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Slightly over a year ago, my friend Ed (after whom this blog is named) gave a brief presentation about repentance. This was at a graduation ceremony at the end of FORM, a discipleship year he undertook after university. I asked him whether he could rewrite it as a guest post for this blog. In his own words, “this would have been a lot easier if he had written it down in the first place”, but, a year on, it is here!


Photo: bradleypjohnson, re-used under CC license

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

FORM takes its name from this verse, which handily sums up one of the key things I learned about during the year – repentance. Repentance is a tricky word, because the way we use it in modern English does not correspond very well with the New Testament Greek word it generally serves as a translation for. Ask most people (or a dictionary) what repentance is, and they are likely to say something along the lines of “feeling sorry or regretful for past wrongdoings or sins”.

However, the word we translate as repentance – μετάνοια – comes from roots meaning beyond (μετά), and mind or thought (νοια). A simple way to put it might be a change of mind or belief. Literally, repentance is the renewing of your mind! This led me to some key realisations about what repentance is and is not:

  • Repentance is not feeling sorry for sin

Life would be pretty simple if Jesus’ command to us was to feel bad when we sin. I know I’d be doing pretty well, at least! Simply knowing our wrongness doesn’t give us the ability to stop being wrong.

  • Repentance is not primarily about our actions, but our minds

We humans have an amazing ability to focus on what we do rather than what we believe. But God is more interested in the hearts of his people. Repentance is not about feeling sufficiently sorry so that God will be satisfied with us. It requires us to humble ourselves and let God transform us.

  • Repentance is turning away from sin…

The previous point notwithstanding, there is an active element in repentance. Once we recognise our need to be renewed we have to change our behaviour in light of the truth, and keep on rejecting the temptation to go back to our old patterns of behaviour or to return to a stance of rejecting God’s truth.

There is more to repentance than just a rejection of sin. In fact, without letting God renew our minds, our attempts to reject sin only draw more of our attention towards them! Jesus said “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel”. Repentance and belief go hand in hand.

Life on the sine wave

This is the third guest post on this blog! The author, Jen, is currently studying mathematics at Warwick University, and is involved in many Christian societies on campus.

Spiritual highs and lows. We all experience them at some point in our Christian walk. There are days when God seems extremely close, our desire to pray and read his word very strong, and when we long to tell others about him.  And then there are the days when ours prayers seem mere words, reading the Bible is a chore, and we commit that sin again. CS Lewis reminds us that no spiritual high or low will last forever. And they don’t. But what results is almost as frustrating as being stuck in a low, as we oscillate between highs and lows, but feel like there’s no overall progress. Life on the sine-wave. Not drifting from God but not drawing closer, saved but not growing. But there are 3 important things to remember about the sine-wave experience.


Photo: Brandon Daniel, reused under CC License

Ups and downs are inevitable

Justified but not yet fully sanctified, redeemed but not yet transformed, call it what you like. We still live in a broken world and we still struggle with sin. We are God’s, and he is in our hearts, but the clean-up operation is taking longer than we would like and so we oscillate; we win the battle with one sin but then it comes back to life, or another rises to battle. We are all in a daily struggle with sin. Oscillating on the sine-wave is not a sign that we are weak, but on the contrary, shows that we are truly in Christ.

God doesn’t change

The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not.

CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

The Bible constantly reminds us that God is unchanging. He does not oscillate but remains loving, merciful, just and good. His love for us never changes, only our perception of it. There is nothing we can do, nothing we can be, nothing that will separate us from his love. He chose us when we were sinners and rebels; he will remain there in the oscillations. So we can praise him regardless of where we are on the sine-wave, because he still loves us and is with us, working for his plan and for good.

There can be progress alongside the ups and downs

Our life is not quite following the sine wave. It’s really more like the graph of x+sin(2x):


Though we may not feel it, through the ups and downs, God is constantly transforming us to be more like him.  We are definitely not a finished work, but that means that there’s space for us to grow closer to God, day by day. Try this; next time you are in a spiritual dip, think back to the last time you were in one, or one you were in last year, and see if you can find any changes or ways God has brought you closer to him. More often than not, you will find something, or someone else will point it out for you. So although it feels like you are going nowhere, take heart. Because you’re not the one doing the sanctifying work – God is; and that means you are making progress. And one day you will be a finished work of God, made perfect like his Son.

So take heart, and, with our all-powerful, all-loving God at your side, keep on going on the x+sin(2x) wave!

Being a Christ-like Space Invader

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This guest post has been written by my good friend Joe, who is currently studying ancient history, and is prayer secretary for Warwick Christian Union. He has already published Minecraft-based fiction; and is a great metaphor for the Trinity (but that’s for another post). If you’d like to write a guest post, send me an email at!

A couple of mornings a week I head off to my local pool for a swim. Generally these sessions are quite relaxing; I meander up and down quite happily … except for one thing. Space Invader. This is the title I have (probably quite unfairly) ascribed to one of my fellow swimmers. The reasons for this are two fold:

  1. She has rather dangly arms and legs.
  2. She consistently collides with me, getting in my way, no matter how far I move over in the pool to escape.


Photo: theyuped, under CC License.

As Christians, I feel it is very easy to slip into being a Space Invader in the way we share our faith. I do this on occasion. I enter my kitchen and just as one of my housemates says something like “Oh Jesus” and I manage to butt in with some glib comment like “That’s the guy!” Cue my cheesy grin and their momentary stare at me as if I’m some kind of alien before they turn away and get on with their conversation. Somehow in those moments I’ve become as annoying to them as Space Invader is to me, because I was intentionally thrusting my faith in the way of their normal activity. Paul warns us about these situations. He talks about being careful “that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” If us invading other people’s space with our faith becomes a stumbling block to their coming into relationship with Christ, then this probably isn’t the best way of evangelising.

