Citygate Students and Twenties exists to see radical, faith filled believers equipped to live a life that is drastically counter-culture, but extends immensely powerful love and compassion to the world around them.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

New arrivals and the blessing of Citygate

This weeks weather in Bournemouth has been the best of the year yet! Can't believe this must be the first time in history that the summer holidays has coincided with the start of the sunny spell! - Brilliant!
Apart from the glorious weather (which is due to change from the weekend - so make the most of it!) it's a real treat to still see a new flood of visitors and guests through our doors on a Sunday morning. I have been speaking with a few people last week, and happened to speak to some people who know Citygate in a "professional" context and it was amazing to hear how Citygate has had such a positive impact on their lives - even though they haven't even been to a Sunday morning meeting yet! I love the fact that Citygate isn't about 100 year old church walls, but is about living, real people just trying to be a bit more like Jesus day-by-day. It's my privilege to be a part of this story, and if you're part of the Citygate family, I trust it's a blessing to you as well.

We've been scratching our heads this week about how we can help welcome the 600 new students arriving right next to our new building, and we've got some ideas about how we can help them all feel really welcome. So far we're thinking it's going to be great to help them actually move in and unload their cars when they arrive one weekend in mid September - but if you've got any ideas to throw in the mix, or seen something done elsewhere, why not drop me a line: 

Ps. Apologies for not writing in a while. Promise I'll write more :-)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Quick Psalm 31

This is a quick one for you, taken from a Psalm written by Mr King David in reference to his little old life. It's a pretty cool one, not because he wrote it (and most of his as pretty good) but actually because I found it really earthy, really grounded. None of this airy-fairy stuff we all know, but actually a dose of reality check. That's why it's refreshing, and that's probably why I most like it. If you read it all you'll think David's Bi-polar, maybe he was, but this little chunk from the start of Psalm 31 says it pretty well: 

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; 
    let me never be put to shame;
    deliver me in your righteousness. 
Turn your ear to me, 
    come quickly to my rescue; 
be my rock of refuge, 
    a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress, 
    for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
    for you are my refuge. 
Into your hands I commit my spirit; 
    deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
I hate those who cling to worthless idols; 
    as for me, I trust in the Lord
I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
    for you saw my affliction 
    and knew the anguish of my soul.
You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
    but have set my feet in a spacious place.

He is our rock, our reality, our safe place, our stability in a world of change, our leader of greatest skill and integrity, The One to hand our spirits over to, and The One who came down to earth to live the pain we face daily. He is our redeemer and our king, and we can trust Him 100% of the time. Why? Because He has "set our feet in a spacious place".
Look at where He's placed you, and see the space He's put around you to influence and lead for Him. That's an encouraging, a little bit scary, but revolutionary way to look at the world - I encourage you to try it!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Why Bother With It All? Not sure.

I last talked about God as a Father, and how we as His children are called into that very unique and very special place as a child of God. And that place brings us now not under condemnation and judgement from Him by our standards, but now we are (and will be) judged by the new standards of Jesus Christ; His history and track record, and not ours (praise God!). We can easily be persuaded by the culture-fixers's of this world that we need to go-it-alone and become independent adults - carving out our own future from the bedrock of a hardened world. But the reality is that this is not a world abandoned, bitter and forsaken, but a world in need of love.
Mobilise in April was immense wasn't it!?! What a wonderful and truly heaven-centred week of coming back in line with a heavenly Kingdom, and remembering the missional impact our lives need to be. When people ask me what the week was like, I always joke and say "well I am pretty sure there are no God-forsaken place on earth, however Pontin's Prestatyn comes pretty close!" - I joke of course, but man that place needs a material revival! :-)

So re-connecting with The Father is less an act of being in the right place at the right, but more about opening our hearts in <every> day, real time life. The Easter Passion week, and Sunday celebrations we're a great way of preparing us to be at the end of ourselves, and at the beginning of our softer hearts.

