Sunday, July 30, 2006

BB Camp

So there we are... I've been home almost a full day already from BB Camp and my summer's gallivanting has come to an end. So sad! But now I must concentrate on my summer job, working on the research report into the language of inclusion and exclusion in the experience of victims.

I have far more to write about Camp, and will do it at some stage... suffice it to say now that I had a great time, and the weather was great (except for several thunder and lightning storms!). The devotions (which were my primary responsibility) seemed to go well - please pray now for the boys as they're home again and think about what they heard and saw all week.

Some photos also might be on their way, although I haven't even had a look at my own photos yet...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Home sweet home

So there we are... home again for another two day stint - just long enough to get the laundry done before heading away again, this time to England with the Mid-Ulster Battalion of the Boys' Brigade. Today's journeying was nice and relaxed, with flights from Bordeaux to Birmingham, and then on to Belfast. We even managed to get our names called out over the PA in Birmingham airport, due to our luggage not going where it should have been!

And we get back, only to find that the temperature is almost as warm here... what am I going to do??? Probably melt!

Photos from the Scotland/France trip might soon be available online, and might even be added into some of the previous posts to illustrate the reporting!

So to France, au revoir!

Bordeaux, Cuisine de France, and the Lightning Storm

Yesterday was our Bordeaux day, as we visited the wine capital of France! So we set off in the big wagon again, making it there in good time, although parking proved to be a bit of an issue as the car parks were too low for the 1.9m or 2m height of the wagon. But we made it, and not too far from the city centre.

First priority, as always, was lunch, courtesy of the local Irish Pub (me being in my Northern Ireland shirt, and it being a republican bar... hehe!). Sadly, their menu was just for show, and all they had on offer was three types of baguette - but it was still good food! (Just a pity we didn't get the promised Irish Stew...)

We then went to see the Cathedral, with its impressive organ and numerous side chapels. Outside, the bell tower is open to the public, so for the bargainous price of 3.50 euro, we climbed up the tower to enjoy the view of the city. So I was a bit raging as I realised I had left my camera in the wagon... but I borrowed Lynsey's for the afternoon so photos will follow in due course. We then saw the Victory Square, then moved up the main shopping area as temperatures rose to over 38 degrees... Having visited another monument at the other end (something similar to Nelson's column, with fountains) and enjoyed the wind-carried spray to cool us down, dinner was on the agenda.

The restaurant we went to was very reasonable - 11 euro for a three course meal with plenty of choice. One of the starters was snail... and being in France, we thought we should try them. So six snails were brought to the table and the moment of reckoning was upon us. Would we, or could we eat the snail? Yes, except for Bryan! It came in its shell, cooked in a garlic sauce, so with a special curved two-pronged fork to pull it out. Despite being slightly chewy, it was quite good, only really tasting the garlic. Steve's main course was sheep intestine (I can't remember the French name), so again we tried a wee bit - this time it came with spices, and was quite nice, although I don't think I'll be trying it again soon!

Dinner ended, we set off for home down the motorway again towards the south. And we kept seeing the sky light up. Originally, we thought it was lights of oncoming traffic, but soon realised it was lightning... What an impressive lightning display! Truly God is all powerful, and creation displays his glory and majesty! The problem came when we got to our junction... for the last two miles of motorway, the wind was fierce, and it was a bit of a wrestling match to keep the wagon straight on the road. Similarly on the country road to Morcenx, where there was one freak patch of rain, no longer than a foot... and that was all the rain we saw the whole time!

With the wind up, our attic dorm was nice and cool for our final night in France.

Viva Espana

Behold, the latest installment of the travel log, this time dealing with our visit to Spain on Monday. The town we stayed in is only about an hour from the border with Spain, so we did some border-hopping and journeyed to Saint Sebastian (also known as Donostia, if you're a Basque), a town on the north coast.

