Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stories of Jesus

So we can take good things out of Christmas, and last week at the Ballysillan Board meeting Carrie asked us to think of stories of Jesus that we love.

The first one that came to my mind was when Jesus turned the tables upside down in the temple! Awesome!



You can find the story in Mark 11 v15-19

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written:
" 'My house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

When evening came, they went out of the city.


Its not about turning the tables over that I love, just the fact that Jesus said "You got it all wrong!" We get so comfortable in our traditions and routines, that worshipping God becomes a ritual, even a business, and its wrong. If anything gets in the place of others meeting with God should wedisgard it, turn it upside down? Jesus might have woken some of the people up, when he turned the tables. Did Jesus disturbed the peace and tranquility of the temple? Again in Church, is there any life or emotion?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas




I used to be of the opinion that if you take CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS you are left with M-A-S, Minus A Saviour.

I used to say Jesus is the reason for the season!

I have seen a couple of groups started wanting to save Christmas as a Christian festival.

I have also come across people who want to take Christ out of Christmas.

I say let them! Let people change the name and call it winterfest or whatever they come out with.

I say its about time we Jesus followers take a stand and speak out about this pagan commercialised holiday. What is Christian about it? Some good morals or sharing, giving and receiving but thats about it.

Not to be a scrooge but there are so many people who get into debt during this time of year. Kids have become like spoilt little brats who want more, more, more!

And Jesus was probably born in spring, when the shepherds were out in the field so lets celebrate it then and let the heathens do what they want in december! I said this to someone whose response was "But then we cant celebrate Easter if Christmas is in the spring as well!".....DOh!

Monday, December 08, 2008

I'm not going to sin this week!

So I was speaking last night at Christ Church YF and the topic was on being 'Sold Out for God'.

I was reading thru 1 John last week and was focussing my talk on 1 John 2 v9-11.

But while reading thru 1 John I came across some interesting verses. The type that make you rub your eyes, and go 'how did I miss that before??'. The verses that o one really talks about or even dismiss them as being taken out of context.

So 1 John 2 v1 says "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."

So John is writing to these Churches, (probably in the region of Ephesus?)inorder that they might not sin! And if they do sin....

Is this crazy thinking? Can followers of Christ live without sinning? Is it possible? The problem might be that we don't think we could do it. And we are right - we can't, but with God's help thru the Holy Spirit. I think we get it easy being Christians. While other world faiths have a call to prayer 5 times a day, fast for a month, memorise scripture, we get off with reading a thought for the day, goig to church once a week and thats only if we are the holy ones! We fall into sin becasue of our lazy, greedy, self indulgent lifestyle.

John continues in verse 6, "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

If Jesus needed to get up early and go spend time with God, then how much more do we need to? And who ever said it was an option to ready your Bible and pray everyday? We mst walk as Jesus did - in step with the Spirit.

So how do we not sin?

Verse 15-17 says, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."

Now I know that this can be an external view of sin - not dealing with issues of the heart, but we can and are effected by the external.

1 John 3 v5-6 continues, "But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him."

If we live in Him we don't keep sinning! We might want to but it is possible to live for Jesus, like Jesus be sold out completely for Jesus. Jesus deals with extremes. Light and darkness. Hot and cold. Righteousness and sin. There is no middle ground. In fact, John who wrote this letter also writes to the Church in Ephesus in Revelation 3 v16, "So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

Verse 8 states, "He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work"

I hear a lot in the church of being still a sinner saved by grace. To me, we are either one or the other.

And this is the key verse that blew me away,

"No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God"

So do I limit God's Spirit in my life?
Do I settle for second best?
Do I live a defeated life?

I maybe do still sin because I don't identify my problems and ask God to deal with them. But even this language is strange. I have been taught that I am still a sinner. But the Bible does not teach this. If I have been reborn of God, I am a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5 v17) I might fall back into old bad habits but I am not a sinner anymore. Thats got to be good news!

So why do I still sin?
Is there a need for confession?
Is confession more for us than it is for God?
Does God know what we are talking about when we confess our sin?
Has God not forgiven our sins?

I believe God has removed my sin (past, present and future) as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103 v12)

I believe Jesus has saved me from my sin (Matthew 1 v21)

But I continue to say things I shouldn't say, do things I shouldn't do, think things I shouldn't think, go places I shouldn't go.

Maybe I underestimate myself? I love what Rob Bell says about Jesus. Jesus believes in us.

We probably don't believe in ourselves. We probably beat ourselves up with guilt. We probably try and protect ourselves from pride. We probably don't put ourselves in a place to be transformed by God's Spirit.

So especially during this advent season, which gives us the perfect opportunity to take time out of our busy schedule to think about who God is and why Jesus came to earth, could we try and not sin?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Habitat



So my good wife supports me so much in YFC, and I want to help and support Katrina in al she does. So here you see us taking a well earned break on site, up the shankill, doing a team leaders day. We are going to lead a team to Romania in the summer of '09. Katrina is recruting some students from UUJ. More to follow...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Focussed Leadership



I've been watching a lot from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit DVD's and this guy has really stood out as a communicator, in terms of how he said and what he had to say.

Andy Stanley, from North Point talked about the greatest leadership decision he ever made - to cheat the Church and not his wife! He gives 2 biblical references and shed new light upon them.

The first was found in Ephesians 5 v25 "Husbands, love your wives as Christ has loved the Church".

Now I always read this as husbands having to love their wives, sacrifically, laying down their lives, not being selfish, and that could still be a correct interpretation. What Andy says is, he is to love his wife and focus his love on his wife as Christ will then in turn love the church. I'm probably not explaining this. Basically, our call or role as husbands is to love our wives (or should I say wife??) and the church comes second or third (cos God comes first!) Many people put the church before their family and that aint good, it aint even biblical. As we love our wives, Christ will love the Church.

The second verse helps, Matthew 16 v18, Jesus said "I will build my church..."

So while we are away loving our wives it allows Jesus to build his church. If we aren't loving our wives, we put ourselves in the place of Jesus, and that is probably why the church isnt being built up cos we are neglecting and disobeying the command to love our wives.

This is freeing. It doesn't mean we become lazy and careless, it just means we have priorities, so my prayer and goal is to love Katrina, as Christ has loved the Church

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Jerry Maguire moment



The past, the present, the future….

In the past we had up to 1000 young people. 23 years ago there was no youth meeting format. It was a great time to meet young people from other churches. Mannafest was radical and way ahead of its time. It paved the way for churches to plan and style youth meetings. It was free and we had a collection – the boxes went round and people threw in their sweet wrappers and shrapnel. Mannafest would bring across big name speakers – excellent communicators, funny storytellers. It was more of an event for all people, not just young people. We would stand for a period of time and sing praise songs led by a rock style band (with drums!!), which was in direct contrast to stand-up-sit-down-prayer-hymn-sandwich. Drama was a big pull as well. We had some excellent groups over the years and it was the best of the best actors/actresses in our wee country.

We have had to adapt. We have gone through seasons of change, but there has always been a desire for the continuation of Mannafest.

I can remember sitting in Mannafest one night and not being happy at the big event. Yes we had lots of people, but those people were not engaging in an authentic way. I remember being challenged with how Jesus dealt with the crowd. He spoke to them and basically gave them a choice. He made it hard for them to continue following. A big criticism of Mannafest was that it played into the whole event-junkie-monthly-top-up-emotional-experience. So I can remember thinking we should change our efforts and focus from evangelism (shallow) to discipleship (deeper). In reflection, this could have been a bad choice. I believe we made a deliberate change in direction. Some young people and youth leaders commented that they couldn’t bring their non Christian friends along to Mannafest anymore.

We were hit big when we had to move venues due to the closing of the Ulster Hall for refurbishments. Ulster Hall is the home of Mannafest. It’s not attached to any denomination so people don’t feel like we are attaching ourselves with any particular church.

When I was asked to take over Mannafest, I believe God spoke to me from Judges 7. Here Gideon starts of with an army of 32,000 and God sifts them down to 300 committed soldiers. I sat with Steve and talked through how we wanted to make disciples – not just Christian converts who might fall away when they hit 18. I also believed it was time to rebuild and restructure for the future. I felt the speakers over the past couple of years had become Christian comedians. They weren’t teaching from the Bible and while they got a physical response from young people, it was always the same people who went up. Or even worse, the kids that had been talking the whole way through the talk went up!

I also thought we cant we develop local talent? Why do we have to bring in outsiders? I believe we can become a sending country again. Maybe Mannafest wasn’t the right platform to give younger local speakers? But I believe in these people. I love their hearts for young people and for communicating God’s word. I believe we are investing in the future. It will have long term effects, which we probably won’t see for a while.

We have also noticed that a lot of youth leaders have stopped coming. This could be because they don’t know or like the local speakers. We have noticed that a lot of youth events now happen on Friday and Sunday nights, so Saturday is their night off. Also Mannafest has been said to be a glorified youth fellowship now. Everybody is doing their own type of Mannafest. However there is something about bringing life to the city. A minister once said to me if you can capture a city, you inherit the land. There is something about meeting together in the city centre to pray for our country. Bluetree sing, “Greater things are still to be done in this city.” Mother Teresa said, “It’s not about doing great things, it’s about doing small things with greater love.” There is also a song that says, “Knowing you Jesus – there is no greater thing!”

