Monday, March 31, 2008

Holding up the Tower of Pisa!

Holding up the Tower of Pisa!
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

Hope you like the picture! This is me doing my bit to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa last week during the college trip to Italy. On Tuesday night we set off, then had Wednesday in Pisa before moving on to Florence. Sadly I can't get any photos uploaded on the college network, so it'll be the weekend before my photos are properly available to view.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually the bell tower of the Duomo (Cathedral) of Pisa, of which you can see the corner at the left of the photo. Pretty impressive, all said.

For now, I'm back in Dublin, having started the last four weeks of term today. Not long to go...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Italia here I come...

I'm sitting all packed up and ready to hit the road. Heading off to Pisa and Florence with some friends. So there'll probably be no coverage until I return on Saturday night. You can also expect plenty of photos as my memory card is ready and the three batteries are fully charged! Ciao!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Empty! Risen!

Originally uploaded by dtcchc.

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples went back to their homes. (John 20:1-10)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Crown of Thorns

Crown of Thorns
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

[Photo of Lectern on the Lord's Table in St John's Church, Rathfriland]

Friday, March 21, 2008

'It is finished' - John 19:30

Why is Good Friday called that? What makes it so good? Tonight we come to the cross, having looked at John's account of the passion every night this week. We ascend to Calvary mount, to Golgotha, that place of the skull to behold the cross of Christ.

To some, Good Friday was a great day. The Jewish chief priests and elders had a good day. Their rival, that troublemaker, Jesus, was out of the way. they had persuaded, or pressured, Pilate into crucifying him.

The soldiers had a good day. After all, it was work as usual, crucifying another few Jewish peasants. Just what they deserved. There was a bonus though. That mysterious one they called the King of the Jews had some items of clothing, which the soldiers divided among them [fulfilling Scripture as they did so]. One lucky soldier even got the seamless robe.

Pilate might even have felt like he had a good day. Having been bullied by the Jews into crucifying Jesus, he won a minor victory against them after they complained about the sign on the cross. It was the custom, you see, to erect a sign over the crucified to proclaim their misdeeds, to discourage anyone else from getting involved in similar antisocial behaviours. The Jews complained because Pilate had written 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.' They preferred 'this man said he was the king of the Jews.' But Pilate won, refusing to change the script, saying 'what I have written, I have written.' The sign proclaimed, in three languages - the languages of the worlds of religion, wisdom and empire the kingship of Christ.

For the followers of Jesus, though, it was a bad day. Most had fled before the day came to pass, but still the women followed closely, and the beloved disciple (John). Their Master, Rabbi, Teacher, Friend, had been tried and shown to be without fault, yet was cruelly crucified. Their hopes of seeing David's kingdom restored had come to nothing. Jesus was dying on a cross. It was a bad day.

So why do we call it Good Friday? What is so good about Jesus dying on the cross? Well, think about the words in the title - 'It is finished.' This was not the cry of anguished desperation, of resignation. This was not the cry of defeat.

Rather, as Jesus cries out 'It is finished' he declares his victory. He proclaims that the suffering due to us for our sins has been endured, paid for, finished.

Recently I was out for a meal with the family, and it came time to pay. I went up to the till, gave over the money, and do you know what they did with the bill? The guy took it, and impaled it on a nail. When the bill went on the nail, it showed that it was paid. Completed. No more needs to be done. The bill is satisfied. No more claim over me. No debt outstanding. Finished.

Good Friday is called Good Friday, because Jesus died in our place, taking the punishment due for our sins, paying the debt that we could not pay, and it is finished!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Behold The Man. Behold Your King! John 19:5, 14

We're continuing our studies in John's Gospel through this Holy Week. Tonight we're going to look at 19:1-16. Last night we looked at the start of Pilate's trial, and we're still there tonight.