We arrived in the afternoon, and after some orienteering, went for lunch - paella (with all sort of shellfish), then chicken and chips, then ice cream - as well as gallons of water as it was still well warm!!! The town of Saint Sebastian is dominated by a statue of Jesus on the hilltop as he looks down on all that's happening, so the next item on our agenda was to climb the hill to see it! The entire hill is a former Napolean castle, providing excellent views over the Atlantic ocean and the entirely enclosed bay, and the statue is at the top of the castle. Having made it to the top, we then found a grassy bit to lie down in the shade of trees and close our eyes for a while.

We then returned down the hill and had a walk in round the town centre, browsing some shops, enjoying ice cream (from over 100 flavours to choose from) and seeing the street entertainment. After that, it was time to watch the sunset from the beach, and even go in to dip my toes in the water!

But then disaster struck! It was almost midnight when we were leaving - me driving the blunderbus, and the signs for France/Bordeaux weren't great... we ended up doing laps of a housing estate looking for someone to tell us the way out to the motorway! Eventually we got back onto the right road and got home about 2am!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

If it wasn't for the sheugh of me arse...

I'd be drowned!

Boys oh! Another hot day in France, and apologies for any offence caused by my title line... just a little saying I have picked up along the way.

I'm realising I didn't actually explain the title of my last posting, so I'd better do that now... The Starship Dearhelpus was my second vehicle in France - a 2litre Subaru automatic car which is also in the family. The big wagon was going to the ocean, but we wanted a change so set off for the local lake in the Subaru. Remember, this was my first time of driving an automatic, and I also had to contend with driving on the wrong side and all that... But I managed ok, after a test-run or two in the drive!

Not long after we got back from the lake last night, the skies darkened and the rain came on, as well as fierce thunder and lightning... Boys-a-boys! It was great to watch from the safety of the house, and also brought a bit of relief from the heat - last night it was a bit cooler when we went for our post-dinner and pre-bed walk. But it was still roasting in the loft dorm where I'm sleeping!

Sunday began hot and bright again, with the heat not going away... This morning we had a service in the house, with those interested coming along - a congregation of 13, as Bryan led and I preached. The text was Mark 8:27-38, on recognising who Jesus is, and following him on the way of the cross. Before lunch, then, we had a table tennis tournament, of 10 players in 2 groups. The girls decided not to play, so Bryan and me were flying the flag for Norn Iron. Sadly we were drawn in the same group and he crashed out, leaving me alone to fight for our wee country! I made it to the final, before losing to the other qualifier from our group - Clotilde's nephew, Simon - in sudden death, I have to point out!

So after a late leisurely lunch, we're taking it easy, planning the activities for the rest of the time here. The skies seemed to darken earlier and it got a bit cooler, but I don't think it's going to rain again... would be nice if it did though!

Au revoir!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Starship Dearhelpus

Bonjour again from sunny France!

The heat is indeed fierce, and provides the assembled French, Germans, Dutch and others with a laughing point at us Irish people because we just can't stick it... well, the males can't anyway! The other big laughing point at us is our accent... not understandable at all for those who have even learnt English (although, of course they learnt proper English, and not how we spake it!)

Having missed the Twelfth, we managed to catch the French national holiday - Bastille Day, which was yesterday. We set off for the beach, with me driving the Mitsubishi 4WD vehicle and another car following. Granted that I was driving slow in what seemed like a bus, we weren't too far away from the Atlantic, and before the day was out, I was glad of the 4WD! Parking was along the side of the road, with sand for the lay by... and when we came to come away and I started with normal drive, the wheels began to spin. After a quick change to 4X4 (and a stall), we got away successfully! Boy was I glad!

The beach was really nice - good sand and very clean, although when most of the party went into the water, Lynsey and me retired to the beach cafe to enjoy a Solero ice lolly in the shade!

As we arrived back in Morcenx, the village we are staying in, there was a bicycle race on - thankfully going the same direction as us, so we got up the main street to sit behind the riders as speeches were made before the start. They quickly disappeared as the race began, but we turned off anyway and got home again.

After another long evening meal - did I mention they can last several hours - we went for a walk down into the town square to see the fireworks for Bastille Day being let off. And thus ended another day in France!

