Saturday, 4 December 2010

Thats My King

I couldn't get it to embed without taking up most of the page. So here's the link, hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

A fork in the road.

For a while now I have been doing my university application, and today it finally all came together and I sent it off. After the initial shock of finding the price has gone up (it's now £21!!!) I clicked the send button and now it's just a waiting game to see whether anyone actually wants me.

Making the decision on where I would like to go is the tough part. There are five choices, hence the reason this post is called "A fork in the road".The five choices that I have are Canterbury, Winchester, Exeter, Nottingham and Chichester, all to study Theology. 
 At the moment, I really don't have a clue where to be heading, so I am seeking revelation from God as to where I am best suited to be and where I will be able to glorify his name the most. Obviously a good church is vital for making this decision and I know that in all those places there are some pretty decent churches, which is great!
It's exciting as so many of us will be moving on to new places, meeting new people and growing both in self and in Christ.

All the best...

Friday, 19 November 2010

Time fly's when you are having fun...

This morning as I was walking to work, it hit me that actually I have been in Poole now for two and a half months. Where has the time gone? It will be Christmas soon! It always seems to be that way though. When you are enjoying something, time just goes so quick.

Anyway, tonight I am heading back to Winchester, let's hope the weather is good...I highly doubt that though. 
It is going to be a very busy weekend, seeing family on the Saturday, then Church Sunday morning and evening before heading back to Poole.

It is going to be great seeing family and friends again. It has been a while since I last saw most people, and I can't wait to hear stories and attempt to relax.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Straight to the heart of...

All I can say is, I am three chapters into this one and I already feel compelled to recommend it so that others can get what I have got out of it.

Phil Moore has written a truly great commentary series here, one that is so understandable, even I get it. He truly goes "straight to the heart" of the books and brings forth their mains themes, characters and application for our own lives. The bible is often very tough and challenging to read, yet Phil makes it come to life.

If I can recommend one commentary series that a young and seasoned christian should buy, get the "straight to the heart" series. As an office team, we are reading the Revelation commentary and it creates a great atmosphere to lead into worship.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

All's well in Poole.

It's a Wednesday afternoon, just me and Matthew in the office, and seeing as he is doing preach prep it is very quiet so I thought I might as well do an update on how everything is going.

Every time I post an update I seem to boast about how amazing the weather is...well I'm sure you are glad to here that the weather is being a bit erratic at the moment. It can't decide whether it wants to rain or not. Yesterday was especially bad. Thankfully my landlord gave me a lift into the office which was great.
I will hopefully be back on the bike within the next few days. I have not been riding for the past three or so weeks because I had a minor accident and consequently needed a new chain...AND a helmet! The parts are on the way so I look forward to cutting the journey to work by 30 minutes or so. 

On Sunday we had our first youth band meeting. This is something that I am setting up in order to get the youth leading worship in the children's work. I was very encouraged to see everyone come together, and the youth were a real encouragement to me. Leading worship was never something I really explored before I moved here, but it has been great seeing my gifting grow as I use it. People have really got around me and given me the push I need which I am thankful for. 

I shall be heading back to Winchester on the 20th-21st of November. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again and for the baptism's taking place on the 21st. After that visit, I will not be back until Christmas. 
Christmas in Poole is going to be exciting. We have our annual carol service, that I am helping to organise and run. I am also thinking of exercising my vocal chords and boosting the testosterone levels of the choir...we shall see!

Until next time...

Thursday, 4 November 2010

New bible reading plan...

I have just done my first day of the "10 Lists" bible reading plan designed by Professor Grant Horner. It's a very unusual and challenging plan considering you have to read 10 chapters a day, but I enjoyed it and it didn't seem to take to long. 
The idea is that you get to know the bible very well in a relatively short amount of time.

There are 10 lists, and you read one chapter from each list a day. Once you have finished a book, you move on the the next one.

LIST 1: Matthew to John.

LIST 2: Genesis to Deuteronomy.

LIST 3: Romans to Colossians (Hebrews is added to this list).

LIST 4: 1 Thessalonians to Revelation (excluding Hebrews).

LIST 5: Job, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.

LIST 6: Psalms.

LIST 7: Proverbs.

LIST 8: Joshua to Esther.

LIST 9: Isaiah to Malachi.

LIST 10: Acts

I will give updates shortly on my progress with this plan...

Friday, 29 October 2010

Bristol...take two!

Bristol training is always great fun, educational and full of energy. It was great being back there with all the other "impacters". Many stories of encouragement were shared and the feeling of unity was really evident again. 

