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.

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

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