Monday, July 31, 2006

We were taking a group of neighbourhood kids on an outing recently and when we piled onto the bus I (Anthony) sat next to a pair of sisters who I met the day before. As I was talking with them the young boy in front of me turned around and asked me if the girls were my cousins. I stopped, thought for a moment and answered in the negative. These girls were black. I was white. I kept my eye on the boy to see if it was a joke. It wasn’t.

After a few moments of confusion and amusement, I realized something wonderful had just happened. Maybe it was due to the familiarity I shared with the girls, who knows, but for whatever reason this little boy hadn’t realized, or had at least briefly forgotten, that I was white.

Over the past few months the children have been both entertained and frustrated by the differences they perceive between my wife and I and themselves. We wear flip-flops, they wear sneakers. We like rock n’ roll, they like hip-hop. We can choose to leave this ghetto any time, they cannot. There are minute and tragically significant divides that at least refer to the cultural difference, if not define it.

Charlotte 614 is currently a predominantly white outpost ministering in a predominantly black neighbourhood. We are endeavouring to realise Godly relationship and Christian community amidst, and despite, racial and cultural barriers. And for a few moments at least, as far as this young boy was concerned, these little girls and I were family.

Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

Anthony Castle

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Koinonia Community

I have been studding community a lot lately and thought Id share some of my revelations. Biblically we use the Acts community a lot, so do I, but I wanted to look at other sources too; namely John ( the gospel John guy )

The very make-up of this Epistle is messy, there is not a normal form. The author does not properly refer to himself, but calls the readers his " little children " and constantly weaves in the pronouns " I " and " you. " This shows a unique relationship, one much deeper than a traveling preacher would have with a nieghbourhood, this is a relationship based in (Greek) Koinonia !

Koinonia is simply Greek for fellowship, but in its application means so much more that simply spending time together. John shares the idea that Salvation is developed through fellowship, community, with others.

1 John 1:3-4
3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our[a] joy complete.

1 John 1:6-7

6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

These scriptures reveal so much about the miracle of Salvation, to me. I am firm in my definition of Salvation, Romans 10:10, but what if we shifted our strategy from ...

A. Getting someone to repeat a prayer of confession ... To ...

B. Getting someone to come join in fellowship where we share our lives together in Koinonia.

Is it inevitable that if we have right relationship with Holy Spirit and an alive powerful relationship with Jesus and our Father that those around us will be naturally be drawn into a Salvation experience ?

Yes !! Jesus never prayed the " sinners prayer " with anybody, he invited them into fellowship, into community. True converts are ones that join a body of believers and experience love, freedom, safety, discipline, joy, mourning, dancing and Jesus uncut from religion.

The next part of this Chapter is one used to water down Holiness, but as we search this Chapter through the lens of community we see that Holiness in and of itself exists, in fullness, only amongst each other. I pose that Community and Holiness are tied together being that they both are movements that lead to complete freedom from sin and blame. Look at the scripture, if we live like Jesus in right relationship with our Father and each other there is a cleansing from ALL unrighteousness.

I think we have messed up holiness by keeping it in the closet, it is meant to happen in the light through fellowship and community. I bet if someone totally isolated themselves that they could stop outwardly sinning, but HOLINESS IS NOT BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION ! Holiness is freedom from sin and shame, it is an inward purity which leads to an outward example of perfect love.

I am totaly coming out of the closet, I am not ashamed, I am hungry for Holiness. I want complete freedom from everything of the world, I want to stand before the throne of God completely free and pure, totaly holy. I do not think I am there today, right now, but it is my aim, to be just like Jesus.

Above all else, Jesus was a friend, a friend of Gods and a friend of sinners, inviting them to hang-out, watch, and follow if they want to.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Today was an eventful day, marked by unusual experiences. I slept badly due to a poor skittles choice late last night and so my fuel tank was starting with a deficiency.
Tempress Boone (summer service corps missioner and full-on slum sister) invited me out to do a round of visitation on her normal Wednesday route, and so we knocked on the brittle screen door of Miss Shirley and Mr. Taft. We entered into their wee 2 bedroom house. There was no air conditioner, and only one fan that the league of mercy had provided on an earlier visit. I chose a seat that was directly across from the fan, anticipating the cool breeze such a position would bring.
Unfortunately, I did not consider the fact that both Miss Shirley and Mr. Taft are heavy chain smokers, and the fan blew all that second hand smoke my way.
My eyes were swelling, my nose was expressing a strong unwillingness to inhale and I didn't want to open my mouth. Which is kinda of a problem when it comes to making polite chitchat.

