Tuesday, November 5, 2013

the relentless power of persistence...

I think in many ways we have bought into the lie that the spectacular is what makes the difference.  What takes place in a moment is what defines history.  There are plenty of examples that might prove our point... Who can forget the events of September 11th, November 22, 1963 or April 1916 here in Ireland.  These are defining dates that in many ways changed the course of history.  Yet the truth be told...there were things that led to each of these moments.  They didn't just happen.

I'm sure that in your own life there may be dates that loom large.  The death of a loved one... the birth of your child.  To be sure these events change our lives... but I'm beginning to wonder how much of what we perceive of as sudden is the result of time.  Don't get me wrong there are things that do happen in a moment that change us. I think of the shooting in Connecticut, where the lives of so many were taken in such a reckless way.  I think of the Gunman in Norway who made his way to an island off the Norwegian coast where he proceeded to slaughter innocent children.  There are certainly times when a moment changes us... even if that moment was preceded by hidden movement.  I think about the moment I was confronted by the grace of God for the first time.  It was certainly not the first moment God's grace had been present in my life, simply the first time I'd become aware of it.

Yet I also wonder if we underestimate the relentless power of persistence.  Think about it. Maybe the next time you're by the water notice how it has impacted everything around it.  Rock is carved, hued out by the power of the wave.  Stones are rounded to leave us with the smooth pebble, all the result of waters power of persistence. Truth is many of the things we believe to have occurred in a moment are simply the revelation of what had been going on perhaps unobserved.  Heart attacks reveal the gradual build up of obstructions of arteries over time. 

What does this have to do with anything?  I'm glad you asked.

I was walking by the sea yesterday and as I watched the waves beat the shore I found myself reflecting on the unchanging nature of God.... I've walked that coastline since arriving here in Ireland and nothing much has changed... the ruins of Black Castle still remain... yet in that moment it was as if God helped me to see something else... He wanted me to see the incredible power of persistence.  He wanted me to see how the relentless power of those waves and the wind had carved out that coastline. The seemingly immovable rock has been carved out by the sea since the beginning of time and that relentless persistent pounding, continues to impact even today.

Do you ever wonder if you're making a difference?  Perhaps in the lives of your children or those you lives amongst?  We look for change and so often what we see is nothing... perhaps we should all be reminded of the relentless power of persistence. 

Maybe you're tempted to give up... to quit praying, to quit trying, to just quit because it seems that only something BIG will make any real difference.  Can I challenge your thinking here as God has challenged mine.  I think about the people of God walking around the city of Jericho... hardly significant.  I mean what difference can a walk make, right?  Yet as we're faithful in small things... God moves in ways we can't fathom.

I wonder what small thing might you continue to do to lavish God's grace onto the shore of your world today?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Little is much....REALLY!

"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.  Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.  Calling the disciples to him, Jesus said, 'truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on." 
Mark 12:41-44

I was reminded of these words last night as I helped at a fund raiser seeking to raise funds for a family whose son found himself in a coma following a terrible accident in Bangkok, thousands of miles from home.

My heart went out this this family.  I'd never met Robbie, but his mom had made us feel SO welcomed when we first arrived in Wicklow.  We'd even got a free Christmas Tree from her and her husband our first Christmas.  People from the community decided something had to be done to help, so I offered to help.  Last night I helped man the door as over 250 people made their way to the Grand Hotel to come and show their support.  They gladly paid a €10 cover charge per person, all the monies were going to get Robbie home. They then gave again, bidding in an auction and buying raffle tickets.  It was great fun.

However the high water mark of the evening occurred when a homeless man, who was well known in the community, walked into the Grand Hotel.  He came to the door and simply laid a small bag of coins on the table.  He then turned around and walk into the night.  We stood there and like those first disciples crowded around Jesus to hear the story, we crowded around that small bag of coins marvelling at what we'd just witnessed.  It was amazing.

As I later walked out of that warm, loud banquet room and into the cool night air I sensed Jesus tapping me on the shoulder... did you see that?

Thank you Jesus for glimpses of the Kingdom of God!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The present of presence!

Gorgeous views from our home in Wicklow!
As I write this I'm listening to the sounds of summer here in Ireland.  Children are playing in their back gardens.... water is a big part of their fun.  Trust me, if you could hear them you'd know that water was involved. Like most days we can see the sea from our window but today it's beckoning me to come... although I have a feeling I'd only get my toes wet... the water's about 50F, COLD!   Regardless it does looks inviting from this vantage point.