First, notice the injustice of the situation. Pilate has already declared that he has found no guilt in Jesus. He has done nothing wrong. Innocent of all charges. Yet he sends Jesus off to be flogged! Is he trying to satisfy the bloodthirsty crowd roughing Jesus up a bit and then release him? The account is sparse - 'Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him.' (19:1) Not in the Bible do we find the extreme violence, the drawn out details of the flogging, as we find in Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ.' Rather, we see the highly ironic actions of the soldiers, who, just like Pilate, fail to recognise the king in front of them.

Watch as they twist together the crown - of thorns. The thorns pierce his brow, the blood trickling. Then they produce a purple robe, fit for their 'mock' king, as they bow in false homage.

It is in this state, crowned with the thorns, in a royal robe, that Pilate brings Jesus out to show he has found no guilt in him. Beaten, flogged, crowned. Behold the man!

What love he shows to us, in enduring all this for us. Behold the man!

And yet, the ordeal is not over. The chief priests aren't satisfied with all that has happened. Crucify, is their shout. the flogging wasn't enough, they want Jesus dead. Pilate again tries to prevent it, asking why he should die, when he hasn't done anything wrong. The crowd shouts that he has made himself the Son of God. How wrong could they be! He didn't make himself the Son of God, he was the Son of God!

Notice that this is what puts the wind up Pilate. To hear that Jesus is, or claims to be the Son of God, makes him worried and afraid. What is really going on? Who is this prisoner? Back he goes again to interview Jesus for the final time. Where are you from? But Jesus doesn't answer. Like a lamb before its shearers is silent, so Jesus doesn't speak.

This seems to infuriate Pilate all the more. After all, does he not realise who Pilate is? As representative of Caesar, he has power over Jesus, either for life or death. But Jesus reminds him of the real authority in the world. Caesar rules because all authority has been granted by God. this would not happen without the Father's consent and plan. But there will be consequences - 'therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.' No doubt about it - the Father willed what happened as he gave his only Son to be lifted on the cross. But those responsible will bear the consequences and penalty of the sin.

Pilate is worried. From now on he seeks to release Jesus, but the crowd become more restless, and all the more insistent that Jesus must die. After all, if Jesus claims to be a king, then he sets himself up against Caesar. And if Caesar wouldn't like that, then how can Pilate tolerate it?

Here we come to the moment of decision. Here we come to the crucial (literally - crucial has its etymological roots in the word cross) moment in Pilate's life, and also in the life of the Jews.

Last night we saw that the Jews chose Barabbas over Jesus. Would they remain in their choice?

Pilate declares 'Behold your king.' Recognise your ruler. See your Messiah, the desire of the ages. Choose life. Choose him.

How devastating the answer of the Jews. 'We have no king but Caesar.' Caesar, remember, was the head of the occupying army. Caesar was an unclean Gentile, whose palace they could not enter to remain clean to eat the Passover. Yet here they chose the world over Jesus. They chose the kingdoms of this world against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They finally and completely decide against Jesus.

How sad. How terrible. In our sin, we choose to rebel against the rightful rule of God. Here, the crowd that day continued in their rebellion, choosing against Jesus.

Please do not choose against Jesus! He is the one who bore your sin. He is the one who carried your burden to Calvary. He is the one who loves you so much that he died in your place.

The decision has been made. Pilate sides with it. Jesus is handed over to be crucified.

Behold the man, and behold your king. Will you stand for him?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Not of this world: A sermon preached in Magheralin on the Wednesday of Holy Week, 19th March 2008. John 18:28-40

I wonder what you think of when you hear the word kingdom. Perhaps you think of golden crowns with sparkly diamonds, or huge palaces, or big thrones. You might even wonder what colour the Queen will wear tomorrow when she visits Armagh Cathedral. Our minds naturally picture the earthly trappings of kingship.

Or maybe when you think of kingdoms you immediately think of borders and land and territory. Nowadays on the journey to Dublin, you don’t notice the border so much, on the new dual carriageway, but in the old days you knew when you had crossed the border; when you were in or out of the United Kingdom. Again, we’re at the physical realities of kingdoms.

