Trusting God

As Christians, trusting in God is something we all must do and for the most part we find it relatively easy. Going about our day to day lives, to work and back, etc. it can be very easy to trust God. We pretty much know what is coming when, and whether we can afford to pay for this, that or the other. With the odd exception most of the time things seem to be running smoothly. It’s easy to take for granted that God has a plan for us and we must follow it and trust Him.

As most of you know I graduated from university at the end of June and since then have been hunting for a job. It’s not been easy and many times I’ve been on the verge of just going for any old job, as opposed to one in graphic design. But, I’ve stuck it out. I’ve kept trusting that the Lord will provide me with the job he wants me to be in. It’s become increasingly difficult to do so, but I have to do it.

Two weeks ago I took a bit of a leap of faith. I moved into a house in Slough, along with two of my housemates from uni, with only enough money to cover the monthly rent and some unpaid work placements lined up. In the week running up to the move and sorting out the details of the house, I began to get quite uneasy. It could’ve just been because things were getting real and there was no backing out of it, but what ever the reason I was scared. I had to fully lean on God, in a way I have never done before, to provide for me and in the days leading up to the move I began to develop a growing peace about the situation. Yes, I was still nervous about moving into a house with no guaranteed income to pay bills and buy food, but at the same time I knew that God would provide for me everything I need. That was the most important thing. That I knew I would be supplied with what I need.

The week before we moved in I received a phone call telling me I had been shortlisted for a graphic design job and that I had an interview. So at the start of the second week in the house I went for it. On that day my daily bible notes had a reading which helped me a great deal.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important then clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Matthew 6 v 25–27

It helped me realise that even though my worries were legitimate, I didn’t need to focus on them as much as I appeared to be. Instead I just needed to trust in God and to trust that He will provide for all the things I need. And well he has. Today I started my first position as a graphic designer in a design studio, and I believe He provided it for me.

The Impact of Design

I’ve always been aware of design and the impact it has on people’s perceptions. The more I’ve grown in my design abilities and understanding the more prevalent this notion has become. This past week I have been on a work placement at a design studio in London, and whilst going about my work each day I seem to have developed a more heightened sense of what design can do.

At the beginning of every design brief the first thing the designer does is question what the aim of the project is. What, ultimately, he has to do is determine what the design must do, how people should perceive the product and how the design should work to achieve that. It’s almost like generating a theme sentence for an essay or small group study, and similarly it should be referred to regularly through out the whole design process. This constant “appraisal” of the work in progress should eventually lead to the desired perceptions of the viewer.

Whilst this approach is prevalent in the commercial world, it can often be lacking in places like the church. I believe this occurs for two reasons. The first being a lack of understanding from the church and the second being that most commercial organisations have a professional designer. These two issues, could infact be seen as one. Most churches don’t take on a professional designer because they don’t understand the need. The primary aim of the church is to bring people closer to God, to introduce them to Jesus and this is the perception of the church, generally. The problem for me occurs in the manner in which churches go about publicising events or even in their outward facing image.

Now, take the most common piece of published material in a church, the weekly notice sheet. I’d wager in the majority of churches (at least in the UK), it’s done by someone who is proficient at using Office and can churn it out hassle free. For most intense and purposes it does the job, the church members know what’s going on and when. But what about the view from an outsider, someone who is new to the church and doesn’t know how things work. To them, I’d guess, it would look sloppy and unprofessional. But my question is, would it make them want to consider what the speaker for the day has to say about God? If the news sheet is sloppy full of lots of different miss-matched fonts and sizes, would it make them consider what’s being said at the front. If a church can’t put enough effort into making the news sheet work well then is what has to be said at the front worth listening too?

My point being that, whilst for many people this kind of thing is not important, it is incredibly important that the church does consider design on even the most simplest of things. Even the design or even non-design of the news sheet can make an impact on people’s perceptions of the church and what it stands for. I’m not saying that design makes the gospel more relevant, but it can help to make it more accessible.