We kicked off our first days training by taking a look into church history. We explored different eras; 100-1054 AD where they early church was having to contend for the gospel against heretical ideas and teachings. We took a look at the work of Athanasius and Augustine, and their fight to teach the one true gospel. 
The next era was 1000-1600 where a reformation started to take place. This involved men/women such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and Lady Jane Gray as well as many others. Calvin and Luther are both very well known for their writing, and I am planning to check some of their stuff out soon.
This was followed by the legacy of the reformers which took place between 1600-1800. Main figures in this time were Richard Sibbes, Jonathon Edwards, George Whitefield and the Wesley brothers. This was a time where Britain really started to see revival through the ministry of Whitefield and the Wesley's.
After this evangelicalism started to rise. This was the era in which men such as William Carey, William Wilberforce, Charles Simeon and Charles Spurgeon came to be known. Spurgeon is said to be one of the best preachers to live, his preaches are still available in written form, they are defiantly worth taking a look at. 
We finished up in the 20th century, where men like Billy Graham, CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Martin Lloyd-Jones, John Stott, John Wimber, Smith Wigglesworth and Terry Virgo were all very influential. 
It is great to see what has happened in the past, and exciting to think about where the church is going in the future as we go towards our ultimate goal, preparing the beautiful bride of Christ. 

Our second day was looking at Jesus through the Gospels and the claims he made of himself. Jon Peel led this session as well as the last one. We took a look at why Jesus called himself the "son of man", "how he was son of God" and why he was referred to as "the word". At first some of the teaching was difficult to understand but I got there eventually and I have my notes to look back over. We also looked at the I AM claims that Jesus made of himself. 
  • "I AM the bread of life" John 6:35
  • "I AM the light of the world" John 8:12
  • "I AM the good shepherd" John 10:11
  • "I AM the resurrection and the life" John 11:25
  • "I AM the way, and the truth, and the life" John 14:6

In the last session Jon talked about the story of the church from Acts and the Epistles. We looked at God's view of the church, its dynamic and lifestyle, its message, its methods, its leadership and how it makes decisions. 
Imagery is often used throughout the bible to symbolise what the church is. Examples of these are...
  • The Bride
  • The Family
  • The Body of Christ.
  • The Temple (building) 
  • The Pillar of Truth.
I really enjoyed all that we learnt this training block. It was great to see all my brothers and sisters again, and to get fired up before coming back to Poole. 

Until next time...                                                                                                                         

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Off to Bristol!

I will be heading off to Bristol again tomorrow for training as part of my FP Impact year. We will be spending three days dwelling on theological issues and other subjects along them lines.
This weeks subjects shall be Church history, New Testament: Four Gospels and New testament: Acts and the Epistles.

I am looking forward to a good week! I shall write of my exploits when I am home.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Saved By Grace- we get what we don't deserve!

 Often, there is a misconception about what being a Christian really is, and really involves. People believe that you must go to church, read your bible and pray. They believe that works such as these can save you, and make God love you more. I once had this view on Christianity. I believed it was just about keeping God's laws and being a good person. Sadly, like many, this put me off for years, before grace was explained to me.

P-J Smyth, a well respected leader among Newfrontiers did a talk at Newday 2007 on the subject of Grace, and it is from that talk that I have taken a bulk of the information here. He put it in a way that really makes it understandable and interesting. As I will only be scratching the surface, why not check out the talk here. P-J is a great communicator, I have been blessed by listening to him over the past few years.

Ephesians 2:8-9...
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
To start with, we have to recognise that we are all sinners (i.e we have all done something wrong in our lives) and have fallen short of God's glory. This started back in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, when they first sinned against God. This sin caused a separation from God and because all sin is against God, it must be punished by death. We are all objects of his wrath. This sounds all doom and gloom I know, but because God loved us (his creation) so much, he provided a way for us to be in relationship with him again.

How did he do this? Through his son Jesus Christ! We cannot bring ourselves any closer to God through our own efforts. Only grace can bring us closer to God, and save us. We can often get into the mind set that God will not love me much if I don't go to church, if I don't read my bible or if I forget to pray to him one night but these things don't matter. They are works and works can't save us. When we believe and put faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the gift of grace which pardons us from our sin. Jesus took our sin on the cross. We contribute nothing to our salvation, it is free, it is a gift! 

Salvation = Jesus + Nothing!

If we don't have to contribute anything, yet we have sinned against God, then surely we are getting what we don't deserve? It's a gift, no one deserves gifts, people give gifts to people because they love them. Birthday gifts aren't earned, they are given out of love for that person, and we receive the gift of grace from God, even though we do not deserve it.
The example of the criminal on the cross next to Jesus is very helpful in showing us this principle. 

Luke 23:39-43...
 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." 42 And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 43 And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Both the criminals were on the cross for a good reason. They were criminals. They were "bad" men. However, they both had different view points on Jesus. One was being selfish and only cared about himself, while the other knew Jesus was the Christ, the one who had come to save. He knew Jesus had done nothing wrong. All he did was ask Jesus to remember him. He believed Jesus was who he claimed to be and he put his faith in him. This simple act caused Jesus to say " you will be with me in Paradise." Amazing! The criminal had done nothing to earn his salvation, he had never prayed or done any good works yet he was saved. He got what he didn't deserve!

