Thursday, September 29, 2005

Dromore again!

It just seems so good to be back in Dromore again tonight. I can't really explain it, and it will probably sound all strange, but it is good to be here! Firstly, the reason I am in Dromore. We in first year have no classes tomorrow, so all our year group (with the exception of one, who is living in), decided to head home for the weekend 'early' and get our head showered!

The journey home was rough enough. Maybe I was slightly naive, but I thought the traffic in the centre of Dublin would be cleared up by about 6.45pm or 7pm... but it was bumper to bumper going nowhere in about Camden, heading towards Dame Street, still on the southside of the river. So I tok a series of diversions in round wee streets (frankly not knowing much where I was for most of it), ending up in Crumlin, and getting out to the M50... where the traffic was again going very slowly.

Another question: Why is it that no matter which queue I join at the toll bridges (and I normally go for the quick drop-your-money-in-the-bucket lane), it will always go slow, probably because someone has dropped their money on the road, or they don't put enough in or whatever???

It's not that I'm not enjoying Dublin - it is great being with lots of people - actually, I'm enjoying the community and eating meals with people better than I imagined I would, and I'm enjoying having my own wee space, my own room in Dublin, where other students can drop in and chat, or from whcih I can go and chat in other people's rooms. But it's nice to be away from the atmosphere for a few days - it can seem intense always being around lots of people.

Come Sunday night it will be back down again - next week we're doing a module on Communications, including making a 'Thought for the Day' type radio programme, and some sort of audio-visual presentation! Now that should be interesting!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Halfway through week one

So here we are on Wednesday afternoon of week one, and what a busy week so far!

Some of the highlights include having my own space in the college, my room which has posters and things from home, which is good - it's somewhere to retire to, and relax and reflect. The mealtimes are good as well - decent food, and I've been able to sit with different people at most mealtimes, so that I get to know most of them. I've also been elected as Year Rep, which is basically the representative or councillor for the year group.

Today we were out for an almost sort of retreat day in the mountains overlooking Dublin, and it was a great venue to be away from college for a wee bit, and to continue in our learning out there.

I'm finding it an interesting experience with the three chapel services per day - they are normally a variety of morning prayer, evening prayer, compline, praise services, and last night there was sung compline. That was rather interesting, but a bit hard to get into the way of singing the whole service.

But we're still in the first pre-term week, and lectures are still a week and a half off... we'll see how it goes then.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Today we had out intro to staff, the course, the library, then met with representatives from lots of Mission Agnecies working across and beyond Ireland. It was a good meeting, and the lunch was also great!

This afternoon I was free, so checked out the LUAS service into the city centre. Now, I won't be teaching you Irish words every time - as this is about the full extent of my own Gaelige - but luas means 'speed'. And it is indeed a reasonably speedy service - within half an hour I had went from St Stephen's Green to my room in college. I also took the opportunity to meet up with a friend from uni for coffee, which was good as we hadn't seen other in a while. But then, the good Dublin weather broke, and the rain wasn't ordinary! Very heavy... so by the time I had walked the mile from the LUAS stop at Windy Arbour (sounds very grand, doesn't it) to the college, I was like a drowned rat!

My night time patterns are getting there - although I have been waking at odd times the past few nights - 5.30am one night, and a couple of times last night!!! But they will settle down, and at least I haven't been sleepwalking yet!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Day Two

Day Two is coming to an end, and again, it is all going well. Today we had breakfast, then morning worship, then a reflection session looking at the issues we're facing, and ways to cope with them, after we had introduced ourselves.

This afternoon we had the afternoon free, so I went out for a walk along the Dodder River, which flows along behind the college. And you'll never guess what I encountered in the river... a rhinocerous! Well, okay, it wasn't a real one, but it was a metal statue type thing of a rhino in the middle of the river... very unusual!

This evening we had the opening Communion service, after the returning students arrived - they all seem to be a good bunch, and we're getting to know them, which is all good! Then since, we have just been chatting, although Compline (a short service at the end of the day) is in about 15 minutes, so I'd better go and see what is happening.

Tomorrow the fun stuff begins, with us getting various introductions and then going to Overseas House for stuff.

