Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year...

New Beginnings!
Have you thought much about the prospects for this new year?  It would appear from the pundits the outlook is NOT good.  The world economy teeters on the brink. Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, North Korea among others seem poised to make news... and not the news we really want to read about.  The prospects of war are about as likely as rain in Ireland.  Yet there is HOPE.  Why?  Why hope in the midst of such hopelessness?

I think the better question is where?  Where is our hope?  Or where should it be?

You see I believe that most of the time we place our hope in entirely the wrong place... and I'm including myself here.  It's so easy to look at our resources(i.e. bank account, intellect, skills) our fortune(where I have the fortune to live and call home).  Yet the reality is these can all disappoint.  We could even say that Democracy, Communism, Capitalism, NATO, even the IMF can fail.  Aren't you glad you started reading this blog?  So where do we put our hope?  Where should we look?

I mean...

       Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;
       Lord, hear my voice.
       Let your ears be attentive
       to my cry for mercy.

       If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
       Lord, who could stand?
       But with you there is forgiveness,
       so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

       I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
       and in his word I put my hope.
       I wait for the Lord
       more than watchmen wait for the morning,
       more than watchmen wait for the morning.

       Put your hope in the LORD,
       for with the LORD is unfailing love
       and with him is full redemption.
       He himself will redeem
       from all sin.
 

There's the answer from Psalm 130.  Put your hope in the Lord!  

I was recently reading in Job.  It's the story of a man who had everything and then lost it, ALL!  Yet we read in the midst of his misery and despair these powerful words, "I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.  I myself will see him with my own eyes - I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"  Job 19:25-27

I'm filled with HOPE as we prepare to welcome 2012.  Why? Think about it this way... this new year comes right in the middle of our celebration of Christmas.  Perhaps in that is the word we need to hear.  This new year comes as we celebrate: Immanuel, God with us!  As we enter the unknown of 2012, we can know we're NOT alone. We have this hope... JESUS, the HOPE of glory will be with us.  So... "We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.  To this end, I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me." Col 1:28-29

Friends!  Happy New Year... and in the uncertainties of this new year, may the certainty of Christ's presence be YOURS!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas from Ireland...

Our Christmas Prayer Letter...

Merry Christmas from Ireland!  As I write this short note we have been in Ireland 6 months.  What a journey it has been.  God has provided in SO many ways.  He has opened doors and performed miracles beyond our wildest dreams, and I'm not just saying that for dramatic effect.  We are here in Ireland today... because God moved! Since our arrival here we have met some wonderful people and are beginning to make lifelong friends.  You might say it's beginning to feel like home.

As you gather with your family and friends through this holiday season join with us in marveling again at the mystery of Christmas: Immanuel, a with us God!  And as the Lord brings us to your mind please join us in praying over the following requests:

• Pray we would SO reflect Jesus in our lives that HE would become visible to those we live amongst. (Isaiah 60:3)  • Pray that God would open doors for effective ministry. (Colossians 4:3a)  • Pray that we would continue to listen to God, as he leads and directs our lives, walking through those open doors.(Prov 3:5-6)  • Pray for our extended family, as we're not all able to be together this Christmas...and thank God for things like skype :-) 

As I write this short note know we're thinking of YOU and giving thanks!  We are blessed to have you in our lives.  We join with Paul in praying... "In all our prayers for all of you, we always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you(in us all) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:4-6 

What an incredible thought!
Happy Christmas!  And never forget... "TODAY...a Savior has been born to YOU; He is Christ, the Lord!"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Joy to the World

Joy to the World the Lord is come!...

I've heard those words a few times already this season.  They speak to the coming of Christ.

Yet, looking around, one might doubt the reality these words proclaim.  I mean have you looked at our world recently?  It's a mess.  Joy to the World are hardly the words that spring to our minds as we hear all that's going on in our world today.  I mean have you read the headlines.  I was studying at a coffee shop yesterday and across from me was a man reading the paper.... As I glanced across to his table I saw the following headlines...

"Father killed his two children to spite his wife who left him." and then another that read, "Teachers fatal pursuit of cheating lover."

Joy to the World???  Yes!  Even in the midst of such terrible news? Again, Yes!  WHY?  Our Saviour IS come!  Jesus!  

I was thinking about this and remembering the words of Jesus to the people of Nazareth.  He comes home and the scroll of Isaiah is given to him.  He reads from Isaiah 61 words of incredible promise... words of Freedom, Healing, Salvation, Liberation.  He then sits down and ALL eyes are on him.  It's at this point that he utters the first words of his ministry.  Before he's healed anyone.  Before he's done any miracles, before he's uttered any great teaching he says... "TODAY... freedom, healing, liberation... have come!  How could He say this?  Because salvation, freedom, healing, liberation are not found in something that Jesus does, but in the person of Jesus! In Him.

HE is salvation, healing, freedom, liberation.  In HIM we find abundant LIFE!

So lift your voices and join me in singing.... Joy to the world the Lord is come... Let earth receive her King.  Let every heart prepare Him room...


Not a bad song... not a bad prayer! 


Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Lights

Here are some pictures of Wicklow this Christmas!  We truly live in a beautiful place.