Oh, except for the last thing I can remember last night... I've talked about my sleepwalking and sleeptalking before... I woke up last night to find that I was in the middle of a conversation with Clotilde's nephew, with him not really understanding my English and me definitely not understanding the things he said in French... the end result was him saying that Clotilde had warned him that I might talk in my sleep!!!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Scotland and the start of France

If you've been following the blog for a while, you will remember the problems I had while in Brussels with the French keyboard - letters in the wrong place etc... and here we go again - the next few posts might take a bit longer than normal!

So we arrived yesterday in France, and the heat would kill ye! But I think I'm slowly getting used to it... yesterday evening at about 6pm it was 27 Celsius inside the house with the doors open and the air conditioning on... but it cools down at night.

Scotland was really good - a sort of Wilkie's and others on tour as we went on a road trip across on the ferry and up to Dundee. It was nice to be back again, even with things being busy around Louise's graduation! The best bit for me, though, was the chance to drive Henry's Golf - just amazing!

Certainly, it was better than the people carrier I was driving here yesterday... In order for us to see some of the country and go to Spain early next week, I'm the designated driver in one of Cloitlde's family vehicles. (I'm not sure exactly what it is yet). So I went out for a drive yesterday evening to practice driving a lefthand drive car, and going round roundabouts the 'wrong' way! Well, a couple of times I hit my hand off the door looking for the gear stick where it should have been... but I'm getting the hang of it, and think I'll enjoy it!

Right - time to go as this takes for ages to type when you have to think of where the letters are and I shouldn't be impolite and sit on the computer for too long. There'll be another update soon!

Sunday, July 09, 2006


It seems like I'm only home - actually, I AM only home, but tomorrow morning I'm setting off again! So first off, apologies for not getting the rest of London written up... so much to write about, but I'll try to get it done at the end of July when I have processed the stuff we learnt.

It's Scotland tomorrow, as we go over for the graduation of Doctor Louise Wilkinson, then head off to France from Scotland (and an overnight in England) on Wednesday... Busy busy indeed!

So look out for the updates from Bordeaux, if I manage to find an internet cafe along the way. But for now, I must go and pack!

Rock of Ages, cleft for me. A sermon preached at Dromore Cathedral Summer Praise on 9th July 2006. Exodus 33:12-34:9

Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.

As we sing this hymn, we might think to ourselves, yes, God is the Rock of Ages… but what has that got to do with blood, or sin, or the cross? Tonight we’re going to look at the passage suggested by the hymnbook compilers, to see just why we need to hide in the Rock of Ages. As we do so, we’ll see the holiness of God, the provision of God, and the glory of God.

The book of Exodus tells of God’s dealings with Israel, as he leads them out of the land of Egypt and towards the Promised Land. The centre-piece of Exodus is the covenant God makes with the people at Mount Sinai, with the Ten Commandments. However, just as soon as it had been made, as Moses brought the two stone tablets down the mountain to the people, he smashed them, because the people had engaged in idolatry with the golden calf, and already turned away from God.

As we begin to read the passage, then, we hear a conversation going on between God and Moses. God has told Moses to lead the people on to the Promised Land, but that he won’t go with them, because they’re sinful. The problem is that God is so holy, so morally perfect, so different to Israel, that his perfect justice will erupt in judgement against the people and destroy them if they continue in sin.

For Moses, though, this situation isn’t acceptable, and he won’t take Israel up towards the Promised Land if God isn’t going to go too. So he pleads with God to go with them, and asks that God would show him his ways, so Moses can know him and please him. All this is even more important, because without God, Israel would be just like any other nation, they wouldn’t be distinct. It is only with God going with them, that Israel will be distinct from every other nation. God’s presence with them makes them set apart, holy for the Lord.

God grants Moses his request, and looks with favour on him. So he’s going to show Moses his ways, and his glory, as Moses had asked in verse 18. So God says that he will ‘make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name “The Lord”’ (19). But there’s a danger of death in doing this. Now, why could this be? Surely God’s glory and goodness is kind and loving – how could there be any danger? This is the kind of thinking we get from some Christians who see God as their best mate, first and foremost, forgetting that God is also holy and set apart from us.