1 Peter 4v14-19 put's it like this:
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer it should not be as a murderer or a thief or any kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.....So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 

So how do we suffer? And how do YOU suffer in YOUR context? It's always "out there" kind of suffering isn't it? and when you hear those really annoying people preaching that we in the west don't really know what suffering is in our context, it kind of hurts. Most of our pain doesn't seem to be at a material level (of course some of us amongst us do still have genuine, real need of basics) but still the biggest need I tend to see in sunny (yeh right) Boscombe is the mental prisons so many are locked up in. It might be pain from the death of someone cared about, the questions of sexuality, the worry of student debt, or the lingering prospect of getting a job to pay rent and make something of your life. Pain looks different to different people as well, and can we blame them?
But the truth that Jesus brings is a freedom in mind, as well as in Spirit. Now I am not arguing all "real" Christians have top bill mental health, because big historical figures in Scripture are well documented as struggling with this very issue, but the heart of God is not to see a soul lost, but a mind won. Where's your head at?

2 Cor 12v10 put's it like this:

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

Sound's like a head-held-high kind of guy? I think not! But Paul's revelation comes not from how great he feels, but from How great He is. HE is the key to the lock, the chisel to the rock, the missing link in our story. Paul glimpsed something of The Father's heart, and going back to 1 Peter we see that living in this life means God's blessing can rest on us. But what does the blessing of God look like, really, in everyday life?
(I am not going to attempt to answer that, but might pick it up next time)

Our suffering needs to be in accordance with God's will, not our own pride. Sometimes we can feel one of 2 very wrong extremes:
1. "Woe is me, I am a poor Christian, called to suffer a life of trial, hardship, and persecution because the world is full of evil, and satans out to get me"
2. "I am a new creation - Nothing is going to stop me because I am  God's representation on earth! I am the main man, and what I bind in Jesus' name, will be done! Nothing can stop me because if God is for me, than who can be against me!?"

Now, obviously the first stance is just going to end up with you rocking back and forth in the foetal position because you've been crushed by the world (love that's described in Jonah 2v5-7 BTW!). And the 2nd position doesn't seem to match up with most Christian's experience of real life - just because you're saved, doesn't mean that there aren't rainy day's and you don't get it wrong. So let me suggest a third, more real paradigm that may be a more helpful approach:
"I am saved and secure, my mind, soul and body is Christ's, and Christ's alone. The world I am in needs fixing, but I am not God's only answer, in fact I am not even a solution. BUT God has placed me here to be a blessing to others, so that I may speak, eat, drink, sleep, talk, work, play, and be active for the expansion of God's Kingdom in every context He chooses to put me".

The 1 Peter verse talks about a self commitment - an act of making a decision, and sticking by it - which Guy and Martin helpfully led us to over last couple of Sundays, looking at how we serve, and why we should bother. It's also pretty encouraging to here in this verse that God is a faithful creator and that because of His faithfulness we can continue to do good. There's a good talk by PJ Smyth from Mobilise which is a really fun look at being missional. Well worth a watch/listen:

Next Friday were having a night hike if you'd like to stretch your legs in the New Forest, ending with a drink at The New Forest Inn (Lyndhurst). Event info can be found here: So if you need a lift, get in touch and post it up on the event wall - sure someone will take you along.

Hope you've been enjoying cell communities recently, I know the challenge is a personal one, so my personal challenge has been to encourage people to be a part of a community - I'd encourage you to encourage others to do the same!
Have a good week and weekend,
Student and Twenties

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Easter week of Pasion

The FeastThis has been an incredible start to the Easter celebrations, with last nights "Feast" an incredible way to connect back with The God who took it all, so that I didn't have to. Last night was really quite special. The lights were dimmed low, the hall was full of a circle of feast tables and surrounding people, and the centre filled with a blaze of candles. It was a welcomingly soft and gentle atmosphere, something which I think was much needed. I was relaxed and it was very precious.
I loved to spend time forgetting who I was, all my thoughts so often caught up with me; but instead feeling like a little child again reaching out to my Father. I just loved it, arms wide open as the embrace of my Father took me up, and told me not to worry, it'll be alright. Precious. 

