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Category Archives: Contemporary

Reality Verses Romance: Attaching Our Hope to a God-given Vision

Alison Moore lives in London and has been a committed Christian celibate since 2006. She writes about her experience of coming to terms with her past, leaving aside ‘unreal’ dreams and attaching hope to a solid vision God has given her.

Ask most men what kind of film they like to watch and they will tell you that the fast-paced movies with plenty of action and adrenalin appeal to them.  Movies like Fast and Furious which portray a successful tough male persona are popular – it is the strength of the man and his ability to affect the situation around him which is significant.

As for us ladies, well – the majority of women identify on some level with characters like Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and her desire to win the unruly Mr Darcy. It is her beauty and its capacity to affect others which counts.

Why do these stereotypes appeal to us? They appeal to us in a very healthy way to demonstrate positive behaviour and can provide healthy role models. Strength for men can be character strength and leadership, not just brawn, and beauty for women can be grace, humour, determination and so on.

Yet sometimes fiction can function as a substitute for us and instead of leading us into reality it can trap us ouFast and furioust of it. Sometimes a painful event can stop us from moving forwards.

When I was a teenager I rebelled and got into going out with boys, getting drunk and staying out. My behaviour resulted, after a few years, in me getting pregnant, having the pregnancy terminated and losing the love of my life. For many years I just couldn’t get over it – the whole thing was just so devastating and I didn’t have a clue how to get over it. Nothing helped.  My life was totally destroyed.

Because the reality of my life had hit a brick wall, my only option for a while was to take refuge in my imagination and somehow that imagination seemed to offer me hope. In my imagination I would have a second chance, fall in love, get married and have children.

The trouble with my dream is that it just wasn’t real. And it took a very long time before I could let go of the fact that deep down I was still in love with the father of my pregnancy and face the fact that my dream was never going to happen. It can be very easy for us to nurture things which are not real because we kid ourselves we can get something for nothing and we can comfort ourselves or put a lot of hope in these things. We can substitute the hope for the reality of doing anything about it.

Anything which is not real is not of God. God is in the business of reality and the plan He has for us is 100% real.  He has created us and everything which is for us. It is only what He has created us for that will satisfy because these are the things we are made for.

Maybe we think one day we will get married or have children or be a great leader or plant a church or something but if the origin of it is not from God and we are just ‘dreaming’  or we are still hanging on to things from the past which have themselves moved on, then it doesn’t happen.  When it doesn’t happen we get sick, frustrated, older and just don’t fulfil our potential in life – we get ‘stuck’.

Lots of people like to watch films because they identify with a deep need in us to be beautiful or to be strong.

Imagination can be a very powerful thing because we attach hope to it and that hope gives direction for our future.

But – as a friend of mine quoted –  ‘entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy’.

It took me a long time for me to realise that my dream wasn’t going to happen. And, when I did that, I needed to repent of my dream and turn away from it. That was a very difficult thing to do because then I had to face the devastation again because that was my reality and it was still there – just the same many years later. Reality doesn’t change without us in it – that’s the amazing thing and that’s what makes it our reality. The only way I could face that devastation and loss was with someone else who had been there before me and that person was Jesus. But I found oupride and prejudicet very quickly that He was there to bring me healing from the old wounds and so much joy as I realised that God’s love had been there with me all along.

How powerful it is when we attach our hope to a vision God has given us.

As one of our pastors was saying last night – ‘What is the dream God has placed in our hearts? What is the dream that God has placed in your heart?’

Do we need to repent of hopes which are not of God to make room for the ones which are?  How amazing and how wonderful that would be.

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Posted by on Fri 26th Apr 2013 in Contemporary

 

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What Has Celibacy To Do With Undivided Devotion?

Recently someone sent the following comment into Undividedblog:

“I do not understand what being celibate has to do with being undivided in devotion to God. The people that seem most Christ-like are married couples who do good work together for others.  

“Right now, the requirement that priests be chosen from a celibate male pool is leaving the Catholic Church so short of priests that it is undermining Catholicism.”