Earlier I got talking to Stephen on msn, so it's good to still have those contacts with the parish while I'm away - and we're sorry to be saying goodbye to Neville Willerton, who is moving to England, to Shrewsbury to work in a church plant. But I hear that as a leaving present he got a photograph of the Healy goal against England (Neville being English), so he can remember that famous moment for a long time! (So long as it isn't used on the dartboard in the church plant!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Day One

After a very early start, we now have Day One over us! The people in my year are great, and the activities have been fine so far - I mean, eating lunch and dinner isn't too strenuous! We also had some introductory sessions giving us info on what lies ahead... so roll on the course proper!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A bad sign...

It really pains me to write this, but I feel I must warn my fellow students... I thought that all my strange behaviour during my sleep was over, but no... just before I move to college, I woke up this morning and wondered why my head was lower than normal. And behold, I couldn't find one of my pillows... I eventually found it wedged between the bottom of the bed and the door. I have no notion how it got there, except to say that it was probably my sleep-walking again!

On other matters - thank you, anonymous, for your comment on my spelling. I never check my spelling when I type the blog - it just goes as it goes... so there will inevitably be some mistakes, but you can still read it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pain part 2

Ouch! Things were slightly different this time with the church football... just as I started playing, the pain down the front of my legs started, and I wasn't abe to do much running. Yet we still managed to win!

Earlier today I was in Dublin, moving some stuff into my new room, and purchased a mobile phone for my time in the south... But that's all I have to report on today!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

1 Corinthians 6

I was reading 1 Corithians 6 last night, and there were a few things struck me. Now, if Lawrence still reads my blog, then he may well comment again as he won't like what the plain word of God says, or how I comment on it, but we are in the business of declaring the word of God, not pleasing men!

1 Cor. 6:1-20 If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? [2] Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? [3] Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! [4] Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! [5] I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? [6] But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers! [7] The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? [8] Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. [9] Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders [10] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. [12] "Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. [13] "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. [14] By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. [15] Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! [16] Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." [17] But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. [18] Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. [19] Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; [20] you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.

I particularly want to look at verses 9-11. In them, Paul makes the declaration that sinners will not inherit the kingdom of God - by naming specific examples of sinners... We, all of us, fit into some of those categories - have you ever put something above God - to make an idol of something? Ever stolen anything, or been greedy? So what will we do? How can we inherit the kingdom of God?

Well, Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, to those who have been saved. So how did it happen? Notice two things that struck me, and are the key to the passage:

1) The past tense: 'And that is what some of you were'

2) The glorious 'BUT': Paul obviously didn't have someone correcting his grammar (although, of course he wasn't writing in English, but indulge me on this one for a minute...), because he starts a sentence with the word 'but' - 'But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified'. Thanks be to God who has provided for our washing, sanctifiying and justification through what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

Those in Corinth were no longer what they were, because 'if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation' (2 Corinthians 5:17). You, reader, if you are in Christ, then you also were washed, sanctified and justified. And if you are still in your sins, then come to Christ, and find that salvation freely offered to you.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Just a quick posting. I'm not going to single anyone out - but I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has been very good to me, and supported and encouraged me over this past week or so (and especially today), with Dublin being so very close now... You all know who you are - I was completely overwhelmed by everything that I received, but the official thank you's will follow in due time, when I am resident in Dublin!

On another note, tonight in YF we had our Albany night when the three girls who had been helping at the Alabny Diocese Summer Camps at Beaver Cross were sharing their experiences, photos and a dvd. We even had some parents and friends along, but sadly they didn't take part in the games!


Ok, so here goes... a bit of an update:

Yesterday was the Autumn Fair, which seemed to go very well with a decent crowd about it, and plenty of banter. We raised about £2500 so far, which was well worth it, as well as the benefits of having people from church working together and having a place to come together for a few hours of fun. I took a number of photos, which will be available later on the photo website...

Then I was in Hillsborough for a walk round the Lake in the forest with some friends, where I happened to bump into Gareth and Ruth from Magheralin - was good seeing you again Gareth - seeing as you read it, I might as well address you personally!

Last night I was down in Dundrum for the evening. It was the DDYC Young Leaders Weekend, for leaders from the diocese to come together for some craic and thinking through some of the issues relevant to us. Sadly I couldn't make it for the whole weekend, but I enjoyed the time I was there. The session looked at happiness and fulfillment, then we had dinner, which was rather good although a bit spicy for me! After that there was the grand music quiz, with many rounds - I ended up taking part in two of them for our team - the humming round, and then the Sing Star round... where I did a bit of karaoke type singing against Dave Neill, and managed to win! I will never be able to forget 'This Love' by Maroon Five! It was so high by the end of it that I was screeching!

This morning after the service, we got a photo took of the choir and clergy, seeing as it is properly my last Sunday in the Cathedral as a regular parishoner... from here on in I'm an ordinand and might not be about the cathedral so much, as a few invites come in as well as a few planned visits to other churches in other places and weekends away... Below you'll see the photos, two of them, because in one, Jeanette is missing, and in the other, David is obscured by my big head!

Back row (L-R): Very Rev Stephen Lowry, Rev Trevor McKeown, Scott Mackey, David Falconer (organist)
Middle row: Dorothy Burns, Louie Watson, Lorna Burns, Rita Russell, Donna Wallace, Gary McMurray
Front row: Jeanette Adair, Kirsty Wallace, Deborah Wallace, Judith Reain, Lynn McFarland.

Friday, September 16, 2005


My pain from Wednesday night's football continues to today... It's obvious that I just haven't been used to exercise, but I'll be back on top form soon enough!

On other news... if yuo're about Dromore tomorrow morning, then come along to the Cathedral Hall for our Autumn Fair (starting at 10.30am) - lots of bargains and a great day out for all!

And on other, other news, I have noticed that Handel's Messiah is being performed in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast the week before Christmas again... I'm looking forward to it already, cos the company will be great!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Oh dear me! I knew I wasn't entirely fit, but tonight has been a revelation! Some of the guys from church have been playing indoor football in the hall for a while now, but with being in Newtownstewart i could never get. But now, with living at home for 2 weeks I have my opportunity! And am I suffering for it now...

My legs are sore, I'm still catching my breath, and my face is as red as get out (apologies to anyone not from around Dromore who won't get that 'analogy' but I like it, so I'm going to use it! Just imagine me saying it in my almost country accent...). The rough 'aul boys' even managed to draw some blood on my left arm, from grabbing me so hard, but I'll manage!

On other matters, a big thank you to Scott for making his maiden comment (from my knowledge), and also thank you for clarifying your PhD subject... to my mind it will always be buses!

And in Belfast they're still rioting because of the Orange parade... thankfully I was out of the city by the time it was happening today - I wouldn't want to be caught up in anything.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Today I was in Dublin. I took down my bike and some books. I have some photos of my room, but they aren't great, so I won't publish them...

Now, I know this update is absolutely pants, but when someone insists on regular updates, then what can I do???

I'll leave you tonight with this thought from Proverbs:

'Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife'

Monday, September 12, 2005

First day of the holidays

And so my fortnight of holidays begins... I had an early start for family reasons, but then went back to bed... then went on a wee journey out to ICM, Lurgan, Portadown, then lifting dad to take him to get glasses... so I was out and about rightly today!

Then I took a weird notion about re-arranging the furniture in my room, but at least we can now see some carpet! that's really all to comment on today... boring, I know!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Flat cleared!

Ok, so there we go... today I went with me ma to the county of Tyrone. We started in Cookstown, then on to Omagh (via Pomeroy and Carrickmore), then to Newtownstewart, where we cleared the flat. So the end of an era has come.

Now there is no room in my room, no room in the kitchen, but my keyring has reduced by about half!

Then tonight we were out for a meal to celebrate the news that Scott has passed his PhD (as I said earlier - he's a doctor of buses, so timetables, engine specifications and the number of bus passengers in Plumbridge on a Tuesday morning in March - anything you want to know in the whole bus sphere, then contact him!)

Friday, September 09, 2005

By the rivers of Babylon

Psalm 137 was made particularly famous by the song at the Eurovision Song Contest a few years back, being sung by one of the entries. But I have been thinking of it a lot these past couple of days.

Psalm 137:1-9 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. [2] There on the poplars we hung our harps, [3] for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" [4] How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? [5] If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget {its skill}. [6] May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. [7] Remember, O Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. "Tear it down," they cried, "tear it down to its foundations!" [8] O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us— [9] he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land? It might well be my thoughts in a few weeks, being in a new and strange place, and feeling far from what is familiar.

