Sunday, August 30, 2009

Relay in Peru - The next step

Two years ago this summer I was sitting on the porch of a farm house in the Andes, Peru. I was talking to God and realising that the month in Peru was coming to an end. I asked Him "Will you call me back here?" and He replied, "Yes, but you have to wait"

Lets fast forward a year and I am now in a crowded room full of students and new Relay workers. John Piper is speaking and he asks all those that believe that God is calling them to mission to stand. I was on my feet. Standing in a room full of students that felt that God was calling them to mission abroad. The room buzzed with excitement and fear. What was God going to do now that we were willing to go?

Now today here I am, with Relay over and a summer packed full of visits, outreach, rest and reading coming to an end.

As I look forward I see that two weeks today I leave this country and follow Jesus into Peru to do the next part of Relay. I will be learning Spanish for 3 months and then for the remaining months I will be working alongside the Student movement and help them encourage and equip Peruvian students to reach their non Christian friends on campus. There is also the task of building up a CU there with the help of the student movement.

I am aware of my weaknesses right now and very much aware of how much I need Jesus. I cannot do this without Him, it is not possible. I believe that this time in Peru is such a gift and I want to treasure it and enjoy it and serve God in every opportunity that comes my way.

Please pray for me.

Also, because I wont have as much internet access as I have had, my blog will not be updated as regularly. However, the posts that may be put up will hopefully be an insight into what I am doing and what its like being a Relay Worker in Peru :O)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Christian starting Uni?

You are about to enter what is described as the "best years of your life". I can agree to this, yet there are many Christians that go to uni and fall away. Other things become a priority, the uni life of getting drunk, sex and even being under pressure to get that first class degree.

What we most praise we will prize. If your hearts praises the above things then God and church will slip from your life. Perhaps think about this before you start Uni or if you are starting another year at Uni and know that God wasn't at the center of all that you are doing. Are you going to praise and prize Jesus above everything? Is Jesus worth more then anything that Uni offers you? Are you prepared to be a missionary on campus - being light and salt to your hall mates and course mates?

I was thinking about ways that you may find helpful. Here are 10 things that may help you continue the race as a Christian on Campus.

1. Get stuck into Church. Try to choose a church quickly to avoid being stuck 6 months later with church hopping. The truth is that there isn't a perfect church, so you have two ways you can approach getting stuck into church and one of them will lead you to nowhere...
a) Find a church that serves you and feeds you.
b) Find a church that you can love and serve.
Church is so important, its your family and community, we are not individuals in Christ, we are a church. Think carefully about what the church teaches - if its not from the bible, I wouldn't bother going.

2. Get to know your hall mates. This is essential. Spend time with them, hang out with them and build relationships. You have a whole year with them and you may want to live with them next year. Share Jesus with them with being honest about what you do and how you live. It doesn't mean you have to go out getting drunk with them, but you can hang out with them and be a witness.

3. Get stuck into Christian Union. The Christian Union is a wonderful place to meet new Christians on campus, to be inspired and encouraged by older Christians and to be equipped for mission on campus. It is not so much as a social club, but a place to be encouraged and equipped to reach out to your non christian friends.
*Christian bubble ALERT* - be careful not to be warped into a Christian bubble. This is dangerous, you will spend all your time with Christians and christian music, books and theology. None of which are bad, but if that's all you do then you are in danger of never being able to reach your non christian friends because you are to wrapped up in the safety of your Christian bubble.

4. Join other societies. Don't just do CU events, the CU should be enabling you to join other societies so you can reach out to them with the Gospel. Therefore find something you are interested in and join the group and make friends! Keep going to their events.

5. Go to your classes. It is tempting to skip classes for several reasons - missions week, feeling tired, can't be bothered etc... they are not excuses! Its important to get to know your class mates and build relationships with them - you will be with them for 3/4 years, which gives you amazing opportunities! Plus you are here to do a degree, you can work for Jesus by being studious on your course.

6. Eat Well and Sleep. It is tempting for your first few months to survive off pizza, junk food and as little sleep as possible. University is exciting but you might die before you finish it with that lifestyle. Learn how to cook, get someone to teach you and eat lots of fruit and veg. Also get sleep - you will need it, esp the older you get!!

7. Invite friends to church or CU or Alpha. This may seem scary but in the first few weeks of Uni, anyone will go to anything because they want to try everything. So why not invited them to Church, CU or Alpha? Get them thinking and asking questions. They may be more open to Jesus than you think!

8. Make friends with internationals. You may have lots of international students on your course or in your halls. Why not invite them for dinner or sit next to them in class? Its scary being away from home and not having English as your first language. Just because they are "different" to you shouldn't be an excuse. Building friendships with them will be a wonderful way to share English culture and their culture.

9. Be accountable to/be mentored. I would recommend finding an older Christian that you can either be accountable to or be mentored. I was mentored as first year and I think without it I may of wondered away a bit. Its a great opportunity to ask lots of questions and study the bible. Perhaps there is a Relay worker or Staff worker to meet up with? I use to make Dave Bish meet up with me for coffee and I asked him loads of questions!! Its worth doing.