Hey, thanks for writing in. It’s all thought-provoking wilfstuff: I’ve asked my friend, Wilf, to comment and I’ve written my own thoughts after.

Wilf: I think you are right about many married people.However for some people, those who Jesus said could recieve the gift of celibacy, it can and does open up something very wonderful and powerful: it is gift which can sharpen and empower all the other gifts a person has.Having said this, I do not think it should be a prerequisite for the priesthood. Maybe something more like the Orthodox approach would be better, where priests can be married or celibate.

I guess celibacy, for me, is a lot to do with freedom – from family responsibilities and so having time and energy available for other things. Freedom, however, must be treated as responsibly as commitment. Will I use or misuse this gift of freedom?

Ideally celibates use their freedom in order to live poured-out lives – for God, for others.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case and I find this a challenge everyday – to love foremost, to serve and to pray. There are, sadly and gladly, very good examples around of both celibacy’s misuse and use. I guess, let’s not tar everyone with the same brush.

I have observed, as you have, shining Christian couples exemplifying lives poured out for others. Wonderful. Indeed, personally, what would I have done without such people? I have also had the good fortune to see some brilliant examples of celibates, ‘not counting their lives precious to themselves’ (Acts 20:4) but living lives sold out for others.

I believe that, in a healthy church, celibates and married people work together. Celibates often thrive when they closely connect with families and visa versa. Personally, I have really enjoyed the friendship of my married friends and their children and this has been very beneficial – for me as well as them. And then, there is the freedom in celibacy to give oneself to spiritual sons and daughters and one takes on commitment then of a different but equally important type. I find there is no lack of people wanting mentoring, mothering, befriending – if you have time. Yes, celibates, we have time – and hearts of love can go a long way.

I come from a tradition where we have married, single and celibate leaders. I am glad for this as I believe it brings wholeness to the church. We need each other.

 
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Posted by on Mon 18th Mar 2013 in Contemporary

 

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Video

Sr. Veronica Marie on Joy – Imagine Sisters

This brought tears to my eyes. God’s joy is almost indescribable but this nun could describe it eloquently with or without words!

 
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Posted by on Thu 7th Mar 2013 in Contemporary

 

Events for Christian celibates: February 11: UK

silver ringJust to let you know:

The Jesus Fellowship in the UK has evening events on Monday 11 February for Christian celibates and those interested in celibacy. For us, singles, widows, widowers, divorcees and single parents can all embrace a celibate call which brings fruitfulness, fulfilment and family as we aim at single-hearted devotion to Jesus together.

Come and find out more! Come and get inspired!

The events are in London, Northampton, Coventry, Sheffield, Oxford, Birmingham and Leicester.

For more information:

Email: info@jesus.org.uk
Tel: 0845 123 5550 (UK local rate)
+44 1327 344511 (International)

 
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Posted by on Mon 4th Feb 2013 in Contemporary

 

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Let King Jesus Reign! Comment by David Lee

DAvid LeeLet King Jesus Reign! Comment by David Lee, a Christian celibate and electrical engineer living in Flore, Northamptonshire. Who are we really accountable to and who are we wanting to please?

The Church of England appears to be having some difficulty agreeing qualifications for bishops. I am an outside observer, so it does not affect me directly, but what has interested me is the arguments that are being used. Internally, the Church of England has produced theological and scholarly documents (see http://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/women-bishops.aspx for an outline) but what has been reported by the press has more often been on how such things are seen by those outside the church ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20443718 for example). I want to ask to whom the church should be accountable?

Although accepting that there is some truth in the church existing for those outside of her, my vision of her is as the Bride of Christ, called by her Lord out of the fallen, corrupt world, made of those who have washed their robes spotless in His blood, and adoring her Lord. What we have in day to day life here on this earth is clearly less than that, but I want to live for eternal things, not the temporary passing fashions of this world. That I see as being one of the sustaining things for my celibate calling.