Back from Beach Mission

Late on Sunday night I got back from Criccieth and the Beach Mission, which is probably more appropriately entitled as a Holiday Club. I had a great time, really enjoyed it, and mostly importantly really saw God at work.

The two weeks were spent teaching the kids the book of Ephesians, specifically about God’s big plan to bring everything together under Christ. It was quite challenging but incredibly rewarding. Seeing the lads in my small group engage with the word of God was incredible. They really took things on board and were really considering it and contemplating what was being discussed and what it means for them. God is really working in the lives of those lads and it’s really exciting to see.

The most exciting thing, was the testimony of one particular family. They have had a hard time being accepted in their church at home, as well as in the secular world, because their eldest son has a form of autism. He started the week in my age-group with his mum sitting in to keep an eye on him, and by the end of the week she was leaving him with us and going to the adult events or just taking some time out. That in itself was a real answer to prayer. She was convinced she would have to sit in for the whole of the holiday club, but in the end her son was with us for the whole of the second week without her. During the second week there was an evangelistic meal, or a meal with a message, for the adults to bring friends along too. The grand parents, who aren’t believers, went along because of the acceptance of their grandson and are now apparently really considering what was said at the meal.

It’s such a great story, and a real demonstration of how as Christians just showing God’s love to people who should’ve known it can really make a difference. God certainly used everyone on the team in that aspect. I’m sure there are similar stories for other age groups. The whole two weeks, was an experience I will never forget, and one which I would like to repeat next year, God willing.

Beach Mission

So I’ve just finished “sync’ing” my iMac and my iBook so my iBook now mirrors my iMac as closely as possible (really made me want .Mac!). Why am I telling you this? Well tomorrow morning I’m heading to a town called Criccieth in north Wales for a two week beach mission.

This is something which I have never done before and so I’m slightly nervous about it. I have to do a short talk, along with lead a small group for a group of kids between the ages of 11 and 13. This is all new, I’ve never done either of these two before so it’s set to be quite a challenge. I know God will equip me, and I know he has already given me experience with leading older teenagers/my peers in small group Bible studies to draw on so I’m sure I can do it for the youngsters. This is also something I am doing with Lucie, she is leading the youngest age group, but it will be good to serve God together in the same place and in a different manner to CU and Church.

Please do be praying for me and Lucie over the next two weeks. Please pray I will be equipped and find the knowledge and wisdom I need in God.

In terms of this blog, it means there likely won’t be any posts until the 19th/20th, although if I get chance I will try and post something up. So I guess I will “see” you all in a couple of weeks! ha!

Bigger than Mom and Dad

I’ve just come across this quote by Lisa Simpson in my Moleskine. I wrote it down a while ago, I don’t really remember why, or what struck me about it at the time. But when I read it this time I felt compelled to come here and post about it.

The quote:

I’m no theologian, I don’t know who or what God is. All I know is he is a force more powerful than Mom and Dad put together, and I think you owe him!

What struck me about the quote as I read it was the nature of Lisa Simpson as she looks at God. It’s very child-like something which I think can be missing in the way we all look at and think about God. We are told to do it by Jesus in the Bible (Mark 10 v 13–16) where he said

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

and I think it is important to do so. Approaching God like a little child would their Dad brings with it that obedience and reliance that we should have. A child has to rely fully on their parents to supply them with everything they need and to give them help and guidance. If we can look to God in this manner and with these qualities then it will serve us well in seeking Him, obeying Him and ultimately glorifying Him.

Designing for God

Design can be a funny thing. It can be the most frustrating, painful process, but it can also be the most rewarding satisfying and challenging process. The last term has been very enjoyable in terms of my design work. It began with the frustration I had been experiencing in my work for the first term of the year, even stretching back into the second year. But it improved and by the end of the term I was enjoying my work, looking forward to working on it and it was showing in the my work. Today I got my results for the final project of last term, the CU one which I showed samples of the work here, and well I was pleased with them. But thats not why I’m writing this.

