Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Hymn Books

Today's Theme Suggestions:
  • Does it matter to you what hymn book church's use?
  • Tell us about the sort of Christian songs you remember from your childhood
  • What hymn book does your church currently use and why?
  • Review a hymn book or your choice
  • What do you think a hymn book is?

Singing The Faith

A few months ago my church made the decision to switch from  Hymns and Psalms to a new hymn book called Singing The Faith. The decision was made after much consultation and partly because it was realised that we were already singing a lot of songs out of the new hymn book. The reception has been mixed but, over time, the congregation has come to (mainly) accept the songs which are within it.

Personally, I think there are some great new songs in the book and the editors have also made some good choices of songs to be kept in. We've sung some interesting songs that I never knew of before in our services, and in our Music Fellowship sessions I've been able to find a few of my favourites that I'd come across in other churches. There also still seems to be plenty of classics that those who prefer those hymns can sing withe gusto.

Thee number of songs we photocopy has definatly decreased, and we no longer have long lists of songs not in the hymn book to send to the copyright people.

The main down side is that the printing of the books seems to have been rather rushed (particularly the music edition). The layout of lyrics versus music is inconsistant meaning that it can be hard to see where you are at times. The books are also too heavy for most music stands, meaning that musicians still have to photocopy the pages when they play them.

Also lovely harmonies have been removed from some of the songs. I've always loved singing descants, especially a Christmas, but its become a lot harder with this new book. Sometimes there's to descent at all where you would expect one, other times its been changed to fit in with a new arrangement of the organ part. Either way, I'd much prefer to see a traditional format for traitional hymns.

Over all,  I would recommend this book. I'd also recommend, however, waiting a year (or two) until better formatted editions are released.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Writing Music

Today's suggested topics:
  • Do you write songs/music? If so, tell us about it
  • Is written music useful to you?
  • Tell us about your favourite piece of written music
  • Share with us a piece of music theory
  • The history of written music
  • Do you come from a country with different musicial conventions?
  • Interpret 'writing music' in your own unique way

Early music

I've been fascinated by how medieval music was written for a long time. I also it interesting how different tradition music was when I visited Bulgaria to back here in the UK. But its only when began researching this post that I discovered how varied the history of written music actually is.

Isodore of Seville remarked in the early 7th century that it was impossible to notate music. But music had actually been written down for a long time before the supposed first time in the 9th century.

Medieval Visigothic neumes only showed the shape of the melody, so it really only acted as a reminder to someone who already knew the music. This was similar to Byzantine music whose notation showed when notes got higher or lower. I am reminded of a recording form used in some schools for those who are writing music but do not yet understand the official notation. I can certainly see it as being practical for everyday singing. In contrast cuniform tablets from 2000BC Iraq showed which strings to pluck on an instrument and Ancient Greek music used notations above words to represent both pitch and note length. I guess to some extent this is quite similar to how we might show keyboard chords, or music for those learning to play today.

Eventually Medieval scholars evolved the idea of one stave line up to four. This is attributed to Guido of Arazzo and is still used for plain-chant today. It is the French that we have to thank for the 5 line stave which is commonly in the modern world- this became standardised from the 16th century.

In the Persian Empire the length of notes was sometimes represented using geometric patterns, an idea similar to that which the medieval Franco of Cologne also came up with. Franco suggested that each note could be a different shape to show how long it lastest. By the 14th century this had evolved into something similar to the note notations that we are used to today. Byzantine music seems to have been the first to show music with some sort of bar lines, something which we not commonplace in Europe until the 17th century.

Of course there are many different notations still used throughout the world today, but I believe that this concludes the history of the one with which most of the world is familiar to this day.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Music Through The Pages Schedule

Welcome to 'Music Through The Pages', a 'Summer Special' August event!

Throughout August, I'll be bringing you a series of posts linked to all things music and book-related. I'd love it if you'd join in through your own blogs, facebook, twitter, or comments on my posts.

There will be a giveaway running throughout the event, entry entries for which can be gained for each daily topic you post about.

