Saturday, April 30, 2005


So there we are... 24 years and 1 day in my existence on the planet. Today I had a looooooooooooooooong lie-in, which was great - it's something that rarely happens, so I enjoyed it today. Then I was in Newtownards with mum (one of her favourite places to go, as well as Ballymena).

So now I'm almost ready to go out for bowling... will maybe get back on later to update the scores (again, it's partly dependant on whether I get a decent score...), so watch this space!

Friday, April 29, 2005


The weekend, here we come!

After a long and busy week at work, it's nice to get to Friday afternoon, and have the weekend stretching out in front, with nothing to do! And even better this week - Monday is a bank holiday, so I'm off!

Tomorrow night is the 10-pin bowling with my friends for my birthday. Depending on results, I might tell you how I get on... The competition is normally fierce among the fellas, and the girls generally don't seem to mind how they do. But so long as I beat my arch-nemesis, Jordan, then I will be happy!

Sunday night then we have the Bishop with us for a service of Confirmation in the Cathedral, and then later in the evening, we have a joint YF with Stewartstown, Albany and Brigh, where Primrose Leahy is speaking to us on Kosova and her mission experiences so far. Primrose works with ECMI (European Christian Mission International).

Monday has nothing planned yet, which will be nice - I wouldn't want to be doing too much, but no doubt, the family will have plans!

New photos

Just a quick note to let you all know that new photos have been added to my album site - the link is on the righthand side of the page, or if you're too lazy to look for it there, then click here.

Old Getting...

Yes, I am 'old getting', with today being my 24th birthday... so this is just a wee nod to Donna, who has been reminding me for the past fortnight or so that I'm getting old... Time seems to be going so quickly...

My present from mum and dad was a contribution towards a trip to London in the summer, to a conference organised by the Proclamation Trust. A big thank you to all those who also sent texts wishing me a happy birthday - they were all appreciated!

But it doesn't really feel any different being 24... although I am getting closer to the top of the hill, and it's all down from there! Or as David McCarthy said... 'only 41 years to the pension...'

Thursday, April 28, 2005


I started typing this earlier, and the computer froze, so hopefully I'll get it done this time...

I'm not long out of my computer course that I'm doing in work. It's the ECDL Course, which is a fairly widely recognised qualification across Europe. It covers seven areas, with seven exams: Theory; File Management; Word Processing; Powerpoint; Databases; Spreadsheets; and Internet and Email.

The last exam I did was in databases, and such a night of it I had... The first computer I was on froze, and wouldn't let me print any of the relevant pages; so I moved to another computer, which shut down completely, and wiped my disk in the process. So it was that I moved on to my third computer, and had to start the whole exam from the beginning again... Oh, I was so glad to get it finished and saved!

I'm now working on spreadsheets, which seems to be fine... but watch this space for updates on my progress!


A major part of my life seems to be spent in tidying... and having both a bedroom at home, a flat in Tyrone, and an office, the work never seems to end.

In the office today, my desk seems to be just a mountain of paper and books and anything else you can think of... So I think it's time for another tidy-up session, especially before Stephanie, our secretary/financial administrator comes in again tomorrow - she likes to keep me on my toes, and keeps on at me about getting rid of the mountains of newspapers in front of my desk... but they're very important to be kept. So if you're looking a story from the Newsletter, Irish News or Tyrone Constitution from the past year or so, I could probably sort you out!

Bane or blessing?

This is just something I was thinking about recently... are computers harmful or useful; are they a bane or a blessing? Computers are becoming so much a part of our existence, with people communicating more and more by email; more business and commerce being done over the internet; internet banking being a more popular option, and the expectation that any successful business or individual will have access to the internet, or a website... But is all this good or bad?

The potential for bad exists - as in all things, even if their original intentions were for good, humans will find ways of corrupting them, prompted, no doubt by the chief liar himself... and so we see things like hackers, and people accessing other people's bank accounts etc and cleaning out the money in them. Also, the amount of filth that can circulate on the net, through dodgy websites; people not being honest in chatrooms and targetting youngsters; and all the other host of bad things that can happen. And, there's also the fact that the internet can be addictive, combined with the fact that time seems to go a lot quickler when you're online, leading to the possibility for an awful lot of time being wasted sitting staring at the screen (with the possible health risks to the eyes that this contains...).

But there is also a huge potential for good! I wouldn't agree with the Ebay community values where they say that 'people are basically good', or that it is possible to 'bring out the best in people'. As a Calvinist, I would rather believe in the Total Depravity of man, in that there is nothing inherently good in man - I know this from my own experience of myself, and with the backing of Romans 3, which tells us that 'all have sinned', and that there is 'no one righteous'.

And yet, fallen sinners that we are, the internet can be used for good, as we seek to spread the wonderful message of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which opened the way to heaven to those who believe, giving forgiveness of sins and eternal life. It is to this good end that I intend to continue using this blog. I am a Christian, unashamedly, and therefore must spread the good news of the Gospel to those around me, in whatever ways I have at my disposal - one of which is the internet!

Which brings me to an interesting website... It turns out that last Sunday, 24th April, was designated as 'Internet Evangelism Day' Why not check it out, and get inspired to spread the word through the net?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Moving on up...

Things were fun in the office this morning, with a bit of furniture moving, as we consolidate the operation from two offices into one. The office now is looking a bit of a mess, with one cabinet in particular sitting at an odd angle in the middle of the floor, but we will get it all sorted soon enough!

But all this thinking of moving reminds me that my time here is short... today 5 months will be my first week at College, with all the challenges it will bring. I've been in contact with some of the other people who will be starting, and I think it's fair to say we're looking forward to it all, but with just a bit of trepidation.

There will be big changes, going from a job to being a student again; moving from a wee tiny village in the countryside, to living and studying in the big city of Dublin; moving from living alone in a flat, to being amongst thirty or so other people in the halls; from having a steady wage to living on the grants available; and many others I can't think of at present!

