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.

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