My heart is for young people to get to know God more. We can have youth events with the best bands, the best speakers or worse speakers, lights, cameras, action but what I fear we are in danger of is having over entertained under challenged young people. I want the balance of having a professional and passionate event, with one that has values of reality, authenticity and depth. My question is – is this the job of Mannafest? Surely it is the job of the local church. I have been told discipleship can only take place in the context of the local church – but surely discipleship can and should happen anywhere and everywhere, even at a monthly event. And I don’t just want to make converts; I want to be in Jesus’ business of making disciples.

So does Mannafest have a future?

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Shack



So I finally got to read this book while I was away over half term with my family. A cople of people were like, "You must read this book!", "You'll cry", "You'll love it!"

I did enjoy it. Rather than give a book review, I thought I'd put some quotes in which I thought was good, but before I do that it was interesting to see how authors open up now about what they are listening to while writing, and their influences - pretty cool.

I'm listening to my fan blowing air...

Also, there is a follow on, next stage, what to do after reading the book which I like. It's all on their website.

So some quotes:

"I often find that getting head issues out of the way first makes the heart stuff easier to work on later...when you're ready" (page93)

"I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature.If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, its because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back ito your religious conditioning" (page 93)

"Have you noticed even though you call me Lord and King, I never really acted in that capacity with you?" (page145)

"Women, in general, will find it difficult to turn from a man and stop demanding he meets their needs, provides security, and protects their identity, and return to me. Men, in general, find it very hard to turn from the works of their hands, their own quests for power and security and significance, and return to me." (page147)

"Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to 'be like Jesus', it means for your independence to be killed" (page 149)

"Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again." (page 235)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Judgement

I always laugh when people mention the 'credit crunch' in conversations, as a reason why things are going wrong, people aren't giving, charities are going under, blah-blah-blah...

For us in norn iron, its probably effecting daddy not buying his daughter a new mini cooper, or only being able to go on 2 or 3 holidays a year , rather than 4 or 5.

Anyway, found it interesting when I was talking to a friend last week and she said, "Well if the governments had cleared the debt during the G8 summit, we wouldn't be in this mess! You reap what you sow!" - and she wasn't a Free P...or Brethren!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hole in one!




I kid you not. Friday 12 September 2008. Blackwood "Temple" Golf Course. Hole 15. 126 yards.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How not to speak of God




Reading this book by Peter Rollins at the moment, well trying too. It is extremely wordy for a book (off course you need words to have a book!), very intellectual and academic and all that. The book is written in 2 parts - theory and practise basically. The second half is a description of 10 IKON services that have taken place. It is really interesting to see (or read) how they outlined their meetings. I like the whole relaxed, informal mood and atmosphere that is described. As I sit in the normal sunday church service, it kills me how boring and irrelevant a lot of it is. As a trained teacher, I understand the importance of the classroom layout in creating a positive learning environment. If we want to learn in the church service we are going about it the wrong way (rows of seats focussed at one person). Maybe the purpose of the sunday service is just celebration?

Anyway, Katrina and I are beginning to look for a new church, and I really don't think the ideal church is out there. We both want good teaching, so that is top of the list, but should we approach this search with a list?

pg113 "...Nietzsche commented that getting drunk and getting religion were pretty much the same thing - both activities of the weak, both offering an escape from the difficulties of real life with the illusion of warmth and womb-like protection..."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Finishing well

Just spoke at The Crescent Church at lunch time. They had a 10min service, so I shared some thoughts. When I was thinking last night about what to say I couldn't get the phrase 'FINISHING WELL' out of my head, so I take it as God's spirit proding me!

You might recognise one person in this photo - Billy Graham. Well this was taken in 1946 right before the boys came over to Northern Ireland to do a YFC mission. I remembered this story being told to me by JD back when I joined YFC in 2003, and it has stuck with me, almost haunted me.

The guy on the left is called Chuck Templeton. He was described as a brilliant, dynamic preacher. One seminary president called him the most gifted, talented young preacher in America. Templeton and Graham began working together in YFC.

By 1950 Templeton had left the ministry. He pursued a radio career, telling the world he no longer believed Jesus to be the son of God. Read the whole article here

I was watching this last night:


video

Again it probed me to think about FINISHING WELL. Lola Jones was built up as the favourite to win, and she had a great start. I'm sure she is devastated after all the preparation and sacrifice but I'm sure and hope she will come back and win some day.

When I was a lot younger and a lot lighter, I used to love to sprint the 100metres. I was good. I was fast. So was my sister, and I used to train with her at making her starts faster. The problem was I flew off at the start and slowed down. My sister started slower but got faster and faster, making her better at 200m and 400m.

Adrain Eagleson once siad to me, how you are on the sports field can reflect how we are in life. I tend to start things well, but don't finish them as good. So these 2 stories are reminders and challenges for me to finish well

DOC



I was speaking at DC's youth last night down in Ballyholm. We normally talk about this to young people but last night felt more real as if I was almost warning them about the reality of falling away from God.

DOC is something McCready and Gareth Bell developed when they were in Dromore.

90% of statistics aren't true(so does that mean that even that statistic aint true??) but as I look back at my life and see or don't see the same friends round me, it is devastating. People fall away, and it is a harsh reality. Last nights talk was hard to deliver but it was needed. The reason why I am involved in youth work is to change the statistic that 80% leave when they hit 18. That's why I do Mannafest and want to go deeper. FOr years I heard people criticise Mannafest for producing christians who need a monthly fix. Now we are trying to teach deeper and we get criticised. We have been told to MAKE DISCIPLES not converts, so that is my aim, my goal, my desire

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Rapture








just came across this sight listening to xxxchurch podcast.




someone has created a site called youvebeenleftbehind.com and basically it sends out emails to relatives or friends of yours 6 days after the rapture. its like your last chance to warn them. so you set up and address book and write a note. it kinda reminded me of the film P.S I love you! only it would be a lot more freaky




so do we take this serious or is this just ridiculous? intentions seem good, oh but you have to subscribe $40 to join....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

LOST



This year Summerserve took on the theme of LOST. Looking at the old SS tshirts I saw a lot of themes but surprisingly no Biblical texts. I always like to have some scripture in there. I was asked by the americans to come up with a welcoming letter for our projectserve friends. Reading over the old ones from Allan and Suzi I came up with the idea of 'LOST'. Everyone seems to be in on it - we are going to watch season 4 after SS! (Thanx Jonny/Andy) The tshirts look like this (thanx Jonny!)




SO here is what I wrote,


"IMAGINE BEING STRANDED ON AN ISLAND. AWAY FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS. WITHOUT THE STUFF THAT BRINGS YOU COMFORT. YOU ARE IMMEDIATELY EXPECTED TO LIFT YOUR EYES OFF YOURSELF AND PLAY YOUR ROLE IN THE GROUP. YOU ARE IN A MESS BUT YOU FIND YOURSELF RISING TO THE CHALLENGE AND DOING WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. PROBABLY THE MOST TRYING TIME WILL BE GETTING ON WITH ONE ANOTHER. JUST WHEN YOU HAVE MANAGED TO SETTLE YOU FIND OUT THAT "THE OTHERS" ARE ON THE ISLAND AS WELL. HOW WILL YOU DEAL WITH THEM? WILL YOU WELCOME THEM INTO THE CAMP?

THE ISLAND IS IRELAND! ITS GREEN AND LUSH. IT RAINS EVERYDAY. WE HAVE BEACHES, MOSTLY COVERED WITH STONES. THERE ARE NO POLAR BEARS...

YOU WILL GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP GIFTS THAT YOU HAVE BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY YOU WILL BE PUT INTO SITUATIONS THAT WILL MAKE YOU RELY FULLY UPON GOD TO SHOW UP. THIS IS WHEN YOU FIND OUT WHO YOU ARE AND MORE IMPORTANTLY WHO GOD IS

LIVING TOGETHER, WORKING TOGETHER AND PLAYING TOGETHER CAN CREATE A LOT OF FRICTION. WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT ROLE DO YOU HAVE TO PLAY? ARE YOU A MAN OF SCIENCE OR A MAN OF FAITH? WHAT WILL BE EXPOSED IN YOU? WHAT IS THE WHOLE TRUTH? WHERE YOU BORN TO RUN? WHY DO ALL THE BEST COWBOYS HAVE DADDY ISSUES?

IN LUKE 15 JESUS TELLS 3 STORIES OF BEING LOST....AND FOUND. WHAT CAN WE LEARN ABOUT GOD THRU THESE STORIES? HOW WILL IT HELP US LIVE OUR LIVES? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO COMMUNICATE THESE LESSONS TO "THE OTHERS"?

IN YOUTH FOR CHRIST WE ARE GEARED TO THE TIMES BUT ANCHORED TO THE ROCK. IF YOU ARE NOT INTO ‘LOST’ THEN I APOLOGISE FOR ALL THE REFERENCES TO THE TV SHOW. YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY FIND YOURSELF LOST READING THIS! THAT’S OK BUT WE HOPE YOU WILL EXPERIENCE THE LOVE AND THE JOY OF THE FATHER DURING YOUR TIME IN IRELAND. I PRAY YOU HAVE A SAFE FLIGHT OVER JUST MAKE SURE ITS NOT OCEANIC 815…"


Monday, July 07, 2008

4 generations!


Ruth, Granny, Amelie and Mum at my 31st birthday meal

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My wife and my niece


Katrina isn't broody....

3 generations


Granny, Mother and Daughter.
Irene. Ruth. Amelie.

Granny and Granda

How much joy can one person bring to a family?

Amelie Rose McKnight

Born Monday 23 June 2008 at 252am, weighing 6lbs 7ounces and 49cm long!

Uncle Stevie!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

YFC AGM


There is a great story in Joshua 4. The children of Israel have just crossed into the Promised Land. They have crossed 2 rivers - the Red Sea and the Jordan. They have wondered about in the desert for 40 years. They had received the 10 Commandments. They had been fed with Manna falling from the heavens.
Joshua asks 12 guys to go back into the river and lift 12 stones. They were to serve as a sign among them. In the future when the kids would ask, "What do those stones mean?"
Joshua said, "These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever"(v7)
Last night I was at the most inspiring meeting EVER! Now if you know me, I can't really meet over an hour. I love interaction. I can't just sit there and listen. But last night - WOW!
Our passionate President, Mrs Evelyn Knox, spoke like William Wallace, I wanted to yell "FREEDOM!". El presidente declared "What a faithful God!"
Our National Director gave an annual report based on the 4 seasons. So many highs and so many lows, but amazing what we actually got thru last year, or should I say amazing what God brought us thru this year, or got thru with God's help....
Jude went round the staff beforehand and asked what our highlights of the year were. At first I let out a big sigh as its been tough and I feel as if I've been stuck in an office all year. BUT actually when I went thru my diary and filled in the ministry report forms, I was quite shocked.
So here are some of my 12 stones, which I want to place down, so that I can look back and declare the greatness and faithfulness of God.
  1. Getting married to the lovely Katrina Boucher - I am so happy! This includes our wedding, honeymoon in Egypt, doing up the house, our families being together more - good times!
  2. Hearing my sister was pregnant - I'm going to be an uncle in July! And so many of my friends are pregnant and/or have had babies this year. Jackson Charles, Charlie Thomas, Nevaeh Currie, Abbey Jackson, Reuben Robinson, Allison Buchmeyer, Josiah Cowan - still to come Peanut McCready, Kate + Andre's, Nick + Heidi's, Dave + Heather again!
  3. Taking Mannafest deeper - I've learnt that greater things aren't necessarily bigger things. Mother Teresa said, "There are no great things, only small thing s with great love"
  4. Getting up once a month at 6am to come down to MANNA. I'm still humbled and excited how people get up early and come to MANNA. I have loved building, growing, sharing this small group of amazing people.
  5. Bringing XXXChurch over last year - something radical, dynamic and risky
  6. Being on Staff Retreat and hearing Alan Wilson share about the importance of looking after the condition of my heart
  7. Speaking at 4 weekends. I always find it such a privilege to come into a group and speak into their lives, challenge them, inspire them. So thanx to Shore Street Presby (DJ's group), First Ballynahinch, Wallace High CU and Ballyholm Parish
  8. Being involved in Celebration of Hope. It was great to build bridges and new friendships with John, Jasper, Michael and Denise
  9. Ignite the Flame was an amazing event of churches coming together and organisations working together. SO proud of Mannafest volunteers who helped make this event happen
  10. This year I have actually spoke more in Churches than in schools and I love it and pray for more opportunities
  11. On the sporting front it has been a great year - going to the Norn Iron matches with Neil and nearly qualifying for Euro 2008 - the nights at Windsor have been immense. GAWA! Also been playing a little more golf this year, starting up our golf society with the McCready bros, Charlie, Nicky but I think I've found my course over in Bangor. I had had some great rounds at the par 3 with Alan Cowan
  12. How could I not mention the Double for Manchester United. Winning the league in the way that we played was an achievement in itself but I will never forget the night at our house with both our families over watching the drama unfold in Moscow. All I can say to John Terry is that 'It couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke -except maybe Cashley Cole!" Great for my hero, Ryan Giggs to get the winner against Wigan and score the decisive penalty. Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs running down the wing....

Monday, June 02, 2008

Messy Spirituality



So this is the book I currently read while visiting the toilet in work! Its always good to have a book. Some really good points to consider:

  1. What keeps many of us from growing is not sin, but speed
  2. Sin does not always drive us to drink; more often it drives us to exhaustion. Tiredness is equally as debilitating as drunkness
  3. the problem with growth in the local church is not the slowness but the rushing of growth
  4. How would our understanding of the spiritual life be altered if we used these words: resting, listening, waiting, startign, returning, savouring, celebrating, dancing, learning, growing rather than good, bad, positive, negative, high, low?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Friday 20 June

Instead of having a formal we thought we would do something different! All money raised goes to the great work in the Bluehouses. It will be different! Leave me a comment if you want a golden ticket!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Awake

One of the best Bible teacher's I have ever heard is Dave Johnson. He is Senior Pastor of Church of the Open Door (check out website and sign up for podcast here)

On Sunday morning Dave spoke in Newtownbreda Baptist. He is over for 2 weeks. What gets me is the way he opens the Bible and talks about what it says. If got me thinking though about the responsibility of the hearer.