But it is very exciting, believing this to be what and where God wants me to be, and walking in his paths; learning more about him, and some ways in which to share the faith with those around us in our new parishes; growing and developing in my faith, and hopefully laying aside those things that hold me back, or cause me to stumble all too frequently. But I find hope and encouragement in this verse: 'being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.' (Philippians 1:6)

Even so, Lord, have your way with me, and lead me on!


I realise this is a huge topic that won't ever be covered in one posting, but I might as well make a start on it...

One of my favourite authors is John Grisham, because I find that all of hisbooks are interesting, and gripping, in that once I start one, I have to finish it, and find out what happens... I got into Grisham rather late, with the effect that most of his books had been published by the time I started reading him (maybe 3 years ago). As far as I can remember, it was Dave Lowry who got me started on them, so thanks Dave!

Perhaps my favourite one of the lot is 'The Testament'. This is the story of a lawyer who goes to a remote part of Brazil to try to find a woman who is a missionary, and has been included in her father's will. Again, maybe I like it more because it combines faith in the telling of the story, as in the sacred oratorios (see the posting entitled 'Music').

Among Christian writers, my favourites include Fred Leahy, and Don Carson. They bring a depth of clarity, and sound exegesis of the Bible. Another writer I like, but who has passed on from this world is JC Ryle, the first Bishop of Liverpool. His commentaries on the Gospels are particularly good, with insights and illustrations on virtually every verse.

At present, I have started the Left Behind series, having completed book 2 last week. I'm not sure what to make of it, although the writing itself is similar to Grisham's in the gripping page-turning style. No doubt there'll be a lot of discussions with friends as to the whole area of the second coming... although if St Malachy's prophecy is true, then there will only be one more pope after the current one. Which leads to the question: Are you ready for the second coming of Jesus, not as a baby, but as King and Judge?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


This is not my own, but is something I came across a while back, and it made me smile. Under the premise of the following, Jesus' choice of disciples wouldn't have been approved of by psychologists or business consultants, except for one. Yet we must never forget that God says: ' "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." ' Isaiah 55:9

Dear Sir

Thank you for submitting the names of the twelve men you have picked for management in your new organisation. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel it is our duty to tell you that the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau has blacklisted Matthew. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.
Yours sincerely

Therefore, the example of the disciples is a great encouragement to me, in that God still calls ordinary people who mess things up, and aren't worthy for the task they have been called to. A verse that a friend gave me last night fits in here most appropriately: 'I can do everything through him who gives me strength.' (Philippians 4:13)


After having no photos on the blog for ages and ages, I have now worked out how to get a photo on my profile - one from the camera of Scott Mackey, leaning on a lectern... perhaps a potent sign of my future...

I have also begun a new online photo gallery at which you can get to via the link at the righthand side of the page. Included so far are random pictures of me and my friends at various things; as well as a nice picture of Craigmore viaduct outside Newry, and one of the Cathedral taken from across the Lagan last summer.

I rather enjoy taking pictures, but since getting the digital camera a couple of years back, I have tended not to print pictures, instead just having them on the computer. This has led to the fact that most people haven't seen my pictures, so you are indeed privileged to have the chance to see them now! Take the opportunity while you can...

Dromore Cathedral Choir


I've been in the Choir in Dromore Cathedral for about 16 years now... I'm a veteran in the cause! Back in the day, I used to sing soprano, and do all the really high descants at Christmas etc... Nowadays, even thinking about them makes my throat sore! Although I do have a go, for fun, the odd time, just to show the girls I can still get them!

For a while then, when my voice broke, I tried the tenor line, but now I'm a bass, which is fun, booming out the bass line and putting everyone else off their notes! But every so often, if the tenor line looks more enjoyable, I do a wee switch for a verse of a hymn, just for variety...

I'm going to post a photo of our choir, from just before the Harvest evening service last year, so check out the box above for that...

Monday, April 25, 2005


Ullans is the Ulster-Scots word for Ulster-Scots. Some people think it isn't really a language, just a badly spoken English dialect, but I would tend to say it's a language... It's probably where I fit in, in terms of heritage and family ties.

I can only speak a wee bit of it, but am hoping to set about trying to translate a couple of services of the Church of Ireland into Ullans, so that at some point in the future, it may be possible to have a service conducted in Ulster-Scots.

When time permits, I will try and include some words, but for now, I'll add a link to the Ulster-Scots Agency. You can find more information on their work by clicking here.


And so another history class is finished...

Tonight we were looking at the Plantation of Ulster, an interesting period, where things aren't quite what they would appear to be a lot of the time. There are so many myths about Irish history, that our course is an attempt to correct them, and put out a balanced version of our shared history.

More information about the book I am writing can be obtained by looking at my work website, check out the link for 'West Tyrone Voice' and the history page there...


Hey guys (this is still slightly strange, talking to people who I may not know, who read these random thoughts, but anyway...)

I don't know what your taste in music is, but let me tell you about mine. I can listen almost anything, except when dad's in the car and insists on listening to 'Wild Country' radio station which seems to broadcast from Newry direction. I am not going to give out the frequency, partly because I can't remember it, and also because I wouldn't subject anyone to it by choice!

I suppose that by choice, I would prefer to listen to classical music, and have a slowly growing collection of classical cds. These range from Purcell's Funeral Music of Queen Mary (1694) through to stuff by Rutter. My favourite category of classical music (if such a category exists outside of my head), is the sacred oratorio. I suppose these mean I can develop faith / devotion, while also enjoying the classical music.

Pieces I would include in this category would be my all-time favourite bit of music, Handel's Messiah, Mendelssohn's Elijah, and Handel's Gideon, to name but a few. Messiah is an amazing piece, with all the lyrics taken from the Bible, using the prophecies looking forward to Jesus, then telling of his life, death and resurrection. The most famous part of it is something which probably everyone knows - the Hallelujah Chorus.


