Over the last year and a half, God has been becoming increasingly vocal, and with each thing He says, I get better at recognising His voice.
I’ve heard Him on and off since I was a young teenager, and it began to increase when I was 16 and started praying/reading my Bible more (surprise surprise). Then I heard Him very clearly when my Dad passed away, when He told me to move out of my Granddad’s, and I ended up following His voice all the way to the Isle of Wight for a 4 year placement alongside a theology degree.
While there, however, I got caught up so much in the busyness of life, responsibilities, essays, grieving for my Dad and grieving for my whole family. My faith and trust in God began to decline, and His silence became deafening. I felt agitated and uncomfortable working for Someone who’s voice I never heard. I told my oldest brother in an email about my frustrations, to which, I got the loveliest, most encouraging reply – and the promise of a book in the post that would help. And help it did.
The author (Brad Jersak) encouraged the practice of some listening exercises, which I tried out, and suddenly, I began to hear the voice of Jesus speaking to my heart. I realised that He had been trying to speak to me, but the chaos in my heart and the noise around me prevented me from being still enough to listen. I suddenly became aware of how much He has to say, and how keen He was to share with me. Thus began my journey of listening/conversational prayer with God… But then I plateaued again… And became agitated again… I had become lazy at reading my Bible!
So I started looking for a Bible reading plan, and found one called ‘Read the Bible in 90 days’. I made an incredulous ‘cyuh’ noise, and God said “Why are you laughing?”
“Because there’s no way I could ever do that!”
To which, He gave a firm, challenging reply:
“You haven’t even tried. I dare you.”
So, begrudgingly, I took His challenge, last year in June. And then it was like an explosion of His voice – everywhere I went, making comments on the things I observed around me, or replying to my thoughts, or interrupting me to tell me something. I realised that the more I learned His style and manner of speaking, the more I recognised His voice in my thoughts, and the more I got to know about the things that hurt Him, disgust Him, annoy Him, amuse Him, make Him glow with love and compassion...
Then last year in the autumn, I visited Swanage for a few days and had such an incredible time. When I had to leave to go back to the island, I didn’t want to, which was the first time ever since moving there. The following Monday (31stOctober), I felt absolutely pants – like, really pants. I asked God, ‘why do I feel so rubbish?!’
He replied very quickly, “Because I’m preparing you to leave.” This was very timely, because I had been exploring the idea of staying on the island, but this was just the shove I needed to leave that hope well alone. My love for Swanage and my desire to come here began to grow over the next few months. I kept asking God where He wanted me to go after the summer, until eventually He said, “I’ll tell you when you’re on your block placement.”
All the while, I was hoping He would send me to Swanage! By Christmas, I was certain I wanted to be in the South West of England, but knew I had to wait for God to speak. All I had to do was wait… Haha! And of course, He waited until the last day of my placement.
I was sat on the floor in church, when Mark said ‘let’s pray about… blah blah blah…’
I seized the opportunity to seek God, and instead of praying for whatever it was Mark said (sorry, Mark!) I said, ‘Well, God, it’s the last day of my placement and You said You’d tell me while I was here… Are You going to wait until I’m at the ferry, or – ‘ and before I could finish the thought… “Here. I want you here.” Which He then confirmed through some other people straight after the service, which was pretty incredible!
I had no idea how it was going to work, but then over the next few weeks, He worked it out for me, and just handed it to me. And that is a very brief summary of how I ended up in Swanage, working for The Wave with all you lovely lot.
Being a Christian might sound really boring…
God is such a kill joy. He never speaks. Church is dull. Why do we stand up and sit down so much? Why does the speaker have to preach for so long? Why did Jesus talk in riddles aaaaaaaall the time? I’ll get bullied if I start talking about Jesus. Can’t I just live the same way as before? Swearing isn’t that bad… I don’t get why sex outside of marriage is wrong.
But my experience has been the polar opposite. I used to think those things above… but once I started reading my Bible and getting to know God for myself, I realised that He is so far from boring and a kill joy. Following His voice has been and will remain to be the best adventure ever in my life. It’s exciting to step into a new thing, and say ‘OK, what next, Jesus?’ It’s comforting and reassuring when other people say the same things as God, and it’s also really cool when He tells me off – but that’s for another time!
It’s challenging, it’s fun, it’s frustrating, it’s exciting, it’s painful, it’s a test of patience, and sometimes it can be really messy – but I couldn’t imagine living this life without the vibrancy Jesus brings daily. And I definitely couldn’t live without His lovely voice! I want to invite you to join us on this journey. Read your Bible – ask God to show you things as you read. Write them down. Ask Him questions. Write down the first thing that pops into your mind. Save them for later. See if He says it again, either directly to you or through someone else. You might just find out for yourself that His voice is the greatest gift and treasure in this life.
