Moving over to tumblr

Hi, I have ran a bit dry working on wordpress platform and also feel that this blog has lost its place and purpose for me personally recently so I am moving over to a more visual-art- friendly tumblr here; http://b-e-young.tumblr.com/

I can blog straight off my iphone so you might find its a bit more like a working journal rather than set pieces of work..

Thanks 🙂 B

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What is so amazing about Grace?

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I have just finished reading Phillip Yancy’s book, titled, What is so amazing about grace? The book itself had been out a while now but has been titled by many as a Christian classic and a must read.

Overall I really enjoyed reading the book becuase Yancy uses his journalism skills to the full and intertwines story with real gospel truths. Yancy constantly challenges the reader to re-think about how we use and live out the word ‘Grace’. Is it a word we use as an excuse, do we say it but do we live it? How do you explain what grace is to an unbeliever? What makes a true mark of a Christian and the church? There were all questions that were flagged up in the book.

Using examples of Jesus himself as examples, Yancy takes us on the journey to once again ( and again, and again) rediscover what grace is, he defines it as; ‘ There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.’  That is a pin-it-to-your-wall sorta of quote.

As the chapters continue, it became difficult to put down at times becuase it was just so refreshing to think upon such riches of the Father’s love to us as seen in Christ. Sometimes, I think God’s grace is a weak and not powerful thing, especially when it comes to the church, we seen so pushed out of society at times, but Yancy points out, first the power of the cross and second the healing’s Jesus performed. He says, ‘No matter how it looks at any given point in history, the gates guarding the powers of evil will not withstand an assault by grace.’

I think the main thing that stands out in this book for me is that it was a true reminder about how hungry the world is to know and understand the Gospel and God’s grace, even if they do not even know it yet. When presented correctly, it draws people in like the smell of fresh coffee brewing or when you subconsciously start foot-tapping, you just cannot help yourself but to be drawn to Jesus.  At the end of the book he says, ‘The world thirst’s for grace. When Grace descends, the world falls silent before it.’

Conclusion; Go and read this book. It will not disappoint you.

From a writer to a youth worker; engaging with culture, p2

So After looking previously about the biblical understanding for engaging with culture, finally in my statement to my youth worker are the points below.

It has not been an easy task to pull something together, that explains the reasons why Christians should be engaging with the arts but after asking some friends for some research, I have found a lot more material than i first expected! So after chewing over a lot of material for a while, I am wholly encouraged that it is not sinful to work in an art centre, be a journalist or watch films that do not contain any religious references becuase, praise the lord, my identity is in Christ and not on the outwards appearances of material things!

It is good to be reminded once again that Jesus is Lord of everything and there is no divide over his power. I find this so refreshing and so freeing.  As C.S Lewis says here;

C.S Lewis

Two Worlds, One Lord

  • The Church, has been deeply affected when it comes to talking about culture by Plato’s (Greek) thinking which divides everything into a scared/secular divide.
  • The effects of this, for example is that we have Christian art ( only seen in churches) and worship music ( that only speaks about Calvary, but speaks less about real life)
  • However the big blow to this thinking is Jesus himself. In the Gospels we see him eating and drinking with sinners, he didn’t sit in a temple or dress differently and he didn’t spend much time in church at all! In fact he lived alongside normal people, went for walks, ate and drank with sinners, built and crafted furniture and went to many social functions.
  • SO Jesus walked this earth before Plato (historically) and he is Lord over ALL things (Colossians 1;15-21) therefore we need to be aware of Plato’s ideas but quickly point back to Jesus’s humanity and the gospel as a whole.
  • The good news of the gospel is that Jesus comes as the ‘second Adam’ to redeem us from our sin ( Romans 6), therefore as his people, we (Christians) can live to serve him, not idols or man. This is the same if you are a sportman or an artist, our first aim is to serve him first. (Colossians 3;17)
  • If I am in CHRIST then…This then frees me as an artist (from idols) to serve Christ with my making and doing ( say drawing or painting a picture, writing an article or making a film…) and it doesn’t matter if this is Christian/church art or non Christian art.
  • The main point here is that…This means that Jesus is Lord over ALL of culture;  the TV, the newspapers, the BBC, the National Gallery, the Tate, Mumford and Sons… everything!