We've been back in Ireland about a week now and most of that week I've been dealing with back pain... I'm guessing it's the result of six weeks plus on the road.  As a result I've felt rather melancholy... you might say I've been made aware of my physical limitations, my weakness, dare I say it, my age?

Anyway, I'm starting to feel better and with that is a desire to get back at it.  Yesterday, however was a bank holiday Monday.  In other words, a day where the banks and most other shops are closed.  We spent the morning cleaning, Matthew washed our car and we joined with other neighbours enjoying what was an incredibly beautiful day.  Later we had a BBQ to celebrate.  What? I'm not sure... but we're always up for a party.  In the course of events we ended up chatting with our neighbours across the back fence.  It was a good day.

It's now Tuesday... and as I travelled down into town I discover Wicklow was once again a buzz of  activity.  All those shops that were closed yesterday are open once again.  It was good to walk the  streets, even if my gait was not without the obvious signs of my back issue.  I stopped in a couple of the shops and spoke with some individuals I hadn't seen since before our trip to the US.  As I walked I began praying, asking God to help me.   I began thinking about our presence in this place we now call home, we'd been missed.... at least that's what they told us.

Eventually I made my way to my favourite Coffee shop.  I sat there reading, reflecting and praying and in the midst of those moments God came and met with me.  It was wonderful, it was what I needed.  He didn't say much, but His presence made a difference... and that got me thinking....

In the midst of my musing  I heard a lady climbing the stone stairs right by the little street side table where I was sitting.  She was labouring.  Cane in one hand, the other on a rail.  She was willing herself up those stairs to that little coffee shop.... and I heard her... under her breath whisper, "...Jesus!" I don't know how she meant it, but I prayed for her in that moment that HE would be real to her.  As I did, I began thinking about how very often we're so unaware of his presence.  We miss him even as he's right there with us.

I thought about our call to come and live in this place and as I did I began reflecting on what we're DOING... yet in that moment, even as I was aware of God's presence... I could not help but think how perhaps the greatest call involves NOT what we do, but simply being present.... being present with people....

So as I sat there sensing the the call not so much to DO anything, but to simply be present in the lives of those about me....

As I sign off... Blessings on you... as you walk through this day may you be aware of HIS presence in your life, and maybe like myself, you'd be impressed to be present, really present with the people that God brings across your path today.

Monday, April 8, 2013

On the road again...

As I write this I'm sitting in the home of some good friends in San Diego, California.  It's a long way from Ireland, even as our home is ever on our minds.  We're in the states sharing with anyone who'll listen about Ireland and God's call on our lives in that place.

As we travel we're getting the opportunity to see good friends and make new ones.  Here is a list of some of the places we'll be visiting over the course of the next six weeks.  If you're close to any of these places and want more information just email us at missioneire@gmail.com.  We'd love to connect with you.. regardless we sure would love for you to remember us in your prayers.

Apple Valley, CA
Lakeside, CA
Hesperia, CA
Monte Vista, CO
Canon City, CO
Colorado Springs, CO
Heppner, OR
Kennewick, WA
Richland, WA
Kellogg, ID
Medford, OR
Gladstone, OR
Grand Ronde, OR
Portland, OR
Happy Valley, OR
Hillsboro, OR
Oregon City, OR
Woodburn, OR
Beaverton, OR
Lakeview, OH
Marysville, OH
West Liberty, OH
Wauseon, OH

Thanks for your prayers... and hopefully we'll see you along the way.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

World Record Attempt Promo
Why did we come to Ireland?

I've been thinking about this recently, and not because of the weather.  I've been thinking about it because St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner and I find myself heavily involved in the festivities in our home town this year.  I have the privilege of serving on a committee with a group of great people here in Wicklow Town.  We're having a great time preparing for what will be a couple of great days.

We have the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday, March 17th but on Saturday, March 16th we're doing something absolutely crazy.  We're going for a "World Record".  Costumes have been ordered by a local business and we're hoping to have 1,000 people all dressed up as St. Patrick. (Watch for pictures) I can't wait to see young and old walking down the town together.  As I said, it's going to be a great weekend.

Anyway, back to why I was reflecting on why I'm here!  I was helping prepare for this, collecting support just outside the Bank of Ireland when a little old lady, putting a few cents in my bucket said... "he was a good man.... he loved us."  As she took her sticker, and walked away, I found myself pondering what she'd said... and I realized that in her words I found my voice. 