Each year on the last bank holiday of May is The Big Church Day (BCDO) – a music festival held at Wiston House, West Sussex. Previous years The Wave Youth went for one day, however this year we decided that we would go all out and camp for the weekend!
When you think music festival and camping you can probably imagine thousands of wellie wearing festival goers wading through the mud. Thankfully this wasn’t the case at BCDO! We arrived the Friday evening in beautiful warm sunshine, and the only moisture visible was the sweat dripping off our faces as we pulled trolleys stacked with our camping gear. Once we found a suitable pitch everyone chipped in to get tents up, cook dinner and making plenty of tea to keep Dave Brock happy. All the excitement and hard work was enough to tire everyone out for a good night’s sleep until the following day’s expected sunshine would bake us out of our tents.
The following morning however wasn’t sunshine that got us up. At 5am the sound of thunder and lightning was crashing all around us, followed by a torrential downpour! Berno scrambled out of his tent to cover everything outside with a ground sheet, to prevent food and utensils from floating around in plastic boxes. Once the rain died down, mostly everyone had given into the adrenaline rush from the storm and emerged from their tents, hoping they weren’t about to step out into a river. Instead they were greeted with stunning cloud formations and the promise of breakfast.
The festival properly kicked off at midday Saturday. By 10am we were itching for it all to start due to the early nature alarm going off. Once we stuffed ourselves with lunch and had a packed dinner ready, we set off to be part of the action. There were loads going on; five different stages with bands; free activities including bushcraft, mountain biking and a climbing wall; loads of tasty food venders; a huge marquee filled with different Christian organisations making a difference around the world; all based around the impressive Wiston House. When all the bands finished playing late at night, there was a campfire going with someone playing an acoustic set. Despite the long day some of us went to see Tim Vine and John Archer in action for a bit of comedy, which seemed the popular choice as the tent was bursting at its seams, stuffed with people.
On Sunday morning, after a great night’s sleep and no thundering alarms going off, we started emerging from our tents at 8:30am. We had another long day ahead of us and needed to be back in Swanage for 12:30am, so after breakfast we spent the rest of the morning packing up the camp. Once again our little trollies were packed high with all the gear as we scurried to and fro putting everything away before the music started. During that time we also managed to have a cooked lunch thanks to our ‘Expert Rookie Camping Chef’ Rich. Once everything was all packed away we headed straight for the main stage.
We spent the rest of the day watching bands, bumping into random friends, eating churros, and enjoying a rain shower or two. As the day went on we realised that there was so much more that we could have done, and despite missing out on some of the activities, everyone had a great time, until it come to driving home that evening.
Due to the heavy showers during the course if the day it made the grass where the minibus was parked very slick. Before even attempting to leave, ‘Expert Rookie Camping Chef’ Rich helped push three cars out of the slick grass to clear the way for the minibus. When it came to our turn the bus decided to follow the trend of getting stuck. Thankfully there were other people waiting for us to get out of their way and so they were obliged to help push the heavy minibus onto some more stable terrain. This little delay meant that everyone could enjoy BCDO a little longer as they arrived back in Swanage in the early hours of Monday morning.
This summer holiday we are partnering with Land & Wave to teach the youth of Purbeck to SUP like pros. Not familiar with the term SUP? It is short for Stand Up Paddleboarding, the fastest growing water sport in the world!
In August we will be running a course over three Tuesday evenings for 14 young people who attend Wave Youth events during term time. It costs £37.50 per person (50% discount!) and will be held at Ocean Bay, Swanage. Each session will start at 18:30 and finish at 20:00. Here is a breakdown of what to expect throughout the course:
15 August 2017 - Ready to ride
Our first session’s aim is to get everyone on the same level. We will look at all the various parts of the equipment, go through some basic paddling techniques, develop an understanding of safety, and put our balance to the test! By the end of the session everyone should be able to get from kneeling into a standing position.
22 August 2017 – Power to the paddler
For the second session we will be honing our paddling skills and look at some more advanced paddling techniques. We will also look more in depth at safety on the water, including what weather conditions to be aware of before going paddleboarding. By the end of the session balance should become second nature.
29 August 2017 – Proving to be Pro
How do you know someone is turning pro? They pull off crazy tricks! For the final session we will be applying the skills learnt so far to perform stunts and a series of challenges. By the end of the session people will marvel at the display of skills.