As you view these pictures ponder the following verse and think about the call to BE the light in your world.


"Arive, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn."  Isaiah 60:1-3
Abbey Street - The Main road in Wicklow Town

Wicklow Gaol(former Jail)

Donelli's: One of many little cafes in Wicklow!

Our Christmas Tree!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tesco & the Coming of Christ!

If you're alive you know that Christmas is coming.  Why?  For starters have you seen the lights?  Wicklow is beautiful.  I'll post some pictures later!  They're beautiful!  Then we have the stores.  They see this season as their salvation.  They're hoping for a great frenzy of buying.  They're pumping the sounds of Christmas over the speakers in their stores.  Recently I find myself wondering around Tesco singing along with the carols. 

At one point I was singing "O Little Town of Bethlehem".  I love that carol.  There I was looking for some crackers while singing these words from that great carol:

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

I smiled.  Like I said how can you miss it?  Yet the reality is in the midst of the lights and the tinsel it's easy to miss the essence, the essential core of the season, isn't it?  If you go back to Matthew 2 you'll read the story of the wise men.  If you read the first 18 verses you'll be confronted with how King Herod missed Christmas.  

That brings me back to the words of that wonderful carol.  Why come silently? Why wouldn't you want EVERY ear to hear him coming? Why no fanfare?  Maybe you're thinking... there was fanfare, remember the angels?  True, but their announcement was not very strategic, was it?  If you want to make noise, do it where it can be heard.  I was in Dublin the other day.  There was a protest over the new budget and the austerity measures being enacted here in Ireland.  They met in front of the General Post Office on O'Connell Street, not in some obscure village square.  They came to the center of this nation.  They came to a place from where their protest might be heard.

So again, why did Jesus come to Bethlehem, a small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the center of it all?  Why a small stable, or cave?  Remember we're talking about the advent of Christ, the coming of God into our world.  We're talking about the saviour of humankind.  

I'd at least have had posters, and an ad campaign on the TV, letting people know.  Yet there was nothing.  To be sure the shepherds shared what they had seen, but let's face it they probably didn't make the evening news.

That brings me back to Tesco.  There on aisle 8 I found myself confronted with the coming of Christ, amidst biscuits and crackers... and I suddenly realized that's how Jesus comes.  He comes not as a slogan, or a headline, he comes right down into my every day life.  He enters into the real world and waits to be invited into my real life, not the headlines.

I wonder... Are you waiting for something special?  Are you waiting for the WOW of Christmas?  Perhaps we might discover, in the midst of the busyness of life, the coming of Christ in the last place on earth you expected him to come.... Maybe like me it will be amidst the biscuits and crackers on aisle 8 in Tesco or just maybe it will be in a conversation over coffee. Who knows!

Remember... how silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given... Let's not miss Him!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanks...

Storm over pier in Wicklow Town
I was down by the harbour here in Wicklow yesterday.  The wind was wet with a light rain. It was whipping about while the waves were relentlessly attacking the rocky shore.  I was alone on the pier, no surprise really.   No reasonable person would have been out there.  I was there to listen, to pray. (to be honest I was feeling a little sorry for myself) I'm slowly learning to do what I can do here in Ireland, and to leave the rest to God - easier said than done!  

Anyway, as I walked up from the pier I turned my sights towards the ruins of Black Castle.  Fighting the wind, I happened on a marker which shared that this was the spot where St. Patrick had attempted to land, only to have stones thrown in his direction.  As you may have already heard, the legend is one of those stones hit a monk in the mouth, knocking out his front teeth.  This marker shared that this same monk later returned to plant the church in this community.  He gained the nickname "Mhantain" which means toothless.  It's now the Irish name of this community, Cill Mhantáin - Church of the toothless one!  An amazing story of grace!

Yet as I stood there alone in the wind and the rain God spoke into my life.  We have a tendency to talk about how St. Patrick brought the gospel to Ireland, like he did it by himself. Yet the truth is he was NOT alone.  There was at least one guy that came with him, albeit he had a toothless smile.  And I'm guessing there were many others.  In turn I began thinking about Paul.  He too was not alone.  There was Luke, Silas, Barnabas, Timothy, the church at Antioch, and many, many others. 

As I reflected on all this I realize we are not alone.  In fact I arrived home to find a card from one of our churches in Oregon reminding me that Jesus was with us.  That led me to be reminded we are the BODY of Christ and each one of us is a part of it.  We are together in this most excellent adventure.  It's good to know we're NOT alone, don't you agree?

What an encouragement!  Thanks!  Your support, encouragement, prayers, cards and gifts lift us more than you can know.  You have no idea the difference YOU are making in our lives and ministry. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Am I being too careful?

I had a thought yesterday that I'm still trying to wrap my mind around.  It's this.

"Am I being too careful?"

Maybe you're thinking what is he talking about?  I'm thinking in terms of reaching this land.  I'm thinking of the communities of which we're a part.  I'm thinking of the strategy I'm asking God to give us.

I'm wondering, am I being too careful.  Don't get me wrong.  Any individual deserves our best.  God's call to reach this land is not something that should be dealt with flippantly, or with a lack of care, but I wonder....