Grace is free to us! We can receive it freely. But although it is free to us, it cost Jesus absolutely everything. He was beaten, abused, taunted, rejected for us! He took on all our sins so that the fathers anger and wrath could be satisfied and we may go free. We must accept and put faith in Jesus to receive this grace. Without it we are still objects of God's wrath. Without faith in Christ we are not destined for eternal life. However in Christ there is forgiveness and mercy in abundance. He forgives any sin, and anyone can come to him and ask for forgiveness. 

So once we give our lives to Christ does that mean we stop sinning? Well, personally I believe it possible but improbable. When we give our lives to Christ, we are dead to sin and alive in him. However, we are still human and in our weakness we still sometimes slip back into our old ways. But, because of God's grace we are forgiven and he doesn't love us any less. Wonderful!

Living in grace...
Now, if grace is properly explained, it should cause you to think "then doesn't this mean I can go on sinning intentionally because God will forgive me anyway?" I will shortly write an article on living in grace which will explain all about how we should now live because of God's grace upon us.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Disciplines of a godly man by R. Kent Hughes

This is my first book review for some time, mainly because the time I have for reading has been reduced by my increasing social life. Anyway, Monday's are my day off and my lazy tendencies had once again been proven as I had no washing. So, what better to do than read while waiting for washing to dry?

Anyway, R. Kent Hughes has written a fantastic book here for men. It goes through all sorts of disciplines that as men we should engage in our lifes. There are six sections within the book based on discipline of relationships; soul, character, ministry and grace of discipline. We all know that discipline is a big part of following Christ, and it can often be one of the hardest things to do. So men, grab a copy of this book and read away. Even for those that struggle to read, this book grabs you, and now sports a study guide which makes it excellent to read as part of a discipleship group.

I have been blessed by reading this book, I expect you will be to.

Also for you ladies, there is a female version, written by Barbara Hughes, wife of Kent. Although I have not read it, I have heard several good reports about it.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Miracle of the week!

I am writing a short post here just to encourage and stir your faith. Yesterday in the office, one of the administrators came in on crutches because she had fallen down some stairs subsequently tearing ligaments in her foot, which in turn also pulled some bone away. Anyway, we prayed for her, and she was then able to moved her toes, which previously she couldn't do. The pain remained so we prayed again and the pain immediately left, she was able to walk, then run, and then jump on her foot. Amazing!
It doesn't end there though, we prayed one more time for the swelling to leave her foot/ankle, and before our very eyes it went...all I can say is I was in shock, but overwhelmed with joy.

God is great!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Crabbing, Tree's and Other Poole times.

Good Morning all, 

I write to you from a sunny, yet rather chilly Poole. The Sun is very high in the sky and shining very brightly, and as i look out my office window several seagulls circle the car park. The Office is unusually quiet as the "big boys" are up in Peterborough today at prayer and fasting. 

I enjoyed a lovely weekend, the weather was fantastic! Saturday morning was an early start, as I was doing the "finding your place course" at church which means i will soon be a member of Gateway. The morning took us through the basics of what church life is like at Gateway and what our mission statement is.

Sunday was brilliant! A lie in, followed by a great church service, student lunch and then an afternoon and evening with two visitors from Winchester, or should i say Eastleigh...

My one clawed BEAST!
 We spent the afternoon crabbing, took a walk in the woods and then had "chats" on the trampoline back at home. The Crabbing session was not as fruitful as previous afternoons however it was still good fun. In total we caught around five, would have been more if the fish didn't keep stealing our bait! We then headed over to Upton Country park for a stroll in the woods, and some tree climbing action. The woods are beautiful, if you ever visit down here, you must take a walk. The girls especially liked the wishing tree, a tree that people over the years have stuck colourful bits of paper on with wishes written on the paper. 

Life in general is going well, its busy, with lots of late nights and early starts. The reality of being in a different environment still has not fully hit me yet but I would say that I am settled and enjoying life. I will soon be going to my second training session in Bristol on the 26th-28th October. I look forward to yet more exciting times, and I am sure I will have many stories to tell.

 More Photo's from Sunday:

Saturday, 9 October 2010

General thoughts: Friendship.

Yesterday, I was preparing for a talk that I was doing at youth in the evening. The talk was entitled Real or Fake and was taking a look at Biblical viewpoints on things and worldly viewpoints.

1 John 5:9 says...
 We believe people when they say something is true. But what God says is more important, and he has told us the truth about his son.
Often we can get caught up in worldly beliefs and this can affect all sorts of areas of our lives. For my part in the talk I have been asked to talk about friendships and popularity, which for young people can be a battle at times. This caused me to take a look at what real Biblical friendship is and how we as Christians can become better friends and not be swayed by the worlds view on it. 

To begin to understand this we need to take a look at one of the best biblical examples of friendship that we have, David and Jonathan.