I arrived early to church. I had a note book and pen. I was genuinely excited to hear what Dave had to say. On a normal Sunday morning, I arrive late (if at all), I feel guilty if I don't go and would go just to show my face to show I am still alive. How I prepare myself is so important to receiving the word.

What was intersting in Jesus' day, the rabbi's or teachers sat down. The hearers stood up. They were active learners. Now the roles have been reversed. The hearers come to be entertained and demand to be fed. We are lazy. The speaker does a song and dance routine, trying to keep the attention of the hearers.

So anyway back to Dave's talk. He spoke from Matthew 9 were the young girl was raised from the dead. Everyone thought she was dead, but Jesus siad she was asleep.

Dave explored the concepts of neing awake and asleep, being dead and alive. He challenged us if we were asleep/dead and awake/alove in certain areas of our lives. He went on to say that we talk about eternal life as something we have or something that happens to us after we die. Dave doesn't use the term eternal life anymore but 'an eternal kind of life'. Life in the kingdom is now, not just life after death.

So not focussing of whether I am saved or not, what areas in my life am I asleep/dead?

What areas in my life am I awake/alive?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Live the dream

please sponsr my wife!

Katrina is doing an abseil of the Europa on Saturday. I was thinking of maybe sponsoring her not to do it, but she is a dare devil and an adrenlin junkie, so I just have to support her!

u can donate on line here - thanx

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The beautiful Bride arrives

SO here is the late Katrina Boucher...who was in fact early!

All I can say is stunner!

I feel so blessed to have Katrina in my life now. She gets me. She knows how to handle me. She laughs at me and she builds me up. Katrina has taught me to let things go and most importantly to not cast things up. She is so forgiving and kind - she needs to be married to me!

So may I present to you the new Mrs Patterson...

Great is thy faithfulness


What do you choose as an opening hymn? I love the words to this song. Its a declaration of God's goodness. Nowadays songs are mostly written from our self centredness, it's all about how we feel and what we are going thru. This tune lifts the spirits because of who God is.
So glad to have Rick leading the praise at our wedding. We didn't know how this song would go down, cos it is kinda slow and there is normally an organ playing, but the voices were raised in adoration. So thanx to Dave, Buff, Rick pictured with 'Little and Large'. Also to Sarah for doing powerpoint!

The big day

Here I am. Tuesday 22 April 2008. I got my best man, Charlie and my grooms man, Phil by my side. 2 amazing guys. What an amazing day. This was taken by the very talented Andre Alves Areias. Nice one Dr Dre!

Monday, March 31, 2008

6 distinctive features of Mission

Reading thru the life of Hudson Taylor. He set up the China Inland Mission (CIM) and here is his 6 distinctive features, which I think are still applicable today:

  1. Missionaries will be drawn not from any particular denomination but from all the leading Christian churches - provided they could sign a simple doctrinal declaration (How could we agree on that??)
  2. Missionaries would have no guaranteed salary, but trust in the Lord to supply their needs. Income would be shared. No debts would be incurred. (But thats not practical!!!!)
  3. No appeal for funds would be made.(He must really take his faith seriously!!)
  4. The work abroad would not be directed by home committees but by people on the spot, in the field (people who actually know what is going on)
  5. The activities of the mission would be systematic and practical. Evangelism would seek to establish footholds in strategic centres
  6. The missionaries would wear clothes from the region and worship in building built in the style of the area (geared to the times, anchored to the rock!)