Bless the World;

  • Art and culture is great because it blesses the world because it helps us see and understand things from a different perspective.
  • It can be a middle point where a discussion can start from viewing it ( think about how much we talk about what is on TV with our friends!)
  • Art helps us ask questions about the bigger things of life (identity, purpose, relationships, life, death…) and this challenges our beliefs and worldview.
  • Art breaks down age and social barriers that is great for working in the community. Art brings life and colour in the community and therefore it is very powerful
  • A scientist cannot tell you what is love but a poet can tell you what is love about emotional and may help you understand concept of love more than science!
  • We can remember and lament on the good things that God has given us by making art , to remind us of his faithfulness and for what God has done.

 

From a writer to a youth worker – engaging with culture

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I have been asked by my youth worker of my church to come up with brief overview of why and how the church can engage better with culture( film, TV, music, art…)  I also am also planning on make some practical suggestions on how we as a fellowship can engage with culture in terms of Facebook,  watching films in church and taking part in  local creative/community events.

So we have the three big C’s, Church, Culture and of course, Christ all in one go. Looking all this closer seems to have two effects on me. Firstly, I want to cry out and morn becuase as far as I am aware, I am the only young-ish Christian who is working in the arts scene here on the Isle of Wight but secondly I am excited about having this opportunity to discuss this topic and share with others what is on my heart.

So now I now have the challenge of actually putting a mini-document together which is the ‘all in one guide’ to engaging the three C’s together.

Below is what I have so far on the biblical reasons for engaging with culture and how culture reflects who we are as humans.  I would be grateful for any comments and feedback on what you may have. What would you say to your church leader about this?

Note- I need to summarize as much as possible on this task, otherwise it will end up being really long.

The ‘Genesis of Culture’

  • We see in the opening chapters of Genesis that God made everything- visible and invisible and claims ownership over everything! Futher all things were made with a purpose, to serve God in creation and so all things are God’s servants. (Genesis’ 1-2)
  • Man was created in God’s image to be his ‘image bearer’s’ (Gen 1;26). To be human means doing God’s work for his glory. To be human is to be a cultural agent, carrying on God’s creative work by doing culture. This is known as the ‘Cultural Mandate’. Adam expresses himself in the first ever poem when God gave him a wife! (Gen 2;23)
  • Culture (in this context) is our common historical endeavour to define and live in God’s world, but after the human fall in Sin (Gen 3), everything becomes distorted. Culture then becomes a complex affair because the effects of sin are not limited to the human heart (the main problem) but sin has also manifested itself into society, creation and culture.
  • So basically, ‘On the one hand, culture (films, media ect) is fabulous because it was invented by God and the product of human beings who bear God’s likeness. On the other hand, culture is terrible because it is also the expression of human rebellion against God.’ – (Tony Watkins, Focus on Film, p13)

Art reflecting culture

  • ‘The theologian gives us an abstract idea of the sinner, I  (as a novelist), give him flesh and blood.’ – Francois Mauriac.
  • So ALL of culture (media, art, music, film, narrative) can either reflect something of the glory of God, or something of what it means to be human, to be in Adam, or a mixture of both.
  • Artists are inspired by there humanity and their personal experiences and can explain this (to the mass society) in a way that preachers and theologians are limited (since they are only in churches).
  • This means that artists and culture (media, films and tv etc) acts like a mirror or a connecting point since art and culture generally reflects;
  • a. what is means to be human or b. something of the glory of God.

Example a. to be human;
‘O, I won’t let you close enough to hurt me
, No, I won’t rescue you to just desert me, 
I can’t give you the heart you think you gave me, 
It’s time to say goodbye to turning tables
, To turning tables’ – (Adele, Turning Tables, 21)

Adele is speaking about a relationship breakdown and saying goodbye. This song reflects the heart-ache of leaving a loved one behind.

Example b. To reflect the glory of God

The Wanderer by Caspar David Friedrich
This picture is titled’ The Wanderer’ by Caspar David Friedrich.
It displays the glory of God because of the landscape and the proportions to which man is placed in the picture.
You also get a sense of exploring and discovering God’s creation
Over to you… What else do you see in the picture that reflects the glory of God?

Resources;

Tony Watkins – Focus, Art and Soul of the Cinema, Damaris Books

Steve Turner – Imagine, IVP

Ally Gordon (UCCF) – Serving Christ in the creative arts, What is the role of the artist today? ( New Word Alive, 16th April 2010)

YWA; Got Jesus? Got it all!