1 Samuel 18:1-4...
 When David finished talking with Saul, Jonathan felt very close to David. He loved David as much as he loved himself. Saul kept David with him from that day on and did not let him go home to his father's house. Jonathan made an agreement with David, because he loved David as much as himself. He took off his coat and gave it to David, along with his armor, including his sword, bow and belt.
The world often tells us that our friends are here to benefit us, to help us and to love us. Friendship can often be interpreted as a one way thing. We need to assess whether our friendships are all take, take, take and whether we expect our friends to be there for us and to make us happy, without us giving anything in return. 
From the example of Jonathan and David we can see that Jonathan cared about David and loved him as much as he loved himself. They were very close and they cared about each other deeply. As there should be in all friendships, there was mutual encouragement, intercession and affection. Later on in the story, we are told that when Jonathan and Saul were killed David was very grieved so he wrote a song exclaiming how he felt at the time (2 Samuel Ch 1), this shows to some extent how much Jonathan meant to him, and how much he cared for Saul despite the way Saul acted towards him.

Going back to 1 Samuel 18-19, we see that Saul put David at the head of his army, and David achieved much success in his exploits because he trusted fully in God. You would think this would make a king happy, however Saul became bitter, jealous and scared because of Davids success, so he started trying to kill him. This is where Jonathan and David's friendship would really be tested. Jonathan was Saul's son and Saul confided in Jonathan about his thoughts and plans, as did David. So when Saul commanded Jonathan and his servants to kill David, Jonathan's loyalties were tied. What would he do? 
Because Jonathan was fond of David and there was a true love between them, he warned David of Saul's plans to kill him, and told him to hide (1 Samuel 19:1-3). This was very risky business because if Saul had found out that Jonathan was telling David (whom he probably saw as an enemy at the time) he probably would have killed him, despite him being his son. Jonathan could have also seen this situation as a big personal gain. He knew where David was hiding and he could have led Saul to David, which in turn would have led to reward. However, we see a real unselfishness which I believe can only come from love.

The world will often tell us that our own success comes before our friends success, and our friendships with them. We can see this all through society from children ditching their close friends to hang out with the "cooler kids", to businessmen stealing ideas from business partners. This is seen as acceptable, there is no loyalty and love in the relationships. Sadly this also spreads to marriage, we see men and women running off with other people when something that seems better comes along.

As Christian's we should be different though.
Jesus said in John 13:34-35...
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
We can see here Jesus gave us a command to "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." This is clear and direct. Jesus loved his disciples (then and now) with all his heart. Jesus would have never had bad thoughts about people, he would have never slandered, he would have never gossiped. He was perfect. These things are not loving. I myself have struggled with them in the past and still do to some extent. They are not godly, they are worldly and we should be disciplined and avoid them.
Jesus also says "By this all men will know that you are my disciples...". Jesus is saying that if we love one another, people will know that we are followers of him. Demonstrating godly friendship speaks a lot about the church, the body of Christ. How can we demonstrate his love to us if we do not love each other?

I hope that you were challenged by reading this, I know I was in the process of writing it. Let's have good godly friendships with each other that demonstrate the love of Christ...our saviour!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Who really are the world's strongest men?

We all have something that makes us stop in our tracks and stand open jawed. For some it may be a beautiful sunrise, for others it may be seeing a bungee-jump take place, however for me that sense of amazement comes when i see incredible feats of strength. Many of you other lads out there would probably agree with me that as men we all have some sort of innate desire to be stronger, faster or smarter than others. Maybe this is why athletic competition came along? I don't know.

Anyway, as I was casually flicking through the channels on Sunday afternoon I stumbled upon one of the "Worlds strongest man: Grand Prix" events and decided to stop and have a look. Now, I have always had an interest in these events having grown up watching them on channel 5, but I am constantly amazed at the sheer size and strength of these men. They are genetic freaks! Yes, some of them carry some excess fat and many of you would not consider them athletes but i disagree. They may not have the muscle definition of a body-builder (someone who trains purely for aesthetic looks), however they possess raw strength and power that the muscle bound body-builders do not. Many people mistake body-builders for strongmen and powerlifters which isn't the case. Powerlifters compete in "the three lifts" which are the squat, deadlift and bench press. Strongmen compete in different events which will often involve more repetitions with weight than a powerlifters single lift. Although Body-builders are strong, they will rarely be in the same league as powerlifters and strongmen. 
The reason strongmen and powerlifters carry more fat than body-builders is because they are not after that cut  look, but instead they are chases after pure strength and having some extra weight can help with that. 

Zydrunas Savickas (Current World's Strongest man) setting a new world record in the Apollon Axle with a weight of 212.5KG (33 1/2 stone!!)

I just can never get my head around how some people can get as strong as these athletes do. Even if they are using steroids, which sadly a lot of strength athletes do these days, the amount of strength they possess is incredible.
These thoughts bought me to the point of wondering, who really are the world's strongest men? Is it the powerlifters who register the heaviest lifts but for only single repetitions on in a single plain of motion or the strongmen who use smaller weights for more repetitons and often have to push, carry and run with the weight.

Seeing as the powerlifters register the largest lifts, then surely they are the strongest? However,  before you decide this you need to take a look at what strength actually is. "Strength is relitive to the acitivity you are taking part in" this means that you may have strength in one area, but be weak while doing another activity. 
Take this for example, you could take a powerlifter and make them hammer nails into dry walls with a plastoror and the strength athlete would start to tire very quickly. However the chain smoking labourer would carry on all day because he has built up "strength" in the activity he is doing. The same goes in reverse. 

Andy Bolton (England), is the current Deadlift world record holder with a personal best of 457.5KG with a suit (displayed above) and 432.5KG Raw!!

 So why do we call the top strongman event world's strongest man? Well yes, they are very strong men, but the majority would struggle if they competed in a top powerlifting competition. The same would go in reverse if a powerlifter went straight out of powerlifting and started competing in strongman. You need to be strong in the event/activity you are taking part in. The demands from each are different.  
I think a more accurate name for "World's strongest man"  would be "World's most well-rounded strength athlete". 

Both parties would argue that they are true "world's strongest men". I would not want to get into that sort of arguement fully, and instead i think we should appreciate the different feats of the different sports. They are all extremely strong and the strength they possess is super-human. 

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Looking to the future...

Having decided that I would like to change my plans for university, I have begun the UCAS process all over again...oh what joy! However this time, I shall be attempting to do the process properly, i.e actually going to visit the universities that I am interested in and actually selecting a course that I have some idea about. 

It was only this morning when i started to process again that I realised how long it took to complete at this point last year. Writing personal statements, getting references, selecting your choices and then the anxiety as you wait to see if you have been accepted. 

I have decided that I no longer want to be involved in the sporting industry although the qualifications I have gained in my time studying that will still come in handy. I know I still want to teach, however I am now steering towards Religious studies as a main subject.

Please be praying for me that God will guide me through this time and that he will put me in the place where I am meant to be. Please also pray against any doubts or complications in the application process.


Monday, 27 September 2010

Incomprable By Andrew Wilson.

Theology is something that many Christians often struggle to get their heads around. It is something that can be so simple, yet so hard at the same time. It often scares and confuses us so much that we don't even attempt to study into it. Andrew has written us a book that is easy to understand, laid out in small chapters (three or four pages at a time) and really delves into the character and names of God.

God has so many names, and so many characteristics that it is often hard to understand what they all mean and what they encompass. However, Andrew Wilson has broken them down for us and made them understandable. He goes into real depth on the names of God used in the Bible, of which there are lots, and he explains what they really mean. For example, what does it mean when God refers to himself as I AM?

This book really builds a desire in the heart to worship God. That's what it should lead to. For this reason I suggest reading this book in your daily devotional time, it is short and simple to read and it is a great precursor to worship.

As Joel Virgo writes in his short review of the book "read it, then read it again". It's a definite must for any Christian's book shelf.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Money Secret By Rob Parsons.

Money is something that many aspire to have. The world tells us that being rich and famous is what brings happiness and a sense of status, but it can also get us into lots of trouble and the sad fact is many get into debt. Debt is a form of imprisonment and many even end their lives because it seems impossible to get out of.

"The Money Secret" is a very well written book that gives us practical ways of getting out of debt and budgeting so we can avoid it. Rob Parsons has written this book in a fictional format which tells the story of Amy, a young woman who is in serious debt.
The story begins with Amy, about to commit suicide because of debt, meeting Lydia, an older woman who is able to help Amy get practical with tackling debt and educating her on how to avoid problems.

The book is very eye opening as it shows us how bad the UK has become with interest rates and how companies (banks included) actually prey on the vulnerable. Loans are given to those whom they know can never repay them, which subsequently leads to debt which just builds up and doesnt't stop rising.

The main issue tackled though is the fact that our country has become a place full of "spendalholics" who are constantly spending what they don't have just to increase their social status or to keep up with fashions. Do we really need all that stuff? Does it really make us better as people and more popular? Or does it just cause sadness and depression because of the debt that ensues? Surely it's more fullfilling to save up to buy something (with our OWN money) than to go out and get it now and suffer for it in the long run.

All I can say is read "The Money Secret" for practical advise on how to budget successfully, get debt free or just to wake you up to the world around you.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Poole Life Continued...

Hello from a now very rainy Poole,
The weather has decided to take a sudden turn for the worse, as i discovered this morning on my ride to work. Good job i packed a spare pair of trousers other this my colleagues would have had to endured a day of me "lounging". Weather is a funny thing, but i won't go there now, maybe that could be another article for my "General thoughts" section. Who knows?

Anyway, all is going well, i am enjoying office life. I am really blessed to have such a great team of workers around me. We are all getting on very well, and having a good laugh (and of course getting on with lots of work). Lunch times generally tend to be manly bonding sessions, involving Frisbee's, footballs and Matthew Hosier riding my BMX around the car park).
I am now getting well and truly stuck into my project work. I had a meeting with the guy who oversees the youth the other night and he has given me the go ahead to start meetings for the 14-18 year old youth which is great. They are the age i really wanted to work with, but i shall gain vast experience from working with all different age groups. 
I have started some minor admin work for the children's work, this involves putting together power point presentations, researching questions for quizzes and creating a points system for the term. We are currently on a Wild Wild West theme and our points system is currently Gold Bars. The children can earn them by winning games, answering questions and bringing friends. They can then exchange them at the end end of the term for prizes. 