We're now in the midst of the election season, and here in Northern Ireland we have two elections on the one day - an interesting day on so many levels. The date will be 05-05-05, which is also Ascension Day (but more about that when it comes round!). We will be electing representatives at both local government, and Westminster levels, so it could be a confusing time, with two electoral systems in operation.

Please don't expect much political debate on this blog, even being a politics graduate, and taking a keen interest in such matters, I'm not going to reveal my allegiances - if you know me, you'll have a fair idea how I'm going to vote.

Voting is all about choices, and choosing representatives. 1 Peter 1:20 tells us that Jesus was chosen before the creation of the world to die for our sins. The Bible also teaches us that God has chosen the elect to be saved, whose names are written in the Book of Life. To Him be praise and glory forever, who has called us to salvation, and by His grace, has counted us as righteous through the atonement provided by Jesus' death on the cross.

The challenge is: have you found salvation in Christ? Have you chosen Jesus as your Saviour?

Home again!

What a busy first day back in Northern Ireland! Yesterday we had early Communion, then the 10am modern service and the 11.30am traditional service, then later on, we had 'Awe' - the Summer Madness worship event in Shankill Church, Lurgan.

And Monday seems to be a a busy day as well, with monitoring from the Brussels trip, meetings, and then my Irish History class tonight. This is one of my most enjoyable parts of my work, having researched the history of Ireland (trying to explode the myths on both sides). We have a 9 week course, walking through the landscape of history from the earliest days to the modern days.

We're also hoping to publish the research in a book, though an offer of funding from the Community Relations Council, but more details of that later on, when I have gotten through the painful process of editing conducted by my boss, and later by CRC...

More posts will follow when I have time - thank you to all those who have already read my ramblings so far. If you also have a blog or a website, email me the link and I'll try and include your link on here somewhere! Or if you can suggest topics for me to talk about, I'll certainly consider them.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Brussels part four

This is definitely the last posting from Brussels, and as it would turn out, it may well be the quickest I have been able to type, finally knowing where all the keys are...

In case you think I was bluffing, here is the layout of the French keyboard:
A Z E R T Y U I O P ¨ *
Q S D F G H J K L M %
< W X C V B N ? . / +

Also, to get numbers, you have to use shift, as the number keys are primarily used for:
& é " ' ( § è ! ç à )

Talk about annoying! Normally at home I can almost type automatically, without thinking where the keys are, but here it was completely different. But afer 4 days, I am used to it! Now when I get home I won't be able to use the 'proper' keyboard for a while...

What else is there to say from Brussels? I have my case packed and ready at the hotel, so i am in the city centre or a final walk around, grab a bite of lunch, then meet up with the group at central station for the bus run out to the airport.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being here again, and would recommend anyone to come and see what it is like. And to my msn buddies... I'll see you again soon!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Brussels part three

So here I am, yet again in an internet cafe, as I hadn't much else to do tonight. The rest of the group are having an easy night in the hotel, but I thought I would take another wee jaunt out on the metro, so I might as well add a wee bit more while I'm here...

Dinner earlier was good but I possibly ate too much... the starter was some sort of cheese in breadcrumb type thing, then main course was chicken and ham in a pancake with chips. Then for dessert, they brought out these huge waffles with cream on top... although thankfully this time I didn't put any of it down me... That would have been too much given my earlier performance.

And the city carries on into the night... one thing that struck me the other week when in Dublin city late on was that there were more people about Grafton Street at after 11pm than you would find on the busiest day in Dromore. And it seems to be the same in Brussels, with lots of people hanging about the streets and riding the metro system. I suppose I maybe should have explained in the first report, but the Metro is an underground system like the tube in London, with trains every 5 minutes through the day, and every 10 minutes or so at night. Rather impressive! However, once the buzzer sounds to say the doors are closing, they do, whether you're in or not!

Tomorrow is our flight home in the evening, so I think we'll have some time in the morning to look about the shops or whatever. Thankfully it's a straight run from the airport to home, up the new M1, so it shouldn't take too long.

Then Sunday will be the usual busy day, but with a minor variation. Instead of the evening service and YF, the YF is going to Shankill Parish in Lurgan for an event called 'Awe', billed as a pre-taste of Summer Madness.

Then the following Sunday night we're hosting Primrose Leahy, a missionary from Kosova, who will share a bit of what she does out there (other than be on msn some afternoons!)... Coming along as well will be our friends from Stewartstown, Albany and Brigh Youth Fellowship. For those who haven't heard of these places, they are in County Tyrone, sort of near Cookstown!

Montgomery Statue in Brussels

Brussels Part Two

Here beginneth the second epistle from Brussels, if anyone at all is reading it...

My legs are now tired, and I needed a break from the walking, so I am back in my favourite net cafe for another update.

This morning I began by going to Marolles, where there was a flea market happening. Seemingly it happens every weekday in the morning... basically it is a big cobblestone square, where people lay down blankets and try to sell junk... interesting for a walk round just to see what it was like, but nothing worth buying.

Oh, en route to Marolles, I went past the Palais de Justice, where the court system is based. It is a huge building at the top of what is probably translated as Regent Street, with a golden dome on top. Outside it there are not one, but two war memorials - they seem to take their war memorials and the gratefulness to the Allied forces very seriously. The first was opposite the Palais, and was to the British effort, an the other was in the square in front of the Palais, to a Belgian regiment. Underneath it, you could see what appeared to be the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Indeed, the last time we were here in Brussels, we had a meeting to go to in the European Commission building, but the delegation was slightly early, so we were hanging about outside, when we noticed a statue down the road a bit, standing on the edge of a roundabout, looking towards the city. We took a walk down to see what it was, and behold! Field Marshall Montgomery, an Ulsterman, being honoured in Brussels! There's even a metro station named after him, so it's nice to see a wee man from home held in such honour and esteem.

So after Marolles, it was on down Regent Street, and into the Royal Belgian Art Gallery. I only checked out the ancient art section (16th - 19th centuries), and most of it seemed to be of religious themes - crucifixion scenes, the Pieta, the annuciation, the adoration of the Magi etc... From there it was past the Houses of Congress and down onto the shopping streets around Grand Place. This is the most amazing square I have ever seen, with beautiful buildings in gothic architecture rising into the sky. The tops of them were lit up last night - what a sight to behold!

I even managed to get a visit to Mannekin Pis, and the female version. Mannekin Pis is a statue of a wee lad standing on top of a fountain, only the fountain is of him peeing... It appears to be a huge tourist attraction, with the shops in the street beside it selling all sorts of merchandise with him on it. The female version, on the other side of Grand Place and down a wee poky alleyway didn't have any water, and she was locked behind bars.

So since then, I have done a wee bit of shopping, getting myself a classical cd in a big music and book shop, and some gifts for the family etc.

Later, we're meeting for a group meal in the hotel, and then tomorrow we head back (possibly with a couple of hours in the city before we leave for the airport).

But disaster also struck earlier... One of the local delicacies is sweet waffles, with any number of choices of topping (e.g. cream, chocolate; strawberries, syrup, or a combination of them). So I thought this would be a bit of a different thing for lunch. Sadly, it was a bit messy, or rather, I was a bit messy... The plastic spoon broke quite early in the eating, so my hands were plastered in the chocolate sauce... but I thought I had gotten away without any major problems, until I looked down, and behold, a huge dollop of chocolate sitting on my trouser leg... Wiping it was to no avail, so there's a big brown stain on the trousers... Ah well... it'll come out in the wash!

So that's my update from Brussels. The next time I write will probably be back home at some stage...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Brussels update

Here beginneth my Epistle from Brussels to whoever will listen... and this might have taken me a while as I get used to the French keyboard in the internet cafe.

Yesterday we flew from Dublin to Charleroi, and bussed and metroed it to the hotel. Having got settled in, we then had dinner, and it wasn't long after til I was in my bed!

Yet even with plenty of sleep, Hazlett and me managed to sleep in later than we had planned this morning... leading to a slight rush to be ready for the time we had told the group! But we made it, and set off on the metro for a journey including a change of metro twice - it led to a bit of excitement!

Our reason for going to Brussels was to visit the European Parliament Building, which we did this morning. The building is huge, with lots of people moving about it, and another few groups of visitors like ours. We were first given a talk on the work of the Parliament by one of the guides, before moving into the public gallery of the Parliament Chamber. There was some form of committee meeting going on (on the subject of drugs we were told), but the speaker during our time there was French, and despite being able to listen in to the English language translation, we left again quite sharpish, as it wasn't the most exciting thing we had heard.

Since then, we have been free, and while the rest of the group went off in smaller groups, I have been a lone ranger (or explorer!). I visited what is claimed to be the 5th biggest church in the world, from which there is a great view of the entire city from the dome 90 metres above the ground. I have also been in the Cathedral here, which has an amazing carved pulpit, although I am quite convinced the Gospel is not preached from it...

I then did some of the more usual touristy things, and visited the Chocolate Museum, which shows you how they make chocolate, and gives a demonstration of making chocolate figures. There was even a chance to taste some of the chocolate (just a wee bit though), as the woman dipped a plain biscuit into a big vat of the stuff. It was delicious!

Since then, I have been wandering about, not going into very many shops, but just wandering. It's strange, to some extent, being in a different setting; and having two languages (French and Dutch) both of which I don't know, just floating over my head. And I'm sure they think me weird, listening and singing along (quietly) to Handel's Messiah or Stainer's Crucifixion on my minidisc player! But it's good to be here.

The weather has also been very good, with me being able to run about today in my shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

However, one other thing has struck me about Brussels, more so than anywhere else I have been. There seems to be an awful lot of people begging in the streets... and from the internet cafe here, I have seen one guy rummaging through the bin to see what he could find to eat. Could it be that in the 'capital' of Europe in 2005, that people are begging and 'bin-hoking' as it was called at school? It's amazing that despite all our technological advances and scientific breakthroughs, there are people going hungry and without shelter in western Europe. What to do...

So anyway, that's my update from Brussels. I have tomorrow to explore the city a bit more, and purchase the obligatory Belgian chocolate.... but I might call into a net cafe if I have time, or need to rest my weary legs! If not, it will probably be next week before these thoughts are updated again...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Brussels here we come!

Well, we're now at the night before Brussels. So far I still haven't packed... that will be done at some point in the morning - if I can't remember it at the last minute, it isn't important. Although, of course, I daren't forget my passport. Cos then I wouldn't get further than airport security...

The main purpose of the trip is to visit the European Parliament building in Brussels. I've been there before, but this visit is being sponsored by Jim Allister MEP. Each MEP has a certain fund to allow community groups and other groups of people to visit the parliament each year - so if you're in the EU, get on to your MEP and get a trip!!!

Other than that, there isn't much other news to tell at present. So I'll finish for now... but check back soon for the updates on Brussels, if I find an internet cafe... or if not, when I come back!

Monday, April 18, 2005


I'm looking forward to Wednesday, as I'm heading to Brussels with a group from work, to visit the European Parliament. I was first out there in November, so am looking forward to getting back there again, to do some more exploring in my free time.

Belgium is the only foreign country I've been to... but maybe that will change in the years to come!

Decisions or Duplication...

What to do... With MSN becoming even more than instant messaging, I now have a 'my space' there too, and I'm not sure which to keep - it might be a bit hard to keep both going. So I have a decision.

Or do I post the same thing in both places?

The other has a better photo album setting - unless there's one here and I haven't come across it yet...

Hm... I think I'll keep both going for the time being and see what happens. The MSN one can be found by clicking here. This will probably be the main blogging one...

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Feast or famine...

Well, well... yes, there's either a feast or a famine. No posting for a month, and then four or five posts in the one day. That's the way it goes! I will endeavour to post more regularly... watch this space...


This article was originally written in July of 2004 for our Parish magazine.

As some of you will already know, I was recently recommended by the Bishops’ Selection Conference for training for the ordained ministry. I would like to thank you all for your support and prayers. But how did I get to this stage? It certainly wasn’t easy or quick.

I had been thinking for a few years about possibly going towards the ordained ministry, prompted to some degree by wee comments from family, neighbours and friends who thought that ‘You would make a good wee minister!’ At that stage I thought about it, but didn’t do anything about it. But at Summer Madness in 1999, I felt what could only be described as a ‘burden’ on my heart that was a call to the ordained ministry. Bearing in mind I was only starting Queen’s that autumn, I didn’t do much about it, but it was always at the back of my mind. A verse that challenged me through my time at QUB was Isaiah 40:31 ‘They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength’. Was my hesitancy me waiting on the Lord for his timing, or just putting off doing what I should be doing?

The same burden came to me at Summer Madness in 2002, and this time I knew there could be no hesitation, or denying it. I fully believed that God was calling me, and it was up to me to take Him at His word and respond in faith. This would be the start of a two-year Selection Process, which has only just ended leading up to this year’s Summer Madness.

Shortly after SM, I chatted with Stephen, who referred me on to Rev Norman Jardine. It turned out that a few weeks later, he was leading a Network Course for people in the diocese thinking about ministry and missions in Knockbreda. Network seeks to help people identify their passion, spiritual gifts and leadership style. Having completed this, I met Rev Paul Hewitt, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, who told me a bit more about Selection Conferences, and found out a bit about why I was there.

Following on from that, I had a consultation with the Diocesan Exploring Ministry Panel, where we looked at the results of the Network Course, and discussed my experience and my future. They recommended that I should test my calling through the structures of the Church, so I passed on to the next stage.

For me, this was an interview with the Bishop, preceded by psychological testing and interview in Glencraig, looking at my personality and character, among other things. The interview with the Bishop also looked at my view of my calling and vocation, my experiences, and my vision for the church. He then sent me to the Bishops’ Selection Conference in the Theological College in Dublin.

This was held in two parts, in March and June, and covered a lot of material. In March, we had academic testing, as well as psychometric testing and an interview with a psychologist. In June, we had five half hour interviews with a Bishop, a Minister, a member of the Theological College staff, and two Lay People. Each of these interviews looked at different aspects of my application form, including my work experience, sense of vocation, church experience, leadership, academic ability and devotional life. We also had an observed group exercise, in which groups of 8 or 9 people discussed an issue, to see how we interacted and co-operated.

From 2nd June until the 15th I was in the waiting game. Answers to the questions in the interviews kept floating through my head, and it was difficult to know if I had done enough, and made a good case for myself. Thankfully the results of the Panel came through reasonably quickly, and they were positive.

The last two years have been enjoyable, but also a real challenge. The fun came from being in contact with other people who are also considering the call of God on their lives, through the Diocesan Fellowship of Vocation events (including barbecues, coffee mornings and residentials), and also at Selection Conference. But it was also a challenge, as many people asked about my motivation for seeking ordination, my faith, and lots more. The interviews weren’t always easy, but they led to me thinking deeply about what I was doing, and have, I hope, led to growth in my faith and devotions, as I realised that I couldn’t do it by myself, that I needed to be fully dependant on God to get me through.

But the process doesn’t stop here. My next few years at College will still be a challenge, and a testing of my calling. But with your prayers, and the grace and faithfulness of God, I will get through that and DV be ordained in 2008.

I’m looking forward to my time in Dublin at College, experiencing student life in the city, and making friendships with the other students in the same position as myself. It will also be a special time, being able to learn more about God, and being equipped to build up the Kingdom and the Body of Christ.

Please pray for me as I prepare to go, that I will continue to know God’s peace, that I will settle at University, returning from being in a workplace and adjusting to student poverty again (!); and that I will know God more and more through all that happens.

The Blood of Christ in the Bible: A Sermon Preached in Dromore Cathedral on Good Friday, 25th March 2005

1 Peter 1:18-21
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Several mountain climbers were climbing in the Swiss Alps. The lead climber in a descent lost his footing and fell. His momentum dragged the next two climbers after him. The other climbers braced themselves for the jolt. As the three went over a cliff and the rope snapped tight, it suddenly broke in half. The others watched in horror as the three fell to their death four thousand feet below on a glacier. Once the others were safely back, they examined the broken rope. They discovered that there was no red strand running through it. The special type of rope they usually used had an identifying red strand. It had special strength to withstand the extreme tension they had experienced in their accident that day. The current rope, though, was a cheap imitation. It was a substitute and weak. It cost three men their lives.

Just like that special type of rope, the Alpine rope, there is a red strand running through the Bible, which is for our salvation. It is, of course, Jesus’ blood, shed for us, which brings us redemption and salvation. And so tonight, I want to look at the blood of Christ in a journey through the Bible – the crowning moment of which is Calvary, that place of sacrifice which is so much in our thoughts tonight.

Let’s be straight about this – the cross was not a mistake, forced upon Jesus by circumstances going wrong, or by Satan getting the upper hand. Salvation through the cross wasn’t God’s Plan B. 1 Peter 1:20 tells us that ‘he was chosen before the creation of the world’, so even before this world was created, the divine plan was for Christ to die for us. This raises the question why God would create the world, and humans, knowing that we would sin – but that is a question for another time. The important thing for us tonight is that Jesus’ blood being shed for us was intended before the creation of the world.

