Category Archives: brotherhood

Thankful

To the hundreds of friends, family and strangers who have given support, given encouragement, helped here and there in a myriad of ways small and great, or simply given us space over the last six weeks, thank you. Thank you doubly.

Totally grateful to be surrounded by such generous and compassionate folk.

The thanksgiving service was amazing; warm, informal, truly hearty and packed to the rafters. One of my cousins expected the roof to lift off with the volume of the singing.

I don’t think we find real life by trying to squeeze everything out of every opportunity offered by our years. Real life is found when we give. Sounds a little cheesy, I know.

Jesus voiced this truth in a similar way when he said “if you try to find your life you’ll lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake and the gospel, you’ll find it.” Listening to the grateful crowd at his thanksgiving service yesterday, singing with heartfelt gusto, I think my dad kinda proved Jesus right. My dad gave himself. He lived in a bit of an unusual way, giving his years to his friends, his brothers, his community of faith, and in so doing he found a life worth living. Jesus is that life, and that’s why he had neither fear nor regrets in death.

If anyone’s interested in the background music that was playing before the start of the thanksgiving service it’s this:

God is good.

Advertisements

Trip to the Lakes

Thurs 20th June saw 11 of us guys off to the Lake District to stay in a barn, see the sights and spend some time together.

Thursday 20th

On the way there. Slightly happy to be there.
Mountain, conquered. Standard.

Friday 21st: Ran up & down Scafell Pike. Standard. Foggy ascent, cleared for glorious sunshine on descent.

On the way up
On top, apparently (couldn’t see much due to the cloud).
And down we go, still enveloped in cloud.
Clouds cleared, glorious views.
And down we go…
And rest.

Rock jumping
Good nosh

Saturday 22nd: Dave and Dan joined us, making 13 in all.

Walk on the foamy beach
Lunch in a little castle-thing on the beach

Gorgeous scenery. Stayed in rooms in a barn on farm site, few mountain walks (traversed Scafell Pike), ate cooked breakfast each morn, wandered along blustery beach on Saturday. A lot of travelling.

My highlight was simply spending time with the guys.

Got home pretty blasted. Unpacked, hot shower, feet up then bed.

Good time.

The Three Mighty Men Small Youth Group Game

David had some right mighty geezers.

Living on the run from a corrupt king who wanted him dead David found many fugitives drawn to him. These rough guys grew immensely loyal to him and became legendary for their courage and strength.

2 Samuel 23 tells the story of one daring exploit that makes for a potent portrayal of brotherhood, loyal love and self sacrifice. Encamped in a stronghold near an opposing army’s camp (probably a cave) David craved some water from the well of his hometown, Bethlehem, which was on the other side of the opposing camp. A few of his guys overheard his wistful utterances so they made a plan- invade the enemy camp, get a wineskin of water from the well and fight their way back through with it. So they did, apparently.

When they returned with this surprise gift for David he was flabbergasted. Taking the skin he poured it out on the floor of the cave. “The Lord forbid that I should do that,” he said. “Isn’t this the blood of men who risked their lives?” David felt unworthy of their sacrificial loyalty, and offered it as an act of worship to God.

I told this story to our lad’s group one night and I spoke of the loyalty, courage and brotherhood that Jesus builds amongst us as we lay our lives down for him and for one another.

That night we invented a game that’s become very popular with the lads, we’ve played it many times since. It’s called Three Mighty Men and it’s a variant of Capture The Flag games.

There are two teams with the ‘three mighty men’ on one team and everyone else on the other, which is the ‘opposing army’ (which should be larger in number, like six or eight strong). The three mighty men go out first and hide something in the woods surrounding our back garden, like a high viz jacket or something, while the other team wait in the house with the curtains closed. The three mighty men come back to the house and give the opposing army two minutes to occupy the land. The three mighty men then have to get what they’ve hidden without getting caught (if they do they’re dead) and get it back to ‘the well’ in the centre of the garden (which is actually a forlorn flowerbed).

Great fun. Let me know how it goes if you try this game out.

People Are Purpose

Hello my lovelies.

This is a photojournal post so this isn’t going to be very heavily worded and philosophical, that was last week. However I have one thought to share.

Here’s a sweeping and highly prejudiced broad-brush statement: the act of blogging one’s life publically can encourage a certain narcissism, a constant ‘me’ tone of voice. That’s ironic considering that the reason I started this blog was to speak up for the power of brotherhood, a lifestyle of sharing, a very ‘we’ lifestyle. That still is our focus.

So I thought I’d post a little photo album as I don’t tend to feature in photos taken by me (spot the three exceptions). These photos are snapshots of all things ‘we’ from my life over the last three months. Enjoy.

Food fuels friendship
Wedding reception of two friends. They’ve moved in to our shared house in fact.
This photo was taken at another of our Church’s shared houses.
More food.
Making stuff together, like cakes…
…or chicken coops.
Travelling…
Arriving. Lots of friends and family on stage at a Church event
demonstrating the transformative power of brotherhood relationships
Soaking in the sunset
One of my favourite occupations- mucking around with a bonfire

Roses, Thorns & Snoozes

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is to snooze on the shoulder of a friend“, I’d like to add.