Food for thought...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rambo


Talk about a good boys night out! Went with Pete Comfort and Jonny to watch this epic! You know what you get with Rambo, but even this was too much. Some really interesting thoughts came to me during watching this.
First you have the missionaries going into a country to help yet they cause a lot of problems. It made me think. These missionaries were warned to not go in, yet they went in. Was it obedience to God? Was it to ease their conscience? In the film it is actually quoted that there were doing an honourable thing. One of the mercenaries said he was the devil doing what God couldn't do. So going in as outsiders, does it help or does it cause more problems. Also, watching LOST with Katrina and the episode we watched last night 'Stranger in a strangeland' was about how Jack walked among them but wasn't part of them. It can have good effects, like with Hudson Taylor gaining the respect of the Chinese, but it can also be harmful. I know I'm mixing fact with fiction even fantasy but an interesting point I think!
Second you have the pure brutalness of this movie. I asked Pete how this got made and even passed. But this actually happens in Burma. It is horrific, but this type of stuff happens. I don't know if Sly was trying to make a political point or a moral point and if anything is going to happen about this but its mad, worse its evil and is anyone doing anything about it? The way movies go as well, we are manipulated by the director, writer, music so we actually want the good guy to go get the bad guy, so here we want Rambo to go get some revenge in the only way Rambo can! But who is good then and who is bad. Is it justified Rambo killing everyone cos they are bad people. A verse that kept running thru my head was from Romans 12 v 19 "It is mine to avenge, I will repay, says the Lord". But can we wait for judgement? Is it fair to let evil continue and even prosper? That passage in Romans 12, do not repay evil for eveil but overcome evil with good - is it practical? Is it philosophical? Can ideas like that actually work in the real world? And again I know Rambo aint real but stuff like tis actually happens it the world, so my question is how does the Jesus follower respond?
Thirdly you have some pure cheese in quotes from the movie "It is better to die for something than live for nothing!" Oh yes! Come on! You got to love it!

Childlike faith



Just finished reading this book. Its good. Easy read. Thought provoking.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Galatians 2 v20


Can't get this verse out of my mind. It's a constant challenge to everything I do, say and think

Lava Lamp

Found this cool prayer tool on emerging church website and it actually helped me focus and pray more - cool!

Lava lamp prayer

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tony the Tiger


Got to reading this book over the weekend, my good friend Shaun leant it to me, as someone had leant it to him. Didn't realise tho, that this guy is actually called 'Anthony Anthony'! Reminds me of Gary Neville's dad, Neville Neville. (And apparently the United team of the 90's had Gary Pallister's dad - Alistair, Steve Bruce's dad - Bruce, Peter Schmeichel's dad Michael...)
But the book and the life story of Tony is amazing. I must admit there is something about the Far East - I'd love to walk alone the Great Wall of China, and there is something appealing with their culture and heritage. I love watching martial arts films and everybody loves kung foo fighting, fast as lightning ha ho ha (doing the dance!)
I also have something deep down within that is attracted to such a disciplined life, being flexible, fit, controlled....I am so lazy and very indisciplined/undisciplined. What struck me (Judo chop!) was when Tony talked about the way of Kung Foo compared to Jesus saying "I am the WAY..."
So all these years I've been intrigued about the way of Kung Foo, (never done anything about it tho!) yet have I been following the WAY of Jesus. The Bible in a year has just started into Mark's gospel and the first chapter is full of kick ass action:
Jesus baptised, tempted, starts preaching, casting out demons, healing people, praying, healing some more. Brilliant! That's the WAY of Jesus my master, and I want to be about the WAY of my master.
Rumour has it that Tony is coming over the the Celebration of Hope event in April, or he is being recorded to do a video clip. Apparently he loves Northern Ireland as a guy Michael Wright from Belfast led him to Jesus when he was in prison in Cyprus. Amazing story and again I encourage you to read this book.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

An idea



So reading thru Starving Jesus, Craig and JR encourage the reader to do something - not copy them but do something. Apparently they always get people asking "What should we do?"

So we've been thinking about this in YFC and Steve and myself have started workin towards doing a prayer tour of Ireland. One of Steve's goals is to get 32 drop in centres in every county in Ireland. This summer we got 12 Canadians coming over to do something. SO we thought if we could match that maybe with 12 Irish people, could we hire some RVs and travel round Ireland for 2 weeks and just pray...

JR and Craig fasted and preached and cuffed themselves to a pew, which is very Jeremiah/Ezekiel/prophet like - I love it but like I said don't want to copy these guys.

I think in YFC we are in a new period so we got to pray, seek God, see where God is working and then join God's work. This nation will become a sending nation again, but we got to start doing stuff and get serious. This is step one.

Now we have had one door close after approaching Motorhome Ireland but maybe we can get a couple of mini buses, travel round and sleep in churches. We just want to pray with people, as if that isn't enough! God will do stuff and guide us on the way. So we are looking for churches throughout Ireland who would like 24 people to come pray and encourage them at the start of July this summer.

Step two - promoting it and getting the word out!

Live Simply

So started going thru this 10 week or should I say 10 chapters on a Monday night with Katrina, Dave, Heather and Nevaeh. It's really challenging and has all the charts and tables to impress Dave and myself.

Its very practical and here are 5 simply things you can do right now:

  1. Think of a neighbour or friend who needs some help, whether financially or in some other way, and do something to meet that need this week
  2. Set aside 2 half hour periods during the week when you can have some space for sitting quietly
  3. Go thru your clothes and give away anything you have not worn in the past year
  4. Look at the amount of packaging involved in the food you buy and work on reducing it to a bare minimum
  5. Do not use your car this week for any journey under 2 miles

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Starving Jesus

Sometimes books just come along at the right time. Dave Currie is like my local library as he is always giving me good books to read - so thanx Dave.

