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.

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's about time...

I know it’s been a while since my last blog… and it’s not because nothing has really happened.  The truth is it seems like everything has changed.  I’ll regale you about my experience of driving on the wrong side of the road later…. Let’s just say that people express the same fear/anger/surprise when they see you coming at them as they do in the States.  If you’re wondering everyone made it through that encounter.   I’m thinking, this is probably NOT the way to make connections while here in Ireland.
Our Home
30 Marlton Grove
Wicklow
Co. Wicklow
Ireland
PTL!  We found a home in Wicklow, a community on the east coast of Ireland.  It’s a community of about 15,000.  It’s just over 30 minutes south of Dublin.  You can see from the pictures that our God has blessed us.  We also have a car…maybe you’re thinking that’s old news.  You’re remembering when we shared that a car had been purchased.  We arrived in Ireland to discover that much has to be done to get ready to get on the road.  Because our car was bought in Northern Ireland we had to pay an import tax.  Cost: $3,300.  We had to pay their registration/road tax of $900, by the way, that’s an annual fee.  Then, of course we needed insurance, which will run us about $1700 a year.  In all of this it’s been amazing to see God provide…praise God, we’re now on the road.  
We also praise God for helping us get a bank account here in Ireland.  If you’d followed our earlier prayer requests you would have discovered that this can be quite challenging.  By the way, thanks to those of you who are continuing to support our ministry.  You are SUCH an encouragement.
Please continue to pray for us as we get settled.  Annette and Matthew have to register with the Garda(police) in Dublin.  Annette will get an alien card. (for those of you who know me, you may remember that while living in the US… I had an alien card. Turn around seems only fair)  Once she has this card, it will then open the way for her to get a PPS(Social Security) number.  We need this number for Matthew to register for school.  We’re looking at two schools.  Please pray for an opening as we’ve been told there is no room in the inn :-).  I can’t wait to see how God works this one out!
We’re excited to be here… Already God is confirming this is his will for our lives.  

Watch for pictures of our community... REAL soon!