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
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?
I was taught that you should buy the best tools that you can afford, and that you ought to look after them. It's advice that has helped me make some wise decisions when it's come to tools, toys and trade and it's also good advice that has stopped me from getting stung in the wallet.
More often than not, whether you are buying a claw hammer or a car the right option for me has been somewhere between the dangerously inexpensive and the laughably overpriced. On the one hand; when you buy cheap, you'll end up buying twice.
On the other; you don't want to fork out a four figure sum for a burger - there comes a point where prices becomes an absurd exercise in proving you have more money than common sense.
In my job, I get to make some pretty big decisions when it comes to money: I'm responsible for forecasting my yearly budgets for the different groups and events I plan, I have my part to play when it comes to fundraising. I also have to make sure that any money I spend is spent wisely because it has all come from charitable sources who believe that the work we do is important and want to support it.
As part of plans to expand the work The Wave Youth does with young musicians I splashed out on an electro-accoustic bass guitar. As the teams resident bassist (I can count to 4 and can't quite master 6 strings) I was hesitant to make this purchase for two reasons: Firstly every acoustic bass I have ever played has been utterly rubbish. They are always far to quiet unplugged and if you're going to run the thing through an amp you might as well buy a proper electric bass. Secondly, this guitar was brand new and came in at under £100. While the scots blood within my veins rejoiced at the low, low price - there was no way this cheap-tar was going to match up to the sound or tone of a more expensive model.
Truth be told, I've been utterly blown away by how good this instrument is. I've not been able to put it down for more than an hour since it arrived! The action, while a little high, is fast and smooth. It has a warm, rich tone that matches the volume of the acoustic guitar I've been jamming along with in its field test. The only issue with the bass is a little fret-buzz on the 3rd fret that a quarter turn adjustment of a truss rod ought to fix.
At the end of the day, anything is only worth as much as somebody is willing to pay for it. Occasionally you can find a real bargain, other times you can feel pretty ripped off.
The reason I ignored the voice in my head saying that anything that cheap had to sound cheap and made this purchase were because of the reviews that other shoppers left the product. Other musicians saying how impressed they where, other bassists talking about how good the sound was, beginners talking about how easy it was to learn on and experts talking about how to sort out the common 3rd fret fret-buzz issue that seems to accompany this particular product.
I saw that other people had tried out the product. They'd put their wallet to the test and not been disappointed and I in turn put my faith in their findings and the merchandise.
Sometimes we don't see how much something is truly worth because we're too busy looking at the price tag someone has already assigned to it. There's not a lot of difference between the £500 pair of jeans or the ones that go for £25. Sometimes we do that with people. We see marks and dents, we hear the fret-buzz and the low value that others place on them and just assume that they can't be worth much when God has already said you are worth everything, that you are made in his image, to be like him and reflect his goodness in our lives.
Whether you feel like a £2,500 Taylor guitar or a battered, nylon-stringed, charity shop classic - when God looks at you he sees his handiwork, someone who is fearfully and wonderfully made.
When you're 6'6" it's pretty hard to blend into the crowd and this has it's obvious ups and downs (ho ho):
The strangest thing about being tall is (despite it being totally genetic and out of my control) people seem to chalk it up as some kind of personal achievement and congratulate me on my obvious efforts to become really long.
Strangers also seem to think that they have some sort of innate right to comment on my height and talk about me within ear shot.
Somewhere there is a photo of 8-12 South Americans at a Pearl Jam gig having their photo taken with the Giant Smiling European.
I am generally used to all of this, but the feeling of standing out, being different or new can still be unnerving even as I approach my 30's.
About 530 years B.C. When Daniel was around 15 years old his city Jerusalem, the capital of Israel was assaulted, besieged and conquered by Nebuchadnezzar. This was a man whose foreign policy made Tony Blair and George Bush look like the kind of people you'd take to Iran for a picnic.
Whilst in Babylon, Daniel and his fellow kidnapped, war-torn Israelites were effectively brainwashed: they were taught a new language and told to serve new god's, taught to think differently, dress differently, eat differently and forget everything they had been taught back home. They were even given new names... not too different to turning up for your first day as a year 7 or sitting your A Levels.
Despite everything being set against him and living with the people who massacred your people - Daniel nailed his colours to the mast choosing to stand out, not just as an Israelite but as a follower of God - even if it meant putting his neck on the line.
There is an overwhelming temptation to keep our heads down, keep our mouths shut and keep our faith private but when you live your life on mute, more concerned with blending in than standing out you lead a life of little to no impact or consequence.
My Facebook feed is a right mix of dross and gold. One of my friends is posting a daily countdown until the new Star Wars film comes out on my wall which is kind of funny until you realise there are 167 more near identical posts to come. Every. Single. Day.
A lot of us use social media to keep in touch, share news, store photos and post the occasional dank meme.
Others use it as their personal PR firm letting you see a Pinterest version of their life where every day is sunny, the good times keep rolling and every meal is an Instagram worthy stroke of culinary genius #torrentialrain #notreallylikethat #actuallyjustbeansontoastmate
Our self worth is affected by three closely related sources: How we see ourselves, how we think other people see us and how other people really do see us.
Check this video out:
I found some of that hard to watch, folks can be pretty grim - particularly when protected by the anonymity that the Internet provides.
The point? That we can spend forever trying to attain or pretend to have attained some level of perfection but unless we recognise the value we have simply for being human, for being you and made in God's image to reflect some of his wonder then your self worth is always going to be like trying to catch the wind.
My faith confronts me with my flaws and my weaknesses, God's holiness can leave me feeling pretty small, but they always lead me to Jesus who shows me that I was still worth dying for.
So, to finish as I started; What do you see and whose voice do you listen to?