To help you find these topic posts (which will be spread over all my blogs) and to allow you to schedule your posts wheree possible, here's a schedule of where posts will be hosted each day:

Wednesday 1st August- Introduce Yourself
Thursday 2nd August- Music To Our Ears (Giveaways launch date)
Friday 3rd August- Music That Makes My World Go Round
Saturday 4th August- Favourite Authors
Sunday 5th August- Music Book Review

Monday 6th August- Music That Inspires Writing
Tuesday 7th August- Stories That Inspire Music
Wednesday 8th August- Music That We Listen To Whilst Reading
Thursday 9th August- Writing Music
Friday 10th August- Music In Writing
Saturday 11th August- Writing in Music
Sunday 12th August- Journalling a Personal History of Music

Monday 13th August- Book Soundtrack
Tuesday 14th August- Story of a Song
Wednesday 15th August- Hymn Books
Thursday 16th August- Bookish Music Parodies
Friday 17th August- Music in Writing
Saturday 18th August- Writing in Music
Sunday 19th August- Character Interview: The Music Edition

Monday 20th August- Setting the Scene
Tuesday 21st August- Books, Music & Craft
Wednesday 22nd August-  Matching Music To Reading
Thursday 23rd August- A Culture of Music & Literature
Friday 24th August- Music in Writing

Saturday 25th August- Writing in Music
Sunday 26th August- Marking the Ocassion

Monday 27th August- A Musical Argument
Tuesday 28th August- Music of the Moment
Wednesday 29th August- Characterising an Attitude to Music
Thursday 30th August-  The Final Party
Friday 31st August- Wrap-Up Post

As yet we have no banner or button for this event. If you (or anyone you know) is able and willing to create one I'd much appreciate it. Plus, as a thankyou, I'd like to offer you the chance to win a book. Click here for details.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Pre-event giveaway (international)

I'm the first to admit that I'm not particularly artist, so I need yor help to create banners and buttons for my summer event.
As a thankyou all who provide a banner/button for use during 'Music Through The Pages' will be entered to win a copy of 'What A Performance' by Reginald Frary, as well as getting an extra entry into the main event giveaway.
One banner and one button will be chosen for use during the event, and I'll select one of these to receive the book prize.

To enter, simply design a banner or button, post it somewhere where I can see it, and then fill in the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Messy Church: God's Team

Today's Messy Church (at All Saints Church, Abingdon) is an Olympics special. We're going to be focusing on sport and sporting skills as we think about how we are all part of God's Team.

There will be no service as such today. Instead we'll parade into the church, Olympic ceremony style, then undertake a series of games and challenges for the whole family.

We'd love it if you'd join us! Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Announcing 'Music Through the Pages'

Throughout August I will be running an event across all my blogs entitled 'Music Through The Pages'.

This 'Summer Special' will be all about the relationship beween books and music and will include:

  • Extracts from books mentioning music
  • Reviews
  • Videos of songs about books
  • Music inspired by specific books
  • A giveaway
  • Daily topics for discussion on your own blogs/in the comments
I'm also planning to have author/blogger interviews and guest posts if I can get enough interest (forms will be available to fill in later this week if you wish to be involved). 
Any other ideas are, of course, always welcome.

The blogs involved will be:

That's all for now, more about this throughout this week.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Messy Church: Trust

On the 19th of May a group of helpers, parents, carers and children met at All Saint's Church, Abingdon to explore the theme of trust.

Are are lions as friendly as this?
It all started when visitors arrived to be greated by smiling lions.

There were many activities to join in with in the hall, with helpers on hand to both deal with the practicalities of the crafts, and discuss links with the day's story. Face painting seemed to be one of the favourites!
Do you believe it will float?

Trust this bookmark to save your place

Can you trust your parachute?

All will be revealed later!

There we even more activities in the Perry Room including lion pizzas, chains of trust, and lion masks.

Can you guess what it is yet?
Hanging our trust on others

This was in addition to the blindfolded maze in the main church!

After the activities we over, we all gathered in the church for a short story, song and prayer. It was here that it was explained why we had lions all over the place- our story was Daniel and the Lion's Den! Daniel has to trust God to keep him safe from the lions, and that's why we'd be exploring trust all morning.

The highlight of the session, as always, was the food shared together in the hall. As well as having hot dogs followed by trifle, there was an opportunityh for those who had made pizzas to eat them.

Then everyone packed up and went home, not forgetting to pick up a book for the Messy Church bookshelf on the way out.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Happy Birthday

Tomorrow is Pentecost, often expressed as the church's birthday.

Today, in Abingdon, we had a birthday celebration. There was a bouncy castle, storytelling, arts & crafts, tea & coffee and, of course, cake. Everything was free and it was a great event. The weather was perfect, sunny but with a cool breeze (all the better because it could be used to illustrate the power of the Holy Sprit).

If you live nearby then look out for next year's event- as it annual!