10. Read and Pray. When I say read, its good to read anyways, but I mean read the bible. Try to find a time in the day where you can read your bible and find out more about Jesus. It may be hard at first but it will be like honey to your soul. Learn to be disciplined in prayer, see that talking to the creator of the universe is a good thing and a wonderful gift that we can do. See God work in many ways in your life, seek Him and continue running the race.

I hope you find these helpful. Don't feel like you *have* to do these things out of duty, but enjoy Uni and the people you meet and the conversations you have. It will be scary and exciting and totally worth it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today I...

Today I am astounded by the truth of the Cross.

Today I am in awe that Jesus would die for me.

Can I tell someone this news when I am on the train or bus? Will my pride and self consciousness get in the way? If this is good news, why am I so reluctant to share it? Whats worse - the loss of pride now, or their eternity cut off from God.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A cart full of ART #5

I love reading. I love books. My favourite type of shopping is looking around bookstores. I like looking at the art on the book cover, the interesting titles and what stories lay hidden in its pages, waiting to be uncovered. I have many favourite books that range from, Lord of the Rings, CS Lewis, Discworld and Little women. But there is one book that remains my favourite and perhaps it may seem like a cliche, but I genuinely love it. It is of course the bible - the no.1 best selling book in the world. Why do I love it? Beause the Word of God is like a colourful explosion. It grips you, it tugs at your heart, it convicts you, it reveals to you a remarkable story with stories within stories to convey to man who the most wondereful creator of the universe is.

Before reading the bible, I didn't understand it. I thought it was a book full of rules. I would flick through its thin wispy paper and see ink letters after ink letters thinking they were irrelevant. But then I started reading it, starting to uncover the story held in its pages. This book contains 66 books and each one with a vibrant message. There are poems, songs, lists, letters, law and stories. This is no rule book. This breathes life and shows meaning. I love it so much because every time I open its pages I find something new, a gem that I missed earlier or a story that I didn't understand before. But what is most fantastic is that each page is telling me more about Jesus. We ask who is God?

Well Open the bible and see for yourself. Sometimes we may not like what we see, sometimes it will surprise us, sometimes it will make us cry. But the bible is fantastic - get your teeth stuck into it and enjoy the feast of life giving words!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A cart full of ART #4

"If music be the food of on!" I love music - all kinds of music from classical to rock. I think music is a wonderful aid to some types of worship. It is also a great expression to what we are feeling, in fact sometimes it can shape our emotions.

So, I am going to share with you some of my favorite albums, which you can find on Spotify!

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

There are some amazing tracks on this. Its very much chill out music, something you can sit down to and read a book or you can listen and appreciate the different sounds merging together.

Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

This album is fun, vibrant and a bit crazy! I like its upbeat tracks and fast paced songs. It is fun to listen to and the lyrics are interesting if you listen carefully!

Coldplay - Viva La Vida

This has to be the best Coldplay album. The variety on this is wonderful. The use of instruments and lyrics merge so brilliantly. I can't get enough of this album!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A cart full of ART #3

Recently an artist has caught my eye. He is Banksy and He is a graffiti artist, which is a bit controversial. But I like his art and they bring up a lot of topics about the culture we live in. His website is here.

Here is some of his art, which I like:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A cart full of ART #2

Right now in London there is an exhibition, which I am finding really interesting. I hope to go and see it for real when I am next in London. But you can view it online at One & Other.

What is it about? The blurb says:

This summer, sculptor Antony Gormley invites you to help create an astonishing living monument. He is asking the people of the UK to occupy the empty Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, a space normally reserved for statues of Kings and Generals. They will become an image of themselves, and a representation of the whole of humanity.

Every hour, 24 hours a day, for 100 days without a break, a different person will make the Plinth their own. If you're selected, you can use your time on the plinth as you like. One & Other is open to anyone and everyone from any corner of the UK.

I find this really interesting! Some people just stand there or dance or paint or do yoga or jump up and down!! Is it art? I dunno, but I like it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A cart full of ART #1

Poetry is wonderful. Its sometimes a great expression of joy and of pain. The bible is full of poetry - poetry that yearns, love poetry, praise poetry and anguish poetry! I enjoy poetry so much and I also enjoy writing poetry.

But Sylvia Plath is one of my favorite poets. A lot of tragedy surrounds her and her poetry isn't for some people. But I think her brilliant use of descriptive words get under your skin and paints a picture of vivid images in your imagination. Like any poetry it needs to be savored, it cannot be rushed or you will miss the meaning and the subtleties.

My favourite poem is Insomniac. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


The night is only a sort of carbon paper,
Blueblack, with the much-poked periods of stars
Letting in the light, peephole after peephole ---
A bonewhite light, like death, behind all things.
Under the eyes of the stars and the moon's rictus
He suffers his desert pillow, sleeplessness
Stretching its fine, irritating sand in all directions.

Over and over the old, granular movie
Exposes embarrassments--the mizzling days
Of childhood and adolescence, sticky with dreams,
Parental faces on tall stalks, alternately stern and tearful,
A garden of buggy rose that made him cry.
His forehead is bumpy as a sack of rocks.
Memories jostle each other for face-room like obsolete film stars.