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Westbrook Centre, run by Urban Saints

The location of our weekend away; Westbrook Centre, run by Urban Saints.

‘ Since then, You have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.’ – Colossians 3;1.

So last weekend was my Church’s annual youth weekend away. For me it was a first to sacrifice a weekend to serve the youth in this way so it was both an encouraging and challenging time all in one go.

As we had a mixture of youth from different ages/family backgrounds and all in very different places spirituality, the aim for the whole weekend was to see the the supremacy of Jesus ( as seen in Colossians 1;15-23) and to challenge the youth to put him number one in their lives and not to swap him for anything else.

My prayer for the weekend for the youth was; If you have Jesus, then you have everything you need for life. Not just today, not just in this moment, but for your whole life.

Of course, with all things related to youth work I tend to think that the teaching is aimed just at the youth becuase of the simplicity of the teaching and also that I understand the book of Colossians pretty well. However, this is not the case when you have the Word open in front of you, your heart beats to be refreshed in Christ. You cannot help but be drawn to Him.

Our motto was Colossians 3;1, note here that Paul is speaking in past tense; YOU HAVE BEEN RAISED WITH CHRIST. Its already a done deal, your as LOVED BY THE FATHER IN THE SAME WAY HE LOVES HIS SON.  It’s relentless and it pulls you in, one by one. Speaking to the girls in small groups, we really started teasing this idea out.

Of course youth have the best questions in the world, including some really hard ones like, ‘ What does the bible say about homosexuality?’ and ‘ Is it okay to get a divorce’ as well as, ‘Can God fly?’ and ‘how can Jesus be God and a Man?’.

Of course there was a LOT of crazy antics going on, including man hunt, capture the flag, zip wires, leaders real life cluedo and an amazing rendition of the Lion King. This all balanced out the weekend and meant that we could get to know each other better.

To summise; I slept very well on Sunday night.

Life in the big story.

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Well blog, its been a while, sorry. I just realised that although i have set this blog up, I didn’t explain what is going on in my life and why I want to enter into the world of story-telling/ my reflection on life.

“Whether you feel like it or not, as you grow to know Him you will find yourself in the grip of Love that will change your life and set your heart on fire.” – Heidi Johnston

Life on the Isle so Far….

So in July 2012 I finished Relay and moved back home to the Isle of Wight. I live in an amazing old Victorian house with my parents in Ryde. I live just round the corner from the Vicar and his family, as well as within walking distance to church and a few others members of the local congregation.

Although I had really no idea what I wanted to do post-relay ( that still hasn’t changed) in terms of career this didn’t give me much choice but to move back here, spend some time with the family, re-connect with old friends and network with the large-ish arts community here on the ‘Island’. As an ‘Islander’ I am well placed to be living as a ‘missionary’ without having to cross the water, and it was and still is to have a ‘Kingdom’ mindset about decision and priorities, even if that meant no job or little money at that point in time.  Bish reminded me of the value of this recently here.

Summer soon turned into Autumn, where two family bereavements knocked and a lot of hospital trips us hard as a family. It made me question the whole question of why do people suffer and what happens to us after death. It broke my heart to see that there was NO bibles in our local crematorium. I was reading the book of Job at the time, which on reflection, pulled me through, especially these versus:

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
(Job 19;25-27)

There is so much to be said about suffering and after experiencing this and knowing that it is nothing compared to what other people have to deal with, Praise God that at the cross he overcame suffering and death. I still think I have a lot to learn about when dealing with things like this, also pastorally caring and listening to others when they are hurting.

Meanwhile, the Autumn term started up in church and I reluctantly volunteered my Friday nights over to youth ministry for school years 6-9 (11-14 yrs old). I say reluctantly becuase I do not feel overly- gifted in youth ministry what-so-ever. After a year working with students who are happy to talk about the Trinity and Athanasius over a nice cup of coffee in some dept to then being hit on the head playing dodgeball whilst trying to remember 15 new names and faces and going camping in minus temperatures. I feel my pride slowly being shattered by 11 year olds. Its April now and it has got a lot easier over time but more on them another time…

So after a little time at Damaris in Southampton and after a lot of Job interviews between July to January, both on the Island and off the Island, all with no luck.  After a memorable job interview in Exeter and really questioning if I wanted a graduate/mainland job or not, there had to be a sacrifice.  Money, mainland job and career vs Isle of Wight relationships both in/out of church and life by the sea. I decided to stop looking for any jobs on the mainland and start looking for a ‘tent making’ job here on the Island.