How do you celebrate Pentecost?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Crusade of Tears by C.D. Baker (A Review)

It's the Year 1212- Jerusalem is occupied by Islam. Thousands of Christian Knights in armor have failed to liberate the Holy City. Who else will the Church send to fight for the Faith? More Knights? Peasant Labourers? Or...... their children?

My review:
Despite being the first in a series, this book works really well as a stand-alone adventure. Sometimes sad and heartbreaking, this historical tale (loosely based on scarce historical sources) speaks of what true faith is all about. A Christian reading this book will find themselves reconsidering the basis of their faith, with questions at the end of the book further aiding this process. But this is not just a story for those who consider themselves Christians, it is a tale for all and could easily find its place on a mainstream chain's bookshelf as easily as in a faith bookshop. The characters are complex and real, and their journey is one of growing up as well as distance. A great tale for all who aren't afraid of their adventure straying from the path of fantasy.

Action Reader's Action: Give some money, or advice, to someone going on a gap-year abroad.

Have you ever been on a journey that didn't turn out exactly as you expected? 
Feel free to post (or link to) your memories in the comments. 

Also posted on The Story Factory Reading Zone

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Christian Aid Week

Today (Sunday 13th May) marks the beginning of Christian Aid Week. All across England supporters are delivering envelopes to houses, running stalls, shaking buckets and generally spreading knowledge of this charity.

Christian Aid aims to change our world so that everyone can live a full life, free from poverty. They support everyone, not just Christians. They work globally, alongside other groups, to aim for equality, dignity and freedom for all, regardless of faith or nationality. They tackle poverty at its root causes, through urgent, practical and effective assistance, as part of a wider movement for social justice. 

At its most basic, Christian Aid aims to:
  • expose the scandal of poverty 
  • help in practical ways to root it out from the world
  • challenge and change structures and systems that favour the rich and powerful over the poor and marginalised.

If you want to be involved, check out the resources page on their website and don't forget to gift aid any donations you give (it costs you nothing extra but gives Christian Aid just a little bit more).

Monday, 7 May 2012

Communication in the Justice System

Many of the people brought infront of our justice system have communication difficulties. And yet, currently, many do not have the right to help with their communication. Is the justice system letting them down? Watch this video from The Communication Trust and then decide for yourself.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Review of N.H.I. and Interview with author Ray Ellis

Today I am please to welcome Ray Ellis to my blog. According to his blog, Ray Ellis is twenty-two year veteran of law enforcement and an ordained minister. NHI is his first published book. Ray says that, as an author, he attempts to relate the common man's struggle to live in a gritty world and remain clean.


Half of Treasure City is controlled by a violent street gang. The other hald is controlled by fear. A rookie detective, Nate Richards, is thrust between the two. Abyss, a mysterious street gang moves into the valley and people have started dying. Nate's girlfriend suddenly disappears and the gang is being targetted as the cause. Will Nate succumb to the pressure to get the job done by any means necessary, or will he become part of tthe problem and prove that there are No Humans Involved.

My review:
I'm not usually into detective/police stories, but I am so glad that I accepted this one for review. Suspense, drama, feeling and a dynamic plot combine to create a gripping story-line. I just simply couldn't put this book down- despite having been in a reading rut previously I stormed through this book within only a few days of hectic lifestyle. I had to force myself to go to sleep at night, feeling so connected with Nate and his girlfriend that I simply wanted to find out what would happen next. I'd also like to praise Ray Ellis for writing a book that truly shows Christianity within the context of a realistic life- something which I wish more books would do. Definatly looking forward to the sequel.

The Interview

1. What made you decide to become a writer?
I was driven to write by the compulsion to workout the question of what it means to be great. I had always dreamed of writing, but it wasn't until wrestling with that question and trying understand what creates that drive in a person that I wrote my first novel, Cave of the Kracken, which is a scif-fi adventure. Kracken will be released this summer with my new publisher.
2. Who has influenced you the most in your writing?

It was my 12th grade English teacher that sparked the love of story in me. As she read Shakespeare's Macbeth, I  simply feel in love with the power of words.
3. How did you come up with the title for N.H.I?

It kind of birthed itself. I was thinking over some of the things that separate us as cops, culturally speaking, from the rest of society and the way we hold ourseleves apart led me naturally to the idea N.H.I.: Nu Humans Involved.
4. Can you explain what 'No Humans Involved' actually means

As a rookie police officer, I came across many industry specific terms, one of which was the phrase NHI. It means No humans Involved and represents a way of identifying a certain person or group of people that are less than desirable. Its a way of saying that "you are person of low social value."
5. Tell us a little about some of the issues tackled in NHI.