What a God-Father we have!?!
I think this week (and life in general) can be a bit like the weather. Right now it's blazing sun outside, just a few hours ago it was grey, bleak and chilly. OK so we live in England, I get that, and you've got a point. But life does have blazing moments of glory, and then just moments later - the issue, the problem, the thought, the pain, the memory, it just comes flooding back and it's as if we'd forgotten who we were praising just moments before. I think satan loves that. he loves telling us we're not good enough, and that we're a plain sighted failure. And guess what, I guess he's right. We are. But like all lies, there's truth mixed in. Truth at the heart of it, and when satan comes whispering, the truth to remember is that actually that bit doesn't matter. Because although you once we're a failure, the one who judges doesn't judge by your standards any more, but instead judges you by Jesus'. Now that's good news, and should make you smile from ear to ear.

Why not use this week to re-connect with God. Spend some moments in silence, go for that walk with God you've been saying you'll do, or take time out from work, studies or revision to make Him your number 1 priority again.
I'd encourage you to get along to any one of the Passion gatherings this week, really valuable time to re-focus on the grace of the Cross and the marvellous splendour of Jesus Christ.

Tonight: The Cup: 7.30pm in the Hall
Thu: Prayer: 7-8am in the Shaw Suite
Fri: Good Friday Praise & Picnic: 11am in the hall 
Sun: Celebrations: 9.30/11.30am 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Love never fails

Well it's been over a month since the last blog, but that's because there's been a lot going on, and lot's to talk about! So what's been happening?

Well, the building project for The Citygate Centre continues strong, and as the builders are finishing off the initial build stage over the next month or so, it's exciting to think we're actually not that far away from getting in there ourselves and meeting in a brand-spanking-new building which serves us and the community even better! Last night at the leaders meeting, someone even started praying for an even bigger building! :-) I guess we're not called to sit and rest once it's up, and if were honest the new building is actually a bit scary for most of us (me included) but we know God has been faithful 100% of the time, and despite the daily challenges we've faced with this project - He still remains true to His promises to Citygate Church. That's something to smile about on a Wednesday morning.

We're continuing to have new people not only joining us (and coming from all over the region, as well as from all over the world!) but wanting to go deeper and commit to the vision and values of Citygate as we welcome new family into membership. Such an honour to be part of a family who highly value the authority of scripture, love what The Holy Spirit does in our lives, and prioritise  The Poor (in every sense of the word) in their daily lives. You guy's are some of the most loving and compassionate guys I have ever met - whether it's from chatting to an "outsider" who pops in late on a Sunday morning, to bringing a drunk guy sat on the bench outside a cup of coffee on a Monday night. That's love, and you know what? Jesus sees every single act of kindness.

I talked a bit on Monday night at PPP about The Love of God, and how we need to be motivated by nothing else apart from the very Love of God, demonstrated with the coming of Jesus Christ and how He changes us, transforms us, and equips us (by His Spirit) to be the Church we are called to be. Acts 2v42+ gives us a prime example of how we should "do" Church, and I love the way there's a togetherness, a unity, a brotherhood, and a submission to leadership - it just feels right that we're moving into this more each day.

Saturday night at Five Smooth Stones was pretty epic as well. Sam shared a passionate, and heart heart felt and biblical approach to how we are motivated to live in purity. Sam's talks here so if you want to re-listen, I highly recommend it!

If you're stuck in the proverbial exam/revision hell at the moment, hang in there. I know this time can be exciting for some as you finish off course units, but absolutely suck for others. It's a weird time of year when the weather's nearly getting warmer, you don't see some people for massive chunks of time, and then before you know it, summer's arrived and everyone's here, there and everywhere. If you're in the place that sucks, don't do it alone - at least do it with mates. For me, it helped getting together with others because it felt like we could all suffer at least together, and lashings of tea and cakes from Bennett's bakery in Winton always made it a little easier. Just be disciplined and don't spend 2 hours talking about what happened in Hollyoaks last night before you open your books!