I was thinking about the parables of Jesus, specifically the parable of the sower.  I remember one of my professors, Dr. Morris Weigelt reminding us that it's the parable to end despair.  I've been wondering if we might also think of it as the parable that calls to throw caution to the wind.

In the parable Jesus shares about a farmer who goes out to sow the seed.  Some seed falls on the path, some seed falls on the rocky ground, some falls among the thorns and some falls on the good soil.  If you think about it this farmer was a terrible sower.  Only one out of every four seeds fell in a place where it could grow and produce a crop.  Three out of four failed.  Some might suggest he had a success rate of only 25%, but we know from the story that the harvest of this farmer was great, incredible, unfathomable.  We read a harvest of 30, 60 and even a hundred fold.  How could that be?  I think it had to do with this individuals reckless technique of sowing.  He threw caution to the wind.  He sowed seed EVERYWHERE.  Should we not do the same? 

As we have come to Ireland we've been very conscious of the investment the church, YOU, have made in this ministry.  Failure is not an option...  My thoughts over these last few days have been... why not?  I mean if we're not willing to risk everything and fail how can we expect a great harvest.  Farmers plant their seed with no guarantee.   It's risky.  They could lose everything, and many have!  When we lived in Colorado we knew Potato farmers who would take premium potatoes, potatoes they could sell for good money and they'd place them in the ground to rot.  How crazy is that?  They were taking a risk, and there were years when they lost everything, but there were other years where the harvest was incredible.  If they'd wanted to be careful, they could have kept those potatoes in the barn, they could have sold them, but instead they risk everything in hopes of a greater return.  Should we not do the same?

Are we missing it in the church?  We do the safe thing, because we fear failure.  Instead of starting a new service or a new church we do the safe thing.  Instead of crossing the street and entering the life of another, we do the safe thing.  I'm not sure that's what God has in mind.  I think he longs to bless, but we've got to be willing to do whatever it takes.... I mean God did!  He sent his son to die for YOUR sin and MY sin and the reality is we all have the option of rejecting his offer.  Talk about risk!

In the next few weeks we'll be sharing with you what I believe God is calling us to do here in Ireland. I'm still working up the courage! I guess I'm warning you... it will be risky.  It will cost.  It will require sacrifice... and the reality is, it might NOT work... but doing nothing is NOT an option.  Doing something insignificant is NOT an option.  The call to make Christ-like Disciples in the nations is not for the weak of heart.  It's not for those who are looking for an easy assignment, it requires a recklessness that risks everything.

I'm tired of being careful and just limping along.  I believe God is calling his church to rise up.  As William P. Merrill suggests.

Rise up! O Church of God
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
to serve the king of Kings!

Are you willing? 

Monday, October 31, 2011

I've got it all wrong... don't tell anyone... please!!!

I've been thinking I need to get busy!  I need to be doing something.  I need to working... like it all depends on me :-).  I know it sounds arrogant.  Perhaps it has something to do with the lie we're fed that suggests we're more defined by what we do, than who we are?

No wonder I'm always looking to DO something for my God.  The only problem.  I'm realizing how inept I am! Don't get me wrong... I have skills, but when I put them alongside the task before me I suddenly feel like I'm going the wrong way on a one way road or to put it another way I feel empty handed.

Depressing, huh? And yet I wonder... is being empty handed such a bad thing?

Maybe that's exactly what God can use.  I shared in my previous blog about this building that's an eye sore in our community.(see previous blog: walking in love)  Anyway, I've been thinking about how we might help our community by coming alongside them.  Perhaps by helping with their dream for this building, they can begin to see our love for them.  Yet the truth is I don't have the money, the time, or skills to do anything about it.  Which might lead one to wonder why I'm wasting my time thinking about it?  I guess you could say I've been wondering what God might do.  You might say I'm realizing if God is up to something, then... "nothing is impossible."


I sat in a cafe with three individuals I had just met.  One owned a Pub, the other the cafe we were visiting, still another was a computer tech who owned his own company.  I sat there straining to hear what they were saying through their thick accents, and as I did I found myself wondering... now what Lord?  I felt SO empty handed... it was then that I remembered the words of Jesus where he says, "Let the little children come to me... for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."  I get the idea that instead of depending on what I have in my hands, I should depend on the one who holds me in HIS hands.  If you read that story in Mark 10 you'll discover that immediately following this exchange Jesus meets a rich man who wanted to know how to inherit the kingdom.  He'd done all the right things, following the law, yet for whatever reason he still felt something was missing, which is why he comes to Jesus.

Jesus calls him to empty his hands of those things that he places HIS trust in, to simply follow... for the kingdom "belongs to such as these"  

Maybe empty handed is not the worst place to be... maybe it's exactly where God wants me?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

walking in love...

I was never a great fan of walking... I mean it takes forever.  A journey that might take just a couple of minutes in your car can take an hour.  Let's face it, walking takes time, patience, tenacity.  Sometimes the very idea of walking somewhere can be overwhelming at first... after all it's SO far....  

Since we've moved to Ireland I'm finding myself doing a great deal more walking and I'm actually enjoying it. (go figure!)  Maybe you're wondering what's changed?  How did I move from loathing it to loving it? That's something I've been thinking about...  I mean for one who loves to drive, what happened?