So I sat there for a while, initially irritated and affronted by the way the situation had played itself out. I was grumpy. I felt ill.
Then, I stopped.
I decided to just suck it up (not literally) and get over it.
Once I stopped being so preoccupied with myself, I was able to engage my surroundings, listen in on what the folks had to say, and enjoy a good ole' down home visit. I had learned my lesson, I had pressed through and I had overcome. YeeHa!

However, the Lord saw fit to learn me extra good today, for upon my arrival at home, my husband met me with concerns about our air conditioner. Our rentman had installed a central air unit to our home, but since that day, the house temp. sits anywhere from 80-90 degrees, with the A/C running all the time. Rob did some investigating, and noticed that one of the duct joints had separated, and the glorious cool air was drifting off into the neverneverland of our crawl space.
So, he proposed a plan.
He would go under the house and reposition the duct, and it was my job to hammer it back into place. I figured he would be better at the whole hammering it into place thing (plus, I didn't want to be the one to flub it up) so I offered to go under the house.
Now, let it be known, that I made this decision based on past comments I'd heard from my husband about how clean it was down there, and how you can actually stand straight up, because our house was built on a hill and whatnot. So I guess I was expecting the Hilton down there or something, but man, was I off.
So Rob comes down with me, opens the padlock (if we don't lock it, folks be holin' up down there and gettin' all hopped up) and leads me in.

At first glance, I probably should've ditched my flip flops for proper closed toe shoes, but all common sense left me at that moment. Only sheer bravado kept me from turnin' tail back upstairs. But seriously, let my husband think I'm a chicken? under I went.

First, I was mad that it was dirty and dark and the ground was covered with questionable crunchy things. Then I was mad at Rob for painting the crawl space in such a positive light. I recoiled at the thought of bugs crawling on me, or getting nasty old cobwebs filled with bug crusties caught in my hair.
I stood there, paralyzed by my distaste at the task at hand and the level of personal involvement it would require of me...especially when I realized that the vent I had to go to was about 20 feet away and I'd have to get there on my hands and knees.

Then, I stopped.
I decided to just get down to business and enter in. Literally.
Once I stopped being so preoccupied with myself and my personal distaste, I was able to engage my surroundings, get to the duct (a la navy seal on my belly, rolling under obstacles, dodging broken glass) diagnose the problem, make the necessary repairs and seal the leak.
OH yeah baby...I had pressed through, I had overcome.
I was really really dirty, but I felt like a million bucks. I was like Arnold Schwarzenegger comin' out of that hole. The neighbourhood kids called me cool and my husband thinks I'm a superstar.

So, two long accounts. What's the point? Here's the point. Where are you at right now with God? In ministry? In your marriage? At your job? With your family? With your church?

Are you stuck in ickypoo land where you are focused on how everything is affecting you and making you feel uncomfortable, and forcing you to get down and dirty?

Take the tip-off from the smoky sister under the stairs- just get over yourself.
Press in.
Push through.
You may end up filthy dirty with old, dead bugs in your hair, but you'll have accomplished something and you'll feel really great about pushing your limits of comfortability.

Trust me!

P.S. For the sake of my sanity, no photos were taken of this incident. (!)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

it's getting' hot down here...

wow! Great news in terms of Kingdom Advance over here on the Charlotte front.