Life in general is going well. I am now getting to know the area quite well, which means i am getting lost on a less frequent basis. I have signed up in a Life Group (the small group meeting's within church), this will be great because it will provide a great opportunity to get to know people i may not necessarily get to know otherwise.

A friend visited me on Saturday and we had a great time down at the Quay crabbing. We caught loads and also two fish who were so relentless in eating the squid on the hooks, that they held on despite being pulled from the water.  
Poole Quay

 My mum and cousin also visited on Sunday, and we then went off to Dorchester in the afternoon to see some friends who were being put onto the leadership team at the church there. It was lovely to see them, however seeing people from home did make me miss home quite a bit, but that's just natural.

Overall, i am thoroughly enjoying life in Poole, i look forward to the rest of the year.

 Prayer Points...
  • That God would continue to excite me, and give me a passion for him.
  • That he would reveal himself through his word.
  • I would have continued motivation to study his word.
  • That I will be a godly influence to the young people I work with.
  • That relationships would continue to build. 

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

General thoughts: Homesickness.

Earlier in the day, i got into one of my too frequent day dreams and my mind happened to wonder onto homesickness. All sorts of questions started popping into my head along the lines of "Why does it occur?" and "Does everyone get it?".
These questions and thoughts have been playing on my mind for the rest of the day, so i thought it would be appropriate to write something up here as many of you who shall be reading this will have or will soon be moving into a new season of life which may be taking you away from the place you consider home, and the people you hold in highest regard. I myself have felt a slight feeling of homesickness in the past few days because of a visit from my mother and cousin.

So what is it that causes homesickness in us? Is it just something that some of us "weaker", "more emotional" people suffer from, or is it something that everyone will probably face at some point during their lives?
Well, after some thinking and some research, i came to the conclusion that the latter is probably the correct answer. I don't believe that homesickness is a sign of weakness, in fact i think it is a natural thing that nearly all of us will go through. Often we try to shrug it off, saying we are fine, and that all is well, when actually deep down, we are longing to see those that we love and care for the most.

The reason homesickness sets in is because we become familiar with certain places, people and things. This means when we are removed from these things we desire to be there and see them again. Places that are familiar give you a sense of comfort and security much like my home, family and friends in Winchester were for me. Even though people in Poole are just as lovely as those i know back in Winchester, it takes time to adjust to new faces. Having grown up in Winchester, coming to a new place is like starting all over again, i have to get to know a new area, new people and a new lifestyle. Many will be experiencing this at the present time, where as others will do in the future.
In some people (i would include myself in this group) homesickness only truly kicks in when you see something that reminds you of home, or when you see or speak to someone who you care about a lot.

It may seem like I am going on a bit of a negative run right now, but I believe that change is a good thing. We all need change in our lives in order to keep productive and driven. New challenges motivate us to push on and succeed.
Those of us who have recently moved away from home either to start University or on a gap year are all finding our feet in our new lives now. We can look back on the past with happy memories of the good times, we can learn from our previous mistakes and then look eagerly on into the future.

Many psychologists and intellectuals will say they have found cures for homesickness, but do any of them actually work? I would argue that the majority of the time, the success of these methods will rely heavily on the individuals involved. I myself, believe the way to move on and stop the feeling of homesickness is by simply getting involved in your new way of life. Get out there and meet new people, explore and enjoy the new area you are living in, and finally cherish every single moment you get to spend at "home" with those who you love. Fear often tells us that people will forget us and things will be different when we go back, but this is not the case with those you are close to, you will find you can take off straight from where you left of.

All the best with your new journeys in life...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Alpha Course.

Hello from sunny Poole,
                                       As we at Gateway are just in preparation to start our Alpha Course i thought i would do a plug to some of my friends who don't quite know where they stand on the whole "God situation".

The Alpha course is an introduction to Christianity course and covers all the basics. It's a great opportunity to ask any questions that you may have, and the people at your local one will be happy to any these questions. Best of all, you will get a free meal, which for you new university students will be ideal!

The course runs usually runs over ten weeks (yes that means ten free meals) and will cover all the different aspects of the Christian faith. There are no attachments which means if after one week you don't like it, then you do not have to come back and you will have no one pestering you to come back.

There is no harm in finding out more before you make your decision on where to stand...Why not give it a try?

Follow this link to find your nearest course...


Thursday, 16 September 2010

God knows you're human By Terry Virgo

I have been wondering for a while about what other sorts of things i can write about on here other than updates on my progress. As i shall be attempting to do a lot of reading this year I have decided that i will review some of the books that i have read, generally the ones that really hit home with me and i think would be a good read for my fellow disciples.

