Enjoy God

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the power of the Holy Spirit.
— Romans 15 v 13

Last year I was sat in a church in the middle of the Yorkshire countryside - this place was known for a move of God’s Spirit that happened in the 1960’s & 70’s. During that time they led hundreds to the Lord, there were healings and many people were transformed by the love of Jesus. Those who encountered God then went on to plant churches and ministries across the world.

I sat there as the leader of the church (now in his late 80s) led us in worship with a band of elderly people - armed with squeeze boxes, banjos, rainbow guitar straps (and of course tambourines).  Being a music lover and someone who appreciates the new things of God it was stylistically challenging but I couldn’t help but notice there was something they had in God that I didn’t have. 

Their lives were displaying true fulfilment and joy in the Lord. They had truly encountered Jesus in a real way and their worship was reflecting it.

 

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For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
— Matthew 12 v 34

Travelling up to Scotland with Rivers & Robots we were listening to a mainstream Christian playlist on Spotify and I quickly noticed that almost every song had verses covering serious themes of trials, personal struggles and cries of lament. There’s nothing wrong with being honest but when that becomes the main theme I would suggest it reflects where the heart is. 

If the theme of the old guys with the banjos was joy and peace, it would seem (from listening to the playlist) that our theme was the trials of life, (difficulties, storms, valleys, mountains..) Maybe in our quest for “being real” we’ve lost the art of simplicity. Could it be that we’ve taken our eyes off Jesus and placed our focus on the winds and waves?

I’m not suggesting we ignore the trials - I know following Jesus isn’t always an easy road. However Jesus did tell us, “I have come that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” I believe that God doesn’t want us to just survive life, He wants us to thrive. I feel if there’s one theme we should return to as songwriters it’s the goodness of God - and the benefits that come from a relationship with Him.

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God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.
— John Piper

I have invested the last few years of my life to see a new generation of musicians and artists around the world rise up and use their gifts to glorify Jesus. I believe strongly that the world needs to hear our voice and our expression and I believe that a generation that catches His heart and learns to find their fulfilment in Jesus will transform the world. 

What the world needs to see is Christians who know God and live fulfilled lives in right relationship with Him. 

Now is the time for a new theme. It’s time to enjoy God again - to lift our eyes, beyond our situations and circumstances to the one who alone can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. 

God wants to fill you with His joy, “that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” As you allow Him to fill you with His joy and enjoy Him, your life will in turn become a truer reflection of His goodness to the world around you.

What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
— Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1648

The Biggest Story by Invisible Creature

Design studio, Invisible Creator, (run by brothers Don & Ryan Clark, previously of the band Demon Hunter) created this beautiful children's book telling the story of the Bible. The sub-title of the book is 'how the snake crusher brings us back to the garden'. It's a really beautiful example of illustration being used to tell the story of the Bible.

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There was also an amazing short interview filmed by Tim Kellner (aka, timtothewild) where Don shares some of his heart behind creating artwork.

Art gives us a glimpse of how things should be, how they were intended to be, how we long for it to be. I’ve always wanted to participate in that.
— Don Clark, Invisible Creature
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You can purchase a copy of the book from Invisible Creature's website over here.

A Beautiful Hand-Lettered Bible

Talented designer and illustrator, Dana Tanamachi, teamed up with Crossway to release this beautiful hand-lettered, illustrated Bible. It seems a real labour of love.

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This Bible features 500 elegantly designed illustrations, printed in gold ink. And the whole thing looks really beautiful! It definitely seems like the kind of thing you'd want to keep at home and perhaps pass down to future generations, rather than carrying around in your bag!

We love seeing art and faith come together and this is a brilliant example of somebody putting real time and effort into creating something beautiful that brings glory to God. Have a look at the inspiring making-of video for a look at the process, and to hear Dana share more about it!

Make sure to check out Dana's work on her website, and you can find out more about this project by visiting www.illuminatedbible.org.

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Did you know?

We just launched our Instagram account today, (about time, right!). And we plan on using it to share inspiring artwork, music and videos we find from christian creatives around the world. If you're an artist, we think it'll be a really great source of inspiration for you, as well as potentially a platform for your own work! Feel free to get in touch if you have anything you'd like us to feature. And you can follow the account here

Japan Trip Report

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I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
— Romans 1 v 16

At the beginning of the year, we felt God calling us to go to Japan, connect with missionaries, share the gospel and see what God was doing over there.

The first thing we did was contact our friend Galactus Jack (UK DJ/Evangelist) who goes out to Japan every year to preach the gospel and perform EDM music. Ben invited us to join him on his next Japan trip as a supporting artist – which gave us an opportunity to meet various ministries out there.

For us the aim of the trip was to get to know ministries out there, encourage young people, preach the gospel where we could and see how Rivers & Robots could potentially go over as a band in the coming years. Throughout our time there we met some of the most incredible musicians, artists, film makers, dancers, missionaries and pastors, all passionate to see a generation come to know Jesus. It was a truly amazing place with beautiful people.

We played at several events with Ben in the 8 days, and then stayed in Tokyo for another 5 days to connect with more missionaries and worship leaders, meanwhile Ben visited Okinawa to perform at a few more outreach events. Over the course of the trip, 85 young people responded to the gospel, some for the first time and some making re-commitments. We also got to pray with several young people and missionaries serving in Japan.

The Need Is Great In Japan

Everywhere we travelled we met people who knew nothing about Jesus, the cross and salvation. For some, their only knowledge of christianity was hearing about Christmas, but many still didn't know the reason for celebrating it! It was fascinating to speak to christians in Japan about their journey of faith, and to hear some of the things that were difficult to grasp at first.

Japan has one of the smallest Christian populations in the world with less than 1% of the population believing in Jesus, and many of the remaining 99% (125 million people!) will have heard nothing about Jesus and the gospel at all. That makes Japan the 2nd most unreached nation (by population).

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“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
— Romans 10 v 14

You can see the effects of this playing out in so many ways. Japan is ranked one of the top 30 richest countries in the world, and has one of the lowest crime rates; but, at the same time, Japan has one of the highest rates of depression and suicide with over 25,000 people choosing to take their own lives every year.

There is also a very visible culture of isolation and loneliness with many young people lacking hope and purpose in life. For many, escapism seems to be the best way out – instead of seeking out meaningful relationships, many instead turn to alcohol, gambling, pornography and video games as a way of escape.

In 1670 Blaise Pascal the French philosopher wrote about a God-shaped vacuum in every heart when he said:

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”
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The fact is, we have such an amazing hope in Jesus. The message of the gospel is one of forgiveness from the shame of sin and a new life in Him – one full of freedom, peace, fulfilment and lasting joy in relationship with our Creator God!

“And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'” - 2 Corinthians 5 v 19-20

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We believe that God has placed His spotlight on this nation and we sense He is about to move in powerful way. Japan is ripe for a mighty outpouring of God's Spirit and we sense God is about to do something incredible with the young people over there! Could it be that as we pray and seek the face of God, we will see a whole nation turn to Jesus? There is power in the gospel to take the most desperate of people, rescue, restore and redeem them and when Jesus is exalted and lifted high over a nation everything changes!

Arriving back home it definitely feels like this is only the beginning of our journey with the nation of Japan and we look forward to all that God is going to do as we continue to follow where He is leading us. We would encourage you to watch the VLOG series we made about the trip below, and pray for this amazing nation. Who knows maybe God will lay this place on your heart too!

What Are You Looking At?

I've been thinking a lot about what we give our time and attention to recently. There have been many discussions around the topic of social media, and the issue of smartphone addiction. It's something I'm really interested in, as you might have noticed with some of the Set Sail videos about why it's a good idea to buy an alarm clock, why I decided to quit social media for a month, or why it's important to make time for meditating on scriptures.

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Most recently, I watched a fascinating talk by Tristan Harris, who was a design ethicist at Google. He spoke about the ways tech companies research the human brain to figure out ways to keep you on their app or website for as long as possible. Because they know the most profitable thing is to keep people using their service. Our time is probably our most valuable resource. In a world where everything is fighting for our attention, it's important to be aware of what we're giving our time to.

It was this idea that inspired these collages. I wanted to create some surreal landscapes that ask the question, what are you looking at? Whether it's a bunch of people looking out of frame to something we can't see, and missing what's behind them, or people looking at something curious and abstract. The point is to make us think about what we're giving our attention to. Are we so lost in our phones that we don't see the beauty around us? Let's learn to be present. Let's take control of our time and choose how we want to use it, and what we want to look at, rather than having that choice made for us.

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
— Psalm 119:37

Shepherd Of My Soul hits 1 million views!

Today, the Rivers & Robots song Shepherd Of My Soul hit 1 million views on YouTube! Of course, this is just a number, but it's also really exciting to us because it shows what an amazing platform the internet is to be able to share this kind of thing.

It's what we're all about at Set Sail - making art about God, and sharing it with the world. Throughout history, missionaries have travelled the world, making God known to people around the globe. Today, we live in a world that's more globally connected than ever, and in a generation where the language of art is one of the most powerful and influential. Culture is shaped, on a worldwide scale, through our songs, our films, and our artistic expressions that carry a message.

At Set Sail, we see ourselves as missionaries on that platform. We want to speak the language of art well, aiming to create great art that's all about God, whether it's music, video, design or another artistic expression. And Shepherd Of My Soul is a perfect example of that. It's a musical representation of Psalm 23, with a lyric video we edited out of clips of beautiful scenery from around the Earth. And we love that the message of Psalm 23 has been heard through YouTube, in 184 nations! But more than numbers, it's the individual stories we hear from people's comments which really blow us away, and encourage us to keep going.

"I'm going through a tough season... I believe God is molding me for a great plan he wants to accomplish. I have been listening this song almost daily. Twice, if not three times over sometimes with strength and courage and sometimes in absolute tears... He will and will always be the Shepherd of my soul."

"I tried to sing this, and couldn't because I had to cry. I'm learning about Christ more and more, day after day, prayerfully. And these lyrics are so perfect for a prayer."

Watch the video below.