Thursday, 21 October 2010

Poor at home, poor abroad

It's a long time since I've posted - I'm realising that some of the things I used to put on my blog now appear on Twitter, or even as comments on Facebook. And seeing as people reading this blog on the web might not be connected to me on Facebook, I thought it might be an idea to bring some of those comments 'into the open'... Who knows how long this will last, let's face it, my track record hasn't been good since leaving College!
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I use the 'Superbadger' app on facebook to engage with politicians and business leaders, campaigning for poverty and justice issues with Tear Fund. Today I sent David Cameron a message to congratulate his government on their commitment to not only freeze, but increase the foreign aid package of the UK in the comprehensive spending review. It says something when a Conservative government goes out of its way to support the most impoverished people in the world, even at a cost to our own country.

As far as I can tell (from the 'cash' link on this page: http://bbc.in/a8Gku2), most families in this country with an income up to ~£2000 per month will lose out by approx £250 per year by 2012 - a fiver a week. I'm hoping that won't bring too much hardship to people. The big problem will be job losses, we need to push hard for clever thinking in saving and creating jobs. I wish I knew how to do that!
 

The foreign aid increases, according to George Osbourne (http://bit.ly/b6k2EJ), will save the lives of 50,000 pregnant women and 250,000 babies. I'm ok with that. See Christian Aid's response here: http://bit.ly/d9ZZYO

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Ordained to Equip the Saints


On Sunday 13 June 2010 I was ordained as a minister of the Methodist Church in Ireland. Which probably leaves some readers wondering what I've been doing for the previous two years! Suffice to say that upon leaving College we were considered 'on probation' before making the lifelong commitment to serve the Church.

One part of the Ordination Service, which is formal yet satisfying, is the giving of an account of God's call on the ordinand's life. Here's what I prepared (I don't think I deviated too much from it!)...

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I've always been a good boy :)  Raised in a loving home, my parents and the people of Craigmore Methodist Church fulfilled their baptismal vows to raise me in a Christian context. Aged 8, I made my first profession of faith at a Good News Club meeting. At 12, I committed my life to Jesus, determined to stand for him, at an event attended with our Youth Club leaders. By 17 I was the chairman of the Methody Christian Union, preparing for A-levels that would send me down the path of Law & Accounting at Queen's University.

My Grannies had always said I'd make, "a great wee minister," but I knew better. Even if accountancy didn't work out, there was always the next best thing - driving trains!

However, God intervened and I ended up on Team On Mission #6, embarking on a gap year experience that gave me a love for the people of the Methodist Church in Ireland, a passion for communicating Jesus, a desire to help people meet God through music, and an understanding that my culinary skills were always going to be quite limited!

An important passage at that time was 2 Timothy 4, including the phrases, "Preach the word," and "Do the work of an evangelist." That year included two unrelated but meaningful incidents - one where I went to a prayer meeting asking God to refresh my youth leader, but instead it was I who had a soul-warming experience of the Holy Spirit. The other took place at a Christmas concert, when in the middle of a carol I almost audibly heard God say, "You're going to be a Methodist minister." That doesn't happen every day!

The following decade was marked at its beginning by sitting in a car telling Kathryn that she ought to know I was probably going to be a Methodist minister - but that didn't put her off! We dated for five years and have been married for almost nine, sharing together in ministry throughout. While I may be the one wearing the collar this evening, you are sending us jointly to lead God's people, discern God's voice and engage in God's mission.

I am so blessed to have such a gracious companion for the journey, joined in mission now by our sons Timothy and Micah. I love you all very much.

I said at the beginning that I've always been a good boy. When preachers used the Prodigal Son story I always felt a bit for the elder son, and couldn't identify with the prodigal. However, as I've grown older I've come to realise how much my life is surrounded by, and depends upon, God's grace...


"What would I have become
if you'd never stopped to pull me through?
What would this life have done
if you'd never whispered liberty?
I heard you sing so sweetly a song of love.

Jesus, how sweet the name, the name that saves.
Jesus, how sweet the sound, the sound of grace."

Today I stand before you as one convinced that he has heard God's call to minister in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This part of our journey has begun with the warm, understanding and patient people of Dundrum, Newcastle and Downpatrick. Our home church of Craigmore, our families, DYCW and the Edgehill community, and our new friends in Newcastle have encouraged us at every step.

And though at times I may grow weary or lose heart, I know for certain that those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

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Notes: Song words from 'How sweet the name' by Delirious - and yes, I did sing it; End quotation from Isaiah 40:31 (NLT); Discover more about Team on Mission at www.irishmethodist.org/dycw; Oh, and did I mention we have number two son? Facebook and Twitter weren't around when Timothy arrived so I announced it on this blog.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Lent Again

We're back to the season of Lent again! I've hardly posted in the past year, apologies for that... But I'd like to try this again, especially the bit about spotting self-denial taking place around you (particularly where it happens in a way to benefit other people or you can see that it is forming genuine discipleship in that person/community).

Rather than blogging those spotlights, I reckon Twitter is a good way of recording such deeds - if you want to play, use the hashtag #selfdenial in your tweets. I don't think that tag is original to me but it doesn't seem to be being used formally at the moment.

Perhaps discipline and 'taking up your cross' can be more a part of my life this year, and maybe yours too?