The main issue dealt with is the question of how we judge evil in ourselves and in others. The story takes the reader along with Nate Richards, as he explores his own faith and how he deals with the problem of sin.
6. What do you see as the biggest problem in society today?

Simply put, the refusal of men to accept the lordship of Jesus Christ. All other ills are derived from this.
7. How did you come up with the name 'Abyss' for the 'Street Gang'?
I chose the name Abyss because I wanted to draw in the feeling of an emptiness that still sounded of power. Even the gang-warlord as powerful as he was, was still empty.
8. If you could meet one of your characters in real life, who would it be and why?
It would be Reverend Richards because he is the ideal father. Funny, sympathetic but wise. HE knows the Lord and knows how to reveal the Father's presence in everyday life.
9. If Nate wasn't a detective, what job do you think he would have?
Wow! That's a much more difficult question than it might appear because Nate was made to do police work. But if I had to stretch, I would say it would be a teacher.
10. What are your 3 top tips for achieving a work-faith balance?

The key is not to try and add God to what you are doing. You have to have God up front, first and foremost. Secondly, you have to make sure you are doing, for work, what it is God has called you to do; and lastly, rest. Make sure to take advantage of the Sabbath's rule. Rest and refresh yourself in the presence of the Lord.
11. What is your favorite bible translation, and why?

You might find this strange, but I love the KJV. I like it because its old and gives a feeling of reverence and its poetic and lyrical in its presentation.
12. Please describe your next book, D.R.T., in 3 words. 

"How we are."

Also posted on 'The Story Factory Reading Zone'

Sunday, 8 April 2012

R is for Resurrection


Jesus' Resurrection- the foundation of the Christian faith!
It proved that Jesus was more than just a prophet, and it showed us that there can be life after death!

Christians argue about exactly what form this 'life after death' might take, but what is certain is that death is not the end. This should be hugely conforting to those people who feel let down or are scorned by the earthly world. But it should also be a warning to us not to think of what we can get here and now as the be-all and end-all - there is much more to come!

E is for Everyone

We've already seen that Easter stands for Equality, Agape, Saviour and Transcendent.
Today, as we celebrate Easter Day, I'm gong to talk about the second E and the letter R.

E is for Everyone
The Old Testament follows the story of the Jewish nation and their journey to the promised land. With the coming of Jesus this promised land was opened up to us all. Jesus associated with those who, at the time, were considered sinners- tax-collectors, those living with others whilst unmarried, the disabled, and non-Jews. On the cross he was even willing to talk to criminals. There was no group that he was unwilling to communicate with.

Jesus' early followers included women, men, Greeks, Romans, fishermen, craftsmen, worked people, the educated, former Jews, and many more. Today, thanks to the message of his resurrection, Christians are spread all around the world. They come from many walks of life, many educational and social backgrounds, and many different societies. The message that Jesus, and God, are for everyone is one that we, as Christians, should shout from the rooftops. The question only remains, why don't we?

Saturday, 7 April 2012

T is for Transcendent

  • beyond or above the range of normal or physical human experience: the search for a transcendent level of knowledge  
  • surpassing the ordinary; exceptional: her transcendent beauty  
  • (of God) existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe. Often contrasted with immanent.  
  • (in scholastic philosophy) higher than or not included in any of Aristotle’s ten categories
  • (in Kantian philosophy) not realizable in experience.

Jesus rose from the dead on Easter moring! Now that's definatlly something beyond the range of norma human experience. And yet, its the foundation stone of the Christian faith. And it shows us that God is transcendent. We cannot expect to understand what his purpose is for us. For him nothing is impossible. And so, through faith in him, all things are possible. The challenge is to be ableto truly believe this.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Happy Easter from The Church in Abingdon

What's been going on?

Today is Good Friday, and each year the Christians in Abingdon gettogether to celebrate the most important event in history: the deathh of Jesus Christ.

What's so good about it?

Why is someone's death called good? Because we believe Jesus died for a reason: because he loved you and wanted to make a way for you to come into relationship with Him! It might be Friday....

..... but Sunday's coming!

Two days later, he rose again, proving he had defeated death once and for all- and had made it possible for all of us to be forgiven and live in relationship with God both now and in eternity.

Want to know more?

