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Monthly Archives: October 2012

All The lonely People: Celibates And Christian Community

Malcolm Lisle from Sheffield comments on the UK’s lonely society and the need for Christian community – for everyone, celibates included.

The Beatles wrote a song entitled ‘All The Lonely People’:

 

Eleanor Rigby died in the church

And was buried alone with her name

Nobody came.

 

Father McKenzie wiping the dirt

From his hands as he walks from the grave.

No one was saved.

 

All the lonely people

Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people

Where do they all belong?

When I was a nurse I looked after an old lady who was very distressed because she had no surviving relatives. I said that I felt sorry for her and I would certainly notice when she wasn’t there anymore. But that is as much as a nurse is allowed to feel. We shouldn’t be callous. It is acceptable to feel sadness when a patient has died but running a busy hospital has to carry on and you can’t worry about it too much or you would be unable to do the job. Just imagine what it must feel like to come to the end or your life, and your only friend is a nursing assistant who is trying not to get too emotionally involved.

There are a lot of lonely people in the world today. I was walking down the street in Leeds when a woman asked to borrow my phone to call a taxi. She was a prostitute. I began to realise that the people she was calling weren’t professional taxi drivers. They were customers, who were simply willing to give her a lift in their cars, anywhere she wanted to go. You might move a long way from your family in order to find work. A prostitute might be your only friend.

In Christian community, the members of the church household become your family. I now have lots of children, lots of brothers, lots of sisters and a grandmother, even though my natural grandparents are now dead. It’s good to be with a church family for a long time so that you can watch the children grow up. The celibate needs community, to substitute for not having their own family. But isn’t it a good idea for everybody?

 
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Posted by on Wed 31st Oct 2012 in Snippets

 

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Living life to love

A friend of mine suggested I post some words to a song I wrote recently.  The first bits that came were a few chords, a rhythm and some wo o o o o’s, but a few days later I got thinking…  Both my parents are in their 70s now and before long I’ll be hitting 40. I suddenly started to grasp just how short our life on Planet Earth is and felt so grateful for knowing God in my life.  It also made me want to give my best for the next 40 years or so, as it’s the only chance I’ve got and there’s the whole of eternity to enjoy.  So, here they are…(without the wo o o o o’s)

Flowers fade, but Your love remains; we’re growing older, but You stay the same.

Time’s passing by like the blink of an eye; want to give us my life for others God.

We’ve only got one life to live and there’s and endless stream of love to give.

When I die, my life has passed me by, I want to say that I walked with You my Lord.

Each passing day, help me to live Your way, so I’m storing some treasure up above.

We’ve only got one life to live and there’s an endless stream of love to give.

When we stand there, New Earth’s breezes in our hair, a perfect bride at Your side;

Round us there’ll be those we helped to be free.  They’ll be weaving together worship harmonies.

We’ve only got one life to live and there’s an endless stream of love to give.

So let’s give it!

 
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Posted by on Tue 30th Oct 2012 in Snippets

 

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What Are You Living For? Good, Better Or Best?

Malcolm Lisle lives in a Jesus Fellowship community house, ‘Royal Standard’, in Sheffield and has been a committed Christian celibate for three years. He tells of the time when God offered him an important life choice.

When I was a student, I knew what I wanted out of life. I wanted a well-paid job, I wanted to get married and I wanted to have a house and a car. I was absolutely besotted with the woman who led the Sunday morning prayer meeting at the university.

My plans didn’t work out. The adorable Christian woman who led the prayer meeting remained an acquaintance. I was unemployed for twelve years after leaving university. This was a sad time in my life, but a fulfilling one. I learned to live by faith. God provided for my needs. I learned to live for Jesus, to dedicate my life to helping others. I loved giving money to Christian organisations around the world and I was faithful to my church. I learned to be less self-centred.

Some years later, God showed me a vision of a Hi-Fi catalogue that was around when I was a student. There were three categories of Hi-Fi, good, better and best. God asked me, “Malcolm, which Hi-Fi do you want?” I had always wanted the best Hi-Fi. I knew God was speaking to me about celibacy. “God,” I said, “I want what’s best from you.”