To get the most out of the course we recommend arriving at Ocean Bay for 18:15 to get kitted up. You will need to bring the following:
In a nutshell:
Date: 15, 22, 29 August 2017 (Tuesdays)
Time: 18:30 – 20:00 (Arrive for 18:15 to get kitted up)
Place: Ocean Bay, Swanage
Not only is this a course to become pro at Paddleboarding, it also gives young people the opportunity to explore the possibility of a career in the outdoors. With Land & Wave’s BTEC Level 3 course in Outdoor Adventure you can get 6 professional qualifications, as well as the next step to get into university.
So far, since arriving here in September to work for The Wave Youth, I’ve already learnt so much about myself!
I’ve learnt that I really would love to be a worship leader some day, which has definitely been more of just a pipe-dream for a long time now…
I'm learning to realise that dreaming big isn't only for those who have their possible life journeys already mapped out in front of them by their own ideas.
I’ve realised that I don't have to keep striving to live up to a certain standard in order for my work colleagues to accept me for who I am, this is something that I’ve found incredibly difficult for a long time.
Lastly, I’ve also found over this clearly God-given time that there really is a space for me here;
I may not be very good at certain activities that others in my team excel at, but being there for the teenage girls in my youth groups really has been a specific spot for me to fill ever since the previous female youth leader/role model said her goodbyes. I can really relate to the fact that the girls in my groups more than likely wouldn't want to go to much older male leaders to talk through some of their thoughts…
I certainly know that I wouldn't have wanted to do something like that at their age!Overall, I’m incredibly thankful that God has brought me here at such a perfect time as this!
The Wave Youth is taking a week off before everything starts to pick up again in September.
So to all out GCSE and A Level students who did so well and to the rest of our guys and gals we'll see you in a couple of weeks and can't wait to hear how the next phase of your lives is going.
It's been really cool doing some extra stuff over the summer and to everyone who came kayaking, raft building, hiking and gaming we'll be rolling out more of the same next summer and planning some extras for the winter :)
Rich & Berno
Outside of term time things tend to slow down a lot around The Wave - our main groups and activities come to a stop (against some heavy protests) in order to allow our volunteers to get some rest and time off, to make space for families who'll be heading off on their holidays and to give Berno and Rich time to plan the next terms worth of groups and rotas and all the behind the scenes stuff they love so much.
It's also nice for their wives and kids to see them around a bit more (D'awwwwwww)
This August however, we're going to take advantage of the fact that we're not spending 10 hours running Remix and start getting things ready for REGENERATE by throwing a few one offs and special events on Mondays and Fridays.
Here's a preview of some of the stuff we've lined up for you, so head over to the events tab on our Facebook Page which is always the best place to keep up to date with what's going on :D
What is it like to be a Trainee for THE WAVE YOUTH in Swanage? Fun, challenging, tiring, exciting, surprising, amazing, exhausting and full of new experiences!
When I signed up for this year, probably one and a half years ago, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for - I just did what God was telling me to do and I ended up in Swanage working for The Wave. The Wave is a very young organisation in Swanage; It's divided into Wave Kids (who work with 0-11 year olds) and The Wave Youth (11-18 year Olds). It's a job with a lot of variety, we are already running lots of groups with different aims and age groups in mind.
Most of the groups you will work with are outreach groups like Remix and Juice. You will work regularly in a school by helping to run a Christian Union and you will work with a young house group and disciple young Christians.
The variety of what you are doing is huge: So at Remix, for example, you can support the young people by learning a song they want to play or preparing a new song to learn with them. Part of your tasks will be to prepare games and talks for the house group and the Christian union. You will be involved in planning new strategies and new youth groups. Right now we are in the middle of planing Regenerate and as an intern I have the opportunity to explain my ideas and shape the youth group. You will have opportunities to write articles and share your faith in this way. There are also other events set up by the local churches which you can take part in if you are interested.
But the biggest part of your work here is just be there: be at every youth group, be open and listen to the young people - don ́t be afraid to share the gospel or to be honest with them.
So now you know all this stuff, but why should you come to Swanage?
First of all the team are amazing and you get a lot of support; you will work with your line manager on a day to day basis and there are regular prayer meetings. If you should ever have any trouble your line manager, mentor or minister will find time for you and help you. This is important because even though you will go through some hard times, you will always have support and people who love you around you.
Something else which I have found unique to Swanage is the way that all the churches work together. The Wave is a charity run by all the churches in Swanage and it works - you will feel welcome in every church you will go to in Swanage.
And of course, Swanage has a beautiful seaside and an amazing view... the only negative thing is that it takes you a while to get to another city... But that is a problem that can be solved very easily.