I’ve been thinking back about the difference of my work last term and the terms preceding it. Initially I started with what the project I was working on was, the identity, website and posters for the Christian Union at my University. When designing for something or someone of that nature there is only one thing you can do, bring it to God. The only way that the design of the CU identity etc., could do the job it needed to do was for me to take it to God, to pray about it and make him the focus of everything I did. In doing so it enabled me to not work for my own ambitions, not work for the University or my tutor, but instead to work for the glory of God. Something which I think we all aim to do, I know I did, but I think now I’m starting to understand what it really means. What it really means to give your day to day work to the Lord, to keep Him as your focus, the reason you are doing it, using your talents which He gave you to do what He intended them to do and to try my hardest to bring glory to Him.

Happy Easter

Just wanted to drop a little Happy Easter. I also want to take this opportunity for the lack of meaningful posts recently, and also for the coming term. It’s my final term at Uni so I’m pretty flat out with work and relaxing tends to be done late at night when I’m not really feeling like typing anything. I have a couple of posts in development and hope to publish them soon. I will try to keep the links coming as best I can, but posting may be a bit sporadic. PLease keep tuned in though and I will do my best!

Nothing. Ever.

It’s interesting how things often crop up in the space of a couple of weeks in the Christian world. Two weeks ago at CU we had one of the guys from my church, Luke, come to speak. He spoke on relationships, first about our one with God, then our friends and then with a “significant other”. Now whilst that was very interesting the final part of his talk was a DVD. It was a Nooma one, specifically number 10 Lump.

Now the focus of this DVD is that God loves us/you/me. No matter what.

Nothing you do can ever change how much I Love you.”
Nooma 010 Lump

That line is said in the DVD a lot at the end, but the way it’s delivered and the whole build up before it really makes it hit home. Tonight in my cell group, as I was leading and as I was in the planning meeting on Tuesday, this phrase came up again, and at the moment its really striking me. It’s not the only thing, but that’s for another post, but it really is hitting me. He, God, loves me. He loves me despite the fact I mess up. He loves me when I mess up everyday, when I do something He doesn’t want me to do, he still loves me. I think that’s so awesome!

But, and this is the best bit. It’s not just me He loves. He loves you, sat here reading this post. He loves the guy walking his dog down the street. He loves everyone. But whats even cooler, is that he wants to know the people he loves. He wants to be in a relationship with you, and thats just simply amazing and I’m so thinkful for it.

More than just symbols

I’ve spent the last couple of days writing, or at least trying to write, stuff for my dissertation. It’s been qutie a hard task, the subject of my dissertation is looking at the use of Christian symbols in advertising and one of the things I’ve been trying to do is look at the key symbols and themes of the faith. On the surface this would a peear to be quite easy, but, its not! It’s taken me longer to write this than it has anything else, not that there was a lot before it, but it’s certainly taken a long time!

Now being a Christian I have an understanding of the symbols and concepts that are the basis of my faith, but thats the issue, that’s why its taken me so long to write this section. Reducing something you believe in so strongly down to just symbols and concepts is incredibly hard. These items/stories etc are so important and mean so much more personally than you can portray in an academic paper. Approaching these ideas in an objective manner is incredibly hard, I find it hard to talk about them in a detached manner, in a way that doesn’t inject my own beliefs into the paper. Even now writing this, I can’t quite fully put into words how difficult it is. Describing these aspects of my faith as just objects or ideas in incredibly challenging, refering to them as ideas is so hard, they are so much more than ideas. It’s making me question if I can write about these concepts/ideas/symbols as things that are personal and that are more than this. I would like to, but everytime I start to do it I can see my tutor asking where the back up for these meanings is coming from. Argh so hard!