To be a fulfilled celibate, you need some definite work of God to dedicate your life to. Community goes with celibacy, so does being a volunteer in a Jesus Centre, and so does planting churches. The celibate has fewer responsibilities than married people. If I wanted to go to Swansea, I wouldn’t have to worry about whether my wife wanted to go to, I wouldn’t have to find a new school for my children; it would be so much easier than it would be if I was married. If I want to stay late at the office to write this letter, I don’t need to worry about my wife and children expecting me home. According to the Bible, the reason for choosing celibacy is to serve God more.  Without that desire to serve God, singleness can become very selfish.

 
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Posted by on Mon 29th Oct 2012 in Contemporary

 

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Don’t Go For Silver When You Could Go For Gold

Download the single here – Don’t Go For Silver.

 
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Posted by on Thu 25th Oct 2012 in Poetry

 

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Different sexualities, marriage history and celibacy – and thoughts of an asexual

This poem was sent into Undividedblog by someone who is asexual, describing his experience.

Everything is Ace

Not for me, the table for two
Drowning in each other’s eyes
No lingering French kisses
Or intimate caresses
Or sweating and panting
In fevered embraces

I’ve never known lust
I’m a stranger to passion
And jealousy
And the pain of love spurned
My nights are free of fantasy
My heart has never burned

Some say I’m a freak
Or that I’m sick
Or even mentally ill
They show me their pity
“Maybe,” they say, “there’s a pill”
Others say “You’ve not met the right one”
No, and I never will

I used to date, to dine and chat
I was very fond of that
But, after some weeks, my partners tire
For they don’t see in me
That sexual fire
They wanted to be more than friends
So that is where our friendship ends

I don’t want your pity
I’m free, you see
For the time and the money
You spend on amore
I have fun with my friends
They all know the score-ay

Just one final word
To that fine poet Les
Is poetry better than sex?
Yes, for some, it is

I really like this poem and  I reckon the key verse is in verse 5 when it says, ‘I don’t want your pity, I’m free, you see …’

People sometimes ask: can I be a committed Christian celibate if I’ve been married or have had a partner? Can I be a celibate if I’m gay or asexual?

Celibacy brings freedom from family responsibilities and it gives us time and space to give ourselves, our heart, our devotion, to a wide, wide range of people. It frees us to love the many.

My response to the questions is a resounding, ‘yes. Of course.’ Our past sexual history (or the lack of it) is no bar to receiving the gift … and I’m not theorising. I know committed celibates who are widowed or have formerly been married, practising gays or have lived loosely who are now committed, fruitful celibates. Brilliant.

God does not stand to judge our pasts; rather He is intimately involved in and concerned about the present and the future, a God of fresh starts.

I’m not saying there won’t be issues to work out. There will be. But who hasn’t got issues to wrestle with?

The church needs committed celibates. God has a very broad heart. His gifts are ours for the taking.

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19: 11,12

 
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Posted by on Tue 16th Oct 2012 in FAQ, Poetry

 

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Amy Carmichael – celibate pioneer:

Come one, come all to the Welcome Hall – and come in your working clothes! (Amy’s slogan inviting people to Welcome Hall.)

“Give me the love that leads the way.”

As I stood on the top deck of the ferry last week, counting the  buoys as we entered Belfast harbour, I couldn’t help recalling that two people exerting a weighty influence on my life were born or spent some of their most formative years here: C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast and Amy Carmichael, born in the village of Millisle in County Down, moved there when she was a teenager.

Amy Carmichael, yes, I’ve certainly leaned on her heavily for inspiration over the years: she was converted in Belfast as a teenager when her family moved there and at about 20, founded ‘Welcome Hall’ in the Shankill as a mission to reach Belfast’s mill-girls, many of whom worked in terrible conditions. When her family moved to Manchester, Amy again worked amongst the factory girls in the slums.