And then the world was created in perfection. God saw all that he had made, and t was ‘very good’ (Gen 1:31). But as we know, it didn’t stay that way. Sin came into the world, through the actions of Adam and Eve, by wanting to be equal to God, tempted by the serpent. And what did Adam and Eve do? They hid from God, and knowing they were naked, ‘they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves’ (Gen 3:7). They tried to cover up their sin and shame by their own works. And we still try to hide from God

But God found them out, and was putting them out of the Garden. Because sin brings separation from God – who is perfectly holy. Yet even so early on in the Bible, there was the promise of the Messiah, the Christ, the one who would crush the serpent’s head as the serpent stuck his heel (Gen 3:15). But more than this, ‘The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them’ (Gen 3:21). An animal died, its blood was shed, so that Adam and Eve could be clothed and their sin and shame covered. Thus, in Genesis 3, we have two factors pointing forward to Christ’s sacrifice – the prophecy of the Messiah, and the sign that blood had to be shed to be right with God, through having sin dealt with.

In the next generation, Cain and Abel both brought offerings to God, but only one was acceptable to God. Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil, but Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. Abel’s sacrifice contained blood, and was acceptable, but Cain’s wasn’t. Once again, blood was necessary to bring acceptance in God’s sight.

We next come to Abraham. This father of faith had been promised of God to be the father of a great nation, and in his old age, had a son, Isaac. Then God commanded Abraham to take Isaac and go to the region of Moriah, and to ‘sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains’ (Gen 22:2). On the way there, Isaac asked his father where the lamb was for the burnt offering. Already, he knew that an offering of blood was needed to be right with God. And all Abraham could say, his heart probably breaking as he walked with the son that God had promised to build a great nation through, was: ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering’ (Gen 22:8).

And they came to the region of Moriah, which was the very place that Jerusalem would later be established, and therefore, virtually on the mount of Calvary, and Abraham bound Isaac to the altar. As he reached out to slay Isaac, God called out to him to stop – he had proved his faithfulness and obedience. And then ‘Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it… instead of his son’ (Gen 22:13). [link to Hebrews 11:17-19 on how Abraham reckoned God could raise Isaac from the dead, which he figuratively speaking, did]

God stopped Abraham, and provided a substitute for Isaac. But God did not spare his only son from dying on the cross, and gave him as a substitute for us, dying in our place.

Later, after Abraham’s descendants had become the nation of Israel, and had been enslaved in Egypt, once again God rescued them, through bloodshed. Moses had told Pharoah to let God’s people go, but Pharoah wasn’t for listening, and hardened his heart. Not even the first nine plagues break him. God was going to send a tenth plague, that would ensure that Israel would go free, and bring judgement on Egypt for treating God’s people harshly.

This was the plague of death. In each house, the firstborn son would die, as the Lord went through the land. But the Israelites were warned in advance, and were told how to protect themselves, through the substitutionary death of a lamb. The Israelites were told to slaughter the lamb, and take the blood, and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of their house. Then when God passed through the land to kill the first born: ‘the blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you’ (Exodus 12:13).

Therefore, death was coming to every house in Egypt that night, but the Israelite firstborns were saved, through the death of the Passover lamb in their place. In the same way, we all face death, at the judgement, but we can escape through the death of God’s Passover Lamb, even Jesus Christ, who died for us! So therefore, let us apply the blood of Christ to our hearts, and thus find salvation. He has already bore the punishment due to us for our sins, and thus we can be saved through him.

Next, God made a covenant with Israel in the desert, the basis of which was the 10 Commandments. This covenant was ratified, or sealed by Moses’ sprinkling blood on the altar, and on the people, saying ‘This is the blood of the Covenant that the LORD has made with you’ (Exodus 24:8). This is to us a glorious picture of Jesus, who shed his blood of the new covenant for us – at once dealing with our sins, and satisfying God’s justice

Later, after Israel walked in the desert for forty years, they came to the Promised Land, to take it. The first city they came to was Jericho, which two spies entered, to spy out the land. They entered the house of Rahab, a prostitute, who hid them. She was full of the fear of the Lord, having heard what God had done for the Israelites thus far, and asked that she might be saved when they took the city, because she had hid the spies. Her method of safety was to tie the scarlet cord (by which she let the spies down out of the city wall) in her window, as a sign to the spies, when they would conquer the city to spare her life.

Now, the commentators agree that when scarlet is mentioned, it is a sign of symbol of blood, so once again, the blood is seen to be the salvation for Rahab. Salvation came to mean so much more than her life spared for Rahab, as she came to marry Salmon, and thus was included in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5), where she is one of only four women to be mentioned, and is recalled in the heroes of faith chapter in Hebrews 11, where she is one of only two women named.

We next come to the prophecy of Isaiah 53. Oh, how much there is contained in these verses, and how little time we have to deal with them! Suffice to say that we find there the prophecy, quite clearly, that Christ’s blood would be shed in our place, and for our sake.

Isaiah 53:4-6
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

If we can move (in the Bible) through to the New Testament, we find that the blood of Christ can still be found. Jesus himself said at the Last Supper that ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Matthew 26:28). And didn’t John say of Jesus: ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). Thus the concept of Christ’s blood, and of Jesus being a substitute for us can be found in the gospels.

It is also carried over into the Epistles, where Paul, Peter, John and the writer to the Hebrews all write on the blood of Jesus, and it’s power to cleanse from sin.

Ephes. 1:7
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace

Hebrews 9:14
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

The New Testament explains the importance of the blood, because it tells us in Hebrews 9:22 ‘without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.’ This is because ‘the life of a creature is in the blood… it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life’ (Leviticus 17:11).