But there was a flaw in the thinking of the Israelite exiles. They thought that Jerusalem was the only place that God could be. It was his dwelling place, so for them, exile was 'away from God'. They just didn't feel like singing praise to God when they had been taken away from God.

And yet...

Ezekiel was one of God's prophets, and his books opens with a vision of God in that picture of the throne with wheels in wheels and all that, which seems so confusing to us. Yet that was the symbol and sign that God was with his people, even in exile. Because God isn't limited to only being in Jerusalem, or Newtownstewart, or Dromore - he is omnipresent! God is with us everywhere. There is nowhere that we can go to get away from God - as the psalmist wrote: 'Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?... (no matter where I go) even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast' (Psalm 139:7, 10).

And so, as I venture southwards, I go in the power of God, and staying in the presence of God, because He created that place, and he sees the end from the beginning, and knows what is to come.

As a missionary friend of mine tells me often:

Zoti ynë është një Zot i madh
(Our God is a big God)

Goodbye Newtownstewart

And so, the end is near, and now I face my final curtain...

Today is now my last day in work, and my last day in the village of Newtownstewart. Last night I was packing, and well, to be brutally honest, I started crying. So many memories in everything I lifted to put into boxes, and the complete realisation that this is the end of my time here... That finished any hope of packing last night.

So I was up early-ish this morning, and have the car loaded up now with stuff. I'll have one more journey westwards tomorrow or Monday just to bring the bike and whatever stuff is in the kitchen - plates, cutlery etc... And just like a good Shakespeare play where the weather reflects the mood of what is going on, today it is raining. Constant, heavy rain.

I didn't realise just how much I loved this place, and this job until now...

But God who has called me, is faithful, and has wonderful plans for me in Dublin and beyond - and there is pain in giving up things that are comfortable and familiar, but it the way of the cross, it is the way of God's people - because the blessings that lie ahead far outweigh what I could ever possibly have by being stubborn and remaining here.

Abraham was called by God to go to a place he did not know - at least I know I'm bound for Dublin. Abraham was called by God to give up his son, the one who the covenant would be brought through - I'm only giving up a flat and moving to a new place of security and dwelling.

A big thank you to the person who provided me with Proverbs 4:18:


And so I begin on the path to Dublin... Here goes!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Oh What A Night / Glory, Glory Northern Ireland / We're Not Brazil, We're Northern Ireland

Now, how do I do this... What can I possibly say about last night? Obviously the first thing to say is the result:


Our wee country did what seemed impossible, pulling off a sensational victory - our first home win against England in 78 years, our first victory against England in 23 years, our first two home victories in a row since dear knows when...

But anyway... the teams trained before the start:

Then they lined up for the one National Anthem, sung by Belfast's Peter Corry:

Then the game began. After an early shock, when Beckham hit the post/crossbar with a free kick, Northern Ireland settled in to the game, with some confident passing, and dangerous attacks into the England half. Yet early on it seemed as if the danger would be from the combination of Beckham hooking the ball out to the right winger Wright-Philips. But thankfully Capaldi was able for him.

Then came the second half, and Northern Ireland came into their own, with plenty of attacks, and they looked the better team. In fact, and no disrespect to Scotland, but the Kop started singing to the English team 'are you Scotland in disguise?' In fact, England looked so bad that from near the start of the second half, the Kop also started singing 'We're going to win 1-0' - what a bunch of prophets!

And then came the goal. What a goal! From where I was sitting it almost seemed offside, but of course, it wasn't, and Healy turned, moved into the box and... GOAL! We just couldn't believe it, and the crowd erupted! Singing, shouting, dancing, cheering, bouncing, hugging, crying - we had it all! And from then on, Windsor Park was even more of a party than before. The photo is of a Gillespie corner not long after the goal:

And at the final whistle? Well, no one wanted to leave - the perfect night, with 2 wins in a row, and beating England - beating the likes of Beckham, Gerrard, Ferdinand, Carragher, Rooney, Owen. It's not every day you do that! (Incidentally, Northern Ireland are now only the third team to have beaten England in a competitive game under the management of Erikson - the other two being at the finals of the World Cup and European Championships). Here we see the Kop after the final whistle:

And the players did a lap of honour - recognising their fans and us applauding each other... Well done boys, you did us proud!

