Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bad blogger

I am a bad blogger- I know. Facebook has taken over for me. I have it on my Blackberry so it is really easy to update. Besides I don't really have anything useful to say in a blog. I am not a very deep person and I don't articulate what thoughts I do have very well. Ally and John, Wiggy and Phil, these guys know how to blog. They have depth and they write out of it, whereas I just ramble. Like I am doing right now. Sorry.

However, I have friends and family across Ireland and further a field who like me to blog so that they can keep up with my busy life of ministry and mayhem. So I will endeavour to try harder to blog.

News on the Baby front, is that there is still no sign of Peanut coming out. Poor Rebecca is exhausted, not sleeping, carrying a huge bump around. It is hard to watch. Pregnancy is a funny thing, it highlights the glory of femininity while it completely immasculates the male. Here I am a big tough weightlifting rugby playing man and my little wife is struggling, is heading into labour where she will undergo huge amounts of pain and challenge and me...well I can do nothing to help her, I just have to sit by and watch. I feel useless, completely stripped of my ability as a man...actually maybe pregnancy is a bit like the church... this leads me to my next point!

So one of the buzz conversations at the moment is around the church and it's huge sway towards the feminine and as a result men don't like going to church. Check out Wiggy's blog for a more indepth evaluations. I actually read a book 'Why men hate going to church' by Dave Murrow about 6 months ago. I played around with this idea for a I not like going to church because it is more geared up for women, with its soft emotive worship and it's safety etc etc.

So a few months later here are my thoughts. Even the best church is at best slightly relevent to real life! I don't know if I believe that there two simple 'inities!' as in, this is masculine and this is feminine. For example if you believe this, then John Eldrige paints the picture of a real man, loving adventure and risk and climbing mountains and wrestling with bears and smoking cigars. Actually most of this stuff does not appeal to me at all. I love going to the gym, putting on my cycling shorts and doing a spin class with a load of other lycra clad individuals. Does this mean I am feminine? My conclusion is that men don't like church because we have become lazy and can't be assed, not really anything to do with the 'DNA' of the church. Because even if church involved wearing camouflage, doing paintball worship, climbing mountains and wwf style preachers like Todd Wam Bam Bentley we would get fed up with that. Because we are programmed as Post Moderns to challenge the norm, to want the new thing and to put ourselves first. Actually a better book on all this is 'The McDonaldization of the Church' by John Drