Monthly Archives: September 2014

Time for Change


This week, I will be crossing the divide into the Great North to go to university, don’t worry, I’ve got my coat, my umbrella and my little dinghy to get to and from lectures – it’s not called the lake district for nothing. Here I will be studying English Literature with Creative Writing (more commonly known as reading and writing stories) meaning I will be able to comfort fellow English students saying “there, their, they’re” and know the difference, make stupid jokes correcting grammar that make people hate me like “knock knock” “Who’s there?” “To” “To who?” “I think you mean to whom…” and never, ever suffer from abibliophobia (the fear of not having enough reading material). I may even be able to say why you Enquire but make an Inquiry.

While getting ready, the phrase ‘student essentials’ has come up a lot and from what I can gather, the list of student essentials and goals goes something a bit like this…

  1. Get drunk
  2. Set off the fire alarm whilst cooking
  3. Talk to random friendly northerners
  4. make life long friends
  5. Pull an all-nighter in order to party
  6. Pull an all-nighter in order to meet a deadline
  7. Get a first in a piece of work
  8. Quote random literary legends when talking to people
  9. Join some kind of social justice campaign
  10. Create a crazy extravagant fancy dress costume
  11. Dye your hair
  12. Join a whole load of societies that you’ll probably never turn up to
  13. Use the words vernacular, idiosyncrasies and discombobulate in general conversation

And so, there are many ways to prepare for university and many that I really need to start because yes, it is a big change and yes regardless of what they say, everyone gets at least a little nervous but then I read this, “People may plan all kinds of things, but the Lord’s will is going to be done” (Proverbs 19:21). The truth is we can plan and plan but we just don’t know what’s going to happen, and honestly, that’s the most exciting part. In fact, if you read Mathew 6:25, Deuteronomy 8:18, Proverbs 23:31-33, 1 Samuel 3:9, Proverbs 27:14, Colossians 3:23-24, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalms 55:22 and Thessalonians 5:16 all in succession, it would read something a little like this: “Don’t worry about what you’re going to eat or how you’re going to cook it and certainly don’t worry about what you’re going to wear out or looking silly in fancy dress, pretty soon that will be yesterday’s news. Also, don’t worry about money because wealth is more than money and getting drunk is overrated. As is sleep. However, lie-ins are appreciated and being a morning person isn’t that great either. But still, it’s a good idea to work hard because it won’t be wasted. Also, God is so excited about your life that He has planned every one of your days to be the best that it can be and you shouldn’t worry because God’s got your back and won’t let you fall (too far) and so for this reason, you should just be happy, always.” (Some of this may not be the exact words used but the sentiments are the same). So yes, I am very excited. 🙂
So, we’ve heard from the Bible, but I’m just going to leave you with some true pearls of wisdom from our old hero’s… Sclub 7 that seem very apt at this time

“Don’t stop, never give up, hold your head high and reach the top
Let the world see what you have got,
Bring it all back to you

Hold onto what you try to be, your individuality
When the world is on your shoulders, just smile and let it go
If people try to put you down, just walk on by don’t turn around
You only have to answer to yourself
Don’t you know its true what they say
That life, it ain’t easy
But your times coming around so don’t stop trying…”

And then to sum it all up,
“…Try not to worry ’bout a thing, enjoy the good times life can bring…”
Here’s hoping there will be many. 🙂


Basking in Sonshine


It’s true, there are uncountable ways people find of worshiping God and man I have I seen that over the last few weeks. In my life, I have travelled down the country for three weeks, going to a different church every day and since then have gone all round the country playing and singing in various different services and yet I have never seen such an eclectic mix of worship as I have this summer. From Kenyan worship to cafe worship, festivals to full matins, I think it’s fair to say I have experienced variety.

So, it started with a traditional church service in Kenya. This consisted of about an hour and a half of singing and dancing to begin with, both in English and Swahili, some of the songs I even knew. The passion in the worship was next to none, without exception, everyone put their heart and soul into the music and movement. The sermon was equally passionate, although slightly scary. It was approximately an hour of the minister shouting down the microphone with conviction about avoiding God’s curse. Don’t get me wrong, the sincere booming of his voice was very convincing but the microphone sort of distorted his voice and half the sermon was in Swahili so it was pretty hard to follow. Still, there was no doubt that they all truly believed in what they were doing, singing and saying, there was faith in the preaching and faith in the worship.

Next up, I was tent leading for a Bible camp where I got to experience what I would consider slightly more modern teaching. The lead speaker was amazing, I mean, who cares what he said, he brought in a full sized sword, a bearded dragon and set tent leaders heads on fire (replicating the first Pentecost of course). I’m joking of course, although this was all incredibly cool, the talks behind it all were equally fascinating. And, between all this, the arm wrestling, dressing up and pouring honey on campers in lion onsies, as part of various talks, I did hear the most personal encounter of the gospel I think I’ve ever experienced. No gimmicks here, no magic tricks, just the plain and simple Truth. The most amazing thing was, after that night, I got to witness some real transformations of people. People I knew, friends, campers, workers. I guess it just goes to show, that when it comes to the gospel, you don’t need swords, dragons, fire or any other mythical fairy tale ingredient to show people, you just need to tell them the Truth. Although, as stated before, this doesn’t stop the other things from being incredibly cool.

I then went home and experienced ‘cafe worship’, which is literally worshiping in a cafe. Songs, discussion and fellowship over ice cream, really relaxed, really lovely all before heading off to a few festivals. First up, Soul Survivor and, if you were unsure before, this is where I’d say you can really learn to worship. Now, it’s not all about the numbers but there’s something about standing in a tent with eight thousand other people, singing with Rend Collective, Matt Redman and Beth Croft, where standing with your feet apart, firmly grounded, arms in the air and eyes closed is an appropriate worship position. Because, when Graham Kendrick is what classifies as ‘up and coming’ in church, it’s nice, occasionally, just to be able to let yourself go. The prayer was simply incredible, to the point of tears and to be surrounded by thousands of people all praying in their own individual languages is beyond words. The beauty of each tongue mixing and entwining in the air simply giving praise beyond all understanding. And, I think it’s fair to say, I never knew it possible to worship so much getting a henna tattoo in a minion costume.

It was then off to Greenbelt where I experienced a sermon on the mount with an incredibly powerful performance form a theatre group bringing the beatitudes to today’s life, on a mount. I then got to share communion with seventeen thousand other people on a field, before belting it out in Beer and Hymns. Singing your heart out and dancing around with little space and a beer in your hand just goes to show that God definitely doesn’t care about tuning. One thing’s for sure, it wasn’t quite the same as the full matins service we went home to the following week where everything in the prayer book was both sung and headed in Latin and our family group doubled the congregation. Again though, another powerful experience that I hadn’t seen before.

As I said a truly eclectic mix, just demonstrating that no matter where you are in the country or even the world, people are worshiping in so many ways and this summer it was a privilege to be able to experience just a small handful of these. It doesn’t even matter if it’s not all to your taste because quite frankly God has to put up with it all, all the time, I’m just amazed at how many ways there are to worship, because His presence really was tangible at more than one occasion over the summer. In fact, for me, this summer, I’d say the Holy Spirit has been marginally like a post festival shower, That moment when it rains down gloriously, giving you that warm feeling on the inside and out, cleaning you of all your imperfections, wiping away all the stories and memories you’ve just experienced as the dirty marks begin to slowly fade away, suddenly making you feel alive and human again. 🙂