Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The One True New Beginning


Wow....so there goes yet another year! It feels like just the other day we were hosting the FIFA World Cup and now it's just a few months away in Brazil!? Where is the time going??? I guess it's true when they say that our lives really are drops in the ocean when compared to eternity.

In my household it is generally customary to reflect on the past year and set "New Year's Resolutions"....now I don't know about you, but I am TERRIBLE at keeping them! Stop biting nails, spend less time watching series, make more time for things other than architecture....they've all been made, and yes, they've all been broken!

It was towards the middle of 2012 that I felt I was falling into my old habits yet again...."Enough is enough!" I remember telling myself....There I was, lying on my bed watching my fifth consecutive episode of Modern Family (even though I promised myself that the previous one would be my last). I realised that the key component I left out of each New Year's Resolution was God...everything was about giving habits up for myself. At the beginning of this year (2013), I decided to give up series for the year...instead of watching 'hundreds' of episodes and then say I was too tired for quiet time, I substituted this series time for quiet time....and what a difference it made!! Granted, there were days that I faltered and substituted this time for work or friends or something "more important" at the time...

What I learnt through this year is that we cannot achieve anything without God's strength...John 15:5 says "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

I also learnt that the "New Year" doesn't really bring about some magical new beginning....a good friend of mine's Facebook status today read "Nothing special about the New Year. Tomorrow is not 2014. Tomorrow is Wednesday." Now I'm not trying to be cynical here, and I do enjoy the hype surrounding New Year's Eve...but I just want to highlight that tomorrow we aren't going to wake up totally different people. We are not suddenly going to be able to do things we previously couldn't do just because we made it a "Resolution"....

The only, true new beginning we, as human beings, are ever going to get is when we accept Jesus Christ into our lives....through him absolutely anything is possible! It is only God who brings restoration to one's life. It's only Him who can wipe the slate clean and give you a fresh start. I'm busy reading a book entitled The Life of Faith by Mrs. C. Nuzum. It's an incredible book that highlights what God can achieve through His servants who hunger for a deeper relationship with Him.

I pray that 2014 will be a year of tremendous growth in your life. I pray that you will hand over all your plans, hopes, dreams, aspirations and obstacles before Him....for He is our loving Father....I will leave you with my favourite verse and I hope it will bring you comfort as it did for me in 2013...Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I hope that in 2014 you will learn to trust God with ALL things...

Peace and Love


Sunday, 29 December 2013

A's Top Bands of 2013

As the year draws to a close I thought I'd recap on the bands whose music has comforted me in times of heartache, encouraged me in times of trouble and brought about numerous hours of air drumming and guitaring.

And so....in no particular order....here are my favourite bands of the year:

I owe this "discovery" to a good friend of mine in America! These four guys, based in Nashville, create the ultimate 'feel good' music :) I can't even count the number of times I've danced around the room to them! Give them a listen...I KNOW you'll feel the same!

A description from their website:
This is COIN, and we are a product of the '90s. We decided that everything was too serious; so, we started a new project. Some call it swirly indie party pop. You can call it what you'd like, but we just want to make music that makes you feel good. Whatever does that, yes. Formed in Nashville, TN.

The Vespers

An incredible folk band from Nashville, TN. After listening to just a few minutes of their incredible voices and heartfelt lyrics I was hooked.

Below is the song that made me fall in love with them...

All Sons and Daughters

What an incredible talent Leslie Jordan and David Leonard are....they are a worship-acoustic-folk duo from Franklin, Tennessee who create the most beautiful praise and worship songs I've heard in a while.
You can download part of their album "Songs from Oklahoma" here.

Below is a personal favourite of mine:


Now this band has been one of my favourites for quite a number of years. They are a multi-award winning Christian rock band from Seneca, South Carolina. They have undeniable "country" roots with a more contemporary/rock feel.

Below is a song that kept me going this year.

Mumford and Sons
Now I know there is plenty of debate around whether or not they are Christian blah...blah...
But I personally believe there to be no denying the Christian undertones in many of their songs. Their lyrics are sensitive and heartfelt, whilst their melodies as a whole are filled with emotion.
I had the pleasure of seeing them live and I can honestly say that their passion for music as well as their fans is absolutely incredible!

What I wouldn't give to see this live....

Bear's Den
I saw them live when they opened for Mumford and Sons and all I can say is WOW!
These British Folk Rockers have lured fans from all over the world with their rich harmonies and deep lyrics.

I can't tell you how difficult it was to choose just one song to put up on the blog!