Maybe you're thinking that it's good exercise. Okay! But actually I think that's more of a side benefit.  The reality is the blessings of walking are much more profound.  I've begun to discover that walking opens up my life to listen to people and to God.  And, if that's not enough it also changes my perspective of the community in which I live.  I'm noticing things and more importantly people.  I feel more a part of this place I call home, even responsible.

Have you ever been driving on a Freeway or a Motorway while on vacation or holiday?  You pass exits that are just a signpost to you, a way of marking your progress.  Have you ever thought that for some people their whole life revolves around that exit and where it leads.  It's home or perhaps where they work.  What for us is nothing more than a signpost for them is life.

As I've begun to walk I'm more able to be part of the community I call home.  It leads me to want to know better the people I see, and when I walk with God... He begins to open my eyes to see my community through HIS eyes.  Allow me to explain...

There's this building in Wicklow that is abandoned, broken down and covered with tagging. Let's just say it's not a picture you'd see on the community website.  It's an eye sore, yet in many ways, because of where it is, it's simply ignored.  Up until yesterday I've dismissed it.  I usually drive by it, but yesterday I walked by it, on purpose.  I discovered it was built in 2006 to be a refuge for women in crisis.  It never fulfilled the vision for which it had been built.  In fact, as you can see the building sits vacant today.  I've heard renewed calls to see that place redeemed for it's intended use.  I thought about how the church might rise up and be the church.  Let's face it, we're about seeing things and people redeemed, right?

I wonder... what might YOU notice in the community where YOU live if you simple hit the pavement and walked.  I wonder how GOD might call you to get involved... to be an agent of reconciliation and redemption.  I wonder!

I realize it can seem overwhelming at first..., not much different from the idea of walking somewhere can seem overwhelming when you look at it as a whole.  Yet when you take one step at a time, you soon discover more than you ever imagined.  Perhaps when we walk in this way we'll discover that we're doing exactly what JESUS calls us to do... we'll discover what it means to, "walk in love" 2Jn 6

Sunday, October 9, 2011

thanks be to GOD!

Don't forget...
I was reading recently in Numbers where God was calling on the people of Israel to NOT forget their story.  He didn't want them to forget how HE had met their needs and delivered them from the hand of the Pharaoh.  At one point God calls on them to gather rocks that will serve as a monument of remembrance. You can find that story in Joshua 1.  Evidently, we're good at forgetting... at least the good stuff. In the process of my reading I began thinking about the myriad of ways God has led me.  The wonderful ways, He's provided for me.  The incredible ways he's answered my prayers and given me the desires of my heart.  I don't want to forget.  You might say I want to build a virtual memorial. 

As I do I wonder... might God lead you to see again His hand in your life.  Perhaps then we might find ourselves in a place of wonder and thanksgiving.   So as I share just a few of the ways God has led, helped and provided for me and my family, why not form your own list and then join me in giving thanks to God!

Virtual Rock # 1 - I was sitting in a meeting listening to God when HE spoke into my life and called us think about moving from a great church in Richland, Washington.  That's a miracle in and of itself, but the one that blesses my socks off is that while God was talking to me... He was also speaking to Annette, my wife.  He was calling her too!  WOW!

Virtual Rock # 2 - We visited Ireland before we accepted the call. The timing of the trip was amazing.  We were able to get tickets for less than I've seen them since.  I was able to get my passport, even after major delays, "just in time".

Virtual Rock # 3 - We were able to prepare our home for sale thanks to the generous help of Denzil & Kay, Chad and our great church family in Richland.

Virtual Rock # 4 - We sold our home at list price within a week.... need I say more?

Virtual Rock # 5 - We sold our two cars less than three hours after I asked people to join us in praying they would sell.

Virtual Rock # 6 - We came through immigration at Dublin without ONE hitch!

Virtual Rock # 7 - We have a home here in Ireland that meets ALL of our needs.  It was the house Annette saw and wanted, even though we were told it was already rented.... Those who had rented it backed out!  Then they lowered the rent.  Go figure!

Virtual Rock # 8 - We were able to get dishes, and other essentials... thank you Northwest & thank you Father.

Virtual Rock # 9 - We were able to leave for Ireland, debt free... PTL!

Virtual Rock # 10 - We have a car, insurance... and no accidents... even with driving on the other side of the road.

I was sitting in our service this morning listening to Pastor Erich share about Joseph and how after years he finally began to see the dreams he had as a child come to fruition.  Let's just say this... "I'm living the dream!



Friday, September 23, 2011

High Five Prayers.... what if?

One of the individuals in my life who has spoken loudly without raising his voice is a guy named Randy Craker.  Among many things I remember him challenging us to be praying for people in our lives who didn't know the love and grace of God.  Oh, they might know about it, but they'd not experienced it personally.  He challenged us to pray for five individuals hence the five.  High five because he figured these prayers would be in the very center of God's will.

That all leads me to where I find myself today!  I'm living in a community where less than 20% of the people are part of any community of faith.  One in Five.  I look up and down my street and I begin to pray for them, for all of them.  As I pray I pray for my witness in their lives.  I'm praying they see Jesus, even in me. 

Let me so bold as to suggest you join me in this.  Imagine the difference it would make, if together we began to intentionally pray for even just FIVE individuals who need Jesus?  Remember Jesus changes lives and quite often in the process our lives are changed as well. 

Perhaps this is why Paul said what he said in his letter to the church at Colossus.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
Colossians 4:2-6

There's something we can "high five" right?  Something we can agree on! 

I wonder... do you know individuals in the community where you live who need Jesus? Add them to your "High Five" prayer list.  Why not pray for them and then see where God leads... remembering that your "conversations with them should always be full of grace, seasoned with salt."  I love that!  Did you notice the focus on grace?  Anyway, I wonder where our prayers might lead us.  

Here's another question.  Do you know individuals in Ireland who need Jesus?  Add them to your "High Five" prayer list. Then pray for them, for us and for God to work in their lives.  You might even shoot us an email to praying@missioneire.com We'd commit to joining you in prayer.  While you're at it, feel free to send us your whole "High Five" prayer list and we'll pray for you and them, together.

If you'd like to join me in praying for my "High Five" list... email me and I'll send it!

I wonder.... what might happen... if we "devoted ourselves to prayer"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a prayer walk in Wicklow...

This morning we walked into Wicklow with the students from NTS.  We have two students, who are helping us make inroads into this community.  There names are Ryan Robbins and Stephanie Borden.  It's good to have them here.

Anyway, the idea was to walk through various parts of this community asking God to give us HIS eyes, asking God to give us HIS heart for these people then at the end of our time we'd meet at Halpin's Bridge Cafe(one of our favorite places) for a hot drink and good conversation about our time.


I barely got started when I received a call from my son who had been in a slight accident at school.  I went and picked him up and then took him to our home before traveling back down into town.  Thankfully he was okay!  As I returned to town and began my walk I began praying, asking God to help us reach this community.  It was about that time I noticed the walls.  Everywhere I walked there were walls.  It wasn't the image I was looking to embrace.  I mean, walls are barriers.  Yet there they were!  Everywhere!  I began praying about those barriers and overcoming them, talk about overwhelming.  How can you breech these barriers?

It was just about then that I began to notice something else.  These stone walls were overwhelmed by vegetation.  Everywhere I looked there was something green, sometimes even growing out of the wall.  That reminded me of some words from the pen of Paul,

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
       “For your sake we face death all day long;
       we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord"  Romans 8:37-39

As we, as you, look around there may be all sorts of barriers, but GOD is able to overcome, much like that greenery.

May God help us to patiently love the people he brings into our lives, as HE has loved us!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"little is BIG when God is in it..."

I want to do big things for God!  I want to see things happen today... Significant things!

I'm guessing I'm not alone.  Yet I wonder if in all our looking for something big we miss the seismic rumbling of God at work going on around us, changing everything.  I'm reminded of Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born.  Most everyone missed it!  As the people gathered complaining about the oppression of Rome, hoping a deliverer would come to free them from the tyranny of Rome, there in a stable the Savior of the world was taking his first breath. 

I don't want to miss what God is doing!  I don't want to miss the ways God is working, big ways that at the outset may not look big, but in reality are huge.  I'm reminded of the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel.  There's no getting around that HUGE story... but I'm thinking of something later where Elijah has fled for his life to the mountain of God.

Here the "LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”  Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.  (1 Ki 19:11–13). TNIV

I'm challenging myself to look for God at work in the small things. In the conversations, the appointments, the chance encounters I have today.  As I speak with the butcher, the newsagent, the GARDA(police) the barista...  Lord help me to recognize the rumblings of your Spirit at work.  Help me to not miss YOU, or the opportunities YOU provide.

Remember, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Lk 17:20–21).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ruined...no more!


Yesterday I walked into Wicklow and onto a private estate. (By the way, I did get permission) The grounds house the ruins of an old abbey.


I quietly walked through those ruins from the 13th Century wondering what it must have looked like as a functioning Abbey.  My heart was heavy as I lamented the ruins and not some center of evangelism and discipleship. Yet in the midst of this monument to another time, I saw new life overtaking those old ruins. 


I was reminded of God's word from Isaiah.  "As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."  Is 55:10-11


As I reflected on those words and walked through those ruins, I could not help but think on this truth.  Those ruins are not simply history.  You see God is not finished with you.  He has NOT walked away...


I can declare this with confidence for it's been true in my own life.  God has had ample reason to walk away, my life in ruins.  Yet he patiently, lovingly, drew me back to himself.  He took my broken, tattered life and redeemed it.  He did a new thing.  Talk about good news!  


As Wesleyans we embrace this reality with all of our being.  Wesley believed in the power of God to transform a life.  He believed we can be more than forgiven, we can be saved and freed from the tyranny of sin.  As Paul says in Romans 6:18 "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." and moments later in 6:22 "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." 


As I walked through those ruins I was reminded that God is "able to do immeasurably more than 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." Eph 3:20-21


And that's true here in Wicklow Ireland and where YOU live.... even in your own life.   Just think about it! Ruined... no more!









Saturday, August 27, 2011

small steps with a GREAT God...


