Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Prayer Works, Keep Praying!

This is a very different post to the one I've been dreading writing for the last few days. 

Many of you will have heard over the weekend, the devastating news that we expected our eldest son, Timothy, to be diagnosed today with leukaemia - it was just a question of which type. Since Saturday he had been given fluids, antibiotics and a unit of blood to prepare him for chemotherapy this evening. Those who had heard, assured us of their prayers, even members of staff who quietly noticed him as he quickly became a loved part of the children's haematology oncology unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. 

But we're about to bring him home! 

Test results show that either he's in the process of shaking off some post-viral something, or he's in the very early stages of leukaemia. He'll be kept at home for this week, and receive further tests in coming weeks, to see which it is. 

If this is all news to you, please pray protection over his life. If this is good news to you, praise God and keep praying for complete healing. Please pray for Timothy's blood and bone marrow to return to normal in coming days. 

Timothy is not out of the woods yet. But tonight, our family of six gets to sleep under the one roof for the first time ever (what a great first weekiversary present for Ethan and us all!) and we will have at least the next two weeks to enjoy being all together. Please pray that it's much, much longer than that. 

If you would like to stay in the loop about Timothy and our family for prayer purposes, we've set up a wee e-mailing list - it was becoming difficult to stay in touch with everyone who was asking about him, so we'll send notes to this list to keep you informed: http://bit.ly/2gc5LL9

PS Thank you to all of you who already were bringing us food, offering support of different sorts, we appreciate it so much! For now we'll go back to the normal life of caring for a newborn and three boys :) 

Friday, 24 June 2016


So we're leaving the EU. I'm not impressed by that decision, but we live in a democracy, and I've been disappointed by pretty much every election I've participated in since I turned 18. Some initial thoughts: pants. flip. a holiday abroad next year is going to be more expensive. bye bye peace money. are we really a nation of racists? something tells me the NHS isn't going to get significantly more funding any time soon. we'll never score in eurovision again.

Now, some more reasoned thoughts: God is still on the throne. He's a good father, and we are still loved by him. There is still Hope. Europeans are still our friends. I am still Northern Irish. And as far as it is possible for us, we must live at peace with one another.

Living at peace with one another, is the original principle for the EU to exist. It's our core challenge - to recognise every human being as precious and loved by God, worthy of his and our attention. If this vote makes us more insular and selfish than we already are, then literally, "God help us". But what if we go into this new era with the attitude of "How can we bless the world?" Ok UK, now it's time to show what we can contribute.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Soul Mates Weekend 2016

Last Friday night, as I lay down in a sleeping bag and on an airbed in a church hall, knowing I'd have to get up several times to quieten the boys in the next room, I found my heart and head simply filled with praise to God for the privilege of being there.

['There' was the annual Irish Methodist weekend for kids aged 9-13 called Soul Mates, and we brought a group from Ballynahinch and Newcastle plus some friends]

I was so thankful that my son and his friends were on the weekend, thankful for the energy of young people, and the creativity of the young adults running the event.

I was so proud of our group, for their behaviour and openness. They won a quiz and stood on the platform in front of a few hundred other kids and leaders, laying hands on the speaker and praying for him. They are willing to explore faith in Jesus through participation, asking questions, and forming new friendships.

Kathryn and I have been involved in these national youth and children’s gatherings for over twenty years. Methodist young people and their friends are seeking God earnestly, they want to meet with God in a real and honest way. At Soul Mates so many kids wanted to be prayed with after one session that extra people had to be called in to help.

There is a vulnerability, passion and joy that we encourage in youth and children's ministry, but which seems to be actively discouraged once they 'graduate' to grown-up church worship. By the time they're 25, all that passion seems to have been quietly discarded. Those who refuse to give up on David's quest ('O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you...') tend to drift to other churches - or nowhere, because they miss the intergenerational family they grew up with.

My nine-year-old is already asking why we _have_ to go to church on a Sunday morning. Because while we say we're a family, we don't act like it. We don't quickly forgive one another when we're offended. We don't eat together. We rarely pray together in a mix of generations. We aren't willing to be inconvenienced by one another's questions or tastes. We welcome new folks to our meetings but not our kitchen table. Church seems designed to squish life rather than nurture it.

Can we be an extended family on mission, sharing life together, for God's glory?

I know I'm the minister. I have the responsibility and final authority to make changes. Most of the things I've identified in this post are things I have influence over. I don't intend to offend anyone. Can we just agree that knowing Jesus, and making him known, to every generation and people, is the main thing? Something that's worth making some sacrifices over?