The first book i have decided to review is "God knows you're human" by Terry Virgo. The book takes us on a journey through three very different, yet influential bible characters and the mistakes and trials that they faced in their lives.
Terry takes us through the stories of King David, Elijah and Jonah. All three men were very different and God had a different mission for each of them, however one thing they did have in common is that at different points in their lives they seemed to "fail" God.
David, "A man after God's own heart", committed adultery and then arranged for her husband to be killed in battle. Despite this God used him to raise up a nation.
Elijah, a great prophet was one minute calling down fire from heaven on mount Carmel and then the next moment he is a whimpering mess, running away.
Jonah, a prophet who God used to bring great revival to a sinful nation, always seemed to always struggle with feelings of fear and pride.

Despite all these men's faults and issues, God used them in a big way. I found this very challenging yet encouraging, because as humans, we need to understand that is what we are...humans. Often we fall into the trap of thinking that our failings mean God will stop loving us and cut us completely out of his plans. This is not true at all. All three of these biblical "giants" would have been counted down and out if this was true, however God used them in unique yet impacting ways. God's grace and mercy really shined through in their lives.
Elijah, after calling down God's fire upon the Baal worshipers went into exile before finally giving one of the best biblical examples of a discipleship. Through his hardship, God showed him how much he loved him and then used him to raise up the next generation in Elisha.

Terry also gives a great example of how God doesn't use men and women who the world think will be great in David as a young boy. His own father overlooked him when Samuel came to select the next King. Where was David? Doing the thing that is key to leadership...serving. Samuel at first was unable to look past the exterior look of David's elder and more physically able brothers and failed to look at what was important, the heart. It is upon the heart that God looks, not on the outside.

I truly recommend this book to anyone. It could satisfy the most experienced and skilled readers, and it has an ease of reading that someone who struggles with reading would find easily accessible. Terry has written a truly inspiring book, that shows that God can and wants to use every single one of us for his glory.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Bristol training part 2...

Hello all,
               This is the second installation of my training week in Bristol. I know there has been a very short time gap between the posts, however a lot has happened since, which is brilliant.

I forgot to mention the other day that we visited Wesley's chapel. It was great to be able to see the place that saw so much revival and such a move of God. The Wesley brothers, John and Charles were generally seen to have started the Methodist movement. This happened when John took to open-air preaching in a similar style to George Whitefield.
The chapel was a very beautiful little room, fitting at most around 200 people sat on benches, not pews. This was because Wesley believed that benches were more suitable because they could be moved around easily as the chapel was also used as a place to distribute medicine and care for the poor and needy.

Sunday, we spent the morning at City Church. Simon Walker was preaching from Matthew 16. In the afternoon we went back to our host families and we all went out for a bike ride across the downs. The views were spectacular, if you ever get the chance to come to Bristol, go out on the downs! 

Yesterday (Monday), Simon Walker was teaching us on grace. We worked our way through Romans chapters 1-6 and then also explored chapter 8. Simon then summed up chapter 12 for us as we were running out of time. The teaching was brilliant and Simon worked it so we had to almost teach ourselves. We had to pluck the truth from the scripture, which really helped in getting a true understanding of it. Grace has always been something that i have understood, but not fully, and when you explore it in such detail it really hits you about how amazing it truly is. 
As i have not mentioned so far, it was also my birthday yesterday so it was great in the evening to all go out and eat together and just socialize as a group...all 27 of us! I'm sure the pub loved us. As the night was coming to an end, a few of the group stayed at church for a bit and prayed for each other to be healed of certain physical ailments. All of them were healed! One girl had pain when she turned her head, one guy had a hamstring problem which meant he couldn't touch his toes because of the pain. God healed them all. Pain was removed from their bodies and they are fit and well again, praise God.

Today, Howard Kellett travelled from Cheltenham. He is an avid church planter and God has use him to plant a couple of churches now, Cheltenham being the one he is planting now. They currently have around 15-16 adults. Today's sessions on the Doctrine of Scripture and Hermeneutics. He delved into the canon of scripture and taught us how the bible came to be put together as a book and why the certain books were chosen and why some were left out, which was interesting. However, I generally found these subjects to be quite challenging and hard to follow at times. I just need to review the notes and try to grapple with them a bit more.

Tomorrow, Simon is back with us and he will be teaching about the Holy Spirit and his gifts. I'm expectant that it will be a great day where God will reveal a lot to us as a group.
It has been an amazing week, God has really met with us in a big way, and I can't wait to get back to Poole and put my new found knowledge and experiences into practise to further the Kingdom. I'm expectant that God will change us all (for the good) this year and build us into the people that he wants us to be.

Until next time...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Bristol training Part 1...

Hello all,
              I am writing to you from the lovely city of Bristol. It's a very busy and vibrant town, and surprisingly large as well. I am here on my first training block and so far it has been amazing, although very mentally draining. 

 We (Rich and myself) set off some Poole at 5.45am on Thursday morning, and after some minor difficulty with train tickets, arrived in Bristol at around 9.30am. The train journey was actually a very enjoyable experience, despite the early start. We got the chance to chat to a lovely older woman (a seasoned traveler), who shared lots of stories with us of her travels around the world. It was also great because we got to share what we were doing and she seemed really interested.

