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


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.