ONE People

I’m reading a book at the moment called Glorious Intruder by Joni Eareckson Tada, and it’s challenging me in many ways to go deeper in my relationship with God. I recently read part of a chapter of the book which made me think about ONE People, which is the church plant Ant and I will be joining in August in Harare, Zimbabwe. I thought of it because the subject name of the chapter is exactly the same name as ONE People.

Here is what I read:

Think of someone you wish you could come alongside to help today. Take a minute to visualise that person’s face. A close Christian friend, perhaps, or a family member living far away. You’d love to reach across the miles with a gift of strength wrapped in the sunlight of encouragement. You’d love to inspire him or her to walk straight paths and stay close to the Lord.

Yes, you can pray. Please do. You can also pick up the phone or drop a card in the post. But there is something else. Something you might not have considered. Something mysterious and powerful. It has to do with an obscure little story about a man named Achan.

In Joshua 7 we read about the astonishing victories which Joshua and his citizen army secured for God and His people. But God laid down some strict guidelines about these conquests. After the battle of Jericho, for instance, God made it clear that all the booty – whether gold or silver, bronze or copper – was to go directly into the Lord’s treasury. No one was to line his pockets with Jericho’s plunder; these things were to be consecrated to God and kept in His sanctuary.

But Achan had other ideas. He tucked away a few of those costly items for his future retirement and told no one about it except his family. He thought He was getting away with something, but He didn’t count on God the Intruder. He didn’t consider his all-knowing, all-seeing God.

The Lord knew all about it. Joshua 7:1 tells us that ‘God’s anger burned against Israel’ – the whole nation! In fact, the very next battle which Joshua led was a disaster. The Israelites were beaten and humiliated by a wimpish rag-tag militia, and that evening the people stood in disbelief around thirty-six fresh graves. Thirty-six sons and husbands didn’t come back to their tents and firesides that night… and never would.

Wasn’t this the same army that had defeated mighty Jericho? Why had the Lord withdrawn His blessing at such a critical moment? General Joshua was beside himself. He tore his clothes and literally fell on his face in the dirt before the ark of the Lord.

But listen to the Lord’s amazing words to His servant:

Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant… They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites can not stand against their enemies (7:10-12).

Then Joshua got wind of what Achan had done. It was because of this one man’s greed and disobedience that God’s anger had been kindled against the rest of the people. The central truth from this chapter is sobering to say the least: the sin of one person affected the whole camp.

It’s a valid lesson even today. We may tuck away little sins out of the sight of others. We might cleverly disguise the way we manipulate other people. We might falsely accuse folks behind their backs. We might chip in our twopence’ worth when people are huddled around gossiping. We might hide some private sins, which dishonor and displease God.

If Achan could speak to us today, he would warn us that our sins will find us out. Our disobedience can – and does – affect the rest of the body of Christ. When we stumble and fall into sin, we’re setting the stage for others to do likewise. Like the camp of Israel, God still deals with His church as a whole, and we mustn’t think we can get away with our ‘little sins’ without them affecting our Christian friends.

Believers are ONE with other Christians – we’re never told to become ONE, we’re already ONE. Corinthians chapter 12 says that together, we Christians are like a human body with Christ at the head. The human body is probably the most amazing example of teamwork anywhere. Every part needs the other. When the stomach is hungry, the eyes spot the hamburger, the nose smells the onions, the feet run to the food stand, the hands douse the burger with mustard and shove it back into the mouth where it goes down to the stomach. Now that’s co-operation! No organ in the body can act without affecting all the rest.

There is something almost mystical about the intricate, intimate link between us believers. If we care anything about Christ, the Head of the body, if we care anything about the rest of the body – our wives, husbands, children or neighbours – we must face our daily challenges and temptations with them in mind.

So what’s the ‘something nice’ you can do for your friend today? In a mysterious way, you can help that person in his or her spiritual walk by simply obeying. Obeying God in all those little tests and struggles this day may bring. Obedience may seem like a private, personal decision, affecting no one but yourself. That’s what Achan thought.

