Category Archives: Immigration

Christmas Traditions

Christmas is a time of traditions. Ask anyone who celebrates Christmas and they will tell you exactly how they celebrate each and every year.

I recently got asked the question of how people celebrate Christmas in England for a friend who was doing a school project. It brought back a lot of memories and traditions that I have always observed during Christmas.

In 2005 when I moved to the USA, those yearly December traditions started to become December memories. I now lived in a foreign country where people did ‘Christmas’ differently from the homeland. Now I was married and my wife Raquel had very different Christmas traditions than I did and also I was in ‘my’ home, not my parents home, which changed the feel of the season.

Some people maybe horrified by the thought of not following their traditions at Christmas. Some believe Christmas is not Christmas unless they put their tree up the day after Thanksgiving while another has to put their tree up the week before Christmas Day. However, I have found that doing something different at Christmas is a wonderful experience. The first time I spent Christmas with my in-laws was a totally different experience. It involved celebrating on Christmas Eve and staying up into the early hours of Christmas Day eating, laughing and opening presents. It felt strange, but it was still a great Christmas experience.

People often live and die by their traditions. Whether it is at Christmas or how we do church! I like some traditions, but I have realized that traditions while give us a ‘nice’ feeling on the inside, can in fact stop us from experiencing a whole new world. I challenge you this year to maybe do one thing different from what you do every year. I am not saying get rid of your traditions, but do not let them stop you from discovering new things!


What is the will of God? Part 3

This week I have been blogging about when to know what the will of God is in our lives. On Monday we noted to first look into God’s Word (The Bible) for guidance, then on Thursday we saw how we must know the peace of God that goes past all understanding. Today I want to deal with a topic that is one of the hardest decisions anyone will ever make, and how we can know God’s will in that decision.

Should I move?

One thing I think I have become a bit of an expert at (only through experience) is moving house, state or country. When I was growing up my family moved three times to different locations around the United Kingdom. When I was 25 I moved a little further, across the pond to the United States. Then two years ago I moved from Missouri to Maryland. Each time knowing exactly that it was in the will of God, in fact more than his will, but it was ordained or planned by God.

When I moved country I knew it was the right decision because I was in a place of transition and learning in my own life. I had no real ties to hold me to where I was. I was in a secular job and knew my future was in full time ministry. My wife to be was in the United States in a position that was in ministry. She felt called to the place she was and I didn’t feel called to the place I was. So with no job, no visa and without much thought (because there wasn’t much need for thought), I quit my job, packed my bags, said my goodbyes and moved to the United States knowing God was in control. He sure was, within three months I had a job, a home and a visa to work!

When we decided to leave Missouri and move to Maryland it was for different circumstances (I talked a little about this in part 2). My wife and I knew God had led us out of our positions and he was leading us into new ones, we just didn’t know which new ones. We had a few opportunities and options. We could go back to the United kingdom, go to a few other places in the United States or go to Maryland. Out of all the options Maryland was my least favorite, yet after visiting and weighing up all the options, praying and seeking God we knew from the bottom of our hearts that Maryland was the place. It wasn’t the best option, nor the most appealing, but we knew the path God was leading us, and all the signs led to this path.

That is how we knew to move; we knew the path God was taking our lives and the road to Maryland went down this path, not the other options. At times we can be concerned with the best job, the nicest or cheapest place to live, the best schooling for our kids, the least amount of crime etc. These are all options, but if they lead you away from the place God is taking you it will end in failure. I have seen many people move because it was the easiest option, or not move because they were comfortable where they were; this has most often ended in either a huge time of testing in their lives, or they have settled into the status quo of their lives and not become all that God had intended them to be. Do not let temporary distractions take you from the path or road God is taking your life. He has big plans for you and a decision based away from this path will end in a life unfulfilled.

In the book of Proverbs the writer tells us in both chapters 16 and 20 that it is God who determines a mans steps, and it is God who directs a mans steps, so how can anyone but God understand it.

Where is God taking you? What is his plan for your life? Submit to this plan and you will spend your life walking and living in the will of God!

What is the will of God? Part 2

This week I am writing a three part blog on finding the will of God in different situations. I have already dealt with looking to God’s Word as the principle way to find God’s will in our lives. Today and on Friday I will deal with finding God’s will in two situations that affect everyone at some stage in their lives.

When To Quit My Job?

How many times have you thought over your career, “I wish I could quit my job”? Most of the time we do not do it because we need the pay check, or we actually like our job overall or we have too much investment in our employers retirement fund. However, there are times when we are serious about quitting our job but we ask the dreaded question, “is it God’s will for me to quit my job”.

All in all I believe God wants us to be happy. If our job is causing you to be depressed, causing health problems, or affecting your family life in unhealthy ways, then I believe you do not even have to ask the ‘God’s will” question. However, for others it is not so clear cut, so I want to give you an example from my life that may help. Firstly, there is a difference when it comes to ministry jobs and secular jobs. For some reason I think people find it much easier to decide what God’s will is if they are in a secular job. I worked in a few different secular positions and found the decision to move on a whole lot easier than in ministry roles. I do believe though the principles are still the same.

In January 2007 my wife Raquel and I decided to resign our positions at North Point Church in Springfield, MO. North Point had grown at an incredible pace (today I believe there are over 3,500 in attendance each week), we were doing some pretty unique stuff and the church was getting a name for itself. Furthermore, Raquel had been there from the very beginning. She lived and breathed North Point and we both had seen God do some impossible things. However, our decision to resign came as a shock to many in the church and people did not understand why. People thought either something was wrong with the church or we had lost our minds. However, we had prayed about this decision for over four months. Raquel had in fact told me a year before that she believed her time was up and God was moving us on.

In the September of 2006 we went to pray for three days in regards to this decision. After three days we felt God telling us that our time was not up yet. In December 2006 we went to India in a ministry trip and it was there that God spoke to both of us to say now was the time. So when we came back we handed in our resignations, not having any other employment opportunities in the pipeline. My US visa allowed me to work at North Point only and so on the surface it looked like we had lost our mind.

The reasons we felt our time was up at North Point was because the church was heading in a different direction to where they had been. We thought it was a great direction, but it was not a journey we could go on and give 100%. Our beliefs and values were not in that direction. We knew if we stayed it would be a restriction to the church and to our own lives. This was not to say they were wrong, but just to say this was the moment our journey’s went in two different ways.

This was the first reason we knew our decision was in the will of God. If you are in a ministry, church, organization or even employment and you cannot give the leaders, members and vision your 100% backing, it is time to start to think of another place to be. The second reason we knew we were in the will of God was because we just knew. I cannot explain it in words, but when you know something is right, it often is. We gave up a good salary, a visa, future recognition and a comfortable life because we just knew it was the right decision. Before we made the decision to leave we had no peace, after we made the decision we had a peace about the whole situation that I can only describe as divine. In Philippians 4:7 we are told that those who rely on God have a peace which no-one can understand which guards our hearts and mind through Jesus Christ. This is exactly what happened to us.

There have been many times when the peace of God has come into a situation that goes beyond understanding. So before you make any rash decision, before you ask the question, “what is the will of God?” Ask yourself if you have peace. Not a lack of noise, but a peace that is deep within that goes beyond understanding, a peace that others will question and a peace that puts your mind at ease when you lay your head on your pillow at night.