The Ember Days
A Christian worship band originally from New Zealand and now signed to a label based in....yip you guessed it NASHVILLE! I really feel as though I should visit this city sometime!:p
I first came across this band whilst on Kickstarter, which they used to finance one of their studio albums.
Below is how they would describe themselves:
Fuelled by pure creative passion and a heart to worship, the Ember Days are a band that continues to push the boundaries of music with songs that reflect the glorious and untamed beauty of God. Painfully honest lyrics, emotive intensity and powerhouse vocals all distinguish this New Zealand based quintet.

Rend Collective Experiment
Out of all the bands on this list, I think it's safe to say that this one has been on my playlist consistently. I can honestly say there is not one song of theirs I do not like....
They are a Northern Irish Christian, experimental, folk rock, worship band.

Matthew Mole
Last, but certainly not least is fellow South African, Matthew Mole!
What an incredible year it's been for this man...settling in a new city, playing at numerous festivals both local and abroad and his debut album reaching No.1 on the iTunes chart!! He is an amazing talent and inspiring man of God...we look forward to seeing what God has in store for him.

Friday, 27 December 2013

The Greatest Gift of All

First of all I'd like to apologise for not posting everything on time! It's holidays...and...well....seems like I struggle to function without a set routine :/

Anyways...we here at Rocking it Christian Style pray that you all had a blessed Christmas and I'm sure, like us, you're excited for what the New Year has in store.

After walking down a busy street...carols echoing all around...Christmas lights shining...the sound of laughter and excitement...I couldn't help but wonder if people actually remembered why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

I read an article entitled "The Joy of Celebrating a Godless Christmas" which really hit a nerve, I'm not going to lie....it filled me with anger and sadness. How can people celebrate such a day without acknowledging Jesus Christ?!

Below is a piece called "Mary's Dream":

I had a dream Joseph. I don't understand it, not really, but I think it was about a birthday celebration for our Son. I think that was what it was all about. The people had been preparing for it for about six weeks. They had decorated the house and bought elaborate gifts. It was peculiar, though because the presents weren't for our Son. They wrapped them in beautiful paper and tied them with lovely bows and stacked them under a tree. Yes, a tree Joseph, right in their house. They'd decorated the tree also. The branches were full of glowing balls and sparkling ornaments. There was a figure on top of the tree. It looked like an Angel might look. Oh it was beautiful. Everyone was laughing and happy. They were all excited about the gifts. They gave the gifts to each other, Joseph, not to our Son. I don't think they even knew Him. They never mentioned His name. Doesn't it seem odd for people to go to all that trouble to celebrate someone's birthday if they don't know Him. I had the strangest feeling that if our Son had gone to this celebration, He would have been intruding. Everything was so beautiful, Joseph, and everyone so full of cheer, but it made me want to cry. How sad for Jesus not to be wanted at His own birthday celebration. I'm glad it was only a dream. How terrible, Joseph, if it had been real!

It's sad how Christmas, to a large extent, has become about Santa and giving each other gifts, instead of giving thanks to our Lord and Saviour for stepping down from Heaven an becoming flesh for us. I cannot, for one second, fathom how deep His love for us truly is.

"Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He came forth from heaven to live on earth as mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God. During His earthly ministry, He taught men the higher law. His glorious gospel reshaped the thinking of the world. He blessed the sick. He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. To us He has said, 'Come, follow me.'

"As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always. We shall learn to forget ourselves. We shall turn our thoughts to the greater benefit of others"

Peace and Love


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Dancing Through South-East Asia

So J, Bron and Dean just got back from an EPIC Contiki trip that took them trough Thailand, Cambodi and Laos...

They produced an awesome video of their journey which you can check out below!

Keep an eye out for a post on their amazing adventure next week!!:)

Peace and Love everybody


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Monday, 16 December 2013

God, our Provider

And...I'm finally back home! After spending two amazing weeks at LIV I know it's going to take some getting used to. The thing with any mission trip is that you're constantly surrounded by fellow Christians, you're encouraged to set aside quiet time as often as you can and spend as much time as possible with God...BUT....when you get home and "reality" sets in again it is easy to fall back into your usual habits and that flame that was ignited starts to dim. It's day one and I'm going strong...but will I be able to say the same after day thirty-one?

I'm going to stop before I get too far into this as this is not the main point of this post...

Last week we helped an orphan organization with its end-of-year function where over 1000 people (orphans registered with the organization and their guardians) gathered. They put on a nativity play for the children and then handed out christmas presents, food and stationery sets...it was a massive event to organize!

