Anecdotes, thoughts and words of encouragement from the Encounter Youth Team. 

Easter Is NOT Cancelled.

Abz Adekeye, Monday 6th April 2020

I love Easter, I love the Easter eggs and the Lindt bunnies, I love the bank holidays and time with family; but genuinely more than anything I love the extra time to just remember Jesus. His life, His love, His sacrifice and the power of His resurrection.

This year feels different, sure, it IS different – but Easter is not cancelled. Okay I might have to buy myself an Easter egg (or 5) and I might only see my family via Zoom or Skype (or Whatsapp or Facebook or Instagram or absolutely all of the above as the case may be…) but it is still Easter. Jesus still rose from the dead, and lives on today, and that is as relevant now as it has always been.

  • Because Jesus lived on earth, I know that He knows what it’s like to have friends and family that you don’t get to see.
  • Because Jesus suffered, I know that I am not alone in my anxiety, in wishing sometimes that God did things differently, in mourning people I’ve never met and wondering why everything has to be this way.
  • Because Jesus died, I know that He loves me. I know that more than anything He wants for me to accept this wonderful gift of life in relationship with God. He values life with me (and you) above life itself.
  • Because Jesus rose again, I know He has defeated death and all the brokenness and pain associated with it. He is stronger than sickness, He has victory over shame, He has mastered misery and overcome my every weakness. There is nothing I could face that He cannot handle.
  • Because Jesus is alive today, I know that everything that is going on, however painful, however uncertain, however frustrating – is part of plan, one that I don’t understand, but a plan that is ultimately good and has me fully in mind.

The Bible says that Jesus’ death means that all the things we fear, even fear itself have been overcome. It also says that a day is coming when “there will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things [will pass] away,” (Revelation 21:4). We can see around us that that day isn’t today. But God who is eternal allows us to glimpse that day in His presence. When we accept eternal life with Him, we get to live in His reality. We can let go of our fear and accept His peace. We can be more generous, because we know everything comes from Him. We have hope that goes beyond our political systems, or our temporal understanding – we place our hope in Him.  

However, we have a choice as to whether we are raised to a new life with Him. We choose whether we experience Him on this earth or the next. He desperately wants us to choose Him, but He won’t force us. He won’t make you.

Maybe you are reading this; and you’ve always known some of what Christians believe and it’s a cool story but come on. Maybe you even you like that some people are able to take comfort in a God, a Saviour, who people say is their Father or their friend. Good for them. Or I don’t know, maybe it really annoys you because you’ve seen/ heard Christians do some pretty bad stuff. Forget them for a second, forget me. As you read this, you’re getting uncomfortable. Lean in. Don’t fight it, lean in. Maybe God is showing you that there might be more to Easter than you’ve previously allowed yourself to imagine.

I invite you to say this prayer. (A prayer is just talking to God, sometimes our prayers are even silent!)

“God, I want to know you more, please help me to find you. Meet me where I am. I don’t want to ignore you anymore. Amen.”

See what happens. If you want to go one step further, you could just accept Him. Choose life.

“Dear God, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to live on earth and die for me. Please forgive me for having rejected you in past; and help me to follow you and live life with you from now, through Jesus Christ. Amen.”

If you have said either of these prayers or have any questions, why not get in contact with the person who shared this article with you. You could also visit @encountercuk or @encounteryouthuk on Instagram or Facebook and send us a direct message or visit our website encounterchurch.uk to find out more about us, or christianity.org.uk if you just want to read more about the faith.

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Spending Time.

Kunle Adekeye, Thursday 2nd April 2020

Hey guys, Kunle here! This whole #stayathome thing is starting to drag isn’t it? I mean it’s my birthday in a few days, and we’ll still be social distancing! V sad. Oh well, it will be alright in the end.

Enough about me, how is your #stayathome going?

Is anyone else finding that their daily routine has been completely messed up?

I used to get up at 6:30 am, go to the gym, go to work, come home, make some dinner, play some games and go to bed. That was my day – pretty predictable.

Somehow I’m missing the boring things I used to do everyday.