It is true that in this valley of tears we have many uncertainties as to how best to follow our Lord, how best to be His body, displaying His life here, and I admit it is in that area that the debate on women bishops is active. Acceptance of celibate gays is not contradictory to the injunction to abstain from sexual immorality in the New Testament. Indeed, with western society having an infidelity rate amongst heterosexuals of over twice the rate of homosexuality then infidelity, being directly against that scripture, should, for us, be a higher priority issue than gay behaviour. Dare we suppose that statistics for Christians would be much better than for the society in which we live? Who has not known sexual temptation? – For me, I know how easily I could fall (see 1 Cor 10v12) so have no desire to be harsh on any who have fallen.

Let us not lose sight of our call as a church, to be the Kingdom of God, the place where God rules, and His will is the highest aim. I have long esteemed the cry of the Scottish Covenanters of 1685, “Let King Jesus Reign”, in response to the state seeking to control their church. They knew, and did not fear to pay the cost of that declaration then. Nowadays, the cost is more likely to be character assassination, a small price compared to denying our King.

 
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Posted by on Fri 25th Jan 2013 in Contemporary

 

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Part 1: Basil the Great: ‘Belonging to the Poor’

basil the great We belong to the beggar on the street

To the people that we meet in our town.

We belong to the refugee

The single mother on her knees, we belong.

 

We belong to the gang in the yard

To the woman who is hard up and sad

We belong to the kids without dad

To the one going mad, we belong.

These lines from a song, written by a celibate who lives in London, express a recurring theme  in church history: celibates, having left the possibility of producing natural children, often possess a sense that they belong in a unique way not only to the church but to the disadvantaged and the poor – spiritual orphans – and have received a call to love and serve them.

Basil the Great  who died on 1 January AD 379,  was one of these and his initiative, the Basiliad, a large complex for the poor and disadvantaged in his home town, was considered by some at the time as one of the wonders of the world.

Basil  was one of the ‘Cappadocian Fathers’, a church leadership trio in what is now Turkey in the fourth century.  The trio  included Basil’s  brother, Gregory of Nyssa, and friend, Gregory of Nazianzus. They guided the church through turbulent times and their influence was felt for many years to come.

Basil was born in AD 329 at Caesarea (central Turkey). His parents and grandparents were Christians. His grandmother, Macrina, who played a large part in his upbringing, had spent seven years hidden in a forest fleeing persecution and her faith exerted a huge influence on Basil.

Basil was a student, first in Constantinople and then Athens. At Athens, he met up with an old friend Gregory (of Nazianzus). They became life-long friends, sharing a great zeal to serve God and keep away from anything that would spoil their love for Jesus.  They pooled their possessions and shared what they had, including lodgings and meals, and studied, fasted and prayed together.

A promising career lay ahead for Basil; he was very able but he hated the pride this wrought within him and, encouraged by his friend Gregory and sister Macrina, left aside his career, got baptised, gave his wealth to the poor and dedicated his life to seeking God. Like his friend Gregory, he chose a life of celibacy.

Basil’s mother, Emmelia, and sister, Macrina, had founded a community for women in his hometown. Basil followed their vision, establishing a community of men on the opposite side of the river, which he led for five years until his brother, Peter, took over. Basil founded several other communities in the district, both of men and women, and drew up a rule for them.  He was a great believer in community – believing it was better for celibates to live in such a way rather than the solitary existence that monks often led in those days.

Basil felt that caring for disadvantaged people was integral to his calling, a way of loving commanded by Jesus Himself. In his writings and preaching he drew graphic attention to their plight and used all his persuasive powers to encourage the rich to give away their wealth: “For the more you abound in wealth, the more you lack in love,” he wrote.

For Basil, ‘the poor’ were not impersonal recipients of alms and worldly goods given away to rid the soul from that  which encumbers. ‘The poor’ had a face and his writings vividly personalized their troubles.

“When someone steals another’s clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”

Part 2: Next week.

 
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Posted by on Tue 1st Jan 2013 in Contemporary, Historical

 

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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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