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."