But if we may be allowed to move on, through the Bible to the very end, we come to the book of Revelation, where we also encounter Christ. In chapter 5, John sees ‘a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne’ (Rev 5:6), whom the elders worship: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’ (Rev 5:9).

So we see quite plainly, that this red strand, the blood of Christ, runs right through the whole Bible, from first to last. It is the only means of our salvation, because Jesus died in our place, and has removed our sin. Like the covering provided in Genesis 3, he has covered our sin with his blood. Like Abel’s sacrifice, Jesus’ sacrifice was of blood, which proved acceptable to God. Like in the case of Isaac, God provided the lamb for the sacrifice, his own son. Like the Passover Lamb, Jesus died in the place of the one who would die (the firstborn son). Like Rahab, the scarlet was the sign of safety and salvation. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies to the last detail about his sacrifice, and so remains forever more the Lamb of God, who bears the ‘wounds of love’.

There’s a story of a village, in which a cottage went on fire. On seeing the danger, a young man rushed into the house, and found the two young children of the family, and brought them out to safety, at great risk to himself, suffering tremendous burns in the process. Immediately after, the roof collapsed, and the parents of the children perished. The elders or council of the village then met to decide who should raise the children, given that they were now orphans. There were two candidates – one a wealthy man, and the other, the young man. The advantages of giving the children to the wealthy man were obvious to all to see. He could provide them with a fresh start, and a comfortable home. But the elders asked the young man what his credentials were. With that, he showed them his bandaged, burned hands – scarred for the children. So it is with Jesus. He still bears the marks of the cross.

Crown him the Lord of love; behold his hands and side,
those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified:
no angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends his wondering eye at mysteries so bright.

Another old hymn challenges us tonight:

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb,
Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow,
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Maybe you are struggling with your sin, and guilt and shame. You’ve tried to get rid of it yourself, maybe by trying to be better, or by coming to church, or whatever. But no matter what you try, it’s still there; like a dirty great mark on your clothes. The stain of sin is present on your heart. There is only one way to be cleansed and released – come to Christ. Come tonight. Don’t leave it a day longer. As the old hymn says: ‘What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus’

‘To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve hid God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever! Amen.

The Full Extent of His Love: A Sermon Preached in Dromore Cathedral on Maundy Thursday, 24th March 2005

John 13:1-17
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel round his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him.
6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
7Jesus replied, "You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
8"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
9"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"
10Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord', and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (NIV)

In our reading tonight, we heard that Jesus ‘showed them the full extent of his love’ (John 13:1). It is that love that we will consider tonight, conscious that in the brief time we have tonight, we will not come to grasp the full extent of Jesus’ love – after all, it will be our theme in glory for eternity, where we will never tire of singing of his love. But I hope that we will consider it, and come to recognise and value it all the more, and thus, to be more grateful to Jesus for his great love.

Paul, writing to the Ephesians prayed that they: being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephes. 3:17-19

Oh that we would know this love in our hearts, and show it forth in our lives! We will therefore consider tonight the source of his love, the demonstration of his love, and the application of his love.

The Source of his love

1 John 4:8 tells us that: ‘God is love’. In his very essence, he is love. Love is what makes God, God. And in eternity past, before the creation of the world, God existed, with love flowing between the three persons of the Trinity – the Father, Son and Spirit. And it was this intra-Trinity love that flowed out, and was expressed firstly in the creation. This love was also central when God’s name, his essential character, was proclaimed to Moses in Exodus 34: ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation’ (Exodus 34:6,7).

This intra-Trinity love that we are thinking about was also central to the events of the passion. If I were to ask you tonight why Jesus died on the cross, you would be able to tell me ‘because Jesus loves us’. This is indeed correct, but it isn’t the full picture. Because in this, we miss out on the primary object of Jesus’ love – his Father. Don Carson writes:

We diminish the grandeur of the plan of redemption when we neglect this divine element. It is a mark of our egocentricity that we think the love of Christ has for its exclusive or even primary object human beings such as ourselves. This is not to minimize Christ’s love for us; rather it is to recognise the primacy of his love for the Father. The cross reveals how profoundly the eternal Son of God loves his Father and how utterly he obeys him and pleases him. Even in Gethsemane (Mark 14), Jesus’ anguish is spelt out in terms of coming to grips with his Father’s will, not in terms of sacrificing himself for others.
Similarly, although it is true that the Father loved the world so much that he sent his Son (John 3:16), this presupposes his love for that Son. The surprising thing is that the ministry, passion and triumph of the Son is not only the evidence of the Father’s love for us, but the evidence of the Father’s love for his Son, for it was by this means that the Father placed everything into his Son’s hands.
The Son’s will is to please his Father, not just to save us; and the Father’s will is to have all men honour the Son, not just to forgive us. To grasp these divine relationships in the drama of redemption is to humble our pride and heighten our sense of speechless privilege. To be saved and renewed, to be the recipients of new life, to be forgiven, all because we are caught up in the perfection of love among the Persons of the Godhead, is unutterably solemn, ecstatically wonderful. [1]

So the source of Jesus’ love is within the Trinity, and flows out of that love for his Father.

The demonstration of his love

We next must consider the outworking of that love. The reading tells us that Jesus didn’t talk about love, or give the disciples a new doctrine of God’s love – he ‘showed them the full extent of his love’ (emphasis mine). How, then, did he demonstrate his love? Tonight we will think of three main ways in which he demonstrated his love: birth, service and death.

Jesus was with the Father before the world began, in eternity. We can but faintly imagine the glory and honour he had, and shared with the Father and the Spirit. So to be born as a human, to give up his place in glory, was an expression of love. It is this thought that Philippians 2 conveys:

Philip. 2:6-11
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

An illustration of what this would mean for us is to imagine that the US President loved the ants in the White House garden. He really loved them, and wanted them to know how much he loved them. He would put out food for them, and would be out watching them in the garden, but still, they couldn’t know for sure. The only way he could tell them, would be if he could become an ant, and let them know. What condescension! In a much greater way, Jesus set aside the glory and riches of heaven to be born in a stable.