However I feel I have to stop here with criticism of approaching people with our faith before I become heretical. You see, Jesus was possibly the greatest Space Invader of all time.

Throughout the gospels, again and again, Jesus’ beliefs get in people’s way. Whether confrontationally when he encounters the Pharisees, whom he publicly decries as hypocrites;  or lovingly when he stills Martha’s busyness, Jesus regularly gets in the way. The difference with my Space Invasion, though, is that, in Jesus’ case, people’s lives were regularly changed. So, what is the difference?

Jesus does it with care for the person in mind.

With some examples (like that of Martha) it is easy enough to see how he acts out of love. When he encounters the Samaritan woman at the well, he doesn’t shout at her and condemn her for her sins, but instead gently teaches her about a God who loves her greatly. Even with the Pharisees, his love for them is visible. When Jesus is on the cross, he cries out to God to forgive those who have put him there, including the Pharisees. In every confrontation and encounter Jesus deeply cares about the person whose space he is invading.

And this, I guess, is the key. If we do have to be space invaders for God, it is so much better to be the Jesus kind, the kind who works on deeply loving the person before they open their mouth. And to do that, we need to listen to them and care about what they are saying. That being said, it is a challenge to do so, something I can definitely say from experience as one who is still struggling to love a certain lady who gets in my way at the pool…

5 ways we can learn from children

This is the first guest post on this blog! It’s written by my friend Dorian. He is a kids worker at a North London church and studying Applied Theology with Moorlands college. In his spare time he enjoys recreational mathematics (don’t we all?), and usually mixes up American and British spelling. If you’d like to contribute a guest post, get in touch at

Theologians have given lots of different opinions about what Jesus meant when he said “whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it“. Most of them have talked about the importance of imitating certain childlike qualities; and interestingly, they usually talk about the importance of imitating the qualities that society of the day finds desirable in a child.


Rather than debating over which child-like qualities Jesus might have been talking about, I suggest actually learning from the children themselves. Here are five ways I’d suggest we can do so:

1. Learning as you teach children.

In order to pass on knowledge, you must first know what you wish to pass on! I’ve found that teaching in Kids church is a great way to to really learn yourself. The preparation needed to speak on a passage in a way that is both meaningful and simple enough for kids to understand is a challenging and rewarding way to learn.

Ok, so technically this isn’t learning directly from children, but it is seeking to learn as you teach. which brings us to:

2. Learning from the questions children ask

A good teacher lets their pupils ask questions, and children are great at asking. Children don’t have as much of a developed world-view as adults, so they are much quicker to notice discrepancies between teachings and actions, and ask questions that adults are afraid to ask.

Check out the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17: all of Israel was encamped against the Philistine army, but were too terrified to move against them. David, acting as a delivery boy for his brothers spots what’s going on, and asks the question “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David, the youngest son of Jesse, had seen how the way the Israelite army was behaving, i.e. cowering in fear, was contrary to their belief that God himself went before the army to guarantee their victory.

By their questions children can have a prophetic voice, challenging the practices of the church, and pointing out where teachings don’t match up with actions, often because adults have become desensitized to the message.

Don’t be afraid of the questions children ask, but be willing to be challenged, and be willing to seek answers and learn.

3. Listening to their faith

Children often have a simple, yet powerful faith that adults can learn from. Check out 2 Kings 5. A important general was plagued by leprosy, and it was the passing comment of his wife’s Israelite servant girl that eventually led to his healing. This girl’s simple faith statement: “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy” was listened to and acted upon, which ended up influencing the fate of entire nations, and bringing this general to know the Lord.

Children aren’t afraid to say what they know to be true. Neither should we be.

4. Learn from their mistakes

The Bible frequently calls believers in Christ “children of God”, and in a lot of ways our behaviour toward God is very childish.

One time when I was working in an orphanage, two girls had been taken out of their families and placed in our care. They had been in the children’s home for a very short time, when one night, during a thunderstorm they ran away. Thankfully the next morning they were found, though shivering cold and soaked to the bone.

I was quick to judge these girls, wondering why on earth they would run away from a place of safety and protection, into the darkness and a town they didn’t know, and during a thunderstorm no less! But the more I reflected on this incident, the more I began to see my relationship with God in a new light. How many times have I run away from Him, seeking my own way rather than the safety and protection He provides? These girls showed me how important it is to trust God, even when I don’t know what’s going on, and reminded me to repent for the times I have tried to live life by my own rules rather than His.

5. Learn from how children receive grace

The flip side of the story I just told, is how the two girls came accept the orphanage as their home. Even though they messed up big-time when they ran away, they realized that they were forgiven, and then sought with open arms to receive all the orphanage gave them. An adult who has been given a meal would want to repay this, either with money at restaurant, or by a gift or with reciprocity if invited round to a friend’s for dinner. But children usually aren’t able to repay what is given to them.

We could never repay our parents, or whoever in our childhood were the important adult figures were, for all the time effort and love they poured into raising us. And we could never repay our heavenly Father for the gifts he has lavished on us, especially not Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Instead, we are asked to freely receive his abundant grace, and live as best we can to the way he taught us. Children can show us how to accept a gift freely given.

If you want to know what Jesus meant we he said we should receive the Kingdom of God like a child, then I encourage you to spend time with children! Volunteering to help with Kid’s Church (or Sunday School, Kidz Klub, or whatever it’s called at your church) is one really great way to grow in your faith. Just remember that as much as you go to teach and serve, you also go to learn how to receive God’s Kingdom as a child.