I'd seen this book about and heard about it, especially when Craig was over with XXXChurch.com in November, but don't know why I didn't read it then. You know when you read, and you're like, "I should read more, rather than sit and waste my time on Football Manager..."

Anyway I'm nearly finished the book so will blog later what really inspired me, but really want to encorage people to read this

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lay Witness

Wanted to commenton a 'Lay Witness' weekend that I experienced for the first time. Katrina and Cheryl had organised for 13 people to come to Newtownabbey Methodist and minister to the congregation there. Now me being a Baptist and all....

Seriously tho it was really interesting as an outsider to come in an witness, experience and observe people open up to one another. Interesting as well, cos most of the people who shared were feeling tired and weary.

What struck me was this expression of Church. On Sunday night there was a celebration service for the weekend. There wasn't a dry eye in the house! But it was amazing. Honesty, silence, love, compassion, thanksgiving, release, hurt, pain, healing, praise, encouragement, victory and freedom.

Why do we have order and ritual and formality? Why do we have an order of service? Why is there an agenda? And do people find freedom when we continually do this every Sunday? Is comfort good? Is tradition strangling us?

We need to wait on God. We should stop and be still. We should, but we don't. We could but we can't...

I love hearing testimonies. I love the fact that people get up and say, "Oh I'm not a speaker" or "I'm no good at this" and they are brilliant and normally far better than the ordained! Why cos they are honest, they are raw, they have passion and they have something real. I don' think you could have this format every week as it would be far too emotional and draining but maybe thats what the Church needs - a bit of emotion. Something that when you go into work on Monday morning, you look as rough as those people with hangovers but you have a lightness in your spirit and you can share with your workmates that Jesus is alive, that God is faithful and that you had an amazing weekend which you can remember!

So I pray for the Church in Newtownabbey as I feel this weekend coming is so important. I pray for those in leadership for wisdom. I pray that they rest, that they are revived and refreshed.
Some verses that came to me was from Luke 10 v38-42

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Drawing out of a dry well


Well well well! Apparently today is the most depressing day of the year for everyone. Finance, credit cards, debt, waiting for next months wage packet, weather, cold, wet, floods....
"I'm wrecked" is what I normally say, apparently all the time, but its more than that. It's like tired and weary. Maybe it is the weather effecting me. Been thru so much with YFC over the past 6 months, I think its taking the toll on everyone. Steve is over in Canada and Gav is off on paternity, so missing the boys in work as well.
Was looking for a good picture to use and came across some really interesting and provacitive pics. Wanted a picture of a dried up well, or someome trying to draw water from a well and came across pictures of people in Africa, with smiles on their faces, drawing water from a dirty well. You think these people have something to be tired and weary about? I get to go home and crash on a really comfie sofa and watch TV. Probably feel so down cos I'm just looking inward. I dont feel down in my life, just maybe in work I feel down or tired and weary.
Looking out the window now, the Lagan is overflowing. What a picture that is!
Other pictures I came across was Jesus at the well. But why is it that even tho I know Jesus is living water and if I go to Jesus I wont thirst again - why is it that I do? Is Jesus not enough? Is the problem with me? How many Christians do I know who are satisfied and content and at peace???

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hudson Taylor

Katrina has passed on this book to me about Hudson Taylor - which we will probably name our children after as Katrina is in awe of this bloke and I'm beginning to see why!

Hudson went to China as a missionary and took on their customs, lifestyle, language to basically become Chinese in order to gain respect and credibility. An interesting read so far.

Want to encourage others to read about these guys: George Muller, Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone. Think we can learn a lot from them. Any other recommendations?

Genesis


So probably like every good Christian I've started reading thru Genesis - new years resolution and all that. A couple of things on this before I go on:
  1. How come some Christians have never read thru the whole Bible?
  2. Why do we fog off new years resolutions as if they are bad and legalistic?

So I've probably managed to offend some or make others feel guilty but come on lets get serious! If we say we are Bible believing Christians (and who says that?!) then we need to know what is in there. Many and I mean loads of Christians do or don't do certain things cos of what the Bible says, yet when you (or I!) ask them where do you find that in the Bible they have no idea. Some Jews can recite the whole Bible. Jewish young people can recite the first 5 books of the OT, and these are the books we kinda leave out...I'll just leave this hanging....

"But the Pharisees knew all the Bible and didn't know God!" - true

"Some people worship the Bible more than they worship God!" - true

So is it good to read the Bible? Is it good to make people feel guilty about not reading the Bible? Should we include the Bible in our talks or read the Bible out more??