Check out this video:


Why not visit your local church this Easter or soon after? 
Contact detailss for Abingdon churches can be found at

S is for Saviour

Again, I'd like to remind you that this is a post about my own personal view of what Easter means.

 a person who saves someone or something from danger or difficulty: politicians of the era usually portray themselves as the nation’s saviours
(the/our Saviour) (in Christianity) God or Jesus Christ as the redeemer of sin and saver of souls.
Origin: Middle English: from Old French sauveour, from ecclesiastical Latin salvator (translating Greek sōtēr), from late Latin salvare 'to save'
Oxford dictionary

Many at the time of Jesys thought that the saviour would save them from the Romans. He would be a military leader. He would overthrow the enslavers of the Jews. As Jesus entered Jerusalem they shouted 'Hosanna (save, we pray). But Jesus arrived on a donkey, an animal of burden, rather than in military glory. And when the authorities attacked him he stood there are took it.

It is easy to see why many at the time (and many now) were confused. Jesus simply didn't live up to their idea of a saviour. But this was because they were looking for a way to be saved from physical rather than spiritual matters.

As the dictionary definition says, Jesus is the saver of souls. Through following him and his teachings we can be saved from sin. No longer will we be slaves to the temptations of life, but instead they will die and allow us to find a new life in the spirit.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

A is for Agape

Continuing my letter by letter meaning of Easter posts. These are written straight from my heart and my point of view, its not necessarily official theology!

A is for Agape

What is Agape? 
Pronunciation: /ˈagəpi/


[mass noun] Theology
  • Christian love, as distinct from erotic love or simple affection.
  • [count noun] a communal meal held in Christian fellowship
Origin: early 17th century: from Greek agapē 'brotherly love'
 Oxford Dictionary Online

The cruxifiction is the ultimate sign of God's love for us- showing how much he cares for us. Jesus' last words "Father, forgive them" also showed that love, poured out on those who had condemned him.

It is hard to love everyone, especially those who hurt us. And yet it is this kind of love that Jesus calls us to have for all. Jesus told us to 'love our neighbours', illustrating the meaning of neighbour through the story of the Good Samaritan. Our neighbours are all the world, whatever their creed, colour, beliefs etc, etc..... Loving them all may seem an impossibility, but it is something which all Christians must try to do.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

What does Easter stand for? E is for Equality!


OK, so here's my (possibly not so) bright idea: For the next 5 days I'll be posting about what Easter means to me, one letter at a time. That means that tomorrow's theme will begin with A, Friday's S, and so on.....
Please remember that these are my thoughts: I am simply a Christian, I have not been theologically trained!

Today I'm tacking 'E'

E is for Equality

Picture Jesus on the cross, two criminals hanging beside him. One wonders why he is there? Surely he doesn't deserve this fate! At that moment Jesus could have turned round and said "You're right- I've done nothing wrong, by human values I don't deserve to be here, but you do!" But that's not what he said, of course its not! Instead he tells him that he will be with him in paradise.

Faith makes all believers equal- no matter what they have done in the past! Like the criminal, our sins are forgiven if we truly repent. Its important to remember this in our daily lives and to be careful not to judge others, it's their hearts that will truly matter in the end!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Reflection on a verse from Romans 2

"God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind"
                                         (The Message)

I think this is one of the hardest things for any of us to take onboard. Like all humans, we care about what others think of us. We are critical about ourselves. We want to be liked. But, as Christians, we are told not to worry about these things. It is God's opinion that really matters (and he knows what we have done and/or thought). This is a difficult lesson to learn (and one which I suspect most people never will).

I admit I've always had a soft-spot for hard-core protesters. You know, those who are not afraid to occupy trees, stand infront of bulldozers, or go on hunger-strikes. Those are people with strong convictions- they know what they believe in and are not afraid to stand up for those principles, no matter what the consequences. The question I often ask myself is am I, as a Christian, as dedicated to my principles? Would I  be willing to do whatever it took to make sure they were heard?

In our modern world it's considered un-PC to talk about our religion to others. We hear stories on the news of hospital staff who were sacked for sharing their faith, counsellors who cannot console with stories of God's love, teachers who not allowed to admit to being Christians. Few stand up to these rules, whether it be for fear of loosing their jobs, the respect of colleagues, or simply because it seems dangerous to challenge the status-quo.

I suppose that some might justify this by saying that, once removed from their jobs, they wouldn't be able to demonstrate their faith any more to their non-Christian colleagues. Yes, this may be true. I'm not advocating shouting your beliefs from the rooftops, shoving it down other people's throughts. Demanding a change of beliefs really works, nor does telling othr people that they're wrong. But, when someone asks about your faith, surely that's another matter altogether!

I recently heard a story about a man who was going into hospital. Upon arriving, before he could even settle into his bed, he was asked by another patient if he ever thought about dying. Recognising a God-given moment, the man who had just arrived told him about heaven. A few days later, another person thanked him for his words, saying that they had been a great help in a time of need. Now shift the focus slightly. Imagine it had been a nurse or a doctor that the patient had asked about dying. Would the staff member have felt able to tell him about heaven, or would they have been too worried about what they're bosses would make of that talk?

I know that I often take too much notice of what others think of me. I've been in the position of needing others to like me, and I know that this has often been a distraction to my faith. But I hope that, with God's help, I can overcome those feelings so that I can speak my faith whenever and wherever it is needed. I pray that he will do the same for you too.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Just: Imagine (The Social Justice Agenda) by Danielle Strickland & Campbell Roberts (A Review)

Just Imagine is a call to action. The authors, both Christians and active proponents of social justice, remind us og the world-changers who shaped our Christian heritage and equipped us with the tools we need to follow in their footsteps. Just Imagine is a thorough exploration of the biblical and Christian foundations of social justice, and a practical guide to applying them in our own lives, in our local and ultimately in our global communities. Filled with inspiring examples, stimulating advice and helpful resources, Just Imagine encourages us to live out the dream of God's just world in our waking lives, and help it to become a reality.

This truly is an inspiring book. The examples have been carefully chosen and explained in a way which can be related to and which does not seem impossible to come close to emulating with God's help. The book includes clear step-to-step plans for ways to reflection on issues and construct strategies to help others. These are applied to specific issues but, with a little imagination, could be developed to include a much wider range of needs. Throughout my reading I was drawn to exploring issues, groups and strategies in more depth- often finding myself reading next to an open internet screen so as to have more information at my fingertips. Now that I have finished, I'm keen to look at the list of organisation and website links in the back of the book. I've also become more interested than ever in praying to find out what God wants me to do.

I received this book at the Christian Resources Exhibition. All opinions are my own.

Action Reader's Action: Consider what cause you believe is the most important. This could be done through prayer and/or looking at what's been most important to you in the past. Write an Action Plan to help you think about how you can make a difference.

Discussion point: Tell us about a cause close to your heart. Why should we get involved / care about it?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Reflection on Romans 8:14

"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God"   TNIV Version

I get fed up sometimes of people telling me that all Christians should know the bible inside out, that they should be able to quote verse and chapter to back up every viewpoint they utter. Yes, I agree that this would be a useful tool for debating beliefs with other Christians, but surely you can be a Christian (even one with a strong faith) without being able to do this. The above verse certainly seems to suggest this. According to the verse above the most important thing to be children of God is to be led by the spirit.

What is The Spirit? A few weeks ago I found myself having to explain what The Spirit was (along with one other Christian) to a group of Year 6 children, most of whom had non-faith backgrounds. I suddenly realised how little the term 'Spirit' as understood by the general population bears resemblance to the meaning used by Christians. Surely Spirit is most commonly used to mean alchol, or liquer. But clearly this is not what is meant by 'the Spirit of God'.

So, how do you explain The Spirit of God to non-believers? In this I can only speak from my own experiences. For me the Spirit is a feeling, a warmth that often appears at the most difficult times. It's like the warmest fire burning inside my heart, so powerful that it makes me want to cry for joy. It can be a conviction that I should do something which I know God would approve of, but seems totally irrational to my conscience mind e.g. standing up infront of others when my knees are shaking. At the times when I truly feel the Spirit I can't help but be led by it, to do otherwise would be so painful that I could hardly bear it.

But could I honestly say that I'm led by the Spirit of God 24/7? I wish I could, but I suspect if I'm honest the best I can say is that I try to be led by the Spirit yet can be easily distracted. In today's world we are taught to live for the moment and expect instant gratification. And, therefore, it can be hard to follow something that can appear as abstract as the spirit; that requires complete single-minded attention; and whose aim is to fulfil God's kingdom (something that can often seem so far away from the world we live on). I often worry that I could so easily find myself led by money and the world's expectations rather than The Spirit of God. This is why it's so important to find the time to reflect on the bible, the positives of the day, or how our faith is being expressed! This is why it's so important to find where and when you hear the Spirit the most and make time for those moments!