He is immune to pills: red, purple, blue ---
How they lit the tedium of the protracted evening!
Those sugary planets whose influence won for him
A life baptized in no-life for a while,
And the sweet, drugged waking of a forgetful baby.
Now the pills are worn-out and silly, like classical gods.
Their poppy-sleepy colors do him no good.

His head is a little interior of grey mirrors.
Each gesture flees immediately down an alley
Of diminishing perspectives, and its significance
Drains like water out the hole at the far end.
He lives without privacy in a lidless room,
The bald slots of his eyes stiffened wide-open
On the incessant heat-lightning flicker of situations.

Nightlong, in the granite yard, invisible cats
Have been howling like women, or damaged instruments.
Already he can feel daylight, his white disease,
Creeping up with her hatful of trivial repetitions.
The city is a map of cheerful twitters now,
And everywhere people, eyes mica-silver and blank,
Are riding to work in rows, as if recently brainwashed.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A cart full of ART!

Lots of talk about art is surrounding me. I am not about to explore the question of what art is. You can delve into those depths over at "I thought it was a bench..." blog.

But I am going to share with you a cart full of Art that inspires me and makes me stop to consider. This week, I will share with you my favourite poems/poets, artists - music or drawing and random exhibitions of art. Hopefully it will be an interesting adventure.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Christianity ought to touch the whole of Life...

"I would say if Christianity is truth, it ought to touch on the whole life" - Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer is a bit of a hero of mine, I read his biography a while back and was captivated by his attitude to Christianity, apologetics and serving. To my great delight while in Oxford I met a man named Joe who knew and worked with Francis Schaeffer in Switzerland. I was quite excited to hear stories and hear his wisdom. It was truly remarkable!

But what Schaeffer is saying here is so true. He is sure that if Christianity is true then we cannot box it or put it into a category and leave it untouched. We are introduced with Schaeffer the reality of Christianity that penetrates his life - the kind that digs deep at our soul and gets under our skin. If Jesus is real, if we not only believe but follow and thus a disciple then it ought to touch our whole life. Not just part of it.

Can we perhaps see the ripples of Christ in our life already? You will find that you cannot hold light and darkness together, you cannot hold truth and lies together. You cannot hold Christ as Lord and you as Lord in the same hand. One must go. Either you live for yourself and walk on the path of death or you embrace Christ and lose yourself and find that you are given eternal life. If this is true - then should it not affect every spectrum, inch, moment, thought, action of your life and my life?

I have been thinking how this affects me everyday. Perhaps it should touch how I watch TV, movies or read books. How I talk to people or don't talk to people, how I love others, how I see the world, How I see death and life, church and friendship. How I see what is moral or what the world believes to be true. How I view white lies, how I view myself, how I judge others and how I show the love of Christ to others...

Christianity is not just for Sundays, but its for the Monday morning and the evening in the pub with workmates and the sitting in front of the TV and the walk to church and the listening to friends and the reading of the newspaper and sitting on the train and the love for people from different countries, religions and worldviews. Its for the days that have rain or humid heat, the time we spend eating or the time we spend daydreaming. Its when we read our bible or when we read science fiction, its when we listen to rock music or dance to the tango... "it ought to touch the whole of life".

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Why I love international outreach

I have just come back from Oxford, with its rain, bikes, beautiful buildings and a crazy two weeks that was packed with an amazing team, amazing students and an amazing Gospel. I can't describe how incredible these two weeks have been, but perhaps I can tell you why I love doing this...

1. The Gospel is true
You know what? The Gospel is true and that's amazing. If the Gospel wasn't true, I wouldn't be doing this. But it is true and we have amazing good news to share.

2. Reaching all Nations
Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. Well for two weeks, a lot of those nations came to us. It is wonderful seeing God open hearts, sharing Jesus with people that have never heard of him. Reach nations that are normally closed to us, but the treasure of the Gospel can be theirs.

3. Team Life
I love the team life, sharing Jesus with fellow Christians. I love how we all worked together with the Gospel centered and we all had a role to play and God used all of us.

4. Amazing Fellowship
I have met some amazing people. I have met people that have encouraged me greatly with their love for Jesus and willingness to surrender all for Him. It was fantastic having the opportunity to come along side some of the girls and chat and pray with them. The fellowship has been so key.

5. Meeting Interesting People
Over the two weeks I have met some very interesting people from all over the world - Japan, Colombia, Chile, France, Africa... its been so much fun getting to know them.

6. It is about Relationship
You can't shove the Gospel down their throats. Its about building relationships and sharing your time and your life with them. Its something that perhaps English people aren't always good at. But I enjoy this so much, its more personal and people are not projects.

I just love international outreach so much! Its been amazing being able to share the Gospel with people, to get to know different people from around the world and to meet Christians that have amazing testimonies and share the same vision and to have so much fun as well. There were many laughs!

If you get a chance to do this type of outreach, then do - it is an amazing opportunity!