I guess it leaves one thing for me to do. Pray about it.

Giftings

Recently I have been hearing, reading and seeing a lot of stuff about using our gifts for God. It was in a part of our talk at CU on Tuesday, I’ve read posts on blogs about it, and it’s really making me think particularly with the end of Uni approaching fast!

I’m a visual person, I’ve always been a visual person, it’s what I do. Now, I firmly believe that my creative talents are a gift from God and I want to use them to glorify him. In my two and a bit years at Uni I have been heavily involved in publicity and graphics for the CU, which I’ve really enjoyed. It’s something I would like to do in the future, for churches and organisations. So with the end of Uni coming quick it’s time for me to start thinking about what I can do next. I’ve started to look at studios and such, but not knowing where I’m going to be makes it extra hard. The one thing I’m really starting to confirm is that I want to work somewhere which will allow me to use my talents and skills for the benefit of the Church.

Something which I believe strongly in is that Churches and Christian organisation really need to have a strong visual identity and this is something I want to work on and help churches create. But why do I think it’s so important? I think it’s so important for a church to have a strong visual identity as it allows people outside the church generate a link with it. Brands and identities are all over the place, people are used to seeing strong brands, and if they see a church that has a strong brand it helps them to realise that the church and everything it stands for is relevant today. If people see the amateurish home made brandings most churches have these days, they are less likely to take any notice of it. It instantly makes that church out of touch with society, at least in their minds. But if they see a well thought out polished identity that brings with it a certain level of credibility, they are far more likely to be open to the message that church is bringing.

I’m starting to go off topic now, or am I? This is a part of my giftings, creating visual identites is a part of what I do, and if I can use that and couple it with the church and Matthew 28 then all the better. The church is all about making the Gospel accessible to people who don’t hear it, and starting with a strong ID for your church is only going to help that accesibility.

Why I’m stopping “borrowing” CD’s

Towards the end of last term it was my CU’s House Party. We went away for a weekend of fellowship, teaching and just a chance to spend time and get to know one another. During the weekend we studied elements of both 1 and 2 Peter, with four talks across the weekend by our speaker Michael Ots.

Now from experience of studying 1 Peter during the summer with my cell group, I knew it was set to be a challenging weekend. The basis of 1 Peter is about how we, as Christians, need to live, it’s an encouragement from Paul about how our lives should be an example to others. Well part of what came through on the weekend, and to some extent in the summer, was how we need to obey even the smallest of things. Take for example the copyright law, and particularly the copying of CD’s onto computers, everyone does it, people will happily lend CD’s to each other knowing full well the music will be copied. I felt quite challenged on this little law, if I’m joining the rest of the world in copying music how can that be setting an example, how can that glorify God?

The bible tells us that God gives each Kingdom to its king, he chooses them to rule over the lands (I believe it’s in Daniel this is said) and those kings or leaders set the laws of the land for us to live by. These copyright laws are apart of this and as God has placed the leaders of my nation there and they have set this law then I should obey it.

Now before people jump in, I’m not going to stop copying MY cd’s onto my computer. I want to be able to put them onto my iPod, but they law covers this. I believe I am allowed to make 5 copies for personal use, I only intend to make 1 copy, putting it on my computer in order to listen to it on my iPod, this is I believe is still within the confines of the law. But I will be stopping borrowing friends cd’s and copying them to my Mac. Those people who know me will know just how much I listen to music, I have it on constantly, my iTunes music library is bigger than my 20gb iPod. I like music, I like new music, so stopping this borrowing will also stop my ability to keep getting new music. It means I will only be able to get music when I can actually afford to buy it, hopefully this will make me appreciate the music more as well, rather than just letting it join the hoards on my harddrive. It’s going to be hard to resist, but not nearly as hard as stopping speeding will be, kind of feel I need to do that too! It will be worth it though, anything I can do to be a better example to my non-Christian friends, and dare I say it, my Christian friends, is good.

