My Problem with Blogging and One Undeniable Truth

I see a lot of people putting up relatively regular blog posts and that’s great. They’re often really inspiring and insightful and I often think that I should blog more regularly. (And I know that I have said that I would)

But here is my problem. I don’t have the inspiration often to write posts. I sometimes think to myself ‘Right! I’m going to write a blog post!’ which is swiftly followed by a thought like ‘What in the world am I going to write about???’ Sometimes I do actually have something interesting to write down but I lack the conviction that I should write it down or l can’t figure out how to write it down. I have all sorts of ideas in my head sometimes but actually putting them to words is a lot harder.

That’s why I don’t blog often. I actually have several posts that I’ve written part of but I lost track of where my brain was going and so I found it hard to make sense of it and then lost the motivation to keep going. Maybe one day I’ll set to finishing them.

So I struggle to blog. That being said, everything that I blog about should always come back to one, undeniable truth. That the God I worship is at work in my life and the lives of those around me for good. If I write about Christmas (which is coming up by the way, just in case you weren’t aware) I will always come back to the truth that Jesus Christ was born in very un-kingly circumstances, grew into a man, taught the truth about God’s word, was killed at the hands of men for a crime he did not commit and rose again on the third day as proof that he was God and so that we can have a living relationship Torn paper with truth word behind it, black and white photowith the creator God.

If I write about my studies, I will always come back to the God I am studying and what he reveals through his word for the benefit of myself and others.

If I write about something I am struggling with, I will always come back to the truth that whatever I am feeling does not change the fact that God is more powerful than what I’m going through, knows what I’m going through, is with me through it and loves me to the point of sending his Son to give his life in place of mine.

Do you want to know why I always come back to those truths? Because the truths about God never go out of date, never lose their power, never change and the God to whom they refer is alive and working in me, through me (I hope) and through those around me for good.

 

So I may struggle to blog for whatever reason, but I know that, whatever I choose to write about, God should be at the centre, because without him we would have nothing and would be nothing. I thank God for all of you reading this and I pray that he speaks to you and reveals himself to you every day.

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Summer Blog – Episode Three – Book Review

Hello there, once again! For the third week running, I am writing a blog post. Miracles do happen.

As I mentioned in the first episode of the Summer Blog, I have recently been reading a book called Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow. I haven’t quite finished it yet, but, so far, it has been a really interesting read. I would recommend it to any church-goer. If you’re wondering why your church seems to be lacking men (which, it seems, the majority of churches are) David Murrow points out some serious ways that the church has been failing men.

That’s right. He suggests that it is not the fault of men, but of the Church. I know it sounds like a very bold statement, but he seems to back it up with some biological, psychological and anthropological facts about men. He points out the differences between the way men and women are wired and how, since the Tudor times, the church has been appealing to the feminine and not the masculine. (If you want some more in-depth stuff about all of that, go read the book!)

Now, I have a confession to make. I’m sat here writing a blog post about manliness, but I’m not exactly the epitome of masculinity. I don’t follow football or rugby, I avoid conflict like the plague, I cry at Les Miserables, I can’t grow facial hair and I like my worship on the slow and reflective side. That said, I do enjoy  cars and working with my hands. Just today I have washed our patio doors and the exterior of the conservatory, cut the grass at the front of the house and cleared a bunch of moss and grass growing between the paving slabs. So, in that sense, I tend to class myself as moderately masculine.

That said, David Murrow states some pretty interesting facts about how men’s brains work. Obviously, not all men think in the same way and he admits that he makes some pretty sweeping generalisations. As I’ve read about how the majority of men’s brains are wired, I have kept thinking, ‘yeah, I totally get that. I’m glad I’m not the only one!

And that, I think, has been really important. Realising that I’m not the only guy who struggles with some of the ways that the church does things (or doesn’t do things, in some cases) means that I don’t feel guilty about it. I don’t feel guilty that I often struggle to sing love songs to God. I don’t feel guilty that I struggle with the lack of things that blokes would want to get involved with. (Have you ever noticed how the  majority of volunteers in church tend to be women?) It’s OK to feel that way! The fault is not with men!

So what does that mean for the church? Murrow suggests one thing that this doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that the church needs to pray harder for men to join and hope that men suddenly decide to leave their masculinity at the door and start helping out in the creche. In his introduction to the book, Murrow tells readers that the point of the book is not to call men back to the church, but to call the church back to men.

I don’t want to give too much of the book away and take away the reason for you to read it. Seriously, go read it. If you have seen the need that the church has for men, go read this book. If you don’t know what the fuss is all about, go read the book. I’m not saying that it has all the answers or that you will be a better person for reading the book, but seriously; go read the book. It will be worth it.

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Summer Blog – Episode 2 – Abounding Hope

So here we are! I’m actually blogging again, as I said I would! Who would imagine that I would manage that? (Shockingly, not me!)

