31 March, 2006

Singer Songwriting Workshop

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Just wanted to let everyone know of a Singer/Songwriter Workshop in Culturlann na hEireann, 32 Belgrave Sq. Monkstown, Co. Dublin on Monday 10th April from 7:30pm 'till 10pm. Wish I could be there to learn a thing or two. Let me know how it goes if you go.

23 March, 2006

Learning About Blackrock

Just saw that Wikipedia has a great article on Blackrock. Read it when you get the chance. There might be something in there that you didn't know about our little town.

22 March, 2006

Free Blog Editor

I'm still an Ecto man myself but it ain't free, you have to cough up about 16 Euros to get your hands on it but I just came across a different blog editor that some of you may want to try. Oh ya, and it's free. It is called Qumana and is available for both PC and Mac. Qumana is a free blog publishing application that offers you the ability to create posts on your desktop like you would use Outlook for mail. Qumana helps writers quickly capture, organize and edit chunks of content. Users drag-and-drop pieces of text, links, pictures or images. Then, with one click you can add Technorati tags. Edit and publish the blog post … to as many blogs as you wish … or save it as a draft to work on later. Turn your content into a draft Word document by saving it as HTML or RTF and opening the file in Word. If you want to get into blogging, here is an easy and free way to get there.


17 March, 2006


I've spoken to a few who desire more worship at the Journey. I agree and that's why I really liked Ryan Bolger's latest post on the subject: Emerging Worship is about Who Gets to Play. Emerging worship is not about being artsy or making sure you have candles, it is about creating space for individuals to praise and cry out to God without feeling they have to go through anyone (like a priest or worship leader).

What is the Gospel?

Considering my last post, I thought it wise to point out one of my favourite articles Scot McKnight has done on the subject of the gospel, aptly titled What is the Gospel? He elaborates on the idea that the gospel can't simply be simple.


12 March, 2006

When Has Someone Heard The Gospel?

Maybe this is a silly question but it is one that I have been thinking about for the last few days. On Thursday before we met to discuss Patrick, Karl had me do a quick video interview with Cormac. The question he was asked: when did you first hear the gospel? Although he grew up Catholic, knowing and hearing much of Scripture and having godly parents, he said it wasn't until much later in his adult life that he really understood the gospel. He had the chance to ask some tough questions, get clarifications and then decided he wanted to live life like Christ through the power of the Spirit.

I had asked this same question about a month ago when I was reading Alleluia America!: An Irish Journalist in Bush Country by Calole Coleman about a month or so ago. Carole was the Washington correspondent for RTE from 2000 to 2004. She noted that after George W. Bush's re-election, pollsters declared the vote was swung by moral values and the Republican's courting of religious America. Carole decided to explore those groups and States that voted red in the last election and see for herself just who re-elected Bush. The book is an account of those interviews and experiences and is a good read.

At one point she interviews an Evangelical from a Baptist church in Monroe, Georgia. She had arranged to meet Stephen, the preacher's son on a Friday night when a gospel concert was going on at the church. They spoke for a bit about gospel music but then moved on to Stephen's testimony...
"When I was five years old I accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour and from that time everything pointed me in the direction to serve in a ministry," he told me. I didn't know children needed to be saved or born again, but here in Georgia it is not unusual.

"Yes. It happens at different ages for different people. You have to realise you are a sinner... God's word tells us that the penalty for sin is death, and death is hell, so there is no way out but through Jesus Christ. Some people see it at a young age, others never do. At five years old I heard this and I realised I didn't have a way to heaven except through Christ. So I accepted him as my saviour. That is, 'born again', saved - same thing."

The idea of being born again is not new. It dates back to the Bible itself. In John 3:3, Jesus mentions the idea to Nicodemus, who is startled and wonders if Jesus is asking him to get back into his mother's womb. But Jesus explains that he is talking about entering into a relationship with God, through faith. Virtually all Americans who say they are evangelical claim to have been saved. Millions who are not evangelical or part of the Christian right also claim to be "born again" or to have experienced a spiritual conversion. "Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God." This one line from the Bible convinces evangelicals that no matter how much money a man gives to charity or what good work he does, if he doesn't accept Christ as his personal saviour, he has no hope of making it to the next life. President Bush claims to have been born again in his early forties"
I read this and the thought crossed my mind that here is a journalist who has essentially written down the four spiritual laws via Stephen's testimony and yet I'm not convinced has encountered the gospel. She is aware of who Jesus is, again growing up Catholic and being taught by nuns in school but for Carole, as she expresses in her book, her faith is something deeply personal and familial, perhaps even national but not necessarily based in her understanding of Scripture or in a relationship with Jesus Christ. And how could it be? I mean she heard the four spiritual laws straight up: But the message "God loves her - She is a sinner - God has paid the price for her sins - She must accept it personally" doesn't make much sense to anyone who can't relate to it. I know there are some who hear that presentation and it resonates with them, with how they have been experiencing the world, with how they perceive themselves, with how they perceive God but usually they have some experience in their lives that allows them to do so. Many do not. If they cannot relate to the gospel, how can they really understand it? How can it have any meaning in their lives?