So when we hear Jesus saying in our reading tonight that ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (36), we may well wonder what he is talking about. Remember that this is Jesus the prisoner, Jesus the one who has been arrested and faced trials in the houses of Annas and Caiaphas; Jesus the one who has been struck in the face already.

Moreover, this is Jesus the prisoner, standing in the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate, the representative of the Caesar, the most powerful man in the political world. Pilate the judge.

As we look at the passage tonight, we will see three kingdoms interacting. Two are very much of the world, and stand in stark contrast to the kingdom of Jesus, which is not of this world. By thinking about the kingdoms of the world, and about the kingdom of Jesus, I want you to consider where you stand tonight. Who is your ruler? Where does your allegiance lie?

Firstly, we are introduced to the kingdom of the religious, the Jews. We have already seen in John 18 that they arrested Jesus and now bring him to Pilate. They want Pilate to get rid of Jesus for them, in the cruelest way possible, because they can’t do it themselves.

Look at verse 28. Here you see how religion holds their allegiance. They live their life based on following the rules. ‘By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.’ It didn’t matter that they were trying to kill a man, so long as they were clean to eat the Passover!

Notice also that for them, truth was compromised, just so long as they got rid of Jesus. When Pilate asks them why they have handed him over, they don’t outline the charges, or explain what he has done. Rather, they say that they wouldn’t have handed Jesus over if he wasn’t a criminal. What strange logic!

However, the saddest thing is that these were the very people who should have recognised Jesus as their king. These were the Jews, the people of God, who were waiting for their Messiah – the anointed one who would free them from slavery and restore the kingdom of their father David.

But what did they do? In Pilate’s own words, verse 35. ‘It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?’ These were the people who were meant to be Jesus’ people. How sad, that they rejected their own king.

Right back at the very start of John’s Gospel, we read that this would happen. John 1:11 says that ‘He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.’ How terrible that word of judgement – his own people refused to receive him!

Could that be said of you tonight? As we gather here tonight, we identify with the people of God, and yet we may not recognise King Jesus. We appear religious, but its just that – our allegiance is to being a good Protestant, or a good member of the Church of Ireland. But at the end of the day, when it finally comes down to it, if religion is our king, we will choose against Jesus. The religious leaders did – look at verses 39 and 40. ‘”Do you want me to release the king of the Jews?” They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!”’ Give us Barabbas.

Or maybe your king tonight isn’t religion. Perhaps the king of your heart is power and wealth. Pilate had plenty of those. As I’ve said, Pilate was the Roman governor, the personal representative of Caesar in Jerusalem. If you can imagine the British empire at its height, this was Rome of the day.

The Romans had become the major kingdom of the world by conquest, and the weapons of the world. Their kingdom was most certainly of this world. For Pilate, then, to hear that Jesus claims to be the King of the Jews, is to suspect that Jesus will bring revolution and rebellion against the Roman powers. His own position could be threatened.

These rebellions were quite common – after all, the choice given to the crowd in verse 40 is between Jesus and Barabbas (who had taken part in a rebellion). Was Jesus just another of these rebel leaders who got a few followers together, a few weapons gathered, and launched a bid to get rid of the Romans? Was Pilate’s position threatened?

Yet despite his lofty position, Pilate seems out of his depth. The Jews refused to come into the palace for the trial, so Pilate himself scurries back and forth between the Jews and Jesus. Despite being the governor, the supreme judge in the area, it appears that Pilate is on trial, rather than Jesus. See him running back and forth, trying to prevent trouble and riots, yet also trying to stop Jesus from being crucified.

As we move into chapter 19 we find him becoming more and more desperate as the situation worsens for him. Yet even here, we see that power and wealth could not save Pilate. He stumbles, groping for answers, and then in verse 38 asks that question ‘What is truth?’ not realising that the one who said ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’ stands before him.