This is hard sacrifice to make and to explain to other people as I feel it is very counter-cultural to live this out but actually it was the best decision I have made all year since… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mat 6;21)

Living on JSA has been an eye-opening experience in terms of meeting people who are not-as fortunate as myself with education and so forth. It is heart-braking seeing 1,000 apply for 100 jobs and also the reality that so many people force their identity in their works because they do not know about God’s grace and our union with Christ.

I have also learnt that there is little excuse for laziness whilst your waiting for an ‘door to open’ or for your next stage in your life.  Frankly God is not like an 8 Ball, you can shake and stomp around about your currently situation as much as you like but He doesn’t give you a straight yes/no answer. He just whispers… live for me, do this for me, be creative, do not worry, I love you, your safe with me.

This free time was amazing to be able to serve other people, volunteer for some organisations, eat with people, look after children, read books and the bible and pass onto other, gave me vision and focus to set up Young & Collective.

Last week I got a job. No interview, no application form, just a simple please. I did nothing on my behalf. He did it all for me becuase…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

—–

More on IOW life and living in community… in due course. Sleep times now!

The JSA ‘Gospel’

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“The primary way in which we interpret life is through stories and everyone has a gospel story. Everyone. Everyone has their version of salvation which is a ‘gospel’ story in that it purports to offer good news. – [Everyday Church p134]

I am currently on job seekers allowance and every fortnight I have to go and sign on.  Over the last few weeks I have really noticed that the job centre communicate a clear ‘gospel’ story (or worldview) that is completely in a realm of its own.

The backbone of JSA is this…
I will be happy and forefilled if i …get a job
To achieve this I must …apply for 3 jobs a week and fill out my universal job match correctly and attend all meetings in order to receive benefit.
Failing this will result in… cutting benefit and potentially receiving a court order.

We know the big story of the Bible goes, trinity, creation, fall, redemption and hope. But everyone has a ‘gospel’ story what is it according to the job centre?  (Considering the amount of people on JSA and job losses at the moment, grasping this is surely crucial to mission and discipleship??) Here is my deconstruction of the ‘JSA gospel’;

Creation – You were created To and For Work

Fall – I currently cannot get a job for X,Y,Z reason and I am out of work. I have to swallow my pride and ask for a £52 pw benefit.

Redemption – I can change by looking for work, and searching  and seeking work and undertaking voluntary/ further training.

Hope – I hope that I will have a job and I will not have to rely on benefit and I will be respected in wider society.

The bi-weekly communication of this is ‘What have you been doing to look for work?’,  ‘Maybe this job will be the right one for you.’ ‘Better luck next time.’ ‘Maybe try and write up your CV in a different way and approach companies direct.’ It is obviously out and out justification by works. (I must fill out this application to get this Job) However, there is a clear flaw in this thinking. I am not the one who chooses if I get the job or not, that is up to the interview/ the company and ultimately knowing the Father is in control – He decides too.

Therefore the ‘JSA gospel ‘up against the true Christian gospel goes like this;

[Trinity] –  I am loved by the Father, united to Christ, through and by the Spirit. This is an unchanging truth.

Creation – I was created to enjoy God and the gifts that he has given me (including work)

Fall – I have used God’s gift of work to replace God and I find myself enslaved by having to look for work, selling myself and attempting to be in control and ‘okay’ about the situation. People encourage me in my job search and ask about it and therefore I have to justify my actions not only to the job centre but to others around me. I feel ashamed that I am a graduate and living at home and not independent away from parents…

Redemption – God welcomes rebels back at the cross and has placed ALL things under Christ’s feet – I can only receive him and remind myself of his Grace  [ in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church Eph 1-20-22]

Hope – I can trust that Jesus is in control of my life and situations and that this current spell of unemployment is helping me trust in him daily for all my needs. Only He can provide a job for me, that will be the right job at the right time and for my good. Be thankful that our government does have a benefit system.

Both of the ‘JSA gospel‘ and the true gospel can shape and control my heart. I know Jesus is better but I quickly listen to the falsehood of the world and the ‘JSA gospel’. It has been good to sit down and blog this post to simply recognise these differences because I need to be able to swap the ‘JSA hope‘ for the true hope – when practically I am standing there on Friday mornings or filling out the next job application form.

