As I posted earlier, we’ve been spending the week at Hebron Hall in Dinas Powys. It has been a really great week with so much happening that it’s difficult for one person to describe. As a solution I’ve asked the group to write their own feelings on the week. To be honest they are the most avid readers of the blog anyway so it’s good to get their input (I hope).
Upon reading some of the posts, I’m forced to question the wisdom of letting the Vine Group loose on the unsuspecting World Wide Web. They say that sarcasm is the highest form of wit and if that is true then some of the posts must be very witty indeed!
This week has been really challenging and a blessing, having messages off God and the seminars! It is amazing how God works and feeling his presence! The best moment was worship on the Thursday night and feeling God’s presence and not being able to hold back! I also really enjoyed the group and how people have been so encouraging!
I have enjoyed this week thoroughly from learning new skills in Seminars to taking part in incredible worship, there have been definite times this week where God’s presence has been felt by the entire group and, this has bought us closer together and closer to God. This week has been challenging and extremely encouraging.
Dan The Man (spice included)
The week has been awesome and I think everyone has felt God’s presence and have deepened their relationship with him. The talks have been fantastic and really relevant to what everyone has been struggling with. Overall it has been an amazing week with great worship.
I am trying to add more spice but my brain don’t seem to be working as normal because of lack of sleep, so here it goes. (Note from Phil, not sure what happened here but it appears that sleep finally caught up with Dan the Man (spice included))
As a dedicated follower of the awesomeness of the blog that you are currently reading at this moment in time, I am well pleased to finally speak to you. I was truly overwhelmed with joy upon hearing that I would be spending time with the genius blogger, Phil Lewis. Therefore, when finally being in his company at the Vine week away in Hebron Hall this week, I could only ask him one question “Why are you so cool Phil?” His response was “well Tudor, it’s because of Jesus.” However, as amazing as such an experience may appear, it could not compare to the challenges and blessings of the week.
While we were numbered with many blessings throughout the “vine retreat” in the October of 2009, this week’s retreat must be recognised as pinnacle of all things good to mankind. As challenges appeared on all fronts; from seminars and singing, to bible reading, meditation and prayer, we have all literally equipped ourselves with the “sword of the spirit which is the word of God.” In meditating upon the triumphant week in which our faith has matured (cheddar style), there have been three major themes have arisen in my mind; our devotion to God, our fellowship with one another and in supporting Dr. Emyr McDonald, God is real!
In my eyes, the trivial expedition of this week can be summarised in Ephesians 3:20-21 which says “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” To that I say – Amen!
James ‘Jadder’ Watt
This here blog has been a staple, and indeed fulfilling, part of my daily literature since its creation last October. It has proven to be a limitless source of wit, intelligent commentary and theological challenge. Each excellently crafted post from Phil underlines why Thoughts From Eb is at the forefront of the blogosphere. All agree that it is truly brilliant. Thus, it is an indescribable pleasure – and a privilege – to be able to write a short post about the Vine Retreat this week.
Staying at Hebron Hall; we had very little sleep, ate loads of various unhealthy foodstuffs and drank over 86 – yes, 86 – cans of Diet Coke. Now, these conditions may not initially appear conducive to an enriching experience for the youth of the church, but appearances are deceiving.
We’ve all felt the presence of the Holy Spirit during the week; both during the meetings and as we just relaxed and grew together as a group. The week was fully encouraging and challenging… despite the sleep deprivation and poor nutrition we endured. I’ve been challenged about our reliance on God, the way in which He actually delights in us and that fact that our God is so awesome, mighty and is the ultimate creator.
A personal highlight for me was the various seminars. These covered an array of topics; from preaching and preparing Bible studies, leading small groups, counselling and apologetics. They were all great and have equipped us with understanding and knowledge which will be put into practise when we adopt roles within the church. The talk from Dr Emyr MacDonald on Wednesday night (in the church) was also superb. It addressed the question of whether science has disproved God in an engaging and interesting format and was a real blessing to me.
In conclusion, the Vine Retreat was an awesome experience and one which has encouraged me greatly. Despite all the fun and encouragement which took place, the week was devoid of one fundamentally important thing – the blog. The absence of an internet connection separated us from its greatness; a fact which has resulted in the shedding of many tears from the group. Needless to say, the grey cloud of going home has one beautiful silver lining. We’ll be able to read the blog any time we so wish – obviously a great thing to be able to do! Keep reading it and, as the esteemed author of this blog would say, go with God, my friends!
Mike Williams (Dad)
At the risk of sounding cheesy you can easily forget that the Vine group are a group of young people who are under a lot of pressure because of their faith in Jesus, and as one of the leaders it has been great to see young people worship God in the way they feel is right without pressure or feeling stupid for putting a hand in the air. There is an openness and honesty among this group of friends, that is a pleasure to watch develop.
I think we can all say that the week has been truly awesome. God has really spoken to us all, he has broken barriers and made us alive in him. God has taught me to speak out and to act on his word and not shy away from it. I think this has been a blessing to all of us, as we have all expressed our thoughts and visions; which helped us to become closer as a group and a lot closer to God!
This week I feel like I have had some major breakthroughs in my relationship with God and have been really encouraged by everyone’s honesty. God has used each of us in very clear ways to reveal His delight in us, His love and faithfulness, and I believe that God has some amazing plans for our youth group, both as a group and as individuals. I think we are all now fired up and excited to do the work God has planned for us!
This week has been a huge blessing to me personally and to us as a group. It has been wonderful to spend time worshipping our Lord and waiting on Him. I have been reminded that we have a Lord who ‘rejoices over us with singing and quiets us with His love’ which I have really been aware of this week. It has also been a huge blessing to see the ‘youth’ group step out in faith in new ways, both in sharing what they think God is saying to them as well as beginning to use gifts the Lord has given them. Also a great blessing has been spending time with one another and having fun together as it is easy to forget the importance of this kind of fellowship which is invaluable.
This week has been exhausting, exhilarating and encouraging (an alliterated outline to start off with Phil!!), I have loved spending time with the Vine group again this week and have personally been blessed by their enthusiasm to learn more about God and to apply it in their lives. It really is a privilege to see young people so eager to learn more about God, their desire to grow and serve are a real challenge to me. There are many special moments of the week that I will cherish particularly when they have in faith shared from the Word, prayed etc – some for the first time. We have also laughed a lot and had some fun outings finishing in Gavin and Stacey land on the last day yes the ultimate Barry Island – where James (Jadder) Watt was buried up to his chin in sand.
In addition to the consumption of coke and cakes (and some nutritional meals!), they also ate an incredible amount of fruit (using a new style of preparation designed by the group ‘freezing it in the freezer’ – yes that is right frozen fruit!! It was a great success – however the attempt at frozen boiled potatoes was not so successful and I think will not be repeated).
Hannah (the mute) Lewis
It is impossible to put all the highlights of the vine retreat into a (short) blog post, so i’ll just give you a few…
I particularly enjoyed watching the jousting competition with the boys, where pots and pans were used for helmets, brooms for swords and other humans as horses. Rhys was obviously reigning champion, however the ultimate quote came when after one particular battle Dan found himself face down in the carpet (which by the way was beautiful) and said after a lot of thinking time “i assume we lost that one”. You may have had to be there. It was only a matter of time before the frozen fruit became a game… so the bowling down the corridors with a frozen apple into some plastic cups was inevitable.
The ultimate quote occurred when Dan and James went to drop Rhys to work, and were asked to pick up two six-pints of milk, they were going to the Co-op to pick some diet coke up anyway, however they came back with Tesco milk. When they were asked why they went to Tesco Dan said ‘well they didn’t have any six pint bottles so we had to get them from Tesco’ again you may have had to be there.
On a more serious note, the seminars went really well and the services were great. It is exciting to hear the young people speak out with confidence with words from God and the Holy Spirit was powerfully there the whole time. I think the thing I was most blessed by this week was that during the services loads of people in one way or another said “stop trying to deal with things on your own, and just give it up to God.’ If everyone could grasp that, it wouldn’t just be the youth group that would change.