Journey of belief: Chapter Two: Exploration of faiths

I have always been interested in what people believe and why it makes a difference in their lives and some friends were in a group that a Christian wouldn’t usually be involved with. I name it Tea & Biscuits but it came under several other names officially, most recently “Mind, Body & Spirit”. We meet up, drink tea/coffee, eat biscuits and chat about life and what we believe in. I’ve had many good discussions in it, and many arguments too. We also do meditation which is usually a story that you allow your mind to follow and relax too.

I’ve always as far as I can remember believed there to be an energy in everything, some call it nature, I like to believe it as the spirit of God as it is in everything. I wanted to know why people believed things, how and why and although it went almost against everything in Christianity, I wanted to speak to people about God from their stand point, to be able to relate my belief to their own so I started looking at the pagan, and wican roots of belief. I had many friends that believed that point of view and wanted to understand more.

I reguarly attended and still attend the T & B (Tea and Biscuits) group and talk about my beliefs as well as general life. I listened to how they followed their lifestyles and got involved a little. I went to their groups, and they seemed harmless enough to start with. They were just talking, some spoke of spells and rituals they would do. A common one was a circle of protection before they would attempt anything further which made sense in one way, but to know you needed protection for something you were about to do also made quite strong warning signs.

I mixed with people doing some things with energy, and my senses detected that something was wrong, but I couldn’t put a finger or a real description of what was happening more than a feeling inside me to say “no, don’t do this”. I ignored it, and it felt great at the time but very quickly afterwards, I felt quite depressed wanting back that feeling. I didn’t know what to do about it all, I was happy yet something inside me felt broken, an emptyness. I wanted to fix it but had no idea what to do about it and it just kept on going. I prayed about it, but still it didn’t seem to fix it. I ended up talking to people at church about it, and we prayed together and the feeling seemed to pass. I still can remember the pull, it was so easy to get that Good feeling but the downside was so strong, I don’t want to go through that again.

My friends seem to mix with wicca, witch craft, paganism and play with magics or mess with the spirit. A lot of the time it seems safe but I’ve seen the bad side, and really want no-one to go through that. I find it difficult to explain, as to express a feeling is quite difficult sometimes.

The best way I can say about looking at the life within paganism etc was that I was on a giant bungie. I dived strait into it, and at first could feel myself falling into things, I could see the dangers of what I was doing but believed that the only way I could relate was to live through it so I continued down. I would push through the storm clouds as I fell down through it so the point where it was enjoyable. It didn’t seem that bad and the more I did the better I felt, but could feel a battering every so often. I didn’t know what it was and just wanted away from it. I pushed on through to the point where I forgot I was falling, it was just life and then suddenly the rope ran out. I felt a tug, a word of “Enough!” and I looked back. I could see a long rope with a hand holding me there. I was pulled back, I can remember all that I’ve done and can relate a little to those that believe those things but at the same time was aware that I was a Christian, I believed in God and that He was my father in heaven. He was pulling me back to him fast and the comfort came, the calmness and peace that I used to know.

The travels in belief into this world lasted for over a year, and I did keep looking, and my reasoning to keep going was… I want to understand, and be able to relate. At one point, I forgot what my aim was and fell into the lifestyle – it was strange, as I never stopped believing in God but for a while, it felt that I wanted me time, rather than God time.

I will always remember one day in particular where we had met as a group to “practice” a spell of some sort. Someone wanted to connect with the spirit world. They began with a protection circle, and then something felt very wrong. Prior to this, they had tried things but it had never felt this wrong. It felt dangerous and the room was filled with an energy (I could remember the feeling as surrounded by the spirit) but it did not feel right. I spoke out, and said “You must stop, there is something wrong – you are not meant to touch this sort of energy”. It did not stop them from trying, they told me, “Its OK, this is what happens”. I said “No”, and I prayed. I don’t think I’d every prayed so feverently with my heart, I was truelly afraid. They stopped, and asked “WHAT did you do!” as the energy seemed to disappear from the room and they could not restart it. I said, “You should not be touching this energy, and I prayed against what you were doing.” – I believe God was there protecting me. He gave me the awareness of understanding and reading what was wrong there and gave me the option to ask for help of which I took. I got asked a lot of questions about my faith over the next few days. Some people were annoyed with me, but I’d always said from the beginning what I believed in.