The full set of photographs will be available by clicking here

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

TC Hammond

Last night I started reading a book on TC Hammond. TC was a Church of Ireland minister from Cork, who was used of God in mighty ways to spread the gospel in Dublin, through his ministry in St Kevin's parish, then as Superintendent of Irish Church Mission, before going to Australia to be the principal of Moore Theological College in the Diocese of Sydney.

His book, In Understanding Be Men is regarded as an excellent introduction to theology, and a comprehesive summary of evangelical doctrine. It was used as the textbook for first year students at Moore for many years.

But it was TC's passion for winning souls that inspired me - how he gave his life for the gospel. Imagine it, that in his days at Trinity, students were barred from attending particular churches in Dublin because they were 'too evangelical'! Yet he got through college and had a life of faithful ministry, both here and in Australia.

Oh that I would similarly be faithful in my preaching and pastoring!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A whole rake of stuff!

Warning! This posting will be about a whole lot of random stuff thrown together, just as I think about it, and to update you on various things!

Firstly, a word of congratulations to Doctor Scott Mackey, who heard yesterday that he has passed his PhD in buses! Well, it was really about rurual disadvantage and transport, but it is basically buses! So if you ever need to know the time of a bus from Ballygobackwards to Aughnajiggert, then Scott is yer man!

The photo is of a landmark in Strabane - on the site of the former 'Camel's Hump' security post at the border crossing between Strabane and Lifford. they are locally called the 'Tinnys', but the official name is 'Come to the Dance'. It is 5 figures, one on the fiddle, one on the drum, one on the flute, and two beginning to dance. Anyway, the reason I have a picture of it is that last night was my last time of border-hopping to Lifford to get petrol for probably a right while... and with the good weather, I stopped to get a photo of it. So here it is!

Then last night I watched 'White Chicks' which was quite funny. But it didn't help get my packing done! So that is still awaiting me... but there'll be plenty of time. I'll do some tonight, and some on Thursday night. Why none tomorrow? Well, because I will be too busy watching Northern Ireland thrash England at Windsor Park!!!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Irish Guards at Windsor

This is a photo of the Band of the Irish Guards entertaining the crowd at Windsor Park on Saturday at half-time. Thanks to Neil for taking it on his mobile phone...

Psalm 103

'Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits' (Psalm 103:2)

There are so many benefits we have from the hand of the Lord - so it is fitting and right that we praise Him. As the Psalm continues:

Psalm 103:2-6 Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— [3] who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, [4] who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, [5] who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. [6] The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

God has provided a way for our sins to be removed from us, through the cross of Jesus - so that our sins are removed from us, as far as the east is from the west.

How often do we fully realise the immense blessings we receive? This is a great incentive to worship!

Saturday, September 03, 2005


2-0, 2-0! Ok, so it was only Azerbaijan that we beat, but we still won a competitive football game (for the first time in 4 years)! Windsor Park had a great atmosphere today, and the band of the Irish Guards were good, playing before the match and at half-time.


The only remaining thing to say is...


Friday, September 02, 2005

A different Friday

Well now, today was a different sort of a Friday, but an enjoyable one all the same.

This morning I woke, and packed the car with a lot of stuff from the flat, then set off to the north coast, calling in at Coleraine, Portstewart and Portrush

Then from Portrush, I went to Belfast on a marathon dash, to call in at the Irish FA offices on Windsor Avenue to collect the tickets for the next two Northern Ireland internationals against Azerbaijan tomorrow, and England on Wednesday night!

Tonight I was out for a great meal with Lynsey, then for a 'random' drive to a 'random' place to get a nice view of Belfast.

And now home to get online for a wee while!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Busy day

Well now... today has been one hectic day about the office, what with getting quotations for printing the book, then doing monitoring reports and applications and you name it, we do it!

Tonight is lined up for a bit of packing and the first removal of stuff tomorrow from the flat...

Oh - and a big thank you to all who come and read my random thoughts - the lower (slightly more accurate) counter has now exceeded the 2000 mark!