Tonight we had our squad meeting. Seeing as we have 8 full-time ministers here, we have broken up into two groups that meet for spiritual accountability, encouragement, correction and exhortation. It is always a fruitful time spent in the presence of God, Holy Spirit, us and Christ Jesus.
Tonight was a real treat, though. Rob and I have one of our neighbourhood friends staying with us for a while. He is 14. Typically my squad dwells in the living room of our home, and tonight our friend "J"was in the next room over drawing and surfing the internet. He had one ear tuned in to the goings-on in the living room though, because when Tempress suggested that we all just pray for each other, he called me into the dining room and with his eyes downcast he whispered "will you all pray for me too?"
Hmm. let me think. (!)
So, when it came to be his turn, he sat with us and let us pray with him, over him. Rend the heavens on his behalf...and it was really really great. One of my comrades felt that we needed to give J the Joshua treatment (found in Zechariah 3:3-5) so, with J in the middle, and the four of us encircling him, we began to speak truth into the lies that others have told him, that he has told himself and of course what the devil has spoken too.

Lies like:

  • You're stupid, you'll never amount to anything
  • You're ugly
  • You're abandoned. You're unloveable
  • You are a reject -one wrong move and everyone will hate you, all your friends will leave you
  • God doesn't care about you - He doesn't hear your prayers

It was a powerful experience. An emotional time as Holy Spirit did his work of grace in his heart. We replaced those word curses with words of truth, and words that bring life.

Words like:

  • you are smart, you can figure things out, remember things, you can go to college and succeed at anything you want to
  • you are a handsome man
  • you are loved by God
  • God has set you in the middle of a family, and provided a safe place for you to grow
  • God has adopted you into His family and you are accepted and cherished
  • God created you to have a love relationship with you, you can depend on him and you won't be disappointed.

Then we wrapped his head in a turban and prayed for a renewing of the mind and purity of thoughts...he received it all and there was much rejoicing.

Woooweee!!! Holy Spirit was hot tonight and the saints were on fire with boldness and freedom.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

This is a picture of our new house.

3401 Statesville Av
Charlotte NC

I came across this picture this morning. It reminds me of the uncomplicated mission of community. So many things can get in the way of just hanging out, but I am always satisfied the most when I am just loving on my neighbor's with G, D and C.

We have a mission statement around here, one that marks what success will look like for this summer. It is to get to know everybody's name by September. We have begun some other elements of mission, visitation, VBS, ect. But I really believe that the most effective fruit for the Kingdom will be to have learned everybody's name.

Imagine that if at every ministry outpost or corps the soldiers and officers could go for a walk and say hi to everybody they passed by name, I bet it would reap a harvest immeasurable.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Props to my Sister Shimei from Birmingham 614:

She is leading a mission to Haiti next week. The coolest part is that she is bringing Birmingham Battle Schoolers almost entirely saves from their street level Corps. That is awesome, these guys are simply equipped with Holy Spirit filled passion for souls and I believe that God will bless it large.

Pray it up for them next week.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hey, I thought I would give an update to everybody. Lately life has been moving much faster than the blogosphere ... Well we moved into a house on the same street which gives us about 200 more square feet. We now have two kids that have come to live with us while their Mother gets her personal situation stabilized. That has really changed all the everyday stuff, having two teenagers adds a crazy dynamic to a household and I have become my Father and Mother all in one.
The other day I went to their door and was like " OK guys, time to get up. You can't spend the day watching TV in your room. Why not go get some fresh air outside." That was scary ! It is kind of like a crash course in parenthood, man it is hard being a parent. Sorry Mom.

God is good, we have begun small group discipleship with all the kids alongside a full time kids camp and the Service Corps, alongside The War College students, are making a real impact in becoming a righteous presence here in our community.

Its the personal sacrifice that is making Jesus stand out more and more around here, some ladies on league of mercy assignment have been visiting some shut in retiree's and yesterday brought them their own fans to keep them cool. It was 108 Degree's here but they had no issue with giving up their own comfort for the benefit of others.

It is rare to go out and see any of the team here not sharing a meal with someone or to see them not helping a single Mom with her shopping, or babysitting for her. I am severely humbled by watching this new family of mine give until it hurts and then finding more to give, they are truly presenting an offering to The Lord that is costing them something.

I know that the difference they are making is eternal, I know it because it is given through literal blood, sweat and tears. The courage demonstrated by these two guys and five woman would bring a battle hardened general to his knees. They are a motley crew of hero's and lovers of Jesus' most precious friends. They are simply six salvationists who, by faith, have begun living out their Articles of War.

God bless The Salvation Army, its officers, soldiers and the general.