The comments of a university student committed to God.

Tag Archives: Christian

Sorry I’ve been quiet so long, for a while I’ve had excuses for not writing a post but recently it’s just a lack of concentration and determination to sit down and do it, but here goes.

I’m a Christian and this year I started university. All year I’ve been discovering that doing this isn’t as straightforward as just turning up and going with the flow. So I am humbly going to put some pointers and hints down for all of you who are in the position I was a year ago. Don’t take everything I say to the letter, it’s based on my experience and obviously different universities will also have slightly different circumstances. If you’re not in the UK you may find this useful but just be aware that I am and things may work differently where you are. Oh and please ask me questions!

So I’m splitting this into a few posts and the first couple are about before you even get to uni, what to think about and what to do.

Right, so you’ve just finished your A-Level exams and you’re starting to enjoy your summer, pretending you’re not just waiting for your results. Now I know that you may be panicking about your results and I’m not going to tell you that you’ve done fine because honestly, I don’t know! But I will say that there’s no point letting them overshadow your summer and preparing for university. Although if you’ve handed in your BTEC coursework or you’re just finishing up your year out or… [insert activity here] then I guess you’re not worrying which is lovely for you!

There’s something you need to think about and consider before we go any further. And it’s actually pretty crucial.

Are you serious about living your life for Jesus?

You won’t have the safety net of your parents, your familiar church family, your youth group and your youth pastor/minister any more. I’m not saying these people will be deserting you or leaving you on your own but you won’t see them on a daily/weekly basis and it’s extremely easy to not keep in touch. I sincerely hope all of you reading this can say “yes” to that question above but you need to take the time to know that is your answer. Because when you get to university you need to be firm and sure of who you are and how you’re going to live. I don’t mean you need to have every detail sorted out but you need to know that you’re not going to live as the world does. We are called to be in the world, but not of it. We are to be salt and light that points to Christ. And it takes effort. And to put in effort you need to have motivation. And if motivation for living out your faith has come from people around until now you need to be ready for when they’re not any more.

If this applies to you, I’m not saying this to break you down but actually to build you up. When your relationship with God depends on Him rather than other people it is so much richer and frankly, amazing, than when you’re just being carried along. So please, take a look at you walk with God and see where it’s at right now. Make the conscious decision to follow Him regardless who else is in your life.

But hey, I’m not saying you’ve got to do this with no “ground support” at all, just the people providing it will change completely. In my next post I’ll tell you about who these people will be and how to start linking up with them now.


So last week I posted a reaction to Bristol CU’s decision over women speakers (they were slightly liberalising their previous policy of not allowing them at all to certain, limited setting). I came out in full defence of their decision, despite the fact I’m an egalitarian. Their “u-turn” to allow women speakers in all CU settings did actually make me happier (assuming they didn’t take it because of the pressure they were under). But I want to concede that I probably didn’t have the full insight into the situation and I was challenged by comments and other blogs I read. So I asked around a bit in my CU and found that although there is a large complementarian presence there, a lot of them wouldn’t have a problem with women speakers at CU because their beliefs mainly apply to leadership rather than preaching, and generally only in a church setting. So I was sort of wrong. I still hold to the principle of my argument though; I still think it is a valid decision for a CU to take if they feel that is the best way to retain unity. But I’m not perfect, by any stretch.

Today, I want to confess something I really struggle with, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.


Okay first to say what I’m referring to and why it’s a problem. I take pride in my academic work. I put the effort in and I get good marks, great! This is fine, I think, as long as I don’t start boasting to others about it and put myself above other people because of it. But I know that this isn’t of eternal importance. When I serve God I know it is much more important than any of my personal achievements. But this service isn’t what gives me salvation. It’s when I think about the fact that there’s a God so huge and powerful who created the universe and everything in it. And that he cared about and loved me so much that he was willing to come to this earth as one of us and suffer and die in my place so that I could have a relationship and eternal life with him. I can’t do nothing. I have to live my life serving him.

All good so far, right?