If you know me – Please help me and encourage me and remind me of the true good news and love that will last, yesterday, today and forever.  Please remind others who are unemployed. Above all – treat them as a person loved by the Father – not just a time slot or a unemployed statistic.

[ Framework taken from Everyday Church – Timmis and Chester – IVP]

Rich in Mercy

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‘ ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.’ Ephesians 2 4-8

“The Main thing Paul wants us to stress about in all of this is the sheer, almost unbelievable, magnificent kindness of God. In four short verses he says this in several different ways. God is rich in Mercy, he had loved us with a great love, his sheer grace has saved us, his grace is rich beyond all telling, he have lavished a kindness upon us. Whenever anyone says or implies, that God is after all a bit stingy, or mean, or small minded, look at these verses and think again.” ( Tom Wright)

In Christ….

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Last night I was reading Ephesians 1 1-15, It starts… Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places….

It is an amazing thought that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Were not second class citizens to God but becuase of Jesus I stand with him and share everything that is his!

What are these spiritual blessings? Well looking at the rest of the passage, In Christ we are;

In Christ he chose us in him before the foundation of the world

In Christ we are holy and blameless before him

In Christ we are adopted as sons not slaves

In Christ we are blessed

In Christ we have redemption

In Christ we have forgiveness

In Christ we have wisdom and insight

In Christ we have an inheritance

In Christ we have hope

In Christ we have salvation

In Christ we have the Holy Spirit.

and he does all of this… To the praise of his glorious grace!

Someone said to me that if you were standing in the field at night you need to look up to the stars to see the wonder and the beauty but if we look down we only see the mud on our welly boots. It is the same when we look to Jesus as he has given us so much. Good times.

This is my way trying to stand out….

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Know one can deny the fact that the graduate job market is tough at the moment. Thousands of unemployed or soon to be graduates spend their days tirelessly filling out applications forms. Every man is out for himself; to find a job and to keep it.

If your like me and looking for a job within the creative industries, self promotion seems to be the norm but with the internet opening up new ways with sites such as linkedin and setting up your own web-site and uploading your CV in a couple of clicks. Here is the question, how much should I be putting myself ‘out there’?

Last week, in a final plee, Adam Pacitti spent his last £500 on a billboard in London, begging people to ‘employ Adam’. Adam graduated from the University of Winchester with a First Class degree in Media Studies and lives a couple of streets away from me on the Isle of Wight. He states that, ‘This is my way of trying to stand out.’ His CV video has gone viral with over 69,500 hits on Youtube and thousands RT’s on Twitter, he has certainly made good use of the brief media limelight.

Adam decided to take to the extreme but in my bid to be ‘out there’ I am re-designing my journalism portfolio. This means new website, new business cards and a new jazzier CV. I have held back on doing this for a couple of years mainly out of fear of exposure, fraud and even copyright theft but countless of people inform me that my portfolio and CV needs to be online because the basic fact is that I need a job and I can’t live with the parents forever.

Although I am not going to go as far as Adam, I am still working hard on the self promotions front. In my bid to be ‘out there’, I now jump at every opportunity to network with the right people, show off my work at my friends dinner parties and generally thinking that my ideas and projects are like the crown jewels. Pride towards my work has become one of my biggest battles. Self promotion for someone who has no faith doesn’t seem to be a problem. Arrogance and being rude, yes but selling yourself seems to be the norm and a no-brainer.

Pride is all about what you have achieved and giving yourself the glory for it, it is all about self-worshipping. However, as Christians we are aware that in the grand scheme of things this cannot deliver because these things wouldn’t have been possible were it not for God enabling and sustaining us.

Where do you draw the line on this? I am still looking for the answer but I do know what the antidote is for my pride. This Tim Keller quote challenges me time and time again, he says, ‘True gospel humility is not a self hating person or a self loving person, but a gospel-humble person. The truly gospel-humble person is a self-forgetting person whose ego is just like his or her toes. It just works. It doesn’t draw attention to itself.’ Keller explains that true humility is when you let go of your ego and stop connecting your needs and experiences to new situations and relationships. Simply remind yourself of who you are in Christ and be thankful for the gifts that God has given you.