Monday, April 28, 2008


I was away with our Kenya Team for an overnight stay in Portballintrae on Saturday. The purpose was really team bonding and we had such a laugh, helped along by fantastic weather! On Saturday we had a BBQ and then headed to Barry's in Portrush. I went on the ride by the door called 'The Experience' and it reminded me why i don't like rides like that!

We spent the rest of the evening on Whiterocks beach and saw the most beautiful sunset and sat around and chatted. Sunday was a beautiful day and we went back to the beach to find it busy with surfers! A few ice-creams later and we headed home! The guys were very well behaved and we all got along fantastically. I came home even more excited that in 10 weeks time we will all be in Kenya together. I have every confidence now that each member of the team is completely committed to going and will have an amazing experience that will impact their lives forever!

We have our Charity Dinner and Auction approaching in 2 weeks time. Lots to do in a short space of time but it promises to be a fantastic night. We still have to raise in the region of £3,000 so please pray that this evening will go a long way to do that!

Our Exodus Romania team were bag-packing in Tesco in Portadown on Saturday and managed to raise an amazing £817! All of that will go directly to the projects in Romania we will visit in July. It was hard work for the team but very encouraging that people were so kind and generous!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The sense of a goose...

I spoke at our family service on Sunday and shared the following lessons from geese! It was something i stumbled across in my reading but the more i explored geese further the more fascinating it got! Thought i would share it here and widen the blessing!

Lessons From Geese

FACT 1: Do you know why geese fly in a "V" formation? Because the aerodynamics of the "V" formation enable the geese to fly over 70% further than if they fly alone. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an updraft for the bird behind it.
LESSON 1: Do you see the analogy here? They can go a lot further if they work together and help each other out. What a beautiful picture of the synergy of God’s creation – the sum of the whole being much greater than the sum of the individual parts. Christians who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are travelling on the thrust and uplift of one another. God made us not for independence but for interdependence. That is the means by which his church, the bride will be most effective in the building of His kingdom.

Romans 12:4-6 (Message) In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

FACT 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
LESSON 2: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others. ‘as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we?’

When the lead goose tires (he's working the hardest), it rotates back into formation and another goose flies to the lead position.
LESSON 3: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other's skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources. This reminds me of that OT story of Moses.

Exodus 17:8-13 (New International Version)
The Amalekites Defeated 8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands." 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Team work is required in the work of God’s Kingdom.

The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
LESSON 4: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one's heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek. What do you ‘honk’ from behind?

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 (The Message)
9-11God didn't set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we're awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we're alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it.

Sadly we live in a culture that thrives on ‘put downs’. I see this a lot when working with groups of young people where the words used are always negative and nick-names are often hurtful. In such an environment it is unheard off to hear a young person praising another, congratulating them or saying ‘you are really good at that.’
What do your words do? Do they build others up? Or do they destroy and cause division?

When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.
LESSON 5: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong. If people knew we would stand by them like that in the church, they would push down the walls to get in.

Romans 12:9-13 (The Message)
9-10Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. 11-13Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Are you someone who is willing to come alongside others in their time of difficulty? Are you someone who is honest enough to share your struggles and allow others to carry you for a while through the troubles of life? That is a picture of community within the Kingdom of God that we are all a vital part of.

You see God himself is community, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and so he created us to live in community. That is why God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and created Eve.
Philip Yancey provides a useful illustration of this. How do I know when I place my hand on a hob it is hot? God created us with built in safety mechanisms to protect us from harm. Yancey then turns to think about loneliness and describes it as God’s indicator to drive us toward relationships.

Jesus was not a lone ranger in his time on earth. He had the disciples around him, crowds followed him, people who ministered to his needs. He also drew aside to take time with His Father. Jesus thought community was important. Jesus died for community when he died for the world. Indeed what we experience now in this community is only a foretaste and shadow of what God is doing in the world. It all began with God in perfect community with man and will finish one day in heaven in perfect communion with God if you have given your life to Christ.

So don’t search for community in the mason’s or the golf club. Come to the one who is community and created that desire within each of us. Come to Christ and join in the Kingdom work he is doing right here in the community of the local church.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Snowboarding in Italy...

Just got back early on Monday morning from a weeks snowboarding in Andalo in Italy with church. About 140 of us descended upon this small resort in N. Italy for a week of fun in the snow. The conditions where fantastic with good snow and sunny weather as you can see from the pics. The first picture shows Lake Garda in the distance.

I managed to come home relatively unscathed apart from a few bruises and a sore thumb that i thought i had broken on day one after i was assaulted by a tree root!

I also managed to turn 28 whilst away, although i didn't come through that quite so unscathed! Thanks to some of my lovely 'friends' there were a series of embarrassing childhood pictures on display over breakfast. The funniest thing about this was that one family assumed the pictures where Italy's version of 'Sponsor a Child'! Things got worse in the evening with an extremely embarrassing video of 'This is Your Life' featuring interviews with some of my friends, neighbours and work colleagues. I doubt if my face has ever been so red!!!