Is it possible to hear, grasp, and encounter the gospel but still reject it? I mean could Carole by all means really get it and just not want anything to do with it? Yep. She could. But our aim in presenting the gospel (and I don't mean just by words but by actions too - the gospel is much bigger than the four spiritual laws) only occurs when it is done in a way that it can be understood. I think that the four spiritual laws method often falls on deaf ears, even ears that can reproduce the main points word for word back to you. When has someone heard the gospel? When they have experienced it. When it is not simply a bunch of nice ideas, or a good way to live, but when someone shows up at your door to help you clean your house when you're sick, or when someone sits and lets you just vent and doesn't try to give you advice, or when a friend shares about how God has shaped their life. This is the reason I believe relationships are so important in missions (and by missions I don't mean going any farther than next door). If we have no relationship with people, with a culture, then how can we present the gospel to them?

So here's to presenting the gospel of love in our community. May it be heard.

Lessons From Patrick

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For those who missed it we had a great meeting last Thurs. night learning about the life of St. Patrick and reading his few but insightful works. I must say, the time really was both educational and inspiring for me. After some chat, tea & bickies we sat down to watch the first half of Patrick, a documentary about the Saint, looking at his background, his culture, his struggles and achievements. It allowed us to see through the fairy-tale version of Patrick - the Patrick who cast snakes out of Ireland, who wore funny hats, had a funny staff and had a glowing halo, the Patrick who makes sense to have in a Paddy's Day parade. The DVD not only brought the readings to life for me, but brought the individual to life.

So, what did I/we learn?

Patrick grew up a Roman citizen in Wales, part of a very affluent family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest but in his early years he admits the faith really meant little to him. He was about 16 when Irish slave traders kidnapped and sold him in Ireland. At that time Ireland was not part of the Roman Empire. Ireland was a land of waring tribes and its unwelcoming ports and rocky shores made it hard to invade (the town of Blackrock is famous for many of its early shipwrecks on its own rocky shores). Thus, when Patrick arrived on the beaches of Ireland, making his way up to the Northwest of the country (Co. Antrim), he knew there was no return, that there was no way his family would come and get him and that he'd probably spend the rest of his life as a slave. His owners put him to work minding sheep which gave him tons of time to do some deep soul-searching and it was in these times he remembered the faith passed down to him from his family. He states that in these times his love and fear of the Lord grew. He came to the point in his relationship with God that he was praying, "from one up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number."

In times of solitude you learn not only to speak to God, you learn to listen. After six years of slavery he heard a voice telling him to flee and so he made his way across the island believing that a ship would be at the end of his journey, ready to take him back to Britain. I write this rather easily but for Patrick, this was a life-and-death decision. To flee as a slave was to commit a crime punishable by death. What's more anyone abetting an escaping slave through shelter, food, or travel was deserving of the same sentence. So even here, young Patrick find's himself dependent solely on God for his survival. Most likely only traveling at night, Patrick finally arrived at the Southwest coast of Ireland and found a ship there waiting for him. He begged it's owners to let him aboard but they denied him. Rejected, he again turned to God in prayer and began to leave when suddenly the men started shouting after him to come back and get in the ship.
He wasn't home long before he heard the call to return to Ireland. He devoted himself to study in the church and once in his thirties finally returned to Ireland as one of its first missionaries. He was preceded by Palladius who had fled Ireland after receiving severe opposition from a Wicklow chieftain. But Patrick was a different kind of missionary. He knew the Irish culture - could speak the language, knew the customs and etiquette and knew the Druidism, so prevalent in the country. For example, Patrick knew the gift culture of Ireland and quickly went to the king of the area and gave gifts, asking for permission to be there. Patrick was able to speak to the Irish in their native tongue, presenting the gospel in ways that they could understand. Their pagan religion taught that lakes were holy places. Patrick saw this as a connecting point with the Irish people, inviting them there to be baptized. This unorthodox approach to missions brought forth claims of unorthodox teaching, which is why Patrick wrote his confession, to make sure his brothers could see his intentions and his heart.