If you work with The Wave you will also be part of an organisation called SWYM. When you are doing your first year it will be called 'Be Transformed'. This will include 6 conferences where you will study theology and learn about good youth work practice. SWYM will support you in many other ways and you will meet people your own age, going through the same experiences that you are.
What is there left to say? If you feel God is calling you to do youth work in the south west of England or if you just feel the call to sign up: Do it! I did it and I don't regret it. God will use this year and this internship. You will be transformed and you will influence young people.
The Team are currently looking for a Gap Year Trainee from September 2016 to July 2017 - for more information contact the team!
I would also be more than happy to answer any of your questions - Guven@waveministry.org.uk
So recently I’ve been really getting into my songwriting. For those who don’t know, I love writing and playing music… it’s awesome! It has been real fun for me to be able to perform my music on a local radio station and also record my songs in the studio. Great, exciting times!
I recently watched a really good talk by Jon Foreman - the lead singer of Switchfoot (the most awesome band in my humble opinion). Jon talks about how we should approach life as a grand song, written by a great composer and conductor holding it all together.
For me that conductor is no other than God: In our busy lives as we try and simply get by doing life, the songs of creation are all held together by the fact that there is a God out there who loves us and wants us to be the best that we can be.
Later in the talk Jon shares how we are unique and being ourselves will “take a lifetime of practice.” So there's no surprise that there will be times when we are going to get things wrong. However we need to continue pushing into discovering what amazing and incredible plans God has in store for us.
He wants us to enjoy the good times that we face in our lives, and also use and learn from the challenging seasons. It’s like keys in music. Both the minor key and major key can prove useful, even if sometimes they sound very different indeed. When we get things wrong it’s important to remember that the great conductor can change the score.
Our lives can be totally Transformed by God, given new amazing meaning.
“Don’t let the past mistakes rob the present of it’s potential.” These words are so encouraging! So face up to your song today and enjoy what amazing plans the great conductor has in store for you!
You can find Jon Foreman’s talk here
If you hang out with me and my mates and haven't seen the films we have, you will not have a clue what were talking about - half our conversation is based around appropriately funny film quotes!
And what used to be our perfect Sunday was to kick it to my place (like The Big Bang Theory guys) armed with a take away (usually Chinese - which no matter how big the order only ever takes 10 minutes to cook!), put on a DVD or two, stuff our faces then all settle down with a cup of tea and talk about the film. It would always get deep quick…sometimes up to ten of us would be sprawled round the lounge trying to figure out, did we like it? What was it about?
But thats just the social film watching:
Watching films over and over, watching all the commentaries, hours of behind the scenes, making of documentaries, reading what the writers intended message was, reviews, websites, books & articles as to why Han shot first, looking at deeper messages behind the story, what’s with the licences plates in the Matrix sequels?
Why do certain colours appear in scenes of M. Night Shyamalan films?
Where is the influence behind this story? Who is Philip K. Dick and why should I care?
When someone with that sort of mentality becomes a Christian what happens is…
You dive into The Bible, watch the Chuck Missler commentaries, read the commentaries by serious dudes like John Stott, read what the writers intended message was, reviews, websites, books & articles as to why David shot first, looking into the deeper messages behind the story, what is Toledot in the Torah?
Why is no detail trivial in the genealogy of Jesus?
Who is the influence behind all 66 books? Who is Wayne Grudem and why should I care?
You see the world afresh like Neo when he's on-route to see the oracle. The world you thought you knew, yet through different eyes. You have indeed taken your first step into a larger world only this time the stories, comic books, novels and films you watch or grew up watching seem oddly familiar; themes and phrases prick up your ears, characters seem very familiar!
I’ve been a Christian for just over 8 years but I recognised early on that films would strike a chord with me.
The story, art, music and feel of a film would leave me dazed and stunned but it would also lead me to ask the deeper question about life, about God, faith and meaning.
I believe God speaks through films.
One famous oscar winning writer Sylvester Stallone acknowledges divine inspiration when he sat down to write Rocky in three days.
God in a personal letter (written 100 years before his birth) to Cyrus says in part,
I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who calls you by your name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel my elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me. I am the Lord. - Isaiah 45: 3-5 (NKJV)
Can God influence a comic book, a novel, a film? The writers of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Chronicles of Brothers would say a big fat yes. The Isaiah quote would seem to suggest that God can inspire people even if they remain unaware.