Lord, you were rich beyond all splendour,
yet for love’s sake, became so poor,

But Jesus wasn’t born just to live- his birth was the first part of his mission on earth, the mission to die. As we learn in 1 Timothy 15, ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. In the words of a familiar hymn:

He left his Father’s throne above, so free, son infinite his grace,
Emptied himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race.

Love was the full extent of his healing ministry and miracles, but these were signs to show who he was, and so we come to the Last Supper, and the events of our reading tonight. The disciples and Jesus met together in the upper room, but there were no servants. Normally it was the custom for the people’s feet to be washed on arrival, due to the dusty roads, and to allow for comfort during the meal. This would be done by the lowest servant, the slave. But there were no servants, just the disciples and Jesus. And none of the disciples thought that they were the lowest, or that it was their job to do it. Indeed, the opposite was the case – Luke tells how ‘a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest’ (Luke 22:24).

And then Jesus gets up and takes off his outer clothing, and wraps a towel round his waist. Jesus, their teacher, their master – doing the task of a servant? What was going on? There was a nervous silence as Jesus began to wash their feet in turn. Thus Jesus humbled himself, the Servant King. [Peter, being Peter, started to raise an objection, but Jesus declared that he had to be washed, to have a part in him – so then Peter, being Peter, went to the other extreme, wanting a complete wash! The principle Jesus was demonstrating was that those who are ‘clean’ in him, are those who have come to faith. Thus, coming to faith is like having a bath. Only their feet need to be washed as a cleansing from sins committed after coming to faith – we need to regularly confess our sins and have our feet washed]

The job of service done, Jesus retook his place at the table. He then explained his actions, telling them, and us, that this was an example for them, and us, to follow. You see, many times in the Gospels, Jesus told the disciples that those who would be great in the kingdom should be the servant of all – and here was the demonstration of the instruction. Jesus, the Son of God, stooped in love to wash his disciples’ feet, showing the full extent of his love, and glorifying himself at the same time.

This same love took him to the cross. There he went through tremendous agony, and an awful death for our sake. To watch the film, The Passion of the Christ, is to see such pain, and such agony. But worse than the pains, which two other men went through that day as well; Jesus bore our sins – the burden of which cut him off from the Father through the dark hours on Calvary. We will never know what Jesus went through - all we do know is that he died in our place; he bore our sins, and demonstrated his love.

But do you know what is even more remarkable? Jesus showed his love to those who would betray, deny, and abandon him within a matter of hours. Jesus knew who would betray him, yet Judas was present for the foot washing. Peter, who didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet, would deny that he knew Jesus. The rest would turn tail and run away from Gethsemane. And isn’t it so easy to point the finger at the disciples and think… well, now, if I was in that situation, I would have stood firm… But as Romans 5 tells us quite clearly, we were all enemies of Christ when he died for us. We were in open rebellion, and maybe still are. ‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).

The Application of his love

Having now considered the source of his love, and the demonstration of his love, what should be the application of his love? Firstly, and most importantly, we should accept his love, and what his love achieved for us – by trusting in him, and repenting of our sins. We should ‘have a bath’, washed by Jesus’ blood shed for us. But this confessing and cleansing is more than a once-for-all thing. As Jesus said ‘a person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet’ (John 13:10), and we need to regularly confess our sins, and be right with God. If you had a bath, you wouldn’t go and take another one ten minutes later if you had your hands dirty – you would wash your hands. Indeed, this is what Holy Communion can be a visual reminder of. Every time we celebrate it, we proclaim Christ’s death until he comes, remembering his passion, and the benefits he won for us at Calvary, and being restored, through faith in him.

From this acceptance of God’s love for us, we therefore come to love God. Love for God is our primary method of obedience to God, because, as Jesus told us, the first and great commandment is to love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength. So the next challenge to you is this – are you loving God as you should? Are you obeying him? Are you honouring him?

Flowing from this love for God, comes our final application. We must obey his new commandment to us – ‘love one another’. As Jesus served his friends and showed them his love, so we should also demonstrate our love in practical acts. Or as 1 John 4:11 tells us: ‘Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.’ And again, in 3:16, ‘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 our brothers.’ God’s love for us is both the model and the motive of our love. I’m not saying, though, that the way of loving others is by actually washing their feet – this was an example of humble service, in putting the needs of others ahead of our own. A good example of this is Streetreach – faith expressing itself through love. So if you can possibly be free next week, get involved. But there are so many ways you can love one another. Follow the example of Jesus, and put the needs of others before yourself, and humbly serve those around you.


Jesus knew that this was his last night on earth with his disciples, and so he ‘showed them the full extent of his love.’ As I said earlier, those who accept Christ’s love through faith will spend eternity singing his praise. May we all be in that number, for the glory of God, having come to know in our hearts, and showing forth in our lives ‘the full extent of his love’
[1] Don Carson, 1995, Jesus and His Friends, Paternoster Press, pp 84,85.


Well, now, just before my blog completely dies of neglect, I've been prompted to write something in it to keep it better up to date. (Thanks Dave, for your concern!)

So what have I been up to since last I wrote? Easter has come and gone, but we're still living in the joy of the resurrection, which guaranteed that we can be freed from our sins, and be restored to God's salvation! Easter was a busy time in the Cathedral, but even with a new service time, we had a big crowd out, sharing in Communion.

I was preaching a couple of times during Holy Week, and it seemed to go well... maybe I'll get the sermon texts up here in the next few days...

Last week I had an enjoyable time in Dublin, where I saw Handel's Messiah being performed by the UCD Choral Scholars. The whole evening was very good, and well worth the 120 mile trek south...

I'll write again in the very near future... I promise!