Showing God’s glory is a dangerous business, as God says: ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live’ (20). Why is this? Very simply, it is dangerous for Moses, and for us, because of our sin.

Think of Isaiah, as he saw the vision of God in chapter 6 – ‘I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple’ (Is 6:1) And the seraphim called to one another ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory’’ (Is 6:3). And what was Isaiah’s response to seeing God’s holiness?

‘And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”’ (Is 6:5).

Or think of John at the start of Revelation, as he turns to see Jesus in his glory: ‘Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength’ (Rev 1:12-16).

And what happened to him? ‘When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.’ (Rev 1:17). Once again, the holiness of God leads to a reaction in sinful man. To see God’s holiness brings conviction, and the recognition of our sinfulness. But it wasn’t always like that. At the start, God and people could be together without any problem. We read in Genesis 3 that God walked in the garden in the cool of the day. It had probably happened lots of times that God came to be with Adam and Eve, enjoying the creation together. Until that day, when they had eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and they had realised they were naked, disobedient, and sinful.

And what did they do? ‘The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden’ (Gen 3:8). They realised they couldn’t see God and live, because of their sin. God knew the same – let’s remember, he didn’t call out to them asking ‘where are you’ because he didn’t know where they were… he was wanting them to come to confess their sin.

But the chasm was fixed, the division between God and people begun, and we have been separated from God ever since, unable to look on him. So knowing this, then, how could the holy God show Moses his glory?

God’s holiness leads on to God’s provision. ‘And the Lord said. “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen’ (Ex 33:20-23). Moses couldn’t do anything about it himself – he had to depend on God’s solution.

So when God was going to hide him in the rock, and cover him with his hand, then only that solution would be effective. Had Moses said no, that he would rather stand out in the open, he would have been consumed by God’s holiness.

But God provided a covering for Moses – his hand, protecting him, so that we would not perish from seeing God’s holiness directly. It was just the same for Isaiah – as the seraphim flew to him with a burning coal from the altar, saying “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (Is 6:7).

The covering enabled Moses to survive, and to see God’s glory. As we read on in our passage, in Exodus 34, God tells Moses to be ready to come up the mountain the next morning, bringing two new stone tablets for the Ten Commandments. From verse 5 we read:

‘The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped.’ (Ex 34:5-9).

Moses, having been hidden in the cleft in the rock, hidden by God’s hand, was able to glimpse God’s glory – still a fearsome sight even though it was only the trailing edge of the back of God. The glory of the Lord is his essential character – of mercy, grace, love and faithfulness. And yet even in the revelation of God’s name and glory, we see the holiness coming through, as he promises judgement on those who are guilty, who have sinned.

But notice what Moses did. He quickly owed his head toward the earth and worshipped. As God’s glory was proclaimed, so Moses added to the glory by worshipping as well. It was fitting that he should worship God, of course, as he realised and recognised the grace and mercy and love and faithfulness of God – as he was spared and kept, by God’s covering.

So as we have considered Moses and God in this passage, what can we learn from it? Firstly, we see God’s holiness. God is morally perfect, and cannot abide evil. As we read in Habakkuk 1:13, God is ‘of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong.’ Hebrews 12:29 reminds us that ‘our God is a consuming fire.’

God’s holiness creates a problem for us – if he will indeed by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation… How can we stand before him on the Judgement Day if we’re still in our sins? Moses couldn’t even look on God’s face – how could we?

However, just as God provided a covering for Moses, so he has provided a covering for us. Jesus is the Rock of Ages – the cleft in the rock that we can be hidden in, for safety and salvation. By coming and trusting in him, we can be saved, and have our sins forgiven. As David says of God in Psalm 32 ‘You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.’ (Ps 32:7). He comes to say this having found forgiveness in God – what the Psalm is all about. (‘Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.’ – verse 1)

Have you come to know God’s provision, as he covers your sin through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross? Where is your hope and confidence for the Day of Judgement? Is it in Christ, the Rock of Ages, the cleft in the rock? Or is it in yourself? How will you face God on the Day of Judgement if you haven’t used the covering God has provided?