Well, yes. Except in my head I have a habit listing all the things I do at church, at CU and other situations where I serve. I start hoping that this person or group of people noticed that I did this or start imagining conversations where people are saying how great I am because what I do. I wonder if I have done enough, for example, for the CU committee to think I’m suitable to be on committee next year. Will people be saying I’m a great example to others? Am I the most enthusiastic fresher? All these things swirl around my head. And I hate it. If I catch myself I have to think of something else to make it go away.

I hate it because it makes me worry about my motives. I know that I shouldn’t serve God in order to impress other people, to gain leadership positions or be famous in Christian circles. I believe (although sometimes I am really not sure) that this isn’t why I do it and it’s my sinful nature trying to make me proud and I’m weak to it.

Most people probably don’t know about this. I generally manage to keep it under wraps. There’s the occasional time I slip and say how my week is so busy because I’m doing so much at church and CU, then realising what I’ve done and try to laugh it off as some sort of joke. Then I leave worried that person thinks I have got my motives messed up, and think less of me, then I get all the thoughts going round my head again.

We all have our failings, this is one of many of mine.

There isn’t much of a conclusion I can give here but writing this down has helped, I know that I should continue serving God and rejecting sin but that will only work with God’s help. I hope that anyone who struggles with similar problems can now know that they’re not on their own. We all have our struggles with sin, whatever it is, admit to yourself it is an issue and ask God to work within you and help you fight it.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Feel the need to write a blog post about this in the light of Bristol CU’s (alleged) decision to ban women from speaking in their meetings, weekends or events. (HuffPost story here.) Last week I wrote about unity in the Church and how CUs were an amazing example to churches working across the denominational divide. Maybe after this you wouldn’t agree. But take a look and you’ll see I actually used the women teaching example to show how well it works. The CU at my university doesn’t have a ban per se (to my knowledge) but we haven’t had a woman come to speak to us at our meetings. The reason for this is that some Christians believe that males and females have different roles in the church. Before being specific anyone should be able to understand that this isn’t a ridiculous claim. Men and women are clearly different physiologically and are naturally better at certain things. Although I don’t agree, there is grounding from the Bible (namely Paul letters, in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12), that would say that these differences extend to leadership and preaching.

I believe that Christians who take this view have considered it carefully and have reached that decision with integrity. It certainly isn’t a view that is sexist and misogynistic. It is simply a belief that certain roles are suited to men and other to women. Women’s contribution is equally as valuable and important, simply different. EDIT: Although there certainly exists a minority who hold similar views but for sexist reasons. These people I am not defending and will not defend in the future.

So when you’ve got a large group of people from different denominations who believe different things on these issues that you want to keep united, this decision makes sense. Preventing women from preaching out of respect for those have taken that view, is a difficult yet courageous decision to make. Lets be clear, this isn’t the CU taking the view that women aren’t allowed to preach on principle, simply that it is the best way for the CU to run practically, respecting the views of all. The CU doesn’t (or shouldn’t) take a view on these types of  “secondary” issue. Many CUs do allow women to preach. Perhaps a ban is too strong and simply a convention would be more appropriate but this is detail in comparison to the actual issue here.

I hope this clarifies and explains some things. UCCF is the body that many CUs are affiliated with and get support from. Their policy has no restrictions on preachers based on sex – the only requirement is agreement with the Doctrinal Basis, which is a relatively broad set of beliefs based around the basic fundamental beliefs of Christianity.

All views are my own, I don’t claim to speak on behalf of any of the people or groups involved, I simply want to try to explain why this situation is why it is. All comments welcome.

You may have heard me mention it before but something that matters to me a lot is unity in the Church. In 1 Corinthians Paul says:

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

I think that it would be amazing if the church could be one body and there were no divisions at all. I believe, however, that the way the church has developed over time where I think it has gone in the wrong direction and had movements to bring it back and the smaller, less vital splits have meant that’s not possible. Fortunately I don’t think that’s what Paul was really thinking of either. What we need is churches looking for ways to understand each other, how their views are formed from the same book (i.e. the Bible) and that when someone is seeking to follow Christ in action, deed and word there should be unity with them. Some Christians I talk to find it strange that I defend the views of other Christians I (and usually they) don’t agree with. I then do my best to explain why that view is held with a kind of “so you can see where they’re coming from” conclusion. I think that it is vitally important that we understand the sources of each other’s convictions to enable us to see that they are very rarely incompatible with being a Jesus-loving Christian who believes the core values of our faith.

Last week I was talking to a couple of my fellow CU freshers and I don’t remember how it came up but one of them said that one of her flatmates had mentioned that she was a Catholic, something that she had no evidence of up until then. My friend didn’t know how to react as she knows that being christened doesn’t make you a Christian, and certainly just growing up in Catholic (or for that matter any Christian) family doesn’t either. Her reaction to hearing this wanted to be to challenge her and tell her she isn’t a Christian. I remember her saying that hearing someone saying that they’re a Christian through these means makes her angry. I talked about my Catholic family and how I feel they have been model Christians to me in my life even if I don’t agree with quite a few of their views. I suggest to anyone who feels similarly to her not to respond with irritation but to lovingly ask how their relationship with God is, what church they go to or what their faith means to them. Find out what they believe; understand why. At this point you can present your views and explain why you hold them. Do all of this lovingly and be interested! It’s okay to challenge their views in this way as long as you can back up your own, don’t expect to change their ideas and be ready for yours to be challenged. This doesn’t only apply Catholics but any other Christians who have differing views from you. How can we expect to interact with and challenge (and be challenged by) non-Christians’ views and values when we can’t do it with each other?

Once we can learn to understand and love each other despite our differences we can look towards unity. Like I said before I don’t mean a single church but I do mean Christians working across the divides to make Christ and his love known in this world. Since coming to university I have found that the Christian Union is incredible example to the church in this respect. I hope that other CUs are like mine and I’m lead to believe that many are but I’ve only got mine to draw examples from. There’s 200 of us from many different denominations. We go to different churches. We hold different views on the role of women, predestination, the best way to worship, how the Spirit moves, how communion should be taken and many, many more. And yet we are a united student mission team on campus.

We recently ran an events week where everyday we put on events which all included a talk, mostly on Christian apologetics. Our intention is to allow as many people on campus as possible to hear about Jesus. If we bring along our friends, we can follow-up with them ourselves and take them to our church. Some responded independently and were assigned people to follow-up with. We weren’t told which church to take them to – no one will say that we’re leading them the wrong way because new Christians should be in this denomination or the other.  Sometimes we will informally discuss the differences we have but it is always loving and with interest and not a way to pick holes in each others’ ideas. We are centred around the cross and the redemption it has given us. Centred around the belief that God so loved us He was willing to die so that we could enjoy life with Him. We think that that fact is so amazing it has to be told to as many as people as possible and our differences come second.

UCCF is an organisation which helps the CUs in the UK do this. A few ideas for this blog came from Dave Bish, the UCCF regional team leader for the South West, in his blog, although I had intentions to write this before I had read that. He talks about how CUs need to keep working in this way and how to do this. I’ve said a lot of this already so I won’t repeat myself, take a look at his blog for another angle. He draws attention to how the biggest point of contention in a CU is how the weekly meeting is run. This is hard because it does actually resemble a stripped down church service (it is not intended to be instead of a church service; a lot of emphasis is put on being part of a church as well as CU), which means there are a few points which could cause problems. At our CU I think we avoid at least some of these problems by not doing some things. There’s no opportunity for prophecy or for the Spirit to work and we don’t take communion. These things are left up to churches to “provide” if you like.

Something that I know is not consistent among CUs is that we don’t have women come in to do talks. Every week a guest speaker gives a talk which is either equipping us for evangelism or strengthening us. Every week a man gives this talk. When I first realised this was a rule (rather than coincidence with the speakers I had seen so far) there was a short time I was really disappointed. I am very supportive of women becoming preachers and being leaders in the church and that comes from a biblically based belief. Last week I talked about this in relation to the women bishops vote. I also talk about how I’ve come to recognise that other Christians completely value women’s contribution to the church and believe it is vital but their role is different from men and doesn’t include preaching. This view is also biblically based and isn’t sexist or misogynistic (check out this article on Threads). So if we accept that some Christians hold a valid view opposing women preachers, in a group of united Christians, not allowing women to preach makes sense. These people will feel that their view is respected and those in favour of them can’t actually have a problem seeing as their view isn’t that women have to preach. Of course the CU mustn’t actually make this policy a part of their stated beliefs; they must be broad and really only define core beliefs and values. (For all UCCF-affiliated CUs this is their Doctrinal Basis.)