Are you blinded by power or wealth? We strive so hard to make it to the top of the pile, and then think that we have all we need. Even when Pilate exclaims that ‘You are a king, then’, still he doesn’t get it. Or maybe you’re concerned with your own position, and view potential rivals as a threat.

So the kingdom of religion doesn’t work, and the kingdom of power and wealth doesn’t work. What is it Jesus means when he declares that ‘my kingdom is not of this world’?

Well, as we have already seen, Jesus states that his kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. Up until this point, the Jewish nation had been the people of God, simply because they were the descendants of Abraham. There was a geographical boundary, and it could be observed. To use a definition of God’s kingdom – God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule enjoying God’s blessing.

So the Jewish people lived in the land of Israel, following the law and enjoying God’s blessing. Yet there is now a departure from this physical reality of the kingdom. No longer will God’s people be a nation of the world. As we read in John 1 – ‘He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.’ But there, it goes on to say ‘yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.’ (1:12-13)

This is precisely what Jesus is getting at when he says in verse 36 – ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.’

My kingdom is from another place. In order to see the people of God, you can’t look at the people of Israel. Now there is distinction – between ‘my servants’ and ‘the Jews.’ Some of ‘my servants’ includes Jews, obviously, because the disciples were all Jews, but the ‘people of God’ does not mean the Jewish nation anymore.

Jesus was not establishing a new state on earth, a new country, with borders and taxation and an army to rival the Roman Empire. As he says, if his kingdom was an earthly one, his servants would have fought to prevent his arrest.

You see, Jesus’ kingdom is not like the Roman Empire, based on power and might. The kingdom Jesus comes to establish is built on humility and perceived weakness, as the king is enthroned on the cross, as we confessed in the creed just a few moments ago – Philippians 2:5-11. It was as Jesus humbled himself in obedience to death, even death on a cross, that Jesus is glorified by the Father.

This is the kingdom of Jesus – Christ crucified. But do you know what? For the religious or the powerful of the world, it doesn’t make sense. This is what Paul wrote to the Corinthians: ‘Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.’ (1 Cor 1:22-24).

First Jesus says what his kingdom is not – not of this world. But then he turns it around and speaks of what his kingdom is like.

Jesus says ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.’ (37) Do you see the double purpose – that Jesus was born to be king, and that he came into the world to testify to the truth.

The question remains then, how do we become part of Jesus’ kingdom? How do we crown Jesus as our king? Look at verse 37. ‘Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’

Ultimately, all other claims of kingship are false. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and he testifies to the truth. We, just like Pilate, have a choice – to listen to the truth and recognise Jesus as our king; or to listen to the lies of the world, whether of power and wealth, or of religion. In the end, we can only crown one king – who will it be?

So be it Lord, thy throne shall never,
Like earth's proud empires, pass away
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all thy creatures own thy sway.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I Am Not - John 18:17, 25

Last night we thought about the words of Jesus as he identified himself, displaying a spark of his divinity in the words 'I am he.' Tonight, we have a similar phrase, again three words, but with the last word completely different. Not on the lips of Jesus, but on the lips of Peter, as he denies his Master and Lord.

Jesus had previously warned Peter that he would deny him three times - 'Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.' (John 13:38). But that was hours ago. Jesus had been arrested and taken to the high priest's house. Following at a distance, Peter and 'another disciple' (was it John?) made it to the house.

The other disciple knew the high priest and was able to get into the courtyard, but Peter was outside. So the other disciple spoke to the servant girl at the door, and brings Peter inside. From my reading of the text it seems that the servant girl knows that John is a disciple of Jesus - so there's no issue. But when she asks Peter 'You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?' Peter denies it with that sentence: 'I am not.'

Gone is the bravado of the garden, where Peter chopped off the ear of one of the servants. Gone is the outspoken Peter who had tried to tell Jesus that he didn't have to go the way of the cross.

In the face of a servant girl - what threat? Was it fear, or shame, or what? He denies that he is a disciple of Jesus. Oh Peter.