I spent this last week helping at a day camp for children in the Greystones community.  It was put on by the Nazarene Church in Greystones.  I had the opportunity to spend the week with between 50 and 70 children.  I was a team leader for about 20 each day.  They didn't know me from Adam but by the end of the week I found we had become friends.  What had I done? Nothin' much!  I'd simply played games, watched them do crafts, listened with them to stories, helped them memorize scripture, and begged them as they made some wonderful goodies to share them with me.  To be honest, I didn't do much.  I was just walking through the week with them.  At first, they didn't really even acknowledge me, but as the week came to an end they were introducing me to their parents, they were giving me high fives, they were seeking me out to say goodbye.  All it took was a few small steps on my part. Like I said, I didn't do anything terribly profound.  I simply spent time with those children.  I encouraged them.  I cheered for them on as they worked on their crafts, as we played games.  I even teased them(a little).  


I think sometimes we make being missional more difficult and overwhelming than we should.  It really only involves small steps of obedience with God.  Mother Teresa of Calcutta put it this way. “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.” You see when we put our feet, our hands, our lives in HIS hands HE can do exceedingly above all we might imagine, according to HIS power that is at work within us. Eph 3:20


One of the crafts involved drawing.  One of the boys was obviously feeling very inadequate.  He didn't feel he could draw.  I can relate, but as I stood there seeking to encourage him I was reminded of the words I just shared with you.  Just think!  God can use YOU and ME to draw a masterpiece.

I'm praying for God to use me, not just in the BIG moments, but in the moments we might label insignificant.  As it says in Ephesians 5:15-16 "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."  


Let's make that our prayer today!  What small step can YOU take with our GREAT God right now?  What story might God write through YOU and ME today?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Glimpses...

Yesterday I walked into Wicklow Town.  I'm talking to individuals, getting to know this place I now call home.  I go looking for where I can join God, since He's already at work in this place.  My plan for the day was to find a place to get my hair cut.  I walked the main street in town, wondering where God would lead me, while at the same time looking for a barber.  I passed a couple of barbers... wondering if they were the place.... Let's just say I didn't want a bad cut!

At some point I was reminded of our only contact.  I'm talking about the guy who showed us the home we're living in.  I thought, "why not go and ask him, where he might go!"  A few minutes later I walking into his office with the intent of asking that very question.  As I greeted the ladies up front my one friend in town asked me how I was liking our home, and then asked me if I'd like to go get a cup of coffee.  Moments later we were sitting outside this little cafe, sipping coffee in the Irish sun(it's rare... but beautiful).  We talked about our home, we talked about our reason for being here in Ireland.  He shared how he was traveling that afternoon to a funeral, a funeral for his best friend.  He also shared that someone very close to him was dealing with some potential terrible news about their health.  As he shared I prayed, and I continue to pray!

Having finished our coffee we made our way back to his office, where he pointed out where I could get my hair cut.  He then invited me to drop by for a beer later that week - not that I need a beer :). Anyway, I walked away from that conversation believing God was at work.  I moved down the street and made my way to the barber.  His name was Sean.  As he cut my hair he asked the expected questions.  I shared the answers that I was becoming used to sharing.  I shared how I was hear in Ireland to listen.... even sharing it was not much different from his profession.  In that moment he shared how the previous client had just shared that he had just been diagnosed with cancer.  As I sat there listening, I was praying, asking God to lead and direct me.

It was only one trip into town... but I left encouraged and excited about continuing conversations, more coffee, and the opportunties that would follow... Do you ever wonder?  How might God use your encounters with others for HIS glory?  Oh that we might not miss him at work!

While I'm thinking about it... would you join me in asking God to guide us all as we seek to be the conduits of his love.  Would you pray for my barber, Sean and my friend at the Real Estate Office?  Thanks!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The book of Kells

We were in Dublin this past week!  We had the wonderful opportunity to visit Trinity College and to view the "Book of Kells!"  The book of Kells is an incredible copy of the four gospels in the New Testament, written on vellum(animal skins).  The monks who did the work didn't simply copy the text they also incorporated some incredible art.  All this took place around 800 AD.  Interestingly as this incredible work was going on in Ireland while across the rest of Europe others were seeking to destroy art, literature and God's Word!


Art from the Book of Kells!
As we viewed these pieces of history and heard the story I could not help but think about how we too are called to share this word.  There we were at Trinity College viewing these ancient documents in a language we could not understand.  We were admiring the beauty of those documents.  We were awed by the detail the scribes used in putting together this incredible book.


Yet as we stood there looking at the Book of Kells I could not help but wonder how many were viewing it, yet while missing it.


Church of Ireland, Donegal!
This beautiful land is steeped in church history.  It's villages, towns and cities are graced by some incredible cathedrals and churches.  Wicklow is no exception.  We were in Donegal, Ireland the other day.  As we drove off the town center we saw this incredible church building.  It was beautiful.  I found myself wondering how many people saw this everyday, but missed it.


Trinity College Library!
It's so easy to focus on a book.  It's so easy to focus on a building when what our world needs is an encounter with the "Living Word".  When what the world needs is an encounter with the "Living Stone - Christ."


My prayer is that Jesus would be reflected in me and you.  Remember what Jesus said,




I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (Jn 17:22–23)



Praying for Open Doors in Wicklow & Beyond!