Each volunteer ushered a family through the collection process, out of the gate and then returned to help the next family etc. Seeing the joy brought to everyone as we lead them past each station was beyond incredible, but it was the last family that I ushered that truly touched my heart. It was an old lady (a 'gogo' as South Africans would say) with a baby strapped to her back and a small boy no older than 13. She had such a kind face and an unbelievably contagious smile. After 2 hours of ushering I was extremely tired, but seeing this lady gave me new life!

Leading the family through the various collection stations I looked back to see if they were alright. I could barely see the old lady behind the huge pile of food and Christmas gifts. She was beaming from ear to ear. The small boy was also struggling to carry everything and kept dropping things...his face was literally gleaming. Seeing this scene really touched me and, while watching, two words came to mind...God's Provision.

Seeing how God has provided for LIV in a supernatural way and reflecting on my life and seeing "GOD" stamped across it I felt God asking "Why do you doubt me?". In Matthew 6:25-34 we are commanded not to worry and are told to trust in our Lord. Being a Christian does not mean that life will all of sudden become easy...on the contrary, we are told to expect our lives to be filled with trouble. We must trust in our loving Father because EVERYTHING really is possible with Him. I urge you to keep Him as the focal point of your life, because that's why we are here. There is nothing better than living out God's purpose for your life. Focus on trusting Him, laying down all your hopes and dreams at His feet and allow Him to use you in a way that glorifies Him.

Thinking about it I honestly don't think our ears will hear anything sweeter than in the end days when, to some, He will say "Well done, good and faithful servant... enter into the joy of your Master."

I pray that you will seek His kingdom first!

Peace and Love everybody


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Song of the Week: 14 December 2013

This being the last night of my outreach at LIV, I spent the day reflecting on my time here. This place is an incredible testament to how amazing and loving our Father in Heaven is, and what great feats His servants are able to achieve if they just trust Him.

During the children's awards ceremony we were treated to a performance by some of the ballet girls. They danced to Hillsong's Oceans and I believe it is safe to say that there was not a dry eye in the room. Seeing the hope, faith and love instilled in the children at the village is amazing. God is working in the hearts and lives of everyone at LIV and we are all truly excited to see what God has in store for them.

I chose this song as "Song of the Week" as the lyrics speak about God's strength and how, no matter what are faced with, we must trust and follow Him. He will NEVER let you down!

"Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed, and you won't start now"

Peace and Love


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Faith Without Works is Dead

Today we are privileged to have Jeremy guest-write for us once again! He is with me on an outreach to LIV village and felt compelled to share his thoughts on our time here so far!

‘What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.'  James 2:14-17 (ESV)

I believe all peoples should be hearing about the Gospel, because Jesus is that amazing. However, as Tich Smith (the founder of Lungisise Indlela Village [LIV]) says, if a child hasn't eaten in a week and we tell her about this loving Jesus, she will ask where this god of ours is.

Traditional church is crucial, we do need the community as Christians, but Jesus also said "I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. ’Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? ’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" Matthew 25:36-39 (ESV). This is straight out of the mouth of the Christ...and it moves me deeply. 

Serving on LIVit has reminded me of just how messed up our world is, and that Jesus wants us to help Him fix it (He doesn't need it, but I'm sure He appreciates it). And so I urge you to help the church re-examine its priorities. And for an example you don't have to look to a progressive evangelical church, but rather to the Roman Catholics (who have been doing sterling work so far. They don't deserve the bad rep they have in some circles), whose new pope, his Holiness Francis I, turned that mansion into a soup kitchen...

I'm not trying to guilt you into doing anything, as I have been inspired rather than guilted on LIVit. And not everyone is called to run an orphanage. However I am asking we contribute with our time occasionally. We can visit people in hospital, go to an old age home to see people there, or get involved in prison ministry. I feel our time and presence is far more valuable than our money in furthering the Kingdom of God. And so our tithes are not enough, because faith without works is dead.


Monday, 9 December 2013

Building a Cell

Firstly I'd like to apologize for the late post! J is away on holiday in South East Asia and I am serving at an outreach in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, so finding to time (and internet) is a bit tough!

I am currently volunteering with a team from Pretoria at an incredible place called LIV Village! Words cannot describe how amazing my time here has been. LIV is a special place...a place of hope, inspiration and new beginnings. They take in orphans and widows, giving them a home and a family.

After such a hectic year, being away from the "big city" has been unbelievable! I have been surrounded by such amazing people over the past week and I can honestly say I haven't felt this good in a while....this got me thinking...

