the birthday card I'd made for my beautiful dad. He's got a beautiful laugh and is a seasoned expert at telling stories, true or fabled. Beautiful.

    On the way back from the post box, I popped into the shop and got a gift of Coke Zero for Anna, one of my beautiful housemates. I wanted to say thanks for all the hard work she puts in at home, in lots of different, beautiful ways.

    You know sometimes you can look up at the sky and be wowed by its overwhelming beauty, and yet realise how long its been since you last looked up? It's a bit like that today. Nothing different about the day, really; guess I've just had a looking-up moment, realising again how beautiful people are. All the people around me; all the people everywhere.

    I must keep looking up.

    A middle-aged man with glasses just cycled past my window with a toddler on the back of his bike. Someone else just pulled out of their drive opposite. Someone just ran down the stairs behind me. Beautiful, beautiful people everywhere.