When we arrived in Bristol, we finally got to meet all the other FP students which was lovely. I'm really blessed to be with such a great group of people this year. After doing the standard "getting to know you..." games, Simon Walker and Jonathon Bradshaw (our FP base leaders) gave us a short overview of what we should expect from the year. Later in the evening, we went back to our host families. These are people within City Church Bristol and one of the churches in North Bristol who have agreed to take us into their homes for the periods that we are here. We are very blessed.

Yesterday (Friday), was one of our scheduled teaching periods. In these times we are taught from the bible. Chris Rowell who leads the church in North Bristol was speaking to us about "Abiding in Christ" (John Ch 15 v1-8) and different disciplines we should take hold of, these were...

  • Bible Reading
  • Prayer
  • Worship
  • Fasting
  • Giving 
This was very challenging and thought provoking, however God spoke to me, and Chris showed us some very practical ways in which we can embrace these disciplines without becoming legalistic and religious about them.

Today, we got an amazing opportunity to do street evangelism in the form of treasure hunting. This is a unique form of evangelism that is geared towards blessing people and showing them that God loves them and is thinking about them. You start off by praying, and asking God for clues in five different categories which are; location, appearance, names, ailments and random. 
I felt God giving me a clue about a homeless guy who was just sat on the side of the street, and i felt God was simply telling me to buy him lunch. I also had a clue about a guitar and someone called John.
We then formed groups of four, two boys and two girls and then trooped off into the town centre. 

Once we got there we started looking for the people with the clues that God had given us. I immediately found my homeless guy, he was sat outside of the Sainsburys near the fountains in the centre of the town. I approached him with the other guy in my group and we explained what we were doing and explained that we felt God showed him to us and that we believed that God told us to buy him lunch. He said he was hungry, and it was great we were outside Sainsburys so we didn't have to go far to get him his lunch. At first he seemed a little shocked, but then he almost couldn't understand why God would have shown him to us. We also got the opportunity to pray with him that God would bless him with good weather for the rest of the day and that he could find a house. 
We soon found the man with the guitar in the form of a street musician who was very talented to say the least. Although his name was not John, we still got to pray with him.
Others in other groups also found their clues, some which were extraordinary. One of the guys has a clue for a guy in a green t-shirt, who's name was Robert, Who had something black and white checked (which turned out to be a crossword he was doing). He seemed amazed that all these clues match up to him, and they got to pray for God's blessing on him.
Others Got to pray for a man with cancer who actually said that he felt God's power come upon him when they were praying for him. Whether he was healed or not, we don't know yet, but i pray that he was and that he goes to a doctor to get that confirmed.

All in all, Bristol has already been a real adventure, and we are only on our third day. I thank God for what he is doing in all our lives, it is going to be a real adventure. 

Bye, bye for now, until part two...

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Into the adventure...

Hello all,
               This is my first post (hopefully of many) to keep those of you back home (and all who are interested) updated on my year serving Gateway Poole Church in Dorset. Many of you will have known for some time that i am taking a year out to serve God and his church on a FP Impact year. This is a year that involves a project focus (of which mine is kids and youth work), theological training which shall be based in Bristol at City Church. The year is geared towards spiritual growth and i have high expectations for what God is going to do through this year, both for me in my walk and for the church with me serving them.

So far...
All is going well. God has provided me with a very kind and loving family to live with and they have really welcomed me into their family life. The father of the family is a tree consultant and he is already teaching me the art of chopping wood which is great fun, and very stress relieving believe it or not. The hours spent chopping will be well rewarded in the cold winter months when we can sit in front of the fire and benefit from its warmth.
As every person who moves home will find, getting to know a new area can be quite a challenge at times. I myself have already fallen victim to Poole's long and similar looking roads, walking several miles more than i had to in order to get home from town the other day. I suppose the smart thing to do would have been to stop and ask someone, however as most of your men out their will know, we have to much pride for that and would rather get lost than admit we were going the wrong way.
Today was my first day in the office and i must say i thoroughly enjoyed it. The day started with some personality and team work style tests which are designed to give you an idea of what sort of personality you are and how that effects your role in team situations. I found that i generally have extroverted tendencies, which i am sure those of you who know me would agree with. It was great to meet the others who i shall be working with this year, God has provided me with some very strong male role models which i feel is what i really need at this time in my life. They are all a great bunch, and the office atmosphere is very warm and lively.

Prayer Points...
It would be great and very encouraging for me if you could pray for me every now and then as i embark on this adventure with God. I believe prayer is a foundation of our faith and we serve a God who listens and answers us.
  • That God would continue to reveal himself to me through his word, and i would grow in love and passion for him.
  • For my mum, this is a tough time for her as she starts a new season with me having left the nest so to speak. Pray that God speaks to her about her own life and that God would give her a new sense of freedom.
  • My FP partner Rich, that we would continue to encourage each other and start to blossom a great friendship.
  • That God would continue to provide for me with financial needs, for a job to open up somewhere in the city that has the hours i need.
  • That i get chances to get out in the community to meet people and see the gospel impact their lives.
Thank you for all your support so far on the journey...

Matthew Ch 5 V 14-16:
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a basket, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven."