Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Five Things You May Not Know About Me...

Jools tagged me, and after I forced him to change my e-mail address in his contacts list (he's been using my old work address, which I officially abandoned 18 months ago but still check occasionally because old habits die hard) I now bring you 'Five Things You May Not Know About Me And Will Probably Be Really Happy To Know Now'...

(1) I, too, have a Brown's Bay horror story. Our family (count six people) were in the one car on our way to Brown's Bay for a family picnic one Sunday in 1990 when a man driving the other way couldn't find his windscreen wipers button and drove straight into us instead of taking a corner. I spent a couple of nights in Moyle hospital (before A&E left) and now sport a lovely scar from above my left eye up into my forehead. Look next time, and you'll see it's true - just don't stare!

(2) I enjoy singing parts in hymns - this comes from my time in the school choir, when we sang in various lovely places including a week in the summer at Westminster Abbey.

(3) I have failed thee exams in my life: Torts (Negligence Law - I mustn't have paid enough attention); Financial Accounting (things just didn't add up); and Piano Grade 5. Actually, I failed that Piano exam twice so that really makes a total of four.

(4) I have a mild nut allergy. Mild, but not insensitive - I can detect a plate of peanuts at a party as soon as I walk into the room and will prefer not to talk to people who have nuts on their breath. So now you know how to avoid conversation with Ross!

(5) The worship band that I lead (Soul Purpose) is going to play at the reception of one of our singers (Lynsey) in the Spring. So we'll be laying aside the normal repertoire and instead picking up a bit of Brown-Eyed Girl, You're Beautiful, and Build Me Up Buttercup. Fun!

And Lo, he chose Mister Spence to go next.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Bible Translations

I think it's great that there are accessible, readable translations of the Bible available to us today. I certainly don't know enough Greek or Hebrew to read the original, so I'm glad when many fine scholars put in years of work to produce English translations for our age and culture.

One of the problems related to this is that I now have at least a dozen translations of the Bible at home, and when I move from one to the other it becomes harder to memorise scripture (because the same verse will look different in each) and I no longer have the 'one' Bible that gets underlined and known. Add to that the struggle (for me anyway) of approaching God's Word as God's Word to Me, rather than a future congregation - the classic preacher's problem of reading a passage and immediately thinking how I would communicate it to a group of people, before allowing the Spirit to speak to me on a personal level and apply it to my life. That's where hypocrisy begins.

My solution? I begin preparation using the NRSV - to me, it seems to be the most literal rendering of the original ancient languages, with few value-judgments placed upon it: it's the text, fair and simple. Quite often I will preach from the NIV - it's the pew Bible of most churches and a little easier on the ears. But now for personal use I've come to love the NLT... My understanding is that the translators of this version have put a lot of effort into communicating (what they believe to be) the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew phrases, rather than individual words. I think they've done an outstanding job.

Yesterday I came upon Galatians 5:25, being normally used to the NIV: "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Which makes sense, but perhaps has become blunted through familiarity. Instead I read (NLT):

"Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives."

This brought a fresh understanding. If I am a Christian - and I am (see Romans 10:9), I am now living by the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit). I am no longer ruled by the selfishness that destroys the world. I no longer need to struggle to make myself good enough for God. Being in Christ brings freedom! Essentially, the only thing left to do is hone my listening skills... I need to hear the Spirit's guiding and then follow. In every part of my life.

Friday, 3 November 2006


It may say it in a rather crude and dramatic way, but the message of "Family Comes First" is one that everyone needs to hear, myself included.

I think the genius of this particular film is that the guy who needs to learn the lesson is not an egotistical, money-loving maniac. In fact, he thinks he is putting family first by working hard and earning money, by raising their standard of living. Or by being a role model and taking his responsibilities seriously and not wanting to let his boss down.

As far as I can see, earning money is important - but not the be all and end all (actually, giving money away is more important for my health and happiness). Working for my family is not the same as spending time with them. Working for the church is not the same as spending time with Jesus.

Who am I going to invest in today?

Friday, 27 October 2006

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

History Matters

Can you remember what you did on October 17, 2006? is accepting diary entries until 1 Nov, trying to get a snapshot of life in the UK in the early 21st Century. I don't normally post stuff like this (because in a sense it's a bit boring!) but for posterity, here's my entry...

My wife and I use our mobile phones as alarm clocks. Tuesday has a slightly later start than others, so the phone woke me at 7.30am. I left our home in Aghalee at 9am and drove into the University area of Belfast, parking at Edgehill College (Edgehill is the theological college of the Methodist Church in Ireland, training lay and ordained people).

I walked down to Aldergsate House on University Road and spent an hour in the Methodist Church in Ireland's 24-7 Prayer Room (following the pattern set by the Moravians at Hernhut in Germany many years ago) - I prayed for a friend working in Tonga, thanked God for a couple of good friends from our church (Craigmore Methodist), invited God to anoint the band that will lead worship at Autumn Soul (Methodist Youth Fellowships weekend) at the end of the month, and enjoyed listening to a CD of worship music.

11.10am brought a lecture on Psalm 29 in Union College (Edgehill and Union share in the delivery of theology lectures for The Queen's University, Belfast), after which I walked with classmates back to Edgehill. Colin, Denis and myself met for twenty minutes planning the 5pm College prayer time. Then I went to the informal pre-lunch worship session - I enjoy singing a lot! Lunch was a bit different today, it took the form of a Table Quiz, with four teams participating - our team won!

After lunch and a quick game of table tennis I drove our Hyundai Accent to the DVTA on the Boucher Road for its MOT retest at 2.50pm. The offending article was inspected and MOT certificate duly received. I returned to Edgehill, checked my e-mails, had a cup of coffee with fellow students and set up the College Chapel for the 5pm prayer time. Colin spoke on the power of our stories and we used words, images and music to prompt prayer for the Church, the World and Ireland.

Following brief feedback from Principal Richard Clutterbuck I drove to my in-laws for food and then went with Kathryn, my wife, to our last ante-natal class in Lagan Valley Hospital. We were a bit late for the 7.15pm start due to traffic congestion caused by the closure of the M1 motorway (I think a lorry shed its load closer to Belfast). We were given a tour of the maternity ward, complete with the slightly unsettling sound effects of a new mother in the delivery suite next door!

By 8.45pm the class was over and we headed for home, where we sat on the sofa, stroked our cat (Nala) and watched Pretty Woman on TV before heading to bed at 11.30pm. A very full day - and not much studying done!

[and a little addition, that I forgot to include, was that in the evening we moved our coffee table from one room to another. It has a tray underneath for magazines, etc, including our wedding album. We spent a few minutes looking at photos from that day in June 2001, commenting on how young everyone looked, but also how cute we looked!]

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

From Our Knees

From Our Knees is the name of the 24-7prayer project of the Methodist Church in Ireland. The project includes a two-person Team On Mission (Ruth and Hannah, travelling the island to inspire churches towards non-stop prayer) and the Aldersgate Prayer Room, which I think I've mentioned before.

And so I mention it again. There is very little chance that I would ever spend an hour in prayer/devotions when at home - there's always the lure of the computer, TV, music and food. But I was in the Prayer Room this morning for an hour, and it was just lovely. It's amazing how much better a day can be when I've worshipped and prayed near the start of it.

Allow me to recommend that you (a) sign up for an hour or more this week or next; (b) start gossiping the possibilities of running a 24hr prayer room in your own church setting.

Thursday, 5 October 2006

Cloud Appreciation Society

You can tell when I'm avoiding study when I come online to blog for the second time in one day, kindly informing you about the Cloud Appreciation Society.

It got set up by mistake by a journalist guy who liked looking at the sky. Have a look at the Photo Gallery though, and you can see why. There are pictures of some amazing cloud formations. And it's all rather calming.

It's all Greek to me

Ho ho.

Well, it seems like it's been an awful long time since last I blogged, a holiday and the start of term being the main cause. If you're interested in the holiday please comment me (if I know you I'll send you a link to our photos), otherwise you'll get 'it was lovely'.

Back to term. A new year, a new course. Probably. I've applied to move from the BD to MDiv (same content theology degree, but at Masters level). I'm going to MDiv classes. But I'm still not enrolled as an MDivver. Hopefully that'll get sorted soon.

