Think different.

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“Back to school”, for many, including myself, these are three words that we dread to hear. After being on a high after yet another amazing summer it’s now time to return to routine. Most of my summer was spent at camps and residentials and at the majority of them I was surrounded by other Christians with similar beliefs to myself. It was so easy for me to speak openly about my faith and relationship with Jesus whilst I was in that environment. However I know that when you return to normality and school/university/work life it can be so much harder to be as open.

Sometimes we are put in situations where we feel like we are the only one with your beliefs, like it’s you against the world. But it isn’t. We are reassured so many times in the Bible that we are never alone and God will never leave us. In Genesis the Lord speaks to Jacob in a dream, proclaiming, “I am with you, and I will protect you.” (Genesis 28:15) and if this isn’t enough assurance in Joshua 1:9 it says “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Isn’t that amazing!

When we find ourselves in scenarios where you seem to have a unique opinion to everyone else, it can sometimes make yourself doubt whether your opinions are right, I often ask myself “If everyone else thinks that, why don’t I?” When I feel like this I need to remember that it’s the devil placing these thoughts in my head. A verse that really helps me ignore these doubts is Romans 12:2 which says, “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

Another thing that has really challenged me in the past when I feel embarrassed to share my views if they aren’t the same as someone else’s opinions or that wouldn’t particularly please them, is the question, “who do I aim to please in life?” I am the sort of person who always wants to please people and I don’t feel happy unless they are happy, I’m sure many of you are the same. The problem with this is I find it hard to say something when I know they disagree with it. I know in my heart that in life I should aim to please God as it says in Deuteronomy 10:12, “He requires only that you fear the Lord your God and live in a way that pleases Him and love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul”. This tells us that we need to always put God first and not compromise our views to please others. However we still have to be respectful and sensitive of others and their beliefs.

It is important to remind ourselves that it’s ok to think differently, if you respect others for having their own opinions, even if they aren’t the same as yours, they should hopefully return that respect to you.

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God is near

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“Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off?~Jeremiah 23:23

Recently I watched a film called “The Giver”, which follows a guy from a “perfect” future community who has to receive memories from the past in order to learn from the mistakes made throughout history. The community never go beyond their town’s border and are oblivious to the rest of the world. They call this area “elsewhere.”

In one scene the main character sees “elsewhere” for the first time and is shocked to see how close it is. He says “they always say elsewhere is so far, but it was right there.”

This got me thinking about our perception of God. Its easy for us to see Him as someone who is so far away. We look high into the sky for Him, when really He is right next to us.

Our God is not a God who is distant to us or who backs away when we sin or things are going badly. In fact, He does the complete opposite.  In Psalm 34:18 David explains that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirit’s are crushed.” When life isnt going as we planned, it’s hard to see how God is in the situation but it’s important to remember that God never gives us something that we can’t deal with, we never have to go through anything alone as it is not through our own power that we overcome, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. He will draw near to us in our suffering if we call upon Him.

God loves us and is with us not from afar, but right beside us everyday for the rest of our lives.