A Door in Wicklow Town...

God is continuing to help us as we find our place here in Wicklow Town.  What an incredible journey, adventure.   We've been in Ireland just 50 days, having lived in Wicklow since July 7th.  During this time we've enjoyed having our daughter, Elizabeth, here with us.  

PRAISE THE LORD! Our shipment arrived yesterday which means we have boxes everywhere.  It's been a little like Christmas opening those boxes, discovering all the goodies we packed so very long ago.  Nothing was lost, nothing was broken... again, praise the Lord!


40 Days of Prayer...

We're on day 24 of our 40 days of prayer.  I need to be honest it's not been easy, but it's good!  I would like to direct your prayer in some specific ways in these days!

Day 24-28 - Pray for Wicklow and our efforts to make connections in this town.
Day 29-32 - Pray for other communities that God might open for the church, for the greater vision of reaching Ireland.
Day 33-36 - Pray for partners to join us.  We cannot do this alone we need others to come alongside.
Day 37-40 - Pray for eyes to see and wisdom to follow God's lead for first steps of ministry.

In addition would you continue to pray for the following personal needs:
We're still trying to get Annette registered.  We only have a few weeks left.
We're continuing to wait on Matthew and his schooling. 
Our daughter, Elizabeth, returns to MNU to continue her education.  Pray for her and us as we find ourselves on different sides of the ocean.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Get out of Jail Free Card...

We have been in Wicklow for about two weeks now and beginning to feel at home.  I am in the midst of 40 days of prayer.  Until now I've been trying to be quiet, listening to the good shepherd.  The other evening on the way back from a prayer meeting I stopped alongside the road to watch some sheep.  It was SO peaceful.  I remembered the words of David... "The Lord is my shepherd.  I lack nothing... you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me."

Then yesterday I walked into Wicklow again.  I visited a local art gallery and bookshop.  There is such a love of art in this place.  I find myself wondering if this might be a way into this community.  I listened to people as they shared life over a cup of tea or coffee and wondered if a simple cup of tea or coffee might be an avenue through which we might share the gospel.  I just know there is a real need for people to encounter Jesus in a meaningful way.

As many of you have heard there is much pain connected with the church here in Ireland.  Just recently, Enda Kenny, the taoiseach(prime minister) spoke out following the release of a very troubling report involving sexual misconduct and abuse of children in the church.  He spoke plainly about how very troubling this report was about the church.  The news here was not so much the abuse mentioned in the report,(that has been dealt with many times already) The news was about the harsh tone of Ireland's leader.  Many Irish are becoming disillusioned with the church, so much so they're leaving in huge numbers.  All this is leaving a spiritual vacuum.

In the town of Wicklow one of the local attractions is an old jail or Gaol, as they call it in Gaelic.  This weekend at the Gaol two "spiritual mediums" have been invited to come and give a demonstration of mediumship.  They'll be inviting people from the local community to come and connect with love ones who have died.  I share this because for me it speaks to the spiritual searching that is going on both here in Ireland and really all around our world. People are looking for hope, peace, healing and help!  Unfortunately many believe they've already given the church a chance, only to have been hurt.  

I find it interesting that people are coming to a Gaol to find freedom when true freedom is found in Christ alone.  I was reminded of some words Jesus shared when he returned to Nazareth during the early days of his ministry, Jesus went into the synagogue and read from the scroll of Isaiah these words.

       “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
       because he has anointed me
       to proclaim good news to the poor.
       He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
       and recovery of sight for the blind,
       to set the oppressed free,
       to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then we read the Jesus rolled up the scroll and with the eyes of everyone on him said... “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Freedom, sight, hope... they're ALL found in Jesus.  When you think about it, HE is our HOPE... so much more than a "get out of jail card" don't you think?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What's a person to do????

I've been overwhelmed again by the love of our gracious redeemer and his call on my life.  I sit here in my kitchen wondering what can I do?

I'm living in a town in county Wicklow, the garden of Ireland.  It's incredibly beautiful.  Yet I find myself overwhelmed.  I'm like the disciples who when Jesus confronted them with the incredible need of 4000 hungry people, looked at their own resources and concluded it was impossible.  You might say I have empty hands, at least that's how it can feel...

The needs, the challenge, here are overwhelming... perhaps not much unlike where you find yourself today.  Let's face it we live in a needy world. It's easy to be paralyzed by your own lack.  "What can I do?"  We watch the news coming out of Somalia and because the need is SO overwhelming we do nothing.

Yet, if you recall, when Jesus and his disciples are confronted with the overwhelming need of over 4000 instead of dismissing them, Jesus asked the question: "How may loaves do you have?"  If you go to Mark 8 you'll discover there answer was seven, talk about lacking resources.  They don't even have enough for themselves. Pathetic! Yet instead of being paralyzed by the incredible need we see Jesus get busy.

We find ourselves living in difficult times. Debt is rampant. The promise of quick riches has been shown to be nothing more than a mirage. Like the disciples, we don't even have enough to meet our own needs.  Yet I wonder.... Maybe it's time to join the disciples in giving our "nothing" to Jesus so that he can do "something" incredible.