Journey of Belief: The first Chapter

I became a Christian in 1988/89 – I was around 10 years old, and felt in my heart and soul it was the right thing to do – it just made sense even at 10 years of age. Since then I’ve re-dedicated my life to Christ multiple times.

When in youth sunday school at the tab church I often felt the power of God in my life, often when we went away and life was away from school, and home life – where I could be free to believe and know that those around me didn’t judge me. I would be a lot more faithful then.

In February 1992 I started to go to an event named “Crucible” where a lot of youth groups met together and worshipped God together. There was around 200 people there when I started and the event had to move to different locations as it had around 400 people going each month – always based in the Tees Valley.

In 1994 I went to a youth camp named Harvest – The theme was “Everybody needs somebody” and was using music from the Blues Brothers theme tune. I went with The Tab Youth group.

While at school I discovered that many schools had a Christian union, but mine did not – myself and a group of others tried to set one up and had a small group of students meeting together once a week. It didn’t really work out – we didn’t know what was to happen just that there should be one. So without a real plan we went out and tried. Now they have one thats going well at the school but that many years since.

In 1995 I stopped going to church, I didn’t see the point anymore.. The sermons seemed to be repeated and the information stale. I’d been told I had to go into the main church now and youth church was no longer an option. I found the services tedious and quite boring so stopped going. I continued going to the crucible events each month and Harvest but otherwise church was out.

In 1997 I started Teesside University and was determined that I would not let people dis me for my beliefs – I would not make friends for them to throw religion at me..

So I introduced myself with “Hello my name is J… and I am a Christian” – It totally terrified me of the response and was so glad to find the first person I asked replied with.. “Hello my name is T… and so am I” which was a relief. I was later to find that no-one else in the class felt the same way so wow, I think that was a good sign and is still a great friendship.

Teesside University Christian Union

We joined the Christian union of the University and were members throughout the time of University. At one point for a year I was involved in running part of the group which was an honour.

Uni was a suprise to me at how people seemed to look at people and the world, it was more of an accepting place of “oh, you believe that… thats nice” and not such ridicule for believing in God.

I found friends from all over the country and world that also believed as I did and were supportive and helping althou we were all doing totally different things in life, we are all following the same Christ.

It got me thinking as to why people from different denominations didn’t work together – always confused me – people asked me what my denomination was – I’d say “Christian” and they’d ask which type… I thought “There’s only one” and reply “Christian, Were all in this together”

In 1999 I joined a church named “Riverside” – I went after a friend bugged me continually about going for several weeks from the Christian Union [CU] – the services were quite long but enjoyable. They had a youth church on a friday night – around 20+ went which was nice. We would sing, and worship, games, pray and learn together support whatever any of us were going through.

In 2000, we heard about a mission event that was going to happen in Manchester at summer time – something that hadn’t happened before named “Message 2000” – two weeks of working in the area supporting the people there though running youth/children groups, clearing gardens and decorating homes and speaking to people about God. There was invitation to events on the night where bands would play in the areana and got around 14,000+ people turning up.

Message 2000

We went for week 2 of the project, where we camped out in groups in a park in manchester and worked on different teams in the area. I was working on a kids group team. Over the 2 weeks around 10,000 Christians joined together and helped out.

We also went out in small groups of 2 or 3 and spoke to people about out beliefs. This terrified me and on the first day when I tried to speak no sound came out – I was embarrased, and scared but nothing bad came from it… The next day, we went out again and spoke to people successfully.

Many people didn’t want to know and shrugged us off, but there were a lot of people willing to talk and convesations would go on and it was good. A lot of oposing ideas but people were listening and responding – something I was not expecting and felt blessed for it.

Around 2001 I went and got baptised – this isn’t the same as a Christening, this is showing people that I do believe in Christ and want God in my life – a public demonstration where I had many friends and family attend and see me leave one life and come into another.

I have continued to go to Harvest althou not as a patron any more, since around 2000, I helped with stewarding which helps keep the place running safely. In 2009 I tried a spot on the Ministry team which allowed me to pray with others – not that they couldn’t pray themselves – more as a faciliatator helping when stuck. In 2010 I am not doing stewarding – but intend to help with the ministry team as this is where I feel I am directed now.

In 2006 an event named NE1 was ran where several churches all from the North East of England met up in chester-le-street and spent a week going out helping people in the area. From Clearing gardens, and painting to spending time with people and running childrens groups.

NE1 reminded me of the Message 2000 event but was local to the North East where I am instead of another part of the country.

I helped with stewarding and anything else I could help with there. A fun time, great hot dry weather and wonderful friendships made aswell as seeing so many peoples lives changed through Christ.

In Late 2006 I moved back to the church I started at – The Tab where I attended and could get involved with things. They had a 20s to 30s group that met each week on a friday at Borders on Teesside Park at 7pm ish til closing. A time to chill out and be with other Christians not in a church setting – Not sure its still on since Borders closed but there are many coffee shops around there now.

Over the what been coming up 22 years since becoming a Christian, I’ve fell away from God and the Faith many times but always have came back. If I look at all the times when I’ve been truely happy there has always been A God aspect to it all so that where my focus should be.

I don’t know what to expect from life in the future, or even in the present really but think that its going to be an amazing adventure.

A few bible verses come to mind:

Jeremiah 29:11: 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 had always read that passage and missed the point of future – I’ve always looked at what NOW, and not future but to know that there is going to be a future and I will be looked after – I like that.

Psalm 139:1-3: O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.You discern my going out and my lying down;you are familiar with all my ways.

– To know that God knows everything is amazing and scary at the same time, but to know that someone is in control is a great thing to realise. Especially when they know what you are able to do and give you the power to do it.

In mid 2008, and spread over 10 weeks there has been a local event named Just 10, I’ve wrote about it here but its been a truelly local opertunity to see around 5,000+ people coming together and worship God together.

Day 18 – My Beliefs

I became a Christian in 1988 or 1989 – I was about 10 years old, and felt in my heart and soul it was the right thing to do – it just made sense even at 10 years of age. Since then I’ve re-dedicated my life to Christ multiple times.

When in youth sunday school at the tab church I often felt the power of God in my life, often when we went away and life was away from school, and home life – where I could be free to believe and know that those around me didn’t judge me. I would be a lot more faithful then.

In February 1992 I started to go to an event named “Crucible” where a lot of youth groups met together and worshipped God together. There was around 200 people there when I started and the event had to move to different locations as it had around 400 people going each month – always based in the Tees Valley.

In 1994 I went to a youth camp named Harvest – The theme was “Everybody needs somebody” and was using music from the Blues Brothers theme tune. I went with The Tab Youth group.

While at school I discovered that many schools had a Christian union, but mine did not – myself and a group of others tried to set one up and had a small group of students meeting together once a week. It didn’t really work out – we didn’t know what was to happen just that there should be one. So without a real plan we went out and tried. Now they have one thats going well at the school but that many years since.

In 1995 I stopped going to church, I didn’t see the point anymore.. The sermons seemed to be repeated and the information stale. I’d been told I had to go into the main church now and youth church was no longer an option. I found the services tedious and quite boring so stopped going. I continued going to the crucible events each month and Harvest but otherwise church was out.

In 1997 I started University and was determined that I would not let people dis me for my beliefs – I would not make friends for them to throw religion at me..

So I introduced myself with “Hello my name is J… and I am a Christian” – It totally terrified me of the response and was so glad to find the first person I asked replied with.. “Hello my name is T… and so am I” which was a relief. I was later to find that no-one else in the class felt the same way so wow, I think that was a good sign and is still a great friendship.

We joined the Christian union of the University and were members throughout the time of University. At one point for a year I was involved in running part of the group which was an honour.

Uni was a suprise to me at how people seemed to look at people and the world, it was more of an accepting place of “oh, you believe that… thats nice” and not such ridicule for believing in God.

I found friends from all over the country and world that also believed as I did and were supportive and helping althou we were all doing totally different things in life, we are all following the same Christ.

It got me thinking as to why people from different denominations didn’t work together – always confused me – people asked me what my denomination was – I’d say “Christian” and they’d ask which type… I thought “There’s only one” and reply “Christian, Were all in this together”

In 1999 I joined a church named “Riverside” – I went after a friend bugged me continually about going for several weeks from the Christian Union [CU] – the services were quite long but enjoyable. They had a youth church on a friday night – around 20+ went which was nice. We would sing, and worship, games, pray and learn together support whatever any of us were going through.

In 2000, we heard about a mission event that was going to happen in Manchester at summer time – something that hadn’t happened before named “Message 2000” – two weeks of working in the area supporting the people there though running youth/children groups, clearing gardens and decorating homes and speaking to people about God. There was invitation to events on the night where bands would play in the areana and got around 14,000+ people turning up.

We went for week 2 of the project, where we camped out in groups in a park in manchester and worked on different teams in the area. I was working on a kids group team. Over the 2 weeks around 10,000 Christians joined together and helped out.

We also went out in small groups of 2 or 3 and spoke to people about out beliefs. This terrified me and on the first day when I tried to speak no sound came out – I was embarrased, and scared but nothing bad came from it… The next day, we went out again and spoke to people successfully.

Many people didn’t want to know and shrugged us off, but there were a lot of people willing to talk and convesations would go on and it was good. A lot of oposing ideas but people were listening and responding – something I was not expecting and felt blessed for it.

Around 2001 I went and got baptised – this isn’t the same as a Christening, this is showing people that I do believe in Christ and want God in my life – a public demonstration where I had many friends and family attend and see me leave one life and come into another.

I have continued to go to Harvest althou not as a patron any more, since around 2000, I helped with stewarding which helps keep the place running safely. In 2009 I tried a spot on the Ministry team which allowed me to pray with others – not that they couldn’t pray themselves – more as a faciliatator helping when stuck. In 2010 I am not doing stewarding – but intend to help with the ministry team as this is where I feel I am directed now.

In 2006 an event named NE1 was ran where several churches all from the North East of England met up in chester-le-street and spent a week going out helping people in the area. From Clearing gardens, and painting to spending time with people and running childrens groups.

NE1 reminded me of the Message 2000 event but was local to the North East where I am instead of another part of the country.

I helped with stewarding and anything else I could help with there. A fun time, great hot dry weather and wonderful friendships made aswell as seeing so many peoples lives changed through Christ.

In Late 2006 I moved back to the church I started at – The Tab where I attended and could get involved with things. They had a 20s to 30s group that met each week on a friday at Borders on Teesside Park at 7pm ish til closing. A time to chill out and be with other Christians not in a church setting – Not sure its still on since Borders closed but there are many coffee shops around there now.

Over the what been 23 years since becoming a Christian, I’ve fell away from God and the Faith many times but always have came back. If I look at all the times when I’ve been truely happy there has always been A God aspect to it all so that where my focus should be.

I don’t know what to expect from life in the future, or even in the present really but think that its going to be an amazing adventure.

A few bible verses come to mind:

Jeremiah 29:11: 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 had always read that passage and missed the point of future – I’ve always looked at what NOW, and not future but to know that there is going to be a future and I will be looked after – I like that.

Psalm 139:1-3: O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.You discern my going out and my lying down;you are familiar with all my ways.

– To know that God knows everything is amazing and scary at the same time, but to know that someone is in control is a great thing to realise. Especially when they know what you are able to do and give you the power to do it.

In mid 2008, and spread over 10 weeks there has been a local event named Just 10, I’ve wrote about it here but its been a truelly local opertunity to see around 5,000+ people coming together and worship God together.

Lots has happened since then but I’ve not quite worked out how to put it into words that I can share yet, but it will come in time.

I currently (when I go) attend a church in Stockton named The Vine. Its a small church but its where I feel I fit in. I’ve many friends there and discovered that many of the friends I made in different churches over the years before getting here have also settled here too. Services are around 1.5 hours, and the sermon times are closer to 20 minutes. The regular sweet things after such as donuts, and cakes are a bonus and give people a time to chat afterwards.

We have small groups that meet once a month, and more through virtual online groups where we chat on whats been spoken about in church, eat together and support one another through whatever is happening in life. When I’ve not been to the actual church and groups I often get emails asking how I am and how is life which is great but not so many that is seems like pressure. A nice balance.

I don’t think that a belief is something that is static, I think it can grow with time and more understanding comes with it all. Its something you learn about, even when you don’t want too and can shape your life or at least, it has shaped mine.

Day 4 – My views on religion

I believe everyone has a choice to believe in whatever they want too. I believe that God (Christian God) gave everyone the choice to choose – its up to everyone whether to see whats there or to ignore it.

I believe in Jesus Christ – Christianity – I don’t have a denomination just Christian. I have believed for many years since 1988. You can view my journey of belief at http://fschooliascoff.com/beliefs-journey/

I enjoy talking with people about their beliefs and why they believe what they do. Is it an upbringing or something they have discovered themselves. What has it done for them, helped them through and why is it so precious to them.

While I was at univeristy I was in a group that mixed many beliefs and went through a variety of names during the time I was there. I think its currently called “Mind, Body & Spirit” but I’ll always remember it as “Tea & Biscuits”. The many discussions with @athnor, @midnightschilde and many others there. For a while I was named “The token Christian”

Most people knew I didn’t believe or really agree with their belief but was willing to talk and not just say “Your Wrong” as I can’t really say that God gives them a choice, and then when they don’t choose as I see right, critisize them – its wrong in myself – or at least makes that much sense to me. I enjoy talking with people a lot about beliefs.

Some believe in science but science seems to be there to prove everything so you don’t need to believe in it (as you can see why) but the problem is that you have to believe science is right… so by following sciences rules, it disproves itself.

Euphoria – Friends or God?

I can recall times of being lost within myself but totally happy at the same time. Times in worship at different things including church, harvest, spring harvest and IXth hour where everything just feels right and time – time is something that is there but doesn’t seem to pass – there is just a joy and happyness feeling completely safe and that you don’t want to end. A kind of euphoria that to be is honest and I do miss.

I watch on TV some of the things that happen on the God Channel, a channel I’m not that fond of on tv – I find that a lot of the time it makes what I believe in look silly and not serious. I find what I believe in shapes life – its not just a sunday or an event thing but something that really helps shape me, be it in how I speak, act and relate to people.

How I can encourage others, and look to their gifts in the world and see what they could do with their lives if they choose too. I think people are all amazing… some are annoying but were all made to like and not mix so well with others… but were all in this together… Someone for everyone.

When i was a child, I did not have many good friends – only around 5 in total and still today 20 years on I still have those good friends and now so many many more. Some that are so close and supportive and I feel really blessed for it and see so many posibilities for many of them.

I thought that no-one really liked me, I had difficulty speaking with people and just being myself, always trying to slightly be like others but keep my own flavour too. Always believed that I am who I am, I can try to be “like” others but thats never truelly going to be me.

Over time, I have grown thankfully… I have many friends in many diversities of life, mixing interest from allsorts from trampolining, and dancing to church or just to go out and play pool, swim or ten pin bowling. Some I can talk technical with and know that will inspire me and I them in issues that at first seem difficult and then exciting…. still difficult but knowing that others will support you in them.

I am blessed and thankful to them all. I see it as a very different euphoria with friends… I am really happy when I am with them, and talk, chat online with them. We work well together and well, enjoy it too – a true euphoric time here on this plain of existance.