As the hymn shows us, our own righteousness means nothing – it cannot save us… we cannot save ourselves:

Not the labours of my hands can fulfil thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone; thou must save, and thou alone.

So will you come to Christ and find the refuge, the covering for your sin, and your salvation? Will you find a safe place in Christ, as you come to him, the rock of ages?

We have seen God’s holiness, which causes us a dangerous problem. But God in his mercy makes provision for our salvation – by hiding Moses in the rock and covering him, and by giving Jesus to die for our sins, so that we are covered by his blood when we trust in him. So what should our response be, if we have hidden in Christ? As God’s glory was proclaimed to Moses, and as Moses gave God glory, so we also should give God the glory because of his glorious character, and his provision of salvation.

Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Home, at last!

The crazy events of 7/7 have now affected our London trip two years in a row... only this time London was fine. Dublin was the problem!!!

I'll write about the Summer School very soon, but for now, I just want to focus on the journey home. Getting on the Underground yesterday was a very strange experience. The breakfast news programmes had special editions remembering the bombs from the year before, and showing people who had been affected. In everyone's mind was a sort of trepidation and fear - to an extent - asking could it happen again? Could there be more bombers in the trains?

At the best of times, no one speaks on the Underground - which led to Standeley and me getting some funny looks as we talked away (the loud Norn Irish accents probably didn't help!), but even more so on that day. Thankfully the trains were still running, and on time, so we didn't have any disruption. It looked like we would be abble to get home after the conference finished with no problems.

Until we heard there had been delays at Dublin airport. A suspect package had been found, and a controlled explosion had taken place, leading to the complete evacuation of the airport, and severe delays. So when we got to Stansted, they said there were delays of an hour for our flight. So instead of 21:50, it would be 22:50. Hm... means we would get into Dublin at just after midnight, but shouldn't be too bad.

So we got checked in (they were closing check-in at the normal time anyway...) and went through to the security bit and looked in the shops. Then we went and found our gate... which had been changed from 43 to 56, so away away as far as you could walk. And as we sat, the delay got longer, to 23:45, then to 00:00, then to 00:15 (these were the estimated times on the board). Then the decree came from on high that we should go to gate 48 - so back up to there... But on the way, we got talking to some interesting people - a guy from Dublin who had been visiting his mum in a nursing home in London, and Leaka (pronounced Lika), a Slovakian living in London and coming over to visit her friend in Dublin to go for a tour to the west coast. We ended up talking to her the rest of the time in the lounge and then on the plane, and managed to get the gospel into the conversation several times, just as it naturally arose!

We landed in Dublin at about 1:45, so by the time we got bags and into the car park and away, it was 3:30 before we were back in Dromore. Ouch! Not very pleasant at all - especially with the petrol light coming on at Newry!

So that's the first report from home of the events of the past week, but I have so much more to talk about... it's just finding the time to get it written. Tomorrow night I'm preaching in the Cathedral (8pm), so please be praying about that!

Monday, July 03, 2006

London's burning

Here I am, in sunny, roasting hot London, and the sweat's tripping me!

We're here for the Proclamation Trust Preaching Summer School, and with Day One done, it is going well so far. It is tough stuff though, with lots to do and take in. This year, as I've said, the students have to preach a sermon and receive criticism - it's been fierce so far. Mine isn't until Wednesday or Thursday, so I have a chance to see how others are doing first. The heat is shocking though... I'm not sure I'll be able to stick it.

Let's go back to Sunday though, and give an update of what's happened so far. Sunday morning, very very early, we set off from Dromore (That's Standeley and me) and made it to Dublin Airport in good time. So we checked in, got our gate number and sat beside it, waiting... and waiting. The announcements were impossible to hear or understand, and time got close to the flight and still there wasn't a queue forming, and our flight had't been called. Until we checked the board again... the flight had been moved - thankfully only to the other side of that particular inlet.

When we got off the plane (remembering that it had started raining as we got on the plane in Dublin), the heat was oppressive! It was like stepping into an oven - thankfully I remembered to bring my shorts! The train wasn't too bad going into the city centre, as we weren't at a window, so no sun rays getting in... but the Tube was roasting too!