Maybe you were the same? Maybe, you’d meet a friend at the bus stop normally, and that’s no longer an option?  Maybe you’d normally play football during lunch but you can’t? Maybe you had half an hour of silence in the house, all to yourself, before your siblings came home?

It’s okay to feel sad about the little things we might be missing in this time. Or to feel restless because we have so much energy that we aren’t able to use.

How about this? Instead of leaving these feelings there, what if we could release some of that energy or emotions or whatever, by spending time with God?

In his vlog post (go watch it on the YT channel if you haven’t already), Mr K said that we get 86400 seconds everyday and challenged us to spend it wisely.

He quoted James 4:8 which says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

The Bible is full of people who drew near to God in all sorts of mental and emotional states.

One passage from the Bible puts it like this:

Psalms 73: 28

But as for me, it is good to be near God.

I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;

I will tell of all your deeds.

(You can read the rest of Psalm 73 too, it’s pretty good!)

 

By spending time with God, we get to pour out our hearts to the Creator of all things, who knows us the best, who is in control of everything and who is looking out for us.

That means, if we’re feeling afraid, we can ask God to give us peace.

If we’re anxious, we can talk to God and know that He is in control of everything.

If we’ve lost our sense of a routine, we can invite God into our day and asks for His priorities for the day.

There are so many ways to spend time with God. Do we think we’ve got it down?

Yes, read your Bible. But maybe whilst you do it, pick up a notebook and jot down something you think God is saying to you.

Yes, pray. But maybe don’t only wait until the end of the day before bed to do it. You can spend time with God at all times of the day, whilst you’re washing up, whilst you’re in your room. Wherever, whenever!

Yes worship Him. Put on your favourite worship song. Write out a poem. Draw something that God has laid on your heart.

Sure, our days and our routines have been interrupted. But this gives us a great opportunity to reset some things and to spend more time with God, at times and in places we wouldn’t have thought to before!

Who knows, maybe God will teach you to spend more time with Him in a way that you can carry on when things get back to normal.

Spending time with God is always a great way to use the 86400 seconds that you’ve been given.

References

 

Listening 

 

 

 

Why stop the Coronavirus? Answering the age-old questions.

Abz Adekeye, Thursday 26th March 2020

Anyone else found themselves asking the age-old questions “Who am I?” and “What am I living for?” a little more often these days? No?  

Like really – why are we so dead set on beating Coronavirus? Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% for it, but what is it that we are hoping to do afterwards?

The title sequence to Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb has been stuck in my head. “There’s 104 days in summer vacation and school comes along just to end it, but the annual problem for our generation is finding a good way to spend it… LIKE MAYBE” – And then they proceed to list all these amazing things that they actually manage to achieve in one summer.

Now, we don’t know how long we are going to be at home for, but I’m beginning to think that it’s probably going to be too long for us just to put our lives on hold. So, what if we began to see this time at home as a real opportunity to make sure that the things that we do, the activities that we fill our time with, flow from who we are and what we are living for?

What on earth do I mean by that? Well I’ve been reading this book lately called Garden City, and from what I’ve read so far, it’s basically about how to live the life that we were created for.

So, look back on life just over a week ago or so. You were at school, maybe fussed about your grades. Maybe not. You were with friends, maybe trying to find a date for prom, maybe not. Maybe you were training for a tournament, or expedition that’s been cancelled. Maybe you were just as bored as you are now? But what motivates you to do what you do? Do you know what makes you tick?

I want to challenge you to use this time to start to work that out. What really matters to you. If you already know a lot about who you are and the things you love to do, use this time to do it! Get creative, make a plan and just get on with it.

If you’re not sure, or you’re realising now that you haven’t got a clue, then I want to challenge you to explore your values. What really matters to you? There’s a bunch of questionnaires you can take and books you can read and we’ll put some ideas on the website. But the best way to really get into this is, is to get to know the One who created you. He knows you best, and I just know that he’d love to talk to you about who He made you to be. Chosen, special, created in His image, just like everyone else; you are uniquely you and living to be your best self.

Psalms 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

References

Phineas & Ferb: Title Sequence

Garden City: Buy the book

Valued Living Questionnaire

StengthsFinder Test 

Listening 

Let us know if you’re planning to try anything out in the comments!