Amy sailed for Japan in 1893 to be a missionary. Her dream ended just over a year later when she returned home exhausted and unable to cope with the extreme climate. At this time she received a strong call to celibacy. Years later she described how she found a solitary cave to pray: “I had feelings of fear about the future. That was why I was there – to be alone with God. The devil kept on whispering, ‘It’s all right now, but what about afterwards? You are going to be very lonely.’ And he painted pictures of loneliness – I can see them still. And I turned to my God in a kind of desperation and said, ‘Lord what can I do? How can I go on to the end?’ And He said, ‘None of them that trust in Me shall be desolate’. That word has been with me ever since. It has been fulfilled to me.”

The following year Amy sailed to southern India and soon gathered a group of women whom she formed into a woman’s band, called the ‘Starry Cluster’. Under her leadership the women travelled around the villages, visiting homes and speaking to women and children who were willing to listen to the gospel. When two teenage girls who wanted to become believers escaped from their homes and came to her, the threat of violence forced them all to move to Dohnavur, on the southern tip of India. Amy lived there for the rest of her life.

In 1901 Amy rescued her first temple child. Such children were destined for a life of prostitution in Hindu temples. Over the years she rescued, and had brought to her, many other children in similar danger. A home was made for them amidst a community of believers, later called the ‘Dohnavur Fellowship’. Like Amy, many at Dohnavur chose to remain single ‘to attend upon the Lord without distraction’, as one of them said.

In 1916 Amy formed ‘The Sisters of the Common Life’ for single women like herself. In a book of guidelines for them Amy wrote: “There is nothing dreary or doubtful about this life. It is meant to be continually joyful.” She describes those who embraced this lifestyle as those, “being willing to follow the Lamb wherever he goeth”.*

Amy, called ‘Amma’ (mother), was not only a spiritual mother to many of her fellow workers but to her adopted children as well. Her aim was to train the children “to serve, to be evangelists and lovers of souls” and to send out teams to evangelize the people of southern India.

In 1931 Amy broke a leg which left her disabled for the rest of her life. For the next 20 years, confined to her room, she continued in her role as ‘Amma’ to the family as well as writing many books. In one of her books called ‘Ploughed Under’ she writes of the need of celibates to be spiritual parents. “Perhaps because there are so many perishing for lack of love in a world which can be hard and cold to birds which have no nest of their own, He wants some mother-hearts to be free to make nests for them, just as He wants some of His knights to be St. Pauls … and for Francis of Assisi there is need everywhere.”

“Why was it ever forgotten I wonder?” she wrote of celibacy. The word she received so many years ago – “It has been fulfilled to me. It will be fulfilled to you.”

Amy wrote of the importance of having a consistent and loving relationship with God and of allowing nothing to mar that bond. She wrote:  “O, let us more and more deeply love the Forgiving Saviour and more and more walk softly with Him lest we grieve Him in any tiny thing.” Easy, second-rate choices would lead to a quenching of the fire of love; commitment to Jesus and His cause had to be total: “We are not called to be weaklings but warriors… It is all or nothing,” she wrote.

Amy longed that the Dohnavaur community model a very high standard of Jesus-like love and the first line of one of her verses begins, “Give me the love that leads the way.”

Amy’s legacy of compassion, obedience and devotion lives on – both in the books she has written and in the continuing community she established at Dohnavaur.

*I’ve never seen this book, despite searching in the British Library. If anyone knows  where I can get a copy of it, please let me know!

 
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Posted by on Fri 12th Oct 2012 in Historical

 

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Love works

It’s funny how Love works
You make yourself vulnerable
Feel terrible, naked, alone
And then comes Love
With a rose between His teeth
Enticing, proposing, freeing
Smiling, loving, enjoying
And suddenly you realise
You feel a bit naughty
A little bit wild
Confident in who you are
There’s a warmth lit inside
That means you walk and talk
With an air of confidence
A woman in Love
Not fallen in love like you tripped and fell
But ‘In Love’ purposefully, divinely
Captured by Love, to dance with Love
To know Love

 
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Posted by on Thu 11th Oct 2012 in Poetry

 

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