I watched Iron Man - in fact I watch films like people listen to music. I watched it over 30 times. Loved it, about 5th time through I felt God say: “This is just the story of Paul retold”
Oh really? Excited I got my geek on I dived into the book of Acts 9:9-25, gave a few loud “No ways!", I did an inductive Bible study (thats black belt Bible geek!)
Watch the film again, did an inductive bible study on Iron Man, (wait that's not normal! Off piste geek!)
Heres what I found:
The question is, are our films inspired or just influenced by our cultural Christian heritage? Or do we look at the Biblical influence in the fabric of western culture from our laws, education & Health care but fail to think of its influence in our Films and stories?
Stan Lee AKA Stanley Lieber son of Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents may class himself as not religious but was quoted as citing the Bible as an early influence in his youth.
Brian Godawa (screenwriter and author) writes “God loves movies. movies are visually dramatic stories, and in the Bible the dominant means through which God communicates his truth is visually dramatic stories – not systematic theology. 70% of the Bible is story, vision, symbol and narrative.”
So was the origin story of Iron man inspired by the bible? Will we see more biblical stories in films simply recycled or re-booted or is it as the writer of Ecclesiastes says “there is nothing new under the sun.”
The One Door Cinema Club (Film and Theology)
An Unusual Task: Have you ever been asked to do something that seemed too big a task for you to handle, it just left you feeling totally inadequate?
Maybe you've tried to quit smoking and cant quite shake it. Perhaps you've been asked to sing at an event you just didn't feel ready for. I can remember learning to drive and being convinced that if I lost concentration for a moment, I would kill someone.
I want you to imagine how it must have felt for Mary, the day she turned around and discovered an angel sitting at the kitchen table telling her that she was to become the Mother of God!
In all likelihood, as a young girl engaged to be married, Mary would have been in her teens. She would have had her dreams and ambitions, her fears and excitement about her upcoming wedding and all of a sudden she finds out she’s expecting a baby and her fiancé isn’t the father… When Mary & Joseph worked through that bump in their relationship, they then had to get their head round the idea that this Child was some kind of saviour, the Son of God.
Christmas is about God breaking into the real world, into real people’s lives, in an extraordinary way.
Bizarre Gifts: Have you ever been given something that has come as a bit of a surprise or caught you off guard? I was unemployed, living in a caravan and desperately trying to find paid work when I came home to find a small wrapped parcel on my side of the bed… expecting it to be a Cadbury’s Wispa lovingly given me by my beautiful wife. I was not expecting it to be a pregnancy test letting me know that we were having a baby!
In the next few weeks parents across the country will be painting their children’s chins with mascara, tying a tea towel round their head and fastening a bed sheet to their torso. Some of these children will be marching across school stages and church halls clutching stuffed sheep and others more precious gifts - wrapped boxes supposedly carrying Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh.
Gifts fit for for a King, not the unexpected son of a young carpenters wife: Gold, is precious, valuable and in the ancient world associated with tribute, authority and kingship. Frankincense and Myrrh are the resin, the hardened sap of particular trees that were traded across the ancient world. Their fine aromas speak of luxurious wealth and splendour…
All gifts worthy of a newborn king of the Jews, an heir to the throne - in fact these are all gifts worthy of a God and are found throughout the Bible being used in acts of worship - But myrrh also speaks about something far more mortal. It was used to embalm the dead and prepare bodies for funerals from Egypt across to Palestine.
What a strange gift to give to a baby, what a shocking present to give to a first time mum and dad - could you imagine turning up to the maternity ward with a couple of grand, 12 pints of Chanel no. 5 and an adult sized coffin?
“These’ll come in handy. Don’t loose the last one”
What would you do?! Well we are told elsewhere that this fantastic young woman, this lady given the mind bending task of raising up, feeding, clothing, toilet training, cuddling, playing with and consoling the very God she had been brought up to worship - she treasured all these wonderful, paradoxical, perplexing things in her heart, and pondered on them… I don’t know when she realised that when God chose to break into this broken world of us to save people it would mean seeing the beautiful baby of christmas grow into a strong, caring young man who would be rejected and despised for telling people to forgive and love one another, that there was a way to really know God, a way to be forgiven and made new. I don’t know when she realised just what that mission was going to cost.
Christmas is just the beginning: You see many of us have this belief that Christmas is for children, that it’s about a special baby, that it’s about a couple of middle eastern migrants miraculously finding somewhere to stay for a couple of nights (how topical) but Christmas is about God coming into this world, so that he could live a life that try as we might, we can’t quite measure up to, and to die a death so that we can live forever.
Have you let Jesus grow up into the saviour, into a friend or have you kept him as a baby, and wheeled him out year after year only to miss what his gift, his presence really means?