The hotel is the same as last year, nearly beside Victoria Station, so handy to get about, and with lots of stuff around it. However, we aren't in the same room as last year, as there's just two this year, and not the third musketeer. So we were told the room number, and went up with the key. I tried the door... and again... and again... with various combinations of putting the keycard in, then puching the handle, or putting the keycard in and out then the handle... until we realised we were at 220 and not 222!!! We just about managed to get into our room as room 220 opened its door to see what was happening!

After relaxing for a bit we went for a walk, getting lunch at Trafalgar Square, then walking on past St Paul's to St Helen's Church Bishopsgate for their evening service (via the Temple Church a la the Da Vinci Code - sadly it was locked up!). St Helen's is one of the more evangelical churches, shaped similarly to Dromore Cathedral, but with the focus shifted to halfway down the right hand side, where their enormous pulpit also stands. There are no pews, just moveable seats, and could indeed be a model for Dromore to follow. [Any parishoners or the Select Vestry want to take a field trip?]

The praise band were excellent, the church was full of 20s and 30s, and the speaker was very good, looking at the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 33). The fellowship was good, and we got talking to a couple who had previously been involved with Proc Trust, and they gave us a lift back to the hotel - much better than getting back ito the warm Tube!

Today then has been taken up with the conference all day, and this evening we came up to Oxford Circus for Standeley to get some shorts as he's roasted! I bought some too, to save me running about in the one pair all week. Everyone will be grateful! So after dinner, we looked for an internet cafe... and we're sitting here now, in what is a sort of Chinese video shop and internet cafe... with the language bubbling over our heads and the heat sweltering us!

Hopefully we're going to make it back to the hotel in time to see the Channel Four programme at 10pm, about the awful things people do when they sleepwalk... poor Standeley, in the same room as me for the next four nights! The first night contained some talking and shouting... let's hope I don't try to smother him, like I did to Scott one time...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Summer Madness

Right, I probably shouldn't even be on the net, as I'm flying tomorrow morning and need to get up at the scrake of dawn to get to the airport... but anyways, a few quick minutes won't kill me!

Because my reason for posting is linked to the airport, as well as Summer Madness. Since 1999 I've been going along, and last year was the first time I hadn't been at the whole event, only calling in for a few days. This year is the same, because I now go to London for the Proclamation Trust Students' Summer School this week... And it has got me thinking about the whole Summer Madness thing.

Staying in tents, getting foundered, and having little sleep is fine when you're younger, but these days I rather like my bed (when I get to it...) and the comforts of a proper shower and loo roll at the toilets etc... But another important function of Summer Madness (aside from the praise and teaching) is that of fellowship - of seeing people you maybe only see at SM, or you just haven't seen in a long time as we're all busy in ministry.

So I think I'm getting the best of both worlds now - the excellent teaching at Proc Trust and the experience of being in London for a week; and the calling in to SM for the Friday night and the Saturday and meeting up with those friends and aquaintances I wish I saw more oftener!

The teaching at SM this year was quite good - of the three main stage sessions so far anyway - as Tre Sheppard looked at 'Who is Jesus' (Mark 8-9), and 'Jesus' Manifesto, our manifesto' (Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4). Phil Collins was back again this year after an absence of five years, and looked at Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4). In fact, I wish I was getting to the rest of the sessions too, as Phil Collins will continue to be good, and Mike Pilavachi makes an appearance too. Added to that, Tim Hughes is only playing the remainder of the festival (no appearance so far), and Ian Hannah is leading worship tomorrow morning at the Communion service - perhaps the highlight of the festival for me, normally.

At least we can look forward to the cd, which will be out again this year after none was released last year!

Please pray for the Proc Trust conference, for the speakers as they help us to preach, and for the 14 students on the course as we make new friends and are equipped and challenged in our preaching. It'll be more scary this year as we actually have to preach in the small groupsand get feedback!

As with last year, I might get the chance to update the blog while in London, so watch this space!