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

    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...

    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.
    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


    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


    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.


    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
    In all honesty brutal and beautiful
    Wilf - June 2012

    Monday, 2 July 2012


    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
    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

    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.

    Tuesday, 19 June 2012

    Jesus, the Great Celibate

    I’ve been finding myself freshly struck.

    By the fact that Jesus was a celibate, and about what that means for us.

    To use just a few descriptive phrases from the New Testament ...

    He is the King, the Master; he is the Christ, the Messiah. The author and concluder of our faith, the first and the last.

    All things begin and end in him. He embodies perfectly all aspects of God's kingdom here on earth.

    So if we want to know how best to live for God, we must look at how he lived and do the same.

    But he was celibate. Why, then, aren't there many more Christians who choose the way of celibacy?

    Even from the age of twelve, with a pure, honest heart he was devoted to 'his father’s business', focussed on doing God's will, putting that first above the needs of family. Clearly he loved his family but, even as a child, there was something he loved more. And in all that he said and did throughout his life, this remains the theme; and in this, the light of celibacy shines brightly. As God the Son, eternally joined in union with the Father and the Spirit, we can hardly expect him to be seeking a wife or raising his own children. He had a totally different agenda.

    Where does this leave me? And where does it leave all those people who have chosen to live a life given over to Jesus and to God's kingdom? It leaves us utterly challenged. It leaves us with a mission to fulfil and choices to make about the things we don't have time for. It leaves us thinking seriously about the things, and the people, we love - and about whether we love God's kingdom more. It leaves us knowing that if we want to live a truly 'kingdom of God' lifestyle instead of just carrying the name of 'Christian', or even 'Celibate', then we have to be like him. We have to do the things that he does; think the things he thinks; love the things he loves.

    Do we? Or do we love other things more?

    Wife or husband? Children? Work? Money issues? Recreational pursuits? Pleasures? Worries? Cares? These are just some of the things we can end up loving more than God's kingdom.

    Jesus was, and is, the Great Celibate. It’s all too easy for us as Christians (celibates included) to secretly excuse ourselves by thinking, "It was okay for him, he’s the Son of God, but I couldn't do that." But surely, if the Holy Spirit has been poured out, if the very heart of Jesus Christ, the Great Celibate, has been made available to all, if we're really, truly followers of Christ, then we have to raise the bar, don't we?

    Don't we?

    Monday, 28 May 2012

    Jesus - The Miracle Man

    As a response to this previous blog post about the need for more miracles, I thought I'd post this video/slideshow I recently made.

    Kind of says it all.

    Are we blind? We need signs and wonders ...


    A man stood up at our recent national church leaders event and said something that has stuck with me ever since.

    He spoke about the fact that in the early days of our church, when we were discovering some amazing things and God was first leading us toward Christian community and other such toe-curling New Testament realities, he would at times find himself baffled by the fact that Christians can sometimes have an amazing ability to skip over important parts of the Bible seemingly without realising that they should be doing something about what it says. As if they'd read the words but not really seen what it was saying, or maybe even not seen the words at all.

    He explained how he'd resolved all those years ago to aim never to do that himself, and that if he ever found us as a church skipping over bits of the New Testament if as they weren't there, then he'd say something. If he ever found something we were neglecting in this way then he'd speak out about it.

    He said he'd found something.
    Acts 2: 42-44
    42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
    43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.
    44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 
    This bit of the Bible has been very dear to us as a church over the years. It has been an inspiration to us, with our emphasis on being a church that is a clear, visible, distinct, brotherhood community of believers. It has often been quoted around the church and everyone recognises it when they hear it.

    It's a 'good old Jesus Fellowship scripture.'

    But what about verse 43? The middle bit. Everyone was filled with awe? Many signs and wonders? Is this part of our experience or are we skipping over it? Do we even see it when we read the verses?

    I think there's something in what he said. That sense of awe that comes upon all when something undeniably miraculous has taken place - we need more of it.

    I can think of many signs and wonders we've seen as a church, some of which I've witnessed personally - bones healed instantly, food multiplied, irreversible diseases cured, the weather changed instantly, to name but a few - but we need more. I want the church to be all that she should be. I want us to demonstrate the power of the gospel tangibly, with healing and power encounters, and, to quote the end of Mark's gospel, to see the Lord 'confirming His word with signs and wonders'. Do you?

    And why leave it to 'the apostles' - anyone can heal the sick or expel a demon in the name of Jesus. Even me.

    Or you.

    Friday, 6 April 2012

    Broken Society

    I can't believe some of the statistics in this video.

    Very moving.

    I'm glad I have just a little bit of an opportunity to make just a little bit of a difference in just a few people's lives. God, help us make more of a difference.

    Tuesday, 27 March 2012


    A recent poem from Wilf:


    The earth, the crumbling earth is in his fingers
    Fingers that have carelessly let diamonds drop
    Shattering to nothing but a quick play of light.
    He remembers and laughs
    As he climbs the hill of God,

    He turns from laughter to tears
    As quick as the movement of a thought
    For the earth the crumbling earth is in his soul
    The soul of a man who turned away
    Looking for something else
    And was captured for ever,

    But still he sees, and he weeps
    For the starving child,the lonely lover
    The broken virgin, the harrassed mother
    For the suicide case at the end of his rope
    The soldier boy who has lost all hope
    For the saint afraid to get up again
    For the sinner afraid to begin.

