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!