Happy Christmas

Just wanted to say Happy Christmas to everyone, I hope you have a joy filled day and that you remember the true reason for Christmas. It’s not about presents but about remembering and celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ!

Mission Week: The Follow Up

So it’s been just over a week since Mission Week ended, the Life course has begun and things still seem to be quite encouraging. The Life Course had several people attend with about 5 non-Christians going along, which is encouraging and more than last years Life Course which we ran. Whilst this is good that events are coming along, I can’t help but feel that some of the members of the CU did not catch the bug, that they didn’t quite get the full meaning of

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28 v 18 – 20

This has been something that really struck me on the build up and throughout mission week. It really is our calling, everyones, to go out there and tell the world about Jesus. It’s one thing that I keep pointing out in my cell, and which I pointed towards in the last prayer meeting of Mission Week. It’s not just a week long thing and then we don’t have to do it anymore, it’s continual and we should always be looking to do it.

Fortunately I am not the only person who felt this, the CU exec and a few other members of the CU feel this and they are looking to run events and so on throughout the year. It seems as well that the Student Union here is also keen for us to continue to do events. They have given us the biggest budget out of all the societies here at the University, that is just so amazing, particularly when you hear about the events and going ons at other Universities (Birmginham, Exeter to name a couple). God is really working here, and it’s just amazing, there is such a Mission Team here, if only we can get those members who didn’t attempt to bring friends along, or who don’t feel as comfortable talking about the gospel, to learn that they don’t have to do it themselves, that Jesus is there with them and that he will use the situation and conversations they have.

Mission Week

Last week was Mission Week at my CU, I had originally planned to blog about it daily but I was that busy and that tired I was unable to do so. As a result I am going for a bit of a mass post about the events and will then follow it up with another post about what I got from the week.

It all started at 8am on Monday morning. We had the first prayer meeting of the week which was then followed up with the first session of First Contact. First contact was basically a way of engaging with the university. We went out armed with questionnaires (well I did all except Monday) which were aimed to open up a conversation and make people think about their beliefs. These sessions went on everyday based on a different campus each time, but all with the same purpose. On many occasions we were able to give the person we spoke to a book called the Life Gospel, which contained a small chunk of the bible in contemporary english. This was particulalry encouraging, particularly as two or three of the people I spoke to during the week had never had the opportunity to read the bible.

After First Contact we had a main event each night. On Tuesday we had a Pub Quiz in the SU Bar over at the Gloucester(Oxstalls) campus. This was a really good night, for many reasons. Not only did a large number of CU members turn up but also lots of people who are in halls at Oxstalls came as well. We later learnt that it was the busiest they have seen that particular SU Bar since the start of term, meaning that it was a large amount of people who got to hear our speaker, Michael Ots aka Motsy, talk about the Gospel. This kind of encouraging news spread across the whole week. On Wednesday at our Da Vinci Code showing 4 people took a free book about understanding while the Bible is relevant today, there were only 5 book to give away! Motsy also spoke after the film about some of the issues it raised and he had some people come upto him at the end to explain further why the film is so wrong.

Thursday night was probably the night which had the potential to make the most impact. We held an acoustic night in FCH SU Bar. The SU Bar on this campus is particularly busy on a Thursday night and so it meant a lot of people would be present to hear Motsy speak. Several tables around where I was sitting contained people listening to him and picking up and flicking throught the Life Gospels we had placed on each table.

The Friday night event, and the final event of the week, was held in conjunction with FNC. It gave us a relaxed environment, in which we could invite people along to here Motsy speak in greater detail about the Gospel. Unfortunately only 1 non-Christian was there to hear him speak, but he still spoke very well, as he did all week, and it was a nice relaxing end to the week.

