The life theologic – There is always more to learn

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Our church was recently visited by a team from Ellel Ministries, who ran a weekend looking at healing and forgiveness.  Having been a part of YWAM for the past 2 years, I was really looking forward to having a large, international team around for the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, Somerset is lovely, but somewhat homogenous, and I miss the diversity that I was surrounded by, both in London and during my time with YWAM. Anyway, apart from being excited by all the foreigners, I went into the weekend with two main preconceptions:  one, that as they were going to be talking about healing and deliverance, it was going to get weird, and two, that I would probably have heard it all before and could just sit back and observe the proceedings.  Basically, I was setting myself up for a weekend of people watching. (How often do we do that in church, on those Sundays when we’re tired and don’t feel like we can muster up the energy to have a proper conversation with God.)

Thankfully, not only did Ellel turn out to be the least weird and wacky ministry team I think I’ve ever experienced (my church is weirder on a weekly basis), but I also really enjoyed the teaching.  Yes, I had heard most of it before, but God still used that time to speak to me in a new way.  I love how He does that, even when we think we know better, or that we already know it all, He still manages to surprise and humble us.  This time it was in the form of a very simple exercise.  We were asked to draw a heart on a piece of paper, and to start writing in it things that God was revealing to us about the good things that He has placed in our hearts, and the things that are not so good. Sounds easy enough, right?

Unfortunately, it is so much easier for most of us to fill that heart with the negative things that we feel about ourselves; the hidden sins and failures that plague our waking hours and act to drive a wedge between us and God.  There were plenty of negative things that I could have written in the heart, but from the moment we started the exercise I was bombarded with such a torrent of good things, that I soon ran out of space to put anything negative.  The more I wrote, the more they kept coming; things I would agree with and things that I couldn’t see in myself, and some things that were difficult for me to write down.  It was like God wanted to use that moment to show me how He sees my heart.  How, because of Jesus, He doesn’t see the bad things that I dwell upon.  He wanted to show me all of the things that He has placed in my heart and is working on growing and developing.  Some of them are still little seedlings, and some are fully fledged trees, but they are all there, whether I accept it or not.  It was an amazing experience.  It’s taken me a long time to learn how to deal with compliments, as they usually make me want to shrink into myself, and here I was, being complimented by God!  And yet, it didn’t make me want to cringe, it made me want to try and live up to the version of me that He sees.

I so easily relapse into dwelling on the bad, only to be reminded by God of the good, that this time I decided to take action.  I decided to record the things He said about me and turn them into something that I would want to look at.  I’m hoping that by looking at them everyday, they will help me to remember who I am, and to think about how God sees me, rather than how the rest of the world does.

Heart

(The eagle-eyed among you will notice that mine is in the shape of Africa, not a heart. That’s for two reasons: one, because I love how Africa is pretty much heart shaped anyway, and two, because Africa is where my heart lies.)

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The life theologic – Gone going gone

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Tomorrow is the big day.  I’m flying off to South Africa, where I will be living and studying for the next 5 months, and I can’t think of a better way to start the new year.  I know that quite a few of you will be following this blog to keep up to date on how I’m getting on, so I thought I’d give you a bit of background on where I’m going and what I’m going to be doing.

I’m going to be taking part in a Discipleship Training School (DTS) run by a charity called YWAM (Youth With A Mission).   The purpose of DTS is to bring its students into a more intimate relationship with God.  It also gives them an opportunity to discover their passions and part in God’s purposes for the world. It is for those who long to follow Jesus in new ways with a different perspective.

The course is a full-time program and lasts five months.  It consists of two parts: a lecture phase and an outreach phase.  In the lecture phase, I’ll be learning more about God and His world through lectures, community living and practical training.  The outreach phase focuses on applying what we’ve learned in the classroom through a cross-cultural experience.

DTS is run at over 200 YWAM locations all over the world, each of which has a different focus.  I’m going to be doing mine at Media Village in Cape Town, which is a training school and a productions company.  They run a DTS with a focus on communications, and also provide training in new media, film and video production, radio and written communication.  The location for the outreach is still TBC, but will one or many of South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana.

 

I can’t wait to get started learning more about myself and God’s plans for me, and learning better ways to communicate.  I know how privileged I am to be able to spend 5 months away from my normal life, and I fully intend to make the most of it.  I’ll be posting updates as often as I can, and would really appreciate any prayers or messages.

So, apart from having to do a fairly major clothes cull to get my suitcase under the weight limit, things have gone pretty smoothly so far.  Fingers crossed that the storms die down for the flights.