This is one example of a possible problem and how it was avoided; out of love and respect for each other. Funnily enough churches working together generally wouldn’t come into nearly as many problems as they don’t need a weekly meeting where problems could arise, and yet we can still be terrible at interacting. There are great examples of times we do, however. Street pastors, foodbanks, Hope, inter-denominational conferences (Soul Survivor, Spring Harvest, etc), Alpha and many more. And yet we still like to argue and let our differences get in the way of personal relationships.

So if you’re a Christian and often find yourself wanting to argue with one of your brother or sisters in Christ, change it into a loving conversation and discuss. Challenge their ideas and allow them to challenge yours; if nothing else it’s good practice for when talking to non-Christians!

As usual this is much longer than originally intended – sorry about that! Please don’t let it stop you challenging me, asking questions and giving me your comments!

#romney & #obama big @BalboaTheatreSF #debate ...

(Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)

I think that the overall feeling over here in the UK was that we’d like Obama to stick around in the White House for another four years. Many that for a while wanted change joined the Obama camp after Romney decided to insult us all over the Olympics. If we think about only Christians, though, the opinion is more divided. This is very interesting considering Obama is a Christian and Romney is a Mormon. But, of course, it isn’t that simple and it’s great that many people are looking further than how the two candidates would fill out a census.

But over in America some Evangelical pastors who in the past would’ve condemned aligning with a Mormon, endorse him over the Christian candidate (even if not explicitly). Some are even trying to convince their congregations that the end of the world will be brought about by Obama (HuffPost blog here) – of course we know that only the Father knows the day and all the predictions up until now have been incorrect (correct me if I missed the apocalypse).  And so many of the listeners probably took them at their word, which saddens me. Politics is a delicate subject to bring to the pulpit – especially endorsing a specific party or candidate – and can be dangerous.

This is because I should not have even said “Christian candidate” above. It simply isn’t true. He is a candidate who is a Christian. His decisions and actions will be influenced by his faith but to expect it to mean that his governing will bring about a truly Christian country is foolish. In the same way Romney would not make America Mormon, although understandably his religious views make many Christians uncomfortable. It is extremely difficult to hold high office and not compromise any Christian principles and I agree with Kurt Willems on in this respect. Perhaps there are nations in this world where you could but the United States is not one of them. It is far too secularised and embroiled in wars (both the full-scale ones and the covert ones). Any incoming president couldn’t feasibly be a truly Christian president because he (or she!) would inherit one of the largest and arguably best, militaries in the world and probably within the first 24-48 hours would have to decide on something related to their actions or movements – and the option for them to do nothing wouldn’t be in the mix. I personally believe Obama’s military decisions have been a lot closer to Christian principles than George W. Bush’s (sorry, my youth means I don’t remember a time before him). He hasn’t dawdled on pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan, going faster than some generals say is advisable, he was hesitant on military action in Libya and is still holding out on this in Syria. You can debate with me whether  he’s doing enough by other methods, but I’m concentrating on military here. I’m also uncomfortable with the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the use of his death to bolster Obama’s campaign. He’s a lot closer, but has way further to go.

You can also point to the election campaigns for evidence of absence of Christian fervour. $2.5 billion has been spent this election between the two candidates. I mean, wow. Surely that’s at least near the amount we need to solve world poverty? (Before you jump on me for that, I know throwing lots of money at poverty won’t solve anything, nonetheless across all the hardworking organisations, money is vital and to be honest I’d rather not all $2.5bn was effective in trying than it going to personal attacks on presidential candidates.) This money went towards a heck of a lot of TV adverts and other forms of advertising that generally said how bad the other candidate was not what the advertiser was going to do. I think Obama came out of this slightly better but there’s not much in it.