Throughout the week we were also plugging our follow up course, which is called Life. It’s very similar to the alpha course in its aims and setup and many people throughout the week showed an interest in coming along. Hopefully they will attend and gain the chance to hear more about the Gospel. Overall it was a very good week, I learnt many things of which more news will follow. Please pray people continue to show an interest in the Life course and that those who took a copy of the Life Gospel will not just discard it but will read it.

Hinduism no barrier for job as Minister! ›

I read this on Friday in the paper. I can’t quite believe what I read still. There are several things in the article I can’t quite believe. The fact that he thinks that he hasn’t “neither explicitly nor implicitly renounced my Christian faith or Priesthood” is just ridiculous. Simply by converting to Hinduism you have done just that, he has publicly stated that the death and resurrection of Jesus is not enough and that he must offer sacrifices and burn fires to Hindu idols. The fact he wishes to continue ministering in the Church when he returns to England is just, well, I can’t quite put it into words. I am with Mrs. Pauline Scott, who is quoted in the article, he should not be allowed to Minister again, and I hope that the Bishop of Elly takes away the license he granted Mr Hart.

Prayer

It’s one of the most important aspects of being a Christian. It’s that conversation with your Maker, your Saviour. It’s one of the most intimate things. It’s the time you bare yourself to God, where you come before him, talk and listen.

On your own it is incredibly powerful and intimate. As a group it is incredibly powerful, but slightly less intimate. Sharing it with someone else it is incredibly powerful and intimate. Not only does it draw you closer to God, it draws the other person closer to God, but it also draws you closer to each other. Sharing a thing as powerful as talking to your creator with someone can only bring you closer together, such an experience so focused on God can bring you both together.

It can strengthen. It can strengthen your relationship with God. It can strengthen you. By letting God in, he can work in you, mould you and shape you, he can create you into the true person he made you to be. Prayer at the centre of your relationship can strengthen you both and the relationship. It can bring you both closer to God, individually and as a couple, it can also bring you closer together strengthening your relationship. Keeping you both aiming for the same thing, keeping you both aiming for and living for God. Sharing a moment like that with your maker and the person who God guided you to is the most initmate thing in the world. Sharing everything with your maker and that person is incredible. Knowing that God provided the other person for you and you for them is such a, well I can’t really find the words to describe it, but knowing he has a path for you both, individually and as a couple, well again I can’t find the words.

So prayer, the most intimate thing in the world.

Encouragement

Last summer when I came back from my first year at Uni I found things very hard in regards to my faith and living it. At Uni I am surrounded by friends from CU, my house mates are now all Christian, my girlfriend is a Christian and we are all together living it out. Last summer I didn’t feel like this at home, yes I have my friends here and most of them are Christian but it was just not the same. So this year, when I returned from Uni and met up with my friend Mark, he asked if I would be interested in joining a cell. He too had been wondering how we can support each other more when we are at home and came up with idea of the cell. Now it makes perfect sense really, we are all here, we are all in the same boat so why not.

So last Thursday we had our first cell of the summer, exploring 1 Peter. Instantly, I think, the whole group realised that we will all benefit so much from these meetings. It has been such an encouragement to me already, I really came away feeling I can do this and it won’t be as hard as last summer was. But not only was I instantly encouraged for the summer, I was also encouraged for my life. We only really explored the first two verses, but the second verse really is a great verse. Its message is just so amazing it really makes you thankful that you are who you are.

God planned long ago to choose you by making you his holy people, which is the Spirit’s work. God wanted you to obey him and to be made clean by the blood of the death of Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace be yours more and more.

1 Peter 1 v 2

How can that not just make you smile, not make you want to live your life for him.  He didn’t leave it to chance that I have a relationship with him, that I know Jesus and that he is in my life.  He chose me.  He wanted me to know him.  He wants me to love him.  He wants me to live for him and he has a plan for me.  That just makes me so thankful and gives me so much hope, that even though I may find things hard, I know I am not alone.  The fact that I have friends around me supporting me and who know the same thing just makes that all the better and somehow all the more easier.