And for the rest of us non-students, I hope works going well (or whatever you're laying your hands to) but keep investing in our younger brothers and sisters - you're so important in building this community to be the gloriousness it's called to be. Mobilise is one way of doing that if you're available: 10-13th April, for students and twenties. 
Have a cracker!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

LOST in the forest

If one thing could have gone better - it would have to been getting nearly fifty people to successfully navigate lunch, pubs, the forest and the Wessex way to make it to the rendezvous on the outskirts of Moors Valley. But hey you can't win them all!
That said - what a great morning, afternoon and evening spent together; celebrating Jesus, the wonders of creation, and Sittinan's birthday. What a day!?! It was great to spend it with a rabble who know and see the grace of God on their lives! I spoke to a man on Sunday who was visiting Citygate for the first time, and he was amazed (and brought to tears) at the incredible mass of you students and twenties that "go to Church". What we have is special. Maybe you've noticed when you go back home and don't have the usual crowd of Christ followers to spend time with, but I always appreciate being back here in Bournemouth with this crowd we call Citygate Student's and Twenties. Just wonderful! I urge you to recognise and really value it. Make the most of these opportunities to be together, and what comes out of our group, well... it should be even better, shouldn't it! :-)

WhY JesuS? starts this Sunday night, a chance for anyone wanting to find out more about God, who Jesus is, and what He's done for them. Great place for S&T's to look in on Jesus, ask questions and feel that they are made to feel welcome and loved - cos they are. Do you have a mate or uni friend who's been asking about your faith and relationship with God? Well this would be an easy and quality way to see if they'd like to know more. Just invite them along this Sunday night, 7pm in the Shaw Suite.

Last week I spoke about the Sabbath mentality and how we live and work out deep heart peace and rest with God, at a very practical, weekly level. I thought this week I'd share how great Sunday's message was. Here's the paraphrase of Romans 12v1-2 which Guys shared from:
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
Guy shared about how we're called out of this world and our old lives, and into a new, refreshed self. There were seven points we could use as an acid-test to see just where we're at. I loved that, because it was real and honest - something which I know I so often am not, well not with myself at least. One of the things that God spoke to me about during the message (and since the new year I guess) was - How passionate, and how serious am I really about God?
I think that so often we can think in the back of our minds that we're further along the road than we really are, that we are better than the other people around us, and that God  and I - well, we're pretty tight really. But actually if we slip into this way of thinking, we're  just becoming Pharisaical: hypocritical and self-righteous. The TRUTH is that were not allright with God, we're not all that tight, and we haven't got anything valuable to compare ourselves to others about. BUT God does. HE has a way, HE has a Son, HE brings freedom and now - when HE looks at us, HE sees blameless, spotless and righteous. 

Blameless, Spotless and Righteous.
That's us when Jesus is number One and He reigns over all the different bits of our lives and hearts. I know that last night at PPP a lot of people were incredibly moved by the testimonies that were shared post-card style, that's because God is God and His miracles and presence in our lives speaks to the deep inner bit of us, which can only ever be satisfied when He's focused on. We are all called to live a passionate, vociferous life of Gods praise and witness, but all of us need help doing that. We need friends, good community and powerful encounters with God - and good teaching. The Mobilise 2012 THE RESCUE EVENT in April is a place you can get that, so please, with all serious heart longing and genuine pleading and urgency - book yourself in. Whilst you still remember the pleasure it is to be in God's presence from the great weekend we just had, and the community you're a part of; this week will be one that will reap multiples on the investment you put in.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel. And I am not ashamed of promoting THE RESCUE EVENT that will happen, because I am whole-heartedly convinced that Jesus is the answer to our generation, it's problems, but most importantly to our friends and beloved family. We need a refreshing of God if we're not on fire for Him, we need a silent Holy moment if we're not at total peace with Him, and we need teaching from Him to instruct us on our path and mission. We're all different people, but we have the same one God, who in His rich mercy binds us together and works individual plans out for the one purpose: The Glory and expansion of His Kingdom and worship of His holy name. I urge you to use this event to help you see and hear from God. He's ensured us He will be with us at this event,  and in my experience He hasn't told a lie yet.

I am looking forward to the fun things planned later this month - we've got Burns night coming up in a few weeks time, as well as the guys games night and Cafe29 not far off the horizon. Best keep an eye on Facebook, but please don't live on it. There's a wonderful world out there - let's live in reality not on our laptops!

God be with you this week folks, and don't forget to be out Wednesday night for the area Churches praying together at Gateway in Poole. 
Much Love,

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A new year, a new approach

It's the first day of the new year, and I'd like to share from my heart a little about how I intend to live the next year, starting a fresh today, with inspiration from a recent article I read in Christianity.