Just before we left Pretoria for the beauty of Kwa-Zulu Natal, our team leader asked me to prepare a prayer evening for the persecuted church which we would have on one of the nights at LIV. I must admit I didn't know too much about the topic, and was therefore all the more keen to take the opportunity.

Looking at various websites and watching numerous videos I saw the horrific circumstances millions of Christians are placed in everyday and felt immense guilt at how easily I fall into the trap of taking South Africa's right to "religious freedom" for granted! I couldn't believe the immense risks people took just to own a Bible or to gather together and pray!

Now backtracking slightly....at LIV, our volunteer group decided that we want to have a prayer chain running through the night with one group of two praying for an hour before being replaced by the next group, and so on and so on. Now I don't know if you have ever tried to wake up at 2 in the morning to pray before, but it is tough!! Studying architecture means sleep is rare in my life and I take FULL advantage of my sleep during the holidays....needless to say I have REALLY struggled with the random midnight prayer times! I remember complaining to my girlfriend, Sam on Wednesday, saying how much I disagree with waking up at all hours of the night to pray and that I thought it would be better to have prayers either before or after we sleep. This however, all changed....

On Saturday I led our "Pray for the Persecuted Church" evening. It was such an incredible and emotional time for us all, as God started to break our hearts for our brothers and sisters halfway around the world. We all agreed that we, as Christians in South Africa, have it so so SO easy! I could run down a busy street or shopping mall with a Bible, bell and loudspeaker proclaiming that I am a Christian and no one would bat an eyelid....

Hearing stories of people being beaten, imprisoned, and even killed for owning a Bible or meeting together as a church I felt such guilt for not even being able to wake up for an hour of prayer. I thought of how complacent a Christian I can get sometimes...especially when "life gets busy" (I DESPISE this excuse!)

Something that seemed to speak to everyone was a quote from a Chinese church leader who spent 23 years in prison for being a Christian....speaking to Christians who did not face persecution he said:

"I was pushed into a cell, but you have to push yourself into one. You have no time to know God.You need to build yourself a cell, so you can do for yourself what persecution did for me - simplify your life and know God."

Reading this and seeing how the last week of serving others and spending a lot of time with God has positively impacted my life, I realised how important it is to "build yourself a cell"....as Open Doors puts it; It is VITAL that we spend time with God, to grow in him.

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to take this holiday time to reflect on the past year. Start building your cell! Make sure you spend as much time as possible in the Lord's presence....putting other things above our God will not end in your contentedness - this I promise you. I know it is easy to become too busy with other responsibilities, but I encourage you to manage your time differently if necessary. Ensure that God is the number one priority in your life! Make a set devotion/pray time for you and if you have someone you can pray with that's even better as he/she will hold you accountable.

I pray that God will touch you through this and that you'll feel encouraged to put God above all else....trust Him with everything! Do not worry about anything on this Earth....our loving God is in control!

Peace and Love everybody


Friday, 6 December 2013

South Africa's father: Nelson Mandela

This is our 100th post and, in many ways, it seems fitting that it is dedicated to someone that has changed the shape of not only our country, but the world! Being a South African I can honestly say the passing of our country's beloved father, Nelson Mandela, feels somewhat surreal....which is strange considering our nation has been preparing for this for some time....

The world had lost an incredible icon...a man respected by leaders around the world...a man who stood for honesty, forgiveness, integrity and freedom. He will forever be missed...

His life should serve as an example for all of us. He was a man of action, not merely words. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy will stand for generations to come...what an inspiration!

Romans 12:15 says that we must mourn with those who mourn...our prayers are with his family at this difficult time. We pray that South Africa will learn from his example and continue to grow together, striving for freedom and standing in unity.

I will leave you with words from the inspirational man himself:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

It seems fitting that song of the week be dedicated to this international icon. Below is a song by one of my favourite artists at the moment, King Charles...enjoy!

Monday, 2 December 2013

What am I doing!?

Whaddup Readers!  Sam is my name and Alex and Jay have dared to let me write this week’s post – hooray!  What fantastic and generous humans they are!

Ready? Okay!