Meanwhile, having dispatched Greek last year - successfully, amazing! - I now come to the joys of Hebrew. Ah the delights of yet another new alphabet to learn! I must confess that I think I'm struggling sooner than with the Greek so here's hoping all will become clear.

>> Mini-rant >> If Queen's has its way I'm going to have to do the same Greek course all over again next year! Grrrr. But then, I probably won't remember much so it'll be reinforced learning. << end rant <<

I'm sure there will be more contemplative ponderings on the Moos at some point, but I thought it was about time I put something here to keep both of you happy. Bye for now!

Thursday, 17 August 2006

The Dip

It's already almost a week since Castlewellan Holiday Week ended, and I thought I'd write about 'The Dip'.

It's something that has hit me - and I suspect you (all three of you who read this!) - after every encouraging big Christian event that I've attended. I remember sitting in my bedroom after a school Christian Union weekend, close to tears, because I was on my own again. Of course, I wasn't really on my own, I had friends and family very close to hand. But sometimes you can feel lonely in spite of this - the people with whom I had shared an important spiritual moment weren't there.

It happens after Autumn Souls. It happens after Easter Camps. It even happens after some Methodist Conferences! (I know, I'm weird) ... But it also happens after Castlewellan. I have to say that it doesn't hit me as hard as it used to, mainly I think because Kathryn has also gone through the experience and we can process it together. But it's still there, this strange feeling of missing people often combined with a paradoxical non-desire to pray or read the Bible.

I just wanted to say, "hang on in there" if you're experiencing 'The Dip'. If you've felt lonely, and quite likely attacked by the evil one - STAND. I'm pondering Ephesians 6:10-20 at the moment for a sermon next week and it has reminded me that there's a battle going on, which feels especially fierce when I'm all softened-up after a week of fellowship and God-speakingness. I'm praying on the whole armour of God when I remember in the mornings, inviting God to protect my mind and to help me stand strong.

Sunday, 30 July 2006


I'm in the middle of a placement/summer post with a church in North Belfast, concentrating on pastoral visiting and preaching. Regarding preaching, colerainejane on the Speakeasy asked me the following questions... I thought I'd blog the answers:
How do you think we judge it though - by how we feel, by what people say, by the turnout. Maybe we shouldn't judge it at all but it's hard not to? Does preaching excite you? or do you feel more called to the pastoral or administrative side of it? Do you get scared and how do you prepare?
This Summer I have seven services to lead, spread over three congregations. I'll be in one of them for three Sundays so I decided to try a small series of sermons, to get a feel for what it might be like when I have two or more to prepare each week! The first thing I've noticed is that it still takes me forever to prepare a sermon. I'm trusting the process will speed up when the frequency increases, but at the moment it takes roughly three 'sessions' (i.e. a mixture of three mornings, afternoons or evenings). That's two to read the passage and meditate on it, read commentaries, make notes; and one to write the address itself. I can't imagine how 'real' ministers/pastors manage to prepare two fresh sermons and a midweek bible study every week, and still have time for a committee/organisation every night, caring for people with immediate pastoral needs, and visiting the congregational list. Then there's investing in leaders, praying for the flock, discerning God's vision for the church, etc, etc... Perhaps it's not fair to ask all that of a minister? Or at least it's not fair to complain when she/he doesn't get everything done to the standard we demand?!

Anyway, to answer Jane's questions, having preached this morning... How do I judge whether the service has gone well? I'll give you a list, in no particular order, and not exhaustive (I might think of more later!):
  1. People look into my eyes and say thank you when shaking hands at the end of the service.
  2. A conversation later in the week on the same topic.
  3. Eye contact during the sermon.
  4. A sense of guiding while speaking, adding in little extra bits or dropping sentences.
  5. A sense of empowerment, realising that what I'm saying is true, real and affects me - perhaps God will affect others too.
  6. Turnout has nothing to do with it. Although obviously it feels like a good use of resources if more people hear what I've spent a full day preparing. But if two people turned up I'd still preach - the word is for me and those two as much as anyone else.
  7. These are all short- to medium- term observations. There are long-term ones too... I was thinking today of a talk I heard ten years ago, and I still remember one of his illustrations, something that inspires me today. I trust that God's Word will not return to him empty, and so everything I say could be reflected upon in years to come and bear fruit. (That's a salutory lesson too!)
It is indeed hard not to judge how things have gone. In the end, I've discharged my calling and that's what's important - I've been obedient and the rest I can leave in God's hands. I have to say that I do enjoy preaching. It does excite me! Partly because even as I say some things I hear them being said back to me. But also that I believe every reading of God's Word should result in some form of response. I love creating the space for people to respond to what God is saying to them.

I do get scared. Mainly that I'm going to lose sleep on Saturday nights for the rest of my life, trying to finish sermons. I'm a Myers-Briggs 'P' person, which means I do my best stuff - or at least can actually think about something - last-minute. I hope I can train myself to think that last-minute is a little sooner than the early hours of a Sunday morning! But the biggest scare is that I might settle into a sermon-creating rut of twenty-minute talks that satisfy the ear but don't touch the soul. I need to keep my personal relationship with God as top priority, it's out of that relationship that anything useful will flow and no other way.

And with that insight, I close once more. I hope it's not so long 'til the next installment!

Sunday, 9 July 2006

Doctor Who?

I missed most of the episodes of the series that finished yesterday but thankfully BBC Three showed them all in the past week. I really enjoyed David Tennant's portrayal of the Doctor and thought the demise of Rose was done very well. The special effects have been fantastic and the plots have been ingenious at times.

There are only two objections: first, my understanding is that Russell Davies is antagonistic towards religion - and this has shown in this series especially. There are good morals, it's positive, etc - but there's very little space for the existence of a loving creator God: very modern in the sense that "we've worked it all out, science will answer everything eventually"

Secondly - the body count. How many thousands or millions of people have died (or implied to have died) in this series?

What do you think?

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Where Two or Three...

Just like a Belfast bus, you wait for ages and then two posts come along in quick succession!

I came home last night from our small group and thought I ought to talk about it with you. NOT that I'm going to spill my guts out to you (or anyone else's for that matter!) but just to say how key I think small group fellowship is for a Christian. I honestly don't know what I would do without the support of people in our church, and especially those more vulnerable moments when we share our hearts with friends.

I would almost go as far as saying that a Christian who isn't involved in some sort of smaller group of people for fellowship, learning, service and accountability is guaranteed to not be operating at their God-designed best. I say almost because there will be those who God gifts to be able to work - for a period - without such support. But if you don't know you're in that position you need to get stuck in!

And then there's the community aspect - you may not feel the need to be involved, and small groups may grate on you like nothing normal. You may feel the study is too basic. You may not feel a need for support. But what about the other people whose lives are on hold and who need to hear of your experiences to set them free? And who said God had completed your learning process and you now know everything there is to know?

God exists in community and he designed us to live in community, raw, deep, real, at-times-uncomfortable, laugh-and-cry community. It produces authentic ministry.

Monday, 19 June 2006

Greek Myth?

I'm sitting in our study/guestroom/dump/nursery re-checking my exam results... I did fine in New Testament and Theology but the real shocker for me was Greek - 72% !!! Now it may have been an easier than normal exam (the class average was 71) but who cares? I got a First in Greek!

All on top of a good week news-wise. Anyone spot the other piece of news?

Friday, 2 June 2006

Holy Spirit, Rain Down

'Holy Spirit, Rain Down' is the first track on an album that my parents bought for me years ago. It's a Hillsongs album, and the front cover is in pastels. My first impressions weren't good! But over the years it's been a regular quiet-time companion. And this year the sentiment behind it has been working on me...

There is an imbalance in the way most of us perceive God. We can comprehend that if the Universe was created by a god, it could be God the Father. And that He might communicate his love and care through beauty and attention to detail. We can accept that if anyone could save us from ourselves and point to a better way, it could be God the Son. And that He might, as God, live among us, as us, dying for us, communicating again his undying love for us.

Where we sometimes stumble is in accepting the third member of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. Can we comprehend that God, being God, might work in supernatural ways, often behind the scenes but occasionally out in the open through the miraculous? Can we grasp hold of the truth that there are some things that Christians are able to do that without God, would be impossible? Can we accept that God wants to speak directly into our lives and through our lives?

Let's get a balanced view of God, where we free Him to work in us in every way he so desires. It's Pentecost Sunday this weekend - we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, Rain Down.

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Strangely Warmed Harte

I just wanted to wish you lovely reader(?s) a very happy Aldersgate Day.

Yes, I know I'm a bit sad in this respect! And I'm not going to elevate John Wesley to some sort of sainthood or divinity! But as a man who tried his best to follow Jesus he offers us an example - some traits worth examining, others best to avoid...

The main thing about Aldersgate Day for me is that it reminds me that Christianity is a religion of the heart. Yes, there are things to learn and know, but unless we feel that God is at work in our lives it can be a pretty dry experience. If today, like me, you feel that you're not being a particularly good Christian - EXCELLENT! We're in good company. Good 'ole JW discovered on this day that there's nothing we can do to make God love us more: when we are in Christ we can be sure that God has saved us and is saving us, what we do doesn't count. YES - you're going to Heaven. YES - you can know life in its completeness now.

Today is a day to receive grace.

If you'd like to read a bit more have a look here.
If you'd like to chat about this please e-mail me (feel free to visit my Bebo page and, if I know you, add me as a friend).

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Ashamed to be a Protestant?

There are times when I wish I could disown my community. I am ashamed that anyone should even be chased down a road for not being 'one of us', never mind what happened to Michael McIlveen in Ballymena.

It's just wrong. And if the people who did it reckon they were doing it for 'my side' then I don't want to be on that side anymore. Let me have the real Jesus, the Prince of Peace and ultimate example of reconciling love, who longs for relationship with me and amongst the peoples, as revealed in the Bible. It's time for Protestants to reform again. And to call themselves Christian.

Friday, 28 April 2006

Keep 'er lit

So, I have a moment to write about Easter Camp while I wait for a wash to finish and a huge file to download (from if you're interested in resources)...

First, last year: let's be honest, God was doing his stuff, but there was a spiritual battle going on that completely drained the leadership team. We were ready for taking a year off. Praise the Lord (I really mean it!), this year was totally different. The time still disappeared amazingly quickly, and yes there were times when I was prompted to offer frank 4am conversations with inconsiderate gentlemen, but the overall effect has been a revitalising one in a spiritual sense. Physically, we're still knackered! But there was a joy afterwards that was seriously lacking previously. The leadership team was united in purpose and love. Jools was spot on in his times of sharing. And God kept on doing his stuff!

For those lovely readers who aren't aware of what I'm talking about, Craigmore Youth Club goes away to Castlewellan Castle every Easter for four days. This year there were approximately 65 young people and 35 leaders! It's an opportunity for building relationships, enjoying each others' company, getting wet, messy and dressed up, and meeting with God.

Here's the challenge - and my prayer - that the people who encountered God at Easter Camp will be given the grace to KEEP 'ER LIT! I'm tired of seeing folks hand their lives over to him one day and take them back the next. I want to see those fine people crying out for fellowship and prayer, desiring to keep walking with their Creator, Redeemer and Friend.

If you're a praying person please pause for a moment and ask God to provide passionate leaders for a fellowship group that the young people connected to the Youth Club will long to be part of. Thanks.

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Celebrity Hunt in Newcastle

An amazing collection of A-list celebrities were to be found in Newcastle, Co. Down on Easter Saturday. Quite how they managed to meet up no-one is completely certain.

Easter Camp 2006!

I hope to post something more substantial about Camp 06 but in the meantime here's a pic of everyone on the last day!

Friday, 7 April 2006

Monday, 3 April 2006

Paint by Numbers

Thought you might like some screenshots so you can see how to do the auld "see if someone's posted to their blog without taking ten minutes to look at every website and discover that they haven't" thing...

Hope that helps!!

Friday, 31 March 2006

Keyboard Shortcuts

Don't know what's getting into me, I'm offering techie tips left, right and centre!

I thought you might like to know about some of my favourite keyboard shortcuts - y'know, buttons you press to make stuff happen instead of having to click through menus. So:

  • Ctrl + C (i.e. hold down the Ctrl button and then tap C) - this copies whatever you have highlighted with the mouse.
  • Ctrl + V ... pastes the copied stuff wherever the cursor is.
  • Ctrl + X ... a clever clogs one this: it deletes whatever you've highlighted BUT keeps it ready for you to Ctrl + V and paste it back into existence!
  • Ctrl + Z ... for those D'oh! moments, this undoes the last thing you did
  • Ctrl + A ... selects everything in the window
  • Ctrl + S ... saves your work quickly!
There. Where would you be without me?

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Keeping Up With the Blogses

I thought I'd share two cool ways that I've been using to keep track of all the blogs that I like to read (seeing as all of a sudden my staple diet of Tina and Jools has grown to a list of over ten!). Here they are:

(1) If you're using the FireFox browser (and it's worth giving a try, tabbed browsing is so much more helpful than loads of IE windows), when you go to a blog with RSS enabled you'll see a little orange square at the right of the address bar. Click it and you can add the 'feed' to your bookmarks. Now go to your bookmarks, and it lists the most recent blog entries! Yay!

(2) Get Google with personalised home or My Yahoo. Both let you add the 'feed' from the blog of your choice by specifiying the exact address - if it's a blogspot blog it's usually the URL of the blog followed by atom.xml (e.g. mine is

There. Some random techie info to make your life simpler and mine with a little less New Testament Ministerial Seminar presentation time.

Thursday, 23 March 2006

On being sick:

While it's probably true that men moan more than women about being sick and that Kathryn was ill last week and probably was just as sick as me but didn't gurn quite so much... I'm poorly.

I thought I had fought off the common cold with my attention to drinking orange juice, eating vegetables, and taking multivitamin tablets: but no, what started off as a sore throat and eventually a streaming cold at the weekend has developed into some joy-filled flu-type-thing, complete with aching muscles, always feeling cold (except when feeling hot), difficulty of eating more than two meals in a row, interesting colours in my handkerchief, lack of concentration, bad breath and many other minor quibbles.

The problem is, of course, timing: why couldn't this have come in the previous six weeks of term, when relatively little was expected of me? Rather than this week, when I have a presentation, an assignment, a book review, a sermon clinic and a piece of coursework to hand in within a period of eight days?! Not to mention a car wash for Easter Camp, CHW Reunion and Sunday church.

Poor me.

Thank you for reading my moan. And now, on with the show! >>>

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Tina the Princess

I have been greatly amused by Tina's weekend encounter, so much so that I'm using my first ever 'BlogThis!' link in her honour. I think everyone who reads my blog also reads Tina's (i.e. both of you!) but just in case you missed it, click on the link above.

Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Thirst for Life

You may have spotted the blue ribbon on the blog at the moment. Why don't you click it?

The click will bring you to the Thirst for Life website, which is challenging the UK to go without alcohol from 1st March to Easter. Supporting Thirst for Life is a statement to the world that binge drinking is not healthy and that you don't need alcohol to live.

I've signed up.

(actually, being a Methodist minister in training means I've signed up for five years of abstention from alcohol, but you don't need to go that far!)

Will you join me?

Monday, 27 February 2006

A Double Portion

I read this verse the other day (it's from 2 Kings 2:9)...

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you? Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit, Elisha replied.

If I'm true to the text, the reason Elisha asked this is probably so that he would have twice the authority of the other prophets and therefore would have the strength to be their leader (have a look at to see the verse in loads of translations). Not a bad thing to ask, but not what I originally pondered.

I must confess that at times I'm disappointed in the 'next generation' (not a Star Trek reference!). I've spotted all the opportunities I missed when I was in school - the only place where we can get an audience with the entire population - and tried to pass the encouragement to make best use of the time on to the next generation. But in many instances they've missed it too. Just like me, they've got caught up in study, hormones, money and self-obsession. I started wondering, 'Is Christianity going to fade away as it gets diluted with each generation's failings?' If you think that's a bit harsh, please forgive me and send me a comment!

The verse in 2 Kings struck me. It's pushing two thoughts into my head.
  1. I also belong to a generation that persists in making our own mistakes rather than listen to the wisdom of the leaders before us. But our time is not over. God is not age-ist. We can ask for a double portion of the Spirit and see God moving in awesome ways in this world.
  2. It's not too late for the next generation. I see glimpses of glory, of what could be, I see Kingdom values enacted in an environment that has changed beyond recognition even in ten years, young people living real, honest lives before friends who do not yet know God, rather than living in holy huddles that preserve faith but do not inspire it.

The best of all is: GOD IS WITH US. May you and I receive a double portion of the Spirit of the ones who have gone before us, learning from their wisdom and serving God in our age.

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Seven Songs

I've been tagged by Linda on Tina's Blog, so here goes!

The rules: List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag other people to see what they’re listening to.

So - in no particular order, here are my seven songs...
  1. All Time Love - Will Young - I think we're all 'just like me', looking for an all-time love. I'm very happy to have found mine! The style of the song makes me think about God too - I've got a God-shaped hole in my heart, a spiritual yearning that is only filled by knowing my Creator.
  2. The Splendour of the King - Chris Tomlin - Simple but true.
  3. Breathing the Breath - Matt Redman - Reminds me that everything I have is lent to me to bring Him glory.
  4. I Predict a Diet - Kaiser Chefs - I'm not greatly into the Kaiser Chiefs (or should that be Chieves?) but Chris Moyles' take on their best-known tune still makes me chuckle even though I haven't heard it for months.
  5. The Mission Bell - Delirious? - Have to put the full album on the list because I can't pick out one particular song but have been enjoying the whole thing since Christmas.
  6. Requiem - The Morrighan - I got this track on a cover disc several years ago, it's a 9-minute mix of Mozart's Requiem, dance/trance style. Love playing it! But as I write this I've looked up their website and am not hugely impressed. Ah well, such is life.
  7. Classic FM at the Movies - possibly another cheat as it's not one individual song, but we always seem to be driving at some stage between 5 and 7pm on a Saturday evening and like to tune in. Brings back memories from lots of great films!

That'll do for now. I tag McCano.

Saturday, 28 January 2006

Soul Purpose

We play in a worship band called Soul Purpose... It all started off with Autumn Soul in 1996 - members have come and gone but since 2000 we've been fairly much the same group of friends.

This picture was taken at a 'black and white'-themed dinner a few weeks ago - hence the smart look! - and it includes most of the current band as well as an assortment of 'significant others'. I always enjoy playing music with this group of people (and the lovely people who step in at times to help out)... They just seem to know where to go in worship. I'm looking forward to this year's Castlewellan Holiday Week too!

Never Stop Loving

Wow. Just like buses, there's no post for a few weeks and then two come along at once! Some more random musings for you...

I've been a leader of the Youth Club that my church runs for a dozen years now, including two as leader-in-charge with my lovely Kathryn. In that time I've seen a lot of young people go through our doors. Some have stayed with us for years, others for a few weeks. We try to get to know all their names and pray for them. We try to do what's best for them, give them surprises, help create memories and a space for friendship. Most of all, we long to see them meet with Jesus and know Him for themselves.

Which is why occasionally when they reject it all or disrespect us, a momentary thought flashes across my brain - "Smite them all, God!"

It's probably for the best that I'm not God and that His patience never ends.

So I was thinking, to save myself from getting impatient or angry or hurt, I should leave it all up to them: I do my thing, they accept or reject but in the end it's their problem, their lives. It was at this point that I realised - if I stop caring about these young people something much more serious will happen: if I stop loving these young people and become numb to save myself pain, I could stop feeling. At all.

I would be a worse person and gradually the lack-of-love would spread into the rest of my life.

Let's keep praying for the people around us, and when they hurt us let's remember that God takes our pain and replaces it with joy and peace. He is in control. He is our 'loving heavenly father' who never stops loving.

Thursday, 12 January 2006

Lost in worship

I went to the first session of a new discipleship course that's running in our church - Freedom in Christ. It looks like it's going to be good.

I was chatting to a friend later and he asked whether I was glad that I had my life sorted, seeing as how I knew I was going to be a minister and all that. Hmmm. We talked about getting to do everything you've ever wanted to do - and what's beyond? I said I see my life as a walk, a series of steps with God. I can't see the end product or the biggest thing I'll ever do. If 'doing' is what I measure life-success by then I'm going to end up pretty dissatisfied. I'm now of an age where parents, aunts and uncles are all on the verge of retiring - are they now purposeless, having 'done' the biggest things of their lives?

I don't care what I end up doing, toooo much. But what I do want is to be lost in worship of my Lord and King more and more frequently. I want to get in as much practice for Heaven as possible - and bring as many with me as possible. I don't need to be a minister to do that.