To Serve

I’m currently reading a Bill Hybels book, and as I was lying on my bed reading this evening, the Holy Spirit impressed the following message on me: “The reason why I’m calling you and Anthony to move to Zimbabwe is very simple: to serve”.

Now this had absolutely nothing to do with what I was reading in my book, it seemed to just come out of nowhere, but I felt that God was speaking to me at that moment.

Both Anthony and I know that God’s called us to move to Zim, but it’s always nice to know the reason why J So I was filled with joy and peace and encouragement after hearing it, thanking God for the privilege of hearing His voice and having Him as my father.

Then I thought, ok God wants us to serve in Zim – to serve where, to serve whom and in what capacity?

So I thought about how we are serving here in London at the moment, and the things that we are passionate about, and it gave me some ideas. God wants us to serve the church we’re going to join, the people in the church, the leaders of the church, the teenagers on Zam Hols camps, the people that we work with, the non-Christians around us, and of course our family and friends!

What a massive joy and privilege it is to be able to partner with God in serving others!

The Road to Zimbabwe – Paperwork

We haven’t posted much about how we are getting on with our preparations to move to Zimbabwe in August, so here’s a fairly brief update.

Approximately 3 weeks ago we DHL’ed the last of our paperwork to Marie’s Parents and it only arrived early last week. we had a tense week waiting while DHL tracking showed a “Customs Delay” in Harare Airport, we prayed like crazy to make sure they didn’t take a look or didn’t remove any paperwork from the package as its not easy to get some of the paperwork and after all the time it has taken to do it.

Thankfully everything made it last week, Marie’s folks took the paperwork down to the immigration office only to find out we needed to provide a copy of the passport pages showing my exit from the country. It appears this is a new requirement since we initially went to hand in the paperwork in December (when i was there handing it in). Thankfully due to the internet actually working in Zimbabwe we were able to scan and email the relevant pages to another family member in Zim (we still need to get Marie’s dad hooked up to internet and able to use his “Typewriter”!)

The forms and documentation were submitted last week and now the waiting (and praying) begins. The immigration officials say it will take up to 5 weeks (more like 2 months) for them to process it and let us know the outcome. While it should be merely a formality as i have married a Zimbabwean, its not actually guaranteed and they could still say no (why they would deny it i really don’t know). so we are praying that its favourable and we are not kept waiting any longer than absolutely necessary

We’d appreciate prayer that it goes smoothly as this is the biggest (and only real one) hurdle for our move in August

The Real Africa

The real Africa is the one they never show you. The real Africa is hidden beneath a veneer of poverty and hunger and death; a cancerous mass on the face of the earth the rest of the world term homogenous "Africa"...

New Year, New Adventure, Same Jesus

So its 2012 already, Happy New year! 2011 has been a blast in so many ways to count. God’s done amazing things in Mine and Marie’s life this last year and He’s calling us onto new adventures this year. It’s no secret Marie and I are planning on moving to Zimbabwe this year, we have talked about it a fair bit. Well the hard deadline is now set, we just booked our tickets to go for 30th August.

So we are on a new adventure from August, we are off to Zim, i plan to continue doing my business from there, Marie is going to be doing some volunteering for a Church out there assuming she has the time to do it and we will both be getting stuck into a new church plant/evening service called One which meets at the SevenArts Cinema in the Avondale area of Harare, more info here:

Matt Ellis made a great comment at church yesterday, “It’s a New Year but its still the same Jesus!” which reminded me that although we will be going to a new country, We’ll still be following the same God that is with us in the UK. and just following on from that Andy Tilsley’s talk on Greed and Contentment, he was talking about being content with what we have and what God has blessed us with. These are going to be powerful words when times are challenging in a whole new country.

After his preach Andy got Lydia and the band to sing an old Hymn over the congregation called Give me Jesus, its actually on the end of the podcast itself over here i had the pleasure of editing the podcast this week because of the song, from our Multi-Track recording of the service so have the song on its own. It’s such a simple song that i want to make my philosophy for the year. you should have a listen to it.

Give Me Jesus

This was taken direct off one of the sound desks yesterday and has only had a little processing done to it, no re-recording or over dubbing. It’s a really beautiful track.