All the Rocking it Christian Style posts speak of issues that are so relevant and close to my heart.  I am tremendously interested in music and projects that glorify God within creative industries.  I just finished a degree in Fine Arts and since about the middle of this year, I really struggled to justify my artistic creation.  What is the purpose of this artwork? Who understands it? Who actually cares whether I paint a landscape or present a toilet seat on a podium and call it art? What GOOD does academia do?  Whose life does this impact?  I’m sure there are many other creatives who can relate to these feelings… 

After wallowing in self-pity about my decision to study a useless degree, I found something that shed the whole sun of light!  The About Us section of Deeper-Well:

Deeper Well: A Gospel Collective
Deeper Well was formed in 2012 as a collective for followers of Jesus who want to use their creative gifts to explore the depths of the Gospel.
Our goal as a collective is to help creatives and artists navigate the tension so often found between the world of art and the world of Jesus – for art by its very nature is self-expression, while Jesus by His very nature is self-denial. [BOOOOOOOM!] What we need is a drive for creativity that is not motivated by the desire to be known, but by the desire to make Jesus known. It is a need for Christ-expression, for the rise of the prophetic voice.
We must remember that the ancient Hebrew prophets were poets – their words were inspired by God, and drew the people back to God. It was artisans gifted by God who used their creativity to build a sacred space where God’s presence would be experienced. We believe that this kind of expression is needed desperately in these difficult days. Our desire is to provide creative work that flows from a deep understanding of the gospel and that is available for the church as a whole.
Recognizing that the gospel flows out of God’s generosity toward us in Jesus, every work that Deeper Well produces will be offered as a free gift. Jesus said, “If the Son of Man is lifted up He will draw all people unto Himself.”  Our prayer is that these creative offerings will lift up Jesus and draw you close to Him.

I decided to include the entire About Us because it is just too cool.  You should all definitely check it out - http://deeper-well.com/  Incredible music!

So there is MEANT to be tension for followers of Jesus in creative industries?… WHAAAAAAAT!? Blows my mind! Why did no one tell me this when I finished high school!?  Even if they had, it wouldn’t have stopped me from doing either music or art. Side note: If God has put fire in your heart for something, be it baking, acting, accountancy, teaching or architecture, the Holy Spirit is going to stir.  No matter what your logic says, what your parents say – If you have a relationship with Jesus and He puts it on your heart to go and scrub floors for Him, you go and flippin’ scrub floors for Him!  If you deny a stirring from the Holy Spirit, he’s only going to come back and stir again (even if it is later in your life). If you choose to turn around a corner onto a path contrary to that which God has placed in your heart, the Holy Spirit will meet you around another corner anyway!!

Anyway, this About Us section really inspired me to finish my degree and pursue a purposeful life in the creative fields!  No industry on earth is perfect or completely fulfilling (nothing and no one but Jesus is 100% fulfilling ), but God has a plan to implement His perfect will for each of our lives and that involves being a light surrounded by people who don’t understand what God’s love means.  And it’s hard.  But that is why we have the Holy Spirit: our helper and comforter.  I won’t go into all the amazingness of the Holy Spirit because this post will never stop!

Everything you will do in this life, God will make sure that you use what you have learned to impact and help someone else to see the Love and the Truth. I truly believe this.  Every gift, every skill, every blessing you have been given in this life is for the sole purpose of glorifying God.  Creatives who have been trained in the arts industry are encouraged to express themselves, search themselves more deeply, ‘play on YOUR strengths’, be as smart and philosophical as you possibly can be, when actually, we should only be seeking God more deeply and more rigourously through our work. 

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.’ Romans 12:6 NLT

Romans is generally FANTASTIC to read when you have no idea what is going on in your life! I really digz Romans.

Author, Frederick Buechner defines ‘vocation’:  “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  So how do we know whether we’re in, or working towards the ‘right’ vocation?  I think the word of the day is Wisdom.  How do you receive Godly wisdom? EAT YOUR BIBLE, that’s how! We need to be lapping up all the promises and the lessons that God wants to show us while we’re on earth. That is how God is talking to us, it is the best way to truly know what is good and what is of God’s will.

We will never have perfect wisdom, but as we grow eager to learn and thirst for God’s word, we gain wisdom.  I know it sounds like I’m trying to convince you to read your bible but sometimes I really feel like I need that!  There are such delightful treats in the Old Testament!

The Lord told Moses to instruct the Levites to ‘be sure to give to the Lord the best portions of the gifts given to you’ (Numbers 18:29 NLT).  I don’t believe that the Lord is only referring to tithing...

So now that we know that God has blessed us with specific gifts and now that we have a vague idea of how to obtain wisdom to use them, what is missing from this equation?

LOVE (1 Corinthians 13). It is the love of our Saviour that carries us through whatever we end up doing.  That is the motivation.  Without it, we shouldn’t even think about making a difference or trying to be successful.  This goes for all industries God places us in.

Holla at the comments box below! J