Yesterday was tiring but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Folks from the particular collection of Church house groups that I belong to (about 100 of us) made the best of the Christmas Bank Holiday by trekking off to the precipitous hills of Dovedale.

Two routes were offered – a gentle riverside stroll for families with little ones and for those less able but possibly wiser, and an up-and-over route for us more adventurous souls.

Well boys will be boys, and our boys are particularly boyish ones. Take us for a day out anywhere and we’ll instigate some dangerous sport. This year it was cheese-rolling (with a ball) and grass skiing, throwing ourselves wildly down the slope. Miraculously (and unusually) no one was injured.

I was musing on the way back down the motorway in the minibus, head lolling (I wasn’t driving!) how incredible it is to be part of such a group. I felt completely at ease in such a crowd and felt that I could have walked and talked with many there & connected in conversation. My head lolled on my friend’s shoulder. Aaah.

However, looking back on those thoughts now, the warm fuzzy moments aren’t what really make it for me. That’s one side of Jesus brotherhood, but of course, familiarity also breeds contempt. The closer someone is the easier it is for them to hurt you, and for you to hurt them. Living in community makes love real. Love doesn’t get more real than in saying sorry and in still being gracious when others don’t. Love is made real in remembering your own faults when faced with someone else’s, and in treading the second mile with someone in need.

The moments that really make Community for me (and I mean ‘community’ in a broad sense, not just the intentional Christian Community that I’m a part of) are the moments when hearts meet. Tears of reconciliation and laughter together at old grievances, now made to look ridiculously silly. Being told a few home truths. Finally getting out a confession that’s been weighing heavily on your shoulders, and the relief afterwards of still being friends.

Living in Community is a bed of roses, with the thorns. The pain of love makes it real.

And now as I’m writing this sitting up late waiting for some video work to complete I can add one more proverb-

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when a brother stays up late just to keep you company.

So Long, Crown

On Monday night we had a late night farewell bonfire and munch for Richard King. He’s leaving us to support a smaller Jesus Fellowship household, House of Miracles in the the eastern district of Northampton. Friends, a bonfire, Doritos and DrPepper. Times like these are always opportunities to ponder life.

This year’s been a bit of a tumultuous one for us. After moving home last November (it’s nearly been a year!) we’ve met a few big bumps along the road. Some of us have ‘been through the mill’, and it’s been a battle for all of us.

Sometimes I look back and wonder if I would have started on this road if I knew how hard it was going to be. I’ve often thought the words of one Coldplay song “Nobody said it was easy/No one ever said it would be this hard.”

God requires so much of us, much more than we thought it would be possible to give. The cross we carry sometimes seems to weigh more than we can lift.

However, whatever happens I know that God is faithful, and God doesn’t do half measures. God’s promised us it’s more than worthwhile, and God’s promises are more rock-solid than the laws of gravity.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

And what is our crown of life? We’ll have to keep hanging on until we see the indescribable riches on the other side of Eternity.

And yet… although the Kingdom of Heaven is not yet, it’s pushing itself into the here-and-now of everyone who’s face is toward God.

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

Richard King is one such brother.

Christian Community – Church At 1:33am

Christian community, 1:33am. He’s bricklaying, and he’s playing guitar. He’s cooking burgers and I’m drawing. Oh & he’s asleep.
(@honestjames, Sat 11 Jun)

Let me assure you, this is by no means a typical night in New Creation Christian Community, but it demonstrates a point.

I’d just got back from our Church’s video studio (see last post) and was about to head off up the wooden hill to Bedford when I  noticed the lights were still on in the big lounge downstairs. On investigating I encountered a little circle of guys sitting around chatting. One of them was strumming a guitar softly while another friend of mine worked artistic wonders with a pencil. A few guys chilling out together, nothing incredibly unusual.

However, my amusement turned to slightly blutterbunged wonderment when I spotted the floodlights outside. We’re building a BBQ which we hope to commission later this summer, and a couple of the guys had set up lights to keep laying bricks through the small hours. That’s not actually surprising in itself as we’re kinda known for our late night projects, but what gloppened me was the fact that there was a total of nine guys who had decided to stay up and hang around together. We weren’t all doing incredibly important things, it’s just that when brotherhood’s happening, sleep can wait!

This is why I love living in residential Christian Community; we love being together. Our friendships with each other and our friendship with God meet in the most practical way possible. We live our lives for God, therefore we live our lives for each other too. Yeah I know there’s other admirable ways to love your neighbour, but this lifestyle beats ’em all!

So, to finish: firstly, fortunately everyone was considerately quiet enough to not wake those who’d gone to bed at a reasonable time (life in Christian Community’s no utopia, we always have to consider one another).
And secondly, after I went to bed the lads finally turned in for the night at 3am, having made some decent progress on the (soon to be) magnificent BBQ.

Peace.