Father, help us not to be so concerned with the resources we have or don't have.  Help us instead to give them and ourselves for the building of YOUR kingdom.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Connections...

One of the hardest things about moving to a new community, to Wicklow, has been the lack of connection.  We're not coming into Wicklow to pastor a church, there is no group of people who are loving on us and helping us find our way.  I remember when we first arrived in each of our pastorates.  It was such a joyous time!


Well we have arrived in Wicklow and other than the letting agent and the owners of our home, there are few people who know or even care that we've arrived.  Yet here we are, and I might add we're excited to be here.  

We believe this is exactly where we need to be and already we've met a few of our neighbors.  We've visited with a few of them in their homes and shared tea and biscuits. Oh, what fun! We're just praying God will continue to open doors, making for us a way. This reminds me again of the wonderful words in Proverbs 3, words I first memorized as a child in a program called Caravans.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and He will direct your paths."


We're discovering the truth of those words and look forward to where He'll lead.  I wonder, where is God leading you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Lord is my shepherd...

Sheep in Co. Wicklow where we live.
"The Lord is my shepherd..." I've been reflecting on these wonderful words today.  I remember as a child not understanding them.  Allow me to make myself clear.  In the KJV it reads... "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want"  It didn't make sense, why would you NOT want him.  But that's not what it's saying is it?


In the NRSV it reads this way, "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want."  In the new NIV they changed it to read, "The Lord is my shepherd I lack nothing."   The more I've lived with those words today, the more I've come to embrace them.  Think with me about what David's suggesting?  What does he understand about our God, our shepherd, that we ought to grasp?


I believe David was suggesting that IN our good shepherd(Jn 10) we find we have everything we need.  We lack NOTHING!  Don't get me wrong... David is not spouting some prosperity gospel where I can get that BMW I've always wanted or that Villa on the French Riviera.  Although I do have a great home on the Irish Sea. He's saying we'll have everything we need.


May that be our prayer... Good Shepherd help me recognize you're ALL I need...


By the way, David goes on to say...  "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The power of prayer...

I've been reflecting and praying, what does the future hold?
I've been thinking, in the midst of the work we're doing to get settled, what is it that God is calling us to become unsettled about?
I've been taking in the sights and sounds of this new place, wondering what sights and sounds God is calling us to express?


God is here!  I write that and thank God for the truth of it.  He is here in this place, even as he is with you where you find yourself today.  REALLY!  As God promises in Psalm 139... "where can we go from His presence.".  Is that not an amazing reality?


I guess that makes it easier to reflect and pray.  He is here & longs to connect with us more than we long to connect with Him.  So for the next 40 Days we're going to pray.  Maybe you're wondering what that will look like?  What does it mean for us to pray for 40 days?  Let me start by saying it will probably be the most demanding thing we do while here in Ireland.  It's easy to feel that prayer is passive, yet the reality is prayer is the most active thing we can do.


I would invite you to join me and NOT just in praying for us. (Although I welcome and covet your prayers)  I would invite you to join me in praying for the next 40 days, asking God to speak in a fresh way into YOUR life. What is it God is wanting to do in and through you in these days?


Let's face it our lives are filled with noise, demands, expectations and temptation and SO much of the time God is left in the background. Over the last few minutes do you know how many times you have taken a breath?  I'd guess unless you've got some lung problems you probably don't.  It's just something you do with no thought of it.  Yet the truth is breathing is essential to life.  You need it more than you need, sleep, food, or even water.  Breath is essential to life.


I find it interesting that in God's word breath is seen as a metaphor for God in our lives.  He breathes on us.  We see it in Genesis 1, Ezekiel 37 and again in John 3, among many other places.  In each place, God's action in our lives is seen as the life giving breath. What am I saying?  God's work in your life is essential.  More than sleep, more than food, more than water... in fact even more than the breath you breathe.


So join us in praying... or should I say turning your ears, your eyes, your hands, your feet to the master... allowing HIM to guide your thinking, your eyes, your actions... in a new way. 40 Days that could change our orientation, our minds, our lives.  


I'm going to start by taking the first week to be quiet!  In other words, I'm not going to say much. Instead I'm going to listen.  I'm going to reflect on God's word, starting with Psalm 23.  


If you're interesting in joining me... email me at praying@missioneire.com.  It's always good to know you're not alone on the journey and if you have a scripture that speaks to you through this time, please let me know!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Snapshots from Wicklow Town...





The Coast at Wicklow Town

The Church of Ireland in Wicklow

An Old Garden in the middle of Wicklow...
 Wicklow is on the east coast of the Irish sea.  The hills to the north are the Wicklow Mountains.
Church Street in Wicklow

Doors waiting to be opened!

Wicklow 

The Lighthouse of Wicklow...










The church has been a part of the fabric of this society for centuries, yet too many go through their day with no awareness of the savior.












This land is filled with history.  I don't know the story this picture yet, but I do know that God wants to do a new thing in our lives.











Narrow is the way... There are many narrow roads in Ireland.  They remind me of all we need to relinquish in our lives for Jesus to be Lord.











Lord, help us see the doors you're opening...













Is this not beautiful?














May we ALL be light amongst the people Jesus is calling us to reach for Him.