Before I forget - Happy New Year to you! May you grow close to God over this new season, my pray is that Student'sand Twenties continue to become the men and women we are called to be, and dare to do something that has an impact this year. My pray for us is that we are a changing generation, not just attending a Church, but being The Church. May God strengthen you, and equip you as you take up swords, lean hard on Him and less on yourself as He takes you on this often wonderful journey called life. God be with you.

So onto the article I read and what I thought...
It's all about Sabbath. What is it and why should this really old Jewishy word mean anything to us in Bournemouth? Sabbath means a God designated time of rest, ceasing from the regular work. What does that have to do with life? Well keeping Sabbath detoxifies us from the false belief that our value is defined by what we do or what we produce. Activity and achievement can be ways we like to feel good about ourselves, but Sabbath help's guard against achievement-centred spirituality, because only people who know they are justified by the unearned Grace of God can truly rest without guilt. 
"Hmmm, well that seems to make sense"  were my initial thoughts - great, so I'll learn to trust Him, rest when I am supposed to and enjoy God through taking a break. But I know from my quiet times that it isn't always that easy, that picking up The Word and chilling with God doesn't always come and it isn't always that appealing - so if I am trying to do that, and I don't seem to be getting anything back, perhaps that's my issue then and not His? Or His issue with me? Actually, if you're anything like me (and you may not be) you'll know that just chilling out with God doesn't come easy, that there's always a list of legitimate jobs and errands that do actually need doing, but you know God's got to be number one. So where does that leave us?

Sabbath was actually there right from the very beginning, it hasn't been added in - but right from the 6th day, God stopped and 
"God blessed the seventh day and made it holy (means set apart and special -by the way) because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done" (Genesis 2v3)
You see even when the commandments were given, the forth one tells us to remember The Sabbath, not start doing it. It must be pretty important, and for good reason if God actually categorically commands us to rest. Like clay in the potters hand, its important to realise the shortcomings in our own understanding, but submit to His knowledge and design wisdom. And as scripture goes on and we delve into the new testament, we see Sabbath rest is used to describe peace with God, now in current life, and also into eternity - so Sabbathing clearly has an important place in our lives.

Well here's a few tips that you might be useful:

  1. We have a sickening glut of social networking through technology, but we are starving for authentic face to face relationships. Making the decision to limit what you do on-line and how many minutes you spend on-line each day is a healthy way to make sure you're staying relationally healthy. Or just cut it out completely. Sometimes we need a good 2 week fast from facebook and twitter to appreciate the relational position we are apparently in. Will you still end up seeing the same friends you chat to daily on-line? Use this to help you evaluate where relationships are at and what they are based on.
  2. Ask yourself the question "Am I being all I can be?" not "How much can I get done?" - and do it on a daily basis. God want's us to live out our individual plans He has for us, not what everyone else does, but specifically what He has called you to be. And once you've figured that out, you'll be amazing at it!
  3. Do you get the rationale behind Sabbath? Jesus showed that Sabbath is about human flourishing and Grace, not keeping rules (see Mark 2v27).  We need to set some good time aside to stop the regular work or studies, and enjoy God. It's about stopping from the regular: so if you're a student - stop studying when you Sabbath, and if you work - stop working, take a break. It makes us more productive. 
  4. Check out Genesis 2 and you'll see God takes a whole day, not an afternoon or couple of hours, but a whole day (it's not always possible, but go back to Mark 2 and understand the rationale). Can you afford not to spend time reflecting on the good things God has done in your life and worshipping Him for it? Why not start your Sabbath by reflecting on 3 things you can thank God for, write them down, and thank God for them. 
  5. Having people round doesn't always have to be a burdensome affair or showing hospitality doesn't always have to be work when you Sabbath. Prepare good simple food in advance, and value the relationship over the ritual. Use the freezer to store food and you can have a quality dinner on the table with minimal effort.
I hope you have a blessed start to this new year, and if you're still away on holidays - we look forward to your return! Today in our morning meeting we prayed for a fruitful, God focused, outreaching Church that embraces God's call over us this new "leap year". Please pray into that, and see how you can be practically serving. Lots of the students and twenties serve, but there's still lots of us who don't, so if you want to get involved email me: and I'd love to arrange that for you. We love to be a love filled serving Church. God be with you.

Student & Twenties Worker