We're only half way through the DVD (will be finishing it next Thurs. night if you want to join us) but a few main ideas were discussed last Thursday night and I've added a few more questions I've been pondering since then:

1. God chooses the unlikely. Looking at Patrick from a conventional standpoint you'd assume that he'd have been better off if at the age of 16 he evaded the kidnappers and finished out his years in Wales (or wherever seeing as the Roman-Empire was coming to an end at this stage many families were moving throughout Europe). The reality is, God ended up using an unbelieving boy-come-slave to express God's love to a Nation. Patrick wouldn't have been the obvious choice to return to Ireland. Even after schooling, Patrick was quick to note that he didn't have the eloquence of many of his peers who probably seemed like much more likely candidates but God had uniquely trained Patrick to uniquely minister to the Irish. Have you ever had one of your perceived weaknesses become a strength? How about your perceived strengths, have they ever proven to be weaknesses? How is God using your life-experiences to encourage others?

2. He was Christ-like in mission. His experiences in the culture as a teen had allowed him to communicate the gospel to the Irish in a way that made sense to them. Just as Christ came to humanity, speaking in terms we could grasp, so Patrick looked to the Irish culture for ways to express the gospel. The reality was that the gospel was already in Ireland. Christ had (and has) already died for the Irish. Patrick looked for the means available within the culture to express this ultimate reality to the Irish. What means are available to us today? Do we view the gospel as an import rather than something Irish?

3. Patrick had to defend his actions to the majority of his Christian contemporaries and the Church as an institution in general. His whole reason for writing the "Confessio" of St. Patrick was to defend himself against assertions that he was unorthodox: "6 I am imperfect in many things, nevertheless I want my brethren and kinsfolk to know my nature so that they may be able to perceive my soul's desire." How much of our orthodoxy is dictated by our Irish culture, by the Christian sub-culture?

For Further Study of St. Patrick:
The Catholic Encyclopedia on St. Patrick
Wikipedia Article on St. Patrick
The Confession of St. Patrick
A Letter to Coroticus (PDF)
Patrick (DVD)

10 March, 2006

Irish Blog Awards

Next Saturday Ireland will be hosting its annual blog awards. I was skimming through the list of nominees and have enjoyed myself in the process - many funny, many insightful. The blog awards are on at 6:40pm this coming Saturday at the Alexander Hotel in Dublin. It costs you 5 Euros to get in the door but you might win one of the few door prizes in the process. Should be a good night and a great way to connect with the blogging world of Ireland.


Update: I missed going (I actually thought it was next Saturday for some reason). Pity but someone has put a video of the evening online if you would like to check it out go here.

08 March, 2006


Thurs. night we will be studying the writings of St. Patrick over at Cormac & Karen's home. We start at 8:30pm. Email us at journeycommunity@gmail.com for directions.

04 March, 2006

Ryan Bolger Interview

Found this interview with blogger, professor of Fuller Seminary, and co-author of Emerging Churches Ryan Bolger on KPCC. He gives a quick overview of what he's found in the physical structure of Emerging Churches and their theological differences from mainstream American evangelicalism.

03 March, 2006

Return From Absence

Hey everyone, we're back (well, sort of - I'm sick). I'm sure you've all heard through Cormac about just how amazing the snowboarding trip was. We really had a great time meeting the lads. They had me laughing harder than I have in years. Just a great bunch of teens. A few of us even learned to snowboard on the trip (imagine that!). Each day Cormac invested in further safety, from helmet to butt pads, he was one mean-snowbaording-machine. We only had one serious injury but it turned out to be only a severe sprain and Paddy was back on his snowboard a few days later. I think the teens probably caught on to the whole snowboarding thing quicker than the rest of us because they all had one thing going for them: no fear. The rest of us were all aware that a broken bone here would mean our wives would kill us when we got home!

I've also been thinking about how we could use this blog more and one of my thoughts was to highlight books that we are reading, would like to read, are intending to read, or just want to mention. To start us off, let me mention this book I saw: Shaped by God’s Heart – the passion and practices of Missional Churches by Milfred Minatrea. Alan Hirsh recommended it to Phil Mcredden, so I thought I'd highlight it here. I know Dad is also well into Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures and has a post about it here. Any other books?