If you know St. Patricks story you know that he was kidnapped as a child and forced to shepherd sheep here in Ireland.  The story of his escape is incredible, but not as incredible as what happens next.  In a vision, he hears the voices of the people who had known him as a child shepherd, calling him to come back to Ireland... the specific words were... "come and walk among us".  That vision became the impetus for his return to Ireland.  He returned sharing Christ.... yet as he returned he didn't cloister himself away from the people calling them to Christ from a distance... rather he did just what the vision had suggested... He walked amongst the people... he entered their lives... he loved them. 

All that reminds me of what John shares about the coming of Jesus in the opening prologue of the Gospel of John where we read...

           "The Word became flesh and blood,
                   and moved into the neighborhood.
  Jn 1:14(MESSAGE)

As we have come to Ireland... we've sought to do the same... to enter the neighborhood, the lives of the people and in doing that we've found ourselves falling in love with the people we live with here in beautiful Ireland.

I keep thinking about that lady outside the Bank of Ireland and what she said about St. Patrick... and I find myself wondering... what might people say about me?  My prayer... Oh that they would echo the words of that little old lady and say about me.... "he was a good man... he loved us."  

AND if you're wondering... what is this love of which I speak... I go back to John, only this time his first letter where he writes these words....

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."  1John 3:16-18

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Reflections on Psalm 91

I've been reflecting on Psalm 91 for the past week... it was one of the readings for the first week of Lent.  It's a wonderful song with words that inspire and encourage.... but it has also challenged me, especially the opening words:

Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow
   You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” (NRSV)

   Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. They say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (TNIV)

I have found myself consumed with the question... "What does it mean to live or dwell in the shelter of the most high?"  The thought is continued in the next phrase where the Psalmist speaks of abiding or resting in the shadow of the almighty?  Again, what does that mean?

My mind immediately went to John 15 and the illustration of the vine and the branches and how through their connection fruit is found.... the word used by John to speak of this relationships is translated "remain" in one version and "abide" in another.  As I was musing on this I found myself walking the beautiful beach at Brittas Bay. It was an absolutely beautiful sun filled day.  As I walked I became profoundly aware of my shadow and my thoughts went back to this passage.

"who abide in the shadow of the almighty"

I found myself wondering...

Do I live close enough to God that I rest within HIS shadow?

All that got me thinking about my shadow... 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The NOT so new Year...

Heading into 2013... seeking HIS direction!
Can you believe that the first month of 2013 is over tomorrow... it hardly seems possible.  Even as we've settled into the routine of this new year I can't help but think back to the season of advent and my reflection on HOPE during that season.

I was reminded that Hope is not dependent on the realities that surround, but on the word of God, a God who never lets His words drop to the ground.  That's good news.  By the way, in this I'm not suggesting we live in some pollyanna reality where everything is just great, rather I'm suggesting that regardless of what we see, hear or experience… God can still be trusted. 

In other words, there is NOTHING that will take place in the eleven months that remain in this year that can separate us from the love of God… nothing.  The Light of the world has come, even in the midst of the grey skies of winter.

This month we welcomed Ted & Sarah Voigt and their daughter Abigail.   They arrived on Jan 17th... and in the next few days we begin a Parent & Toddler Group in Wicklow.  Not a bad way to begin our year.  We'll be looking to build relationships with the people who participate and move forward with Parenting Classes.  In June we'll have been in Ireland two years.  It hardly seems possible.  In the fall we're planning to start some home groups.  All along we'll be listening to the leading and Spirit of God… for this is HIS work, HIS church, HIS calling.

As we begin walking through this new year… I'd invite you again to join us in God's mission.  Maybe you could join us in praying this prayer from the pen of missionary David Livingstone.

“God, send me anywhere, only go with me.  (BTW: this might be just across the street)
Lay any burden on me, only sustain me.
And sever any tie in my heart except the tie that binds my heart to Yours.”

We'd also invite you to pray these five prayers for our team here in Ireland… and if you're so inclined, yourself.

Lord, give us YOUR eyes to see the world around us.
Lord, give us ears to hear what YOU are calling us to do each day.
Lord, help us to lay down our lives, our dreams, our visions… for YOURS.
Lord, help us to see no action, no word as to small, but to do it to the glory of God.
Lord, fill us with your love that it might permeate our relationships, our actions and our minds.

I wonder... what might happen as we pray and live out this prayer.