Inside, in the courtyard, it's a bit nippy, so a fire has been lit - note, a charcoal fire, verse 18 (leap over to John 21:9 to see another charcoal fire, this time for a beach barbecue, where Jesus restores Peter, but that's for another blog!). More servants of the high priest are standing warming themselves, and again the question comes. 'You also are not one of his disciples, are you?' Again, Peter supplies the short answer, 'I am not.' Oh Peter.

We then see the expert witness appear. One of the servants is a relative of the man whose ear Peter had lopped off not too long before. He had been in the garden and seen what happened. So he asks 'Did I not see you in the garden with him?' Surely you can't deny it, after wielding a sword and wreaking havoc with a servant's ear. Yet for the third time, Peter denies it, and bang on time, the rooster crows.

Oh Peter.

Are there times that we deny our Lord? Maybe it's in school or work or university, when someone asks 'You're not a Christian, are you?' Is it easier to say no, than to face the possible questions or ridicule? Or when we give in to those around us, following their example, caving in to pressure to conform, to be like them. Or in our private lives, when our actions deny our faith.

Jesus said that it would not be easy to follow him. If the world hated him, then it will also hate us, if we are his. Yet we take heart, because Jesus has overcome the world - he who is in us, is greater than he that is in the world. We do not need to fear.

What will your answer be when others ask you 'You also are not one of this man's disciples are you?'

Well, are you?

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Am He - John 18:5

It is Monday in Holy Week, and I'm going to try to blog something from the Gospel reading of each night this week. Wednesday's will be longer as I'm preaching in Magheralin. Thursday's will be done at some point as I won't be at church - I'm going under the hammer knife. Just minor operation, nothing too serious.

Tonight's reading was John 18:1-14, 19-24. Here we find John's account of the arrest of Jesus in the garden across the Kidron Valley (Gethsemane). It was a place that Jesus knew well, for he had often taken his disciples there. Could this have been a regular place of prayer while in Jerusalem, away from the crowds? It appears that it was also familiar to Judas, who hadn't went with Jesus that night - having departed from the meal early 'and it was night.'

As Judas brings the band of soldiers and the officers up the Kidron Valley, in darkness, with them carrying torches, lanterns and weapons, Jesus takes the initiative. Notice how Jesus is in control. While John doesn't record the anguish in the garden, there is space for it to have happened. Consider verse 4 - 'Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them...'

Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, knows all that will happen to him. But he doesn't shrink back from it. He is committed to the Father's will, to fulfilling the scripture (verse 9). So he comes forward to them and addresses them directly. 'Whom do you seek?'

Their answer could not be more earthy. They are seeking Jesus of Nazareth. The man from Nazareth. But look at the answer Jesus gives them, and their response.

'Jesus said to them "I am he" ... they drew back and fell to the ground.'

εγω ειμι - 'I am' says Jesus, and we see just a spark of his divine glory and power. You may know already that seven times in John's Gospel Jesus speaks of himself saying 'I am ...' the bread of life; the light of the world; the door of the sheep; the good shepherd; the way, the truth and the life; the resurrection and the life; the true vine. In all these 'I am' statements, but more especially here, he reveals himself as God incarnate. 'I am' is the divine name of Yahweh, Jehovah, 'I AM WHO I AM' (Exodus 3:14).

Just as Philippians 2 tells us that every name will bow at the name of Jesus, so here we see the burly soldiers literally falling back to the ground as Jesus speaks and reveals a glimpse of his glory. How great is our God!

At this point the soldiers are on the ground, so Jesus calmly asks them again who they are looking. Again, they respond by saying his name, and again he tells them who he is. Can you see again how Jesus is in control? He ensures that the disciples will not be arrested, but will be free to escape, fulfilling scripture.

And then, in steps Peter. Peter the impetuous. Peter the one who speaks or acts, then thinks about it a week or so later. Out comes the sword, and off comes the ear of Malchus, the high priest's servant. Notice again that Jesus is concerned with fulfilling the Father's will, as he commits himself to drink the cup that the Father has given him.

