Rain, Rain, Go Away…?

β€œGod, you sent much rain;
you refreshed your tired land.” – Psalm 68:9

It’s been quite wet recently, with lots of very heavy showers. Of course, it feels like I’m about to go off on a very British rant about how terrible this weather is.

However, we are reminded so many times in the Bible of how much of a blessing rain is. It is refreshing. It brings growth and life.

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy being out in the countryside, how easy it is for me to be close to God whilst admiring His creation. But it’s not the same when it’s dry and desperately in need of rain. The type of weather I most often complain about is the type of weather responsible for the beauty of the country.

That said, I’m hoping for better weather this time next week.

I’ll be at Forum, which I’m really looking forward to. Being with CU people from all over the country, learning a lot about how God can work in the university environment, and camping. I love camping. But I don’t love camping in the rain. :/

There’s a high probability that next time I write, it will be from uni, rather than home. Packing has started, although it’s mostly things that I won’t need either in this coming week or at Forum. Packing is easy. Strategic packing is not. It would probably help if I had a better idea of what the weather’s going to be doing in Shropshire next week, but you can’t have everything πŸ˜‰

Looking Forward to Freshers… Again

β€œIf anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new! All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself, and God gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

I was wondering what to say today. Well, what is there to say? My summer is going just how I expected. I’m still looking forward to September. Everything is pretty much the same as this time last week.

Well, almost.

Last Thursday was A Level results day. Which means thousands of students have found out which university they’re going to. Looking for housemates, coursemates, anyone who could possibly be a friend.

I hope that the CU can be a friendly face. When I was a fresher last year, CU was so important in developing my friendships. Of course, it helped that the stranger next door to me was also quiet, also a linguist, and also a Christian… But most of my best friends are CU members. Their love and friendship really helped me when settling into university. I pray that this might be the case for this year’s freshers.

The influx of new students also means we’ve got a few new faces to look forward to in CU. It means we can forge new relationships and get some fresh impetus in sharing the Gospel on campus.

I struggled a little when picking the Bible verse for this blog. Because whilst the new is definitely coming, the old has not completely gone. With the exception of final-year students who are moving on to bigger, better things, much of CU is staying the same. Most of us are staying. We still have the same mission statement, the same basis for our faith, indeed, the same faith. But we will have new faces and new opportunities to spread the Gospel.

One month to go until it all begins again… πŸ™‚

Hymns: Thou, whose almighty word

β€œIn him there was life, and that life was the light of all people. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.” – John 1:4-5

The tune for the following hymn has been going round in my head for a while now. And it was really frustrating me because I could barely remember any of the words. As it turns out, the words are just as good as the tune.

This hymn seems so full of hope – with each verse ending with β€œLet there be light”. In the third verse, we are reminded that God can work anywhere, even in the darkest places and situations. The final verse prays for God’s light and love across the whole world – something that often feels sorely needed.

But it’s the first verse that I particularly like, in this case.

β€œThou, whose almighty word
Chaos and darkness heard,
And took their flight;
Hear us, we humbly pray,
and where the gospel-day
Shines not its glorious ray,
Let there be light.”

As well as asking for God’s love to manifest itself everywhere, to me it also highlights why I’m part of CU. A large part of what CU does is evangelism, and this verse is a brilliant reminder of why we do it. The gospel is there – it is such a fundamental part of our faith and it gives such hope and joy.

It’s also a reminder that so many people don’t know the gospel. And given as how I was brought up in a Christian household, going to Church every Sunday, and never knowing a time when I didn’t know Jesus, I think I’ve probably taken it for granted a little too much. But that’s why it’s so important to let others know about Jesus. So that they too can have the privilege of knowing God and His everlasting love.

Can we be Good without God?

β€œEveryone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard, and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.” – Romans 3:23-24

Can we be good without God?

I have my reasons for asking this question today, which I’ll get to later.

Anyway, my answer to that would be yes. By our standards, anyway. We can do good things, we can be kind to people – that all counts as good, right?

Well, for many people, that’s the way it seems to be. Do as much good as you can, and there might be some future reward.

But we are told that we cannot be good enough. All of us, as it says in Romans, have sinned. We have all fallen short of God’s glory. That’s why God sent Jesus. He sent Jesus to die in our place – because anything we can do is never going to be good enough. (This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 1:25 – β€œEven the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength”)

We are also told many times that good deeds done without faith are simply worthless. Equally, we are warned against faith without deeds, but we cannot expect to simply do good and get good in return. Having faith in God is also fundamental.

In terms of why I ask this question, it’s something I’m doing over summer. When accidentally taking part in a quiz (don’t ask…), me and my housemates came up with a phrase. I took that phrase, and am now making something for the house.

It’s a pillow embroidered with an enquiry about a particular religion.

It’s a Christian Question Cushion.

I’m sorry.

Looking Ahead

β€œEvery good action and every perfect gift is from God.” – James 1:17a

It’s August 2016. Which means Olympics, beautiful weather, and looking forward to next year. I’ve started making a cushion for the house, am worrying about not having sorted bills yet, and trying to meet up with friends from school to catch up on anything and everything.

I’ve started to look forward to Forum. I’ll be there in a month’s time; it’s a week-long camp for CU leaders to help equip them for sharing the Gospel through their studies, and in CU. Whilst I’m not a CU leader as such (I do get involved, for example sometimes leading prayer meetings, but I don’t have a specific role), many other CU members recommended it, and it will be great to spend a week looking at how God can work on campus.

Another reason I’m looking forward to Forum is that I’ll be back with my friends. Sure, it will only have been a couple of months since I last saw them. But given that I’ll have known them for just 2 years before I spend a year in France (and by the time I get back, they’ll have graduated…), that’s quite a long time. And knowing my friends has been an incredible blessing this year, and living with them next year will hopefully bring even more.

This brings home to me how much has changed since going to uni. My friends from school are still there, but I am much closer to my uni friends. I was worried at the beginning of uni about finding friends. Mostly because I’m naturally quite introverted, and didn’t particularly want to go to any large-scale events. But going to smaller events, mostly CU-run, helped me to find them and we’ve become really strong friends.

Looking forward to next year, it would be great to use what I learn at Forum to help freshers, coursemates and others on campus to know exactly how good God is – and to share His many blessings.

Hymns: May the Mind of Christ, My Saviour

β€œRemember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.” – Joshua 1:9

May the Mind of Christ, My Saviour is another of my favourite hymns. As with many of my favourite hymns, it is prayerful. It asks for God’s help so we can help others, as well as asking for God’s love, peace and power. It reminds me of God’s importance; β€œso that all may see I triumph only through His power.” This phrase, for me, underlines how important God is, and how easy it is to forget that. How easy it is for others to see my achievements as my own, rather than God’s. And, indeed, just how much God has given me.

Whilst I love the whole hymn, I particularly like the final verse:

May we run the race before us,
strong and brave to face the foe,
looking only unto Jesus
as we onward go.

For me, it serves as a reminder that we should not be afraid of anything that we will face; we should instead be focussed on Jesus. We know that God will be with us; and that’s quite easy for me to forget.

And as always, the music is just as important to me as the words. A simple yet beautiful tune and harmony make this hymn one of my favourites.