I feel it only right that I should update you all on a fairly large piece of news that I’m fairly sure not very many people know. I am, once again, single. I know this will come as a surprise to many of you because, on the surface at least, everything with my relationship seemed almost perfect. I won’t go into depth as to what was unseen, but suffice it to say that God made it fairly clear to me that the relationship wasn’t right and that to end it would be the most loving thing I could do for the both of us. (That’s right. I am suggesting that it is good and right for one to love themselves. A healthy love of self is good. We are, after all, part of God’s creation.)

So that’s the news. On to some more interesting and, I hope, uplifting things.

A couple of years ago, around the end of the college term (so…November time) my life turned a funny shade of ugly. At the beginning of the previous summer I’d had to break off an engagement and that term of college had been pretty hard. Not academically, but personally. People started to notice that I was spending a lot more time on my own, which was very much unlike me. I would actively avoid times where I had to spend time with lots of people.

Then everything went even more rubbish. Some bad news hit me hard. The day I heard it I went for a three hour walk on my own, came back to my room and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in tears or fighting them back. Many of you who know me well will know that I don’t cry at pretty much anything.

From that point on I barely functioned properly. Sleep eluded me on a regular basis. I couldn’t seem to find joy in the things I used to enjoy. To put it in cliché terms, life had lost it’s colour. I was later diagnosed with depression.

(I know that I said this would be uplifting; just hang in there.)

Around a similar time I was given an iPad by a friend of mine. I’d played around with an App called Garageband a bit on an iPad that my Mum had at her school. It’s an App for writing and recording music. So I downloaded it and started having a play around with it. Something else I liked to do was to improvise solos over backing tracks on youtube, so I thought I’d have a go at writing one for myself.

Despite all the stuff that was going wrong in my life, the track that I wrote was one the moved. Let me explain what I mean. Some music you listen to makes you want to dance. Some music makes you want to sit and think. Some music sounds like it’s taking you on a journey. The track I wrote was just that. It seemed to take you with it. It was a journey to something joyous.

Every time I play that piece now I remember that period my life and the people that brought me through it. You know who you are. You are important people in my life, even if I am rubbish at showing it.

God is the God of hope. He brought true hope to us in Jesus, and he puts people in our life to remind us of that hope. 10386925_10152276172497099_2031208672590929224_o

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Summer Blog – Episode 1

Well hey there!

It’s Summer! Apparently…Well, whatever the weather thinks it is, it is actually summer. I’ve finished my studies for the summer now so I’m home. I’ve been home for the sum total of three days and I already miss Boscombe and all the people I have grown to love since starting there in September. It is an odd sensation being at home and feeling as though I am away from home. It feels like I have two homes.

Anyway! Enough of my depressive loneliness!

So, I’m setting myself the challenge of writing a blog a week while I am home over the summer. If you’ve ever heard me say anything like that before, you know how unlikely I am to actually follow through with it, but we’ll see how it goes!

I’ve been given a book to read over the summer so I might do some posts about that. It’s a book called Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow. I’ve seen it around several times and thought to myself, ‘I should give that a read!’ but I haven’t had the chance to. Until now! So I might post some stuff I find interesting. You never know.

I might also post about jobs. I am currently looking for a job for the summer. So that’ll be fun.

I might also post other stuff. Some thought about what God says about us. Some thoughts about what God might ask us. Maybe some thought on what we might ask God and what his responses might me. Who knows! The possibilities are endless.

Before I go, since I’ve come to the end of my Academic year, I feel that I should share something that I have learnt over the course of this year.

I came into this academic year with plenty of nervousness. Living on my own. A new church. Re-doing a bunch of work that I hated doing the first time around. Going back into church work after failing at it the previous year. I could tell you all the things that I learnt about myself over this year, of which there are plenty, but I think that the  most important thing that I have learnt this year is that God is good.

Let me qualify that. You might think that, surely, I should have known that long before now. But how well do we really know the depths of God’s goodness? I can look back and see the complete juxtaposition between last year and this year. God has been SO faithful and SO  good to me this year. When it felt like my life was falling apart, he held me together. When life was going great, he celebrated with me. When I was being really, REALLY stupid, he corrected me. Repeatedly. God is so good.

When everything around us feels like it is going against us and we have run out of strength to go on, remember the words of Paul to the Church in Corinth.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

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Block Blog – Week….whatever?

So I haven’t kept up so much with these blogs. Turns out that life in the ministry is very busy! Surprising when people think that ministers only work half a day a week! 😉

That is, of course, a lie. I have been working my pastor tirelessly almost every day of every week. I’ve lead worship for two Sunday and I’ve been going along to all the things that I mentioned in the first blog post. Kids groups, youth groups, groups for the elderly and I’ve been going on a whole bunch of pastoral visits. It has been wonderful.

I won’t go into detail about all the things that I have been doing in the last two weeks because that post would be incredibly long! But I will give you a few highlights of my time since post 1!

Pastoral visits have been something of a highlight for me because it ha given me the opportunity to see a part of ministry that I would otherwise never have seen. And it has been so wonderful to sit and chat with some of the loveliest God-fearing old people. They are as inspiring to me as anyone.

One of the youth groups last week had around 80 kids turn up. 80!!! And they were all completely off the wall because it was the last Friday before half term. It was so loud in the church hall that I could barely hear myself talk, let alone think! But I was wonderful to see so many kids in the church building. My prayer for that group is to start seeing some of those young people start coming along to some of the Christian things that the Church does.

My last little story for you happened today. And when it first kicked off I didn’t think it was a highlight at all. As my alarm went off at 7am this morning for me to get up and ready to lead worship at church I got a text from the pastor saying that he was ill and wouldn’t be able to make it to church. Could I please tell my testimony instead of the sermon.

Sure. That’s fine. Wait…WHAT?! I had little to no time to plan any of what I was going to say. I thought to myself that it would be a good idea to sit down and make a few rushed notes to follow before the start of the service, but as I thought about it God stepped in and just said “Don’t worry about it. When you get up and open your mouth, I will give you the words to say.”

So I went in with no notes. It was truly terrifying. I have no problems with talking in front of people. I have a drama A level and I’ve been leading worship and stuff at church for years. Talking in front people doesn’t scare me. But I always plan out what I’m going to say. Always. This time I had nothing. I had to rely 100% on God to give me the right words to say. And that is exactly where he wanted me. That way I couldn’t get in the way of what he wanted to say to people in the church through my testimony.

And God was faithful. He gave me the words to say. And people responded to them. We had a great time of open prayer (which, I am told, is not something that people are used to in this church) and I let people know when the service had finished that I would be around to pray with people if they had felt that God had been speaking to them. After the first service a guy came up to me and I had a wonderful opportunity to pray with him. I hadn’t seen him in the church before either so he might well have been new to church. How amazing would that have been! After both of the services I had a lot of people tell me that God had spoken to them through what I had said or that they knew people who had been there that God will have been speaking to.

Praise God. He is always faithful. With every challenge I am faced with he is my strength. And when I have nothing, God is everything. Hallelujah.

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A Quick Reflection

Hey folks. This is just a quick post at I know I won’t write unless I do it now.

I went out into Leicester City centre earlier today for a little outing and popped into the Christian bookshop. One of the three books I bought was The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I have since spent most of the afternoon reading it. On the last page I read something that made me stop and think.

For those of you who haven’t heard about or read The Screwtape Letters, they are a series of letters from a senior to a junior devil. Screwtape is Wormwood’s “affectionate Uncle” and is instructing Wormwood on how to best keep his patient away from God. The thing that struck me was this.

“The more often he feels without acting, the less he will ever be able to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”

How often have I felt and not acted?

How often have I known I needed to do something for one reason or another and not?

How often to I resist doing what I know I ought because of fear?

I can’t answer those questions specifically because I don’t know. All I know is that I need to change that attitude and I will with the help of God because I know I can’t do it alone.

Philippians 4:13

“I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

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Block Blog – Week 1 (and a bit)

It has been a week and a bit since I started my block placement up here in Leicester. It’s about time I updated you on what I’ve been doing! Well, what a first week. Someone asked me the other day how my week had been. Three words can describe it. Cold. Exhausting. Amazing.

My week has been pretty full on. The pastor here has very much thrown me in the deep end with things but it’s great. I’ve been doing toddlers and tots, youth groups, Lunch club for the elderly as well as attending a deacons meeting and preparing for Sunday. On Sunday morning I preached at the TWO morning services as well as playing the piano. Honestly, the most stressful part of that ordeal was the Pastor getting up and asking if anyone had any Birthday’s to celebrate. I had NO warning of this and so I had no idea what I was doing when it came to playing happy birthday! (Shame on me, I know. I should know it.) It got a laugh though!

But that leads me to a few reflections that is have had since starting here. I have been pretty nervous about a lot of things since starting here. Meeting new people makes me nervous to my core. I am a people person (as those of you who know me will know) but meeting new people is very much not what I like. I’d much rather stick with my usual group of friends. But I have had to get outside my comfort zone and, do you know what? It has been great. God has been so amazing. As I have depended on him for the strength and courage to meet new people and get stuck in with new things I have seen him introduce me to some wonderful people.

P1030352One of my friends from college gave me a rather wonderful gift for my block placement. It’s a jar full of little rolls of paper. Written on those little rolls of paper are Bible verses. There are enough verses in the jar for one verse a day, plus a few, “for the days you need a bit of extra encouragement!” Each and every day as I have pulled out one of those verses I have been struck with God’s faithfulness. There have been a few challenges to my attitude and thought process, but I know that as the challenges come and I respect them and learn from them, I am growing.

P1030353That is one of the things that I have noticed over this short time. I am growing. Nearly every time I have a meeting with the Pastor we end up talking about how we would love to see church, and he has challenged my thinking on a number of things. Not only that, but as we discuss, we always turn to the Bible and end up having an impromptu Bible study. It is amazing. I love it. And through it I am starting to understand more about what God designed for the Church and us as Christians. It’s challenging, encouraging, and brilliant.

If you can’t already tell, I am loving it here. I’m only a week and a bit in, but I am already pretty certain that I won’t want to leave in 4 (ish) weeks time. Praise God.

Thank you for following my journey so far and I want to thank all of you who continually pray for me. I appreciate it SO much. I will update you again soon!

Blessings!

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