    There was a time
    When he could meditate much better
    And he was sure of his theology
    But that was before he heard their stories
    And found himself in them all,the hero of none
    That was his story
    It was the end of something that could be grasped
    And the beginning of something that couldn't,
    But grasped him in the guts of his spirit
    Of that he is sure.

    The earth the crumbling earth is in his fingers
    He laughs and he cries
    As he climbs the hill of God with dirty hands
    And a crowd around him,

    Wilf - March 2012

    Monday, 19 March 2012

    A map of celibacy

    Around twenty-five celibate men and women met together recently in Coventry to celebrate and further explore what it means to be committed, lifelong celibates, living for Jesus. Apart from eating grapes, drinking punch and worshipping God, one of the things we did was to map out celibacy, each sharing something we felt was important for the celibate. The picture above is what we came up with together - a map of celibacy made from snippets from everyone about what we each saw as important regarding celibacy.

    Interesting that nobody said that celibacy itself is important. Being celibate is a means to an end - not the end itself. In fact, as you can see from the map, it's a means to many different ends.

    Or is it really just one single end?
    Celibacy is not an end, but a means. The end is to love God and men with all one's heart and being. (Gregory of Nyssa 335-395 AD)
    We also spent some time hearing God commit himself to us as celibates - without God's involvement and leading in it all, both the means and the end make little sense. But that's a whole other story in itself!

    Friday, 9 March 2012

    Single for good - Thea's story

    'Thea knew what she really wanted: what God wanted. She sensed a call to a lifelong vow of singleness...'

    I read this blog post the other day about Thea's journey into celibacy.

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

    Further Info
    One Heart and Soul Thea talks about living in Christian community (video)
    Like Mother Theresa Thea features in Jesus Life magazine

    Friday, 2 March 2012

    Celibacy: God makes his vow

    God recently made a vow of celibacy.

    "If I were to rewrite the celibate vow, but from your perspective, would you make the vow?"

    "Yes!" replied God without hesitation.

    Avowed celibates make their vow to God and do their best to keep to all aspects of it, but surely God has a part to play in that commitment.

    A vow, after all, is a contract, a covenant, a pledge between many parties; and it makes little sense for it all to depend on just one of them.

    Celibacy is such a two-dimensional lifestyle if it is lived without the backing, the power, the anointing of God. Without the unction that only he can provide, without him upholding his part of the deal, it is at best hard work, and at worst an unsustainable, unnatural, impossible undertaking.

    For instance, the celibate should strive, as part of upholding the vow, to maintain holiness in body and thought-life, and they may well succeed to a greater or lesser extent; but God is able, is willing - he has promised - to provide us with the power to do so, by his Spirit. If that power isn't active in our lives, then we face a one-sided, two-dimensional, naturally-inclined struggle; but if it is, then holiness, for the celibate, becomes a two-sided, 3D, God-focussed, supernatural affair - which changes everything.

    This is just one example, but the same applies to all aspects of celibacy (in fact, to all aspects of the Christian life, for any Christian). Without God, celibacy is dry and pointless; with him, it is filled with life in all its wonderful, glorious fullness.

    Hence my recent question to God about making the vow himself. I suspect he said yes so easily because he knows he has already committed himself to such things anyway, but there's nothing like being absolutely sure.

    So here it is:


    Once I'd rewritten it, I took it up to bed with me that evening and had a quiet moment, in which I witnessed God make his vow.

    Things feel a little different now, like God is suddenly involved, in a way that he wasn't quite before.

    God's vow of celibacy is now pinned to the board next to my bed, where I see it often, as a reminder that God is deeply, intimately involved in it all.

    Further Reading:
       The covenant of celibacy - the original vow which inspired this

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    Tuesday, 14 February 2012

    My Valentine Love


    Today is Valentine's Day.

    I've heard it said that Saint Valentine was a celibate martyr; a man devoted to God, pledged to live a single life in His service, a man killed for his faith. If it's really true, then the bloody painful, cruel yet willing death of this world-forsaken, heaven-bound celibate man is a far cry from the romantic, pink-hearted, flower-giving traditions we have in the UK today, as lovers express their heartfelt affections to one another over kisses and cards and flowers and multitude other signs of undying adoration.

    Or is it?

    Should not the celibate express his love and affection to the one whom he loves with all his heart? Should not the celibate whisper sweetness, write with passion, pledge herself anew to her Lover - the One who is the source of all love - to the one who is both God and man? Should he, should she, not be the most romantic of all who walk the earth? And why not today, of all days?

    And should not Jesus prove His love anew to his celibate companions, those whom He has called, those who have received his precious celibate gift and made their costly celibate vows, those who choose to live their entire lives in enduring celibate devotion? And why not today, of all days?

    Maybe romance is the wrong word for someone who has been swept off their feet by the most precious, the most adorable, the most shockingly captivating person they could ever wish to meet. But then again, maybe it's not.

    Read through the words and actions of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, in the New Testament (go on, try John's Gospel for a start) and tell me if there is anyone like Him, man or woman, real or fictional, living or dead; tell me if there is anyone anywhere from any time who is anything near to being like Him.

    I love Jesus Christ, the man who is my God and my Lover. And I'll tell the world about Him.

    And I'll love Him today, of all days.

    Friday, 3 February 2012

    Finding your ministry or calling

    It's important to find your ministry or calling in life.

    And to have the tools and resources to fulfil it.