Anyway, to the actual subject of this post; why I’m glad Obama did, in fact, win. Well, from what I’ve already said either candidate would only be a lesser of two evils – neither will truly instigate a Christian presidency. The argument for Romney (from a Christian standpoint) is that he is pro-life and anti-gay marriage. So he will ban abortions and gay marriage? Sounds like his intention, but the first point is how likely is it he will be able to? The second and I would say more important point is that banning abortion outright won’t solve problems and will simply lead to a huge rise in backstreet abortions. This is not what we want as Christians as it simply puts women in danger (and certainly doesn’t see a close to elimination of abortions overall). We need to see a bigger picture. Obama isn’t fighting abortion directly but his attempts to drastically change the welfare system may be really fighting the root causes of it which is what is needed to see a real change in the abortion rate (see my opinions on this issue specifically here). Meanwhile gay marriage is on a different scale (it is not a matter of life and death), it isn’t preferable for Christians but the US is a secular country (see First Amendment) and although I’d rather Obama didn’t endorse it, I don’t think he will be active in pushing it. Don’t forget there’s very little that can be done at federal level on this issue.

I mentioned welfare reforms already. Obama’s plans are the very (very very) small first step towards something like the NHS. He wants the poorest to have access to the very basic level of healthcare – not being turned away because they don’t have enough money. It means the rich pay slightly more into their insurance so that all can have the basic level. So what happens? Americans shout “Communist”. This astounds me; that helping poorer people get access to healthcare causes people to believe they’ve become the enemy is crazy. But then I have my suspicions that many didn’t like the idea of paying some more for the benefit of others. Either way, Obama is genuinely working for the good of the people. Danny Webster, parliamentary officer of the Evangelical Alliance (UK-based) talks about looking about looking at the bigger picture instead of a couple of “highly politicised” issues in a recording on Premier Christian Media here.

I also believe that Obama is a lot more thoughtful, considers the consequences of his actions across the board and is invested in changing the image of America being the intrusive military power it has been in the past (eg taking a backseat in Libya). In our current economic climate I think this is what we’re more in need of, while not forgetting the importance of consistency in it as well.

So all in all I would choose Obama, not explicitly for his faith (admittedly it plays a small part), but because looking at the wider picture, he will serve the American people best (I’m sure Americans will say I don’t have to right to say that – maybe they’re right, but it’s still what I believe), his social reforms being central in my opinion. Being a second term president he won’t need to worry about re-election anymore and maybe won’t be as worried about upsetting some people for the sake of everyone. I expect great things. But I don’t expect a perfect Christian presidency. He is still the lesser of two evils – but then this will be the situation in any election.

Meanwhile when Vicky Beeching, a Christian Social Media consultant (among other things) tweeted she was pleased that Obama was re-elected she was met with abuse. I can’t understand why, she was simply giving her opinion on the matter, for her to lose followers and fans makes no sense and makes me wonder what Romney supporters are like. Last night I saw Obama congratulating Romney and his volunteers on their campaign and he seemed truly genuine with a smile on his face. Romney seemed to be speaking through gritted teeth in his speech after hearing the result, congratulating the President. That isn’t all that surprising but are these attitudes reflected directly in their supporters? I feel Obama inspires hope, even now while Romney just inspires… I’m not even sure – and that’s not a good sign.

If you think this is all too complicated a much easier (and in many ways more biblical) answer  is what my fellow Christian student Joel Le Poidevin posted earlier today – God is in control and that is all that matters. I like to delve deeper but ultimately this is certainly true.

Please feel free to disagree with me on anything I have said but please do it respectfully in the way I have tried to write this. God bless.

This video talks about why religion isn’t what Christ came to start but what he came to abolish which is a central point in the Christian faith

I know many have seen this video before but I think it’s a clear way of showing how Jesus came to abolish the rules not reinforce them. No one can ever live up to rule after rule to get to God, we’re simply imperfect. Jesus’ death and resurrection means that that fact doesn’t matter; we can get to God through Him.

That’s also what sets Christianity apart from other religions; we don’t have to please a God or act in a certain way to be rewarded, we are given the reward despite how we act, through God sacrificing Himself for us!

Hope that if you’ve seen it before you thought it was worth watching again and if not that it spoke to you.

Please feel free to comment below!