Even in the midst of arrest and trial, Jesus is in control, knowing what the future holds for him, yet willingly going to the cross, suffering the shame. All in order for us to be reconciled to God, so that not one of those the Father has given him may be lost (see John 6:37, 39, 40, 44; John 10:28-29)

Un-tolled Delights

Tay Road Bridge
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

Do you like the pun? As you probably know, I was over in Scotland last week, visiting Lynsey in Dundee. It was during my trip that I discovered that the tolls on the Tay and Forth road bridges have been removed, allowing free passage both ways! Up to recently, there was a cost of about £1 when leaving both Dundee and Edinburgh (but travelling the other direction was free).

The bridges are now free and easy in both directions, which was a big bonus, as Lynsey is currently working in Newport and Tayport, two small villages across the river from Dundee. I had the car over with me, and was able to drop her off to work and then go exploring and photographing!

There was one downside though. On Wednesday I set off for Edinburgh and got across the Forth Bridge without any hassle. When I was coming back, though, the Forth Bridge was closed, so I had to follow a huge diversion towards Kincardine Bridge. Eventually though, the queues were so massive and so long that I set off for Stirling, Perth and Dundee in a long circuitous route... Added about 60 or more miles to my return journey but it was still probably quicker than sitting on that motorway!

So there we are with my untold delights!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lost and Found

I Found Nemo!
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

Well, did you think I was lost? Like Nemo, I've been found again!

The lack of blogging (pointed out in a text by Mrs McF) is because I've been in Scotland for the past week. I have lots of stuff to write about and talk about, and will do so in due course.

For now though, enjoy the picture of Nemo the clownfish at St Andrews Aquarium, in the town of St Andrews, Scotland. For more photos of Dundee and loads from the aquarium, check out my Flickr by clicking on the photo!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Book Launch:Journeying Through Irish History

Book Launch
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

The day has finally come! This morning my book 'Journeying Through Irish History: Exploding Myths' was launched this morning in Omagh Library. The event was well attended by members of the publisher and host group, West Tyrone Voice, as well as friends and representatives of other victims groups.

Speakers included Dr Hazlett Lynch, Director of West Tyrone Voice, Lesley Finlay, Treasurer of WTV, and Gareth Porter from the HURT group based in Lurgan. I said a few words myself as well!

If you would like a copy of the book, you can get them directly from the West Tyrone Voice office*, or from myself. All proceeds are going to the work of West Tyrone Voice with the victims of republican terrorism, and there is a recommended donation of £8 for the book.

* - West Tyrone Voice, Grange Court, Moyle Road, Newtownstewart. BT78 4AP. Cheques payable to West Tyrone Voice, and please add a couple of £ sterling for postage.

Monday, March 03, 2008

3:16 The Numbers of Hope

For a while, I had gone off Max Lucado. Perhaps it was more me than Max, but I didn't appreciate him for a while. Recently, when spending some book vouchers I saw that he had a new book out: 3:16 - The Numbers of Hope. So I bought it. And loved it!

If you've never read Max Lucado before, then you really should. As soon as possible. He's American, but not overly so. It's great devotional writing, with a sound emphasis on Jesus Christ crucified. The value of Lucado's books are that they are a mine of illustrations, and he communicates truth using a variety of stories and down-to-earth images.

As you may have guessed, 3:16 is a devotional study of John 3:16, from the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Each chapter considers another phrase of the verse, building in momentum as it races along, warming the heart and glorifying God.

Some friends were in the room the other night, and one spotted the book and lifted it. John had never heard of Max Lucado and had a look. Now he's hooked!

If you're looking to buy it for Easter, it's currently at £2 off on the Wesley Owen website.

First Glimpse

My First Book!
Originally uploaded by Gary McMurray.

Here's a sneak preview of my book 'Journeying Through Irish History', which is being launched this Friday in Omagh Library. Got a copy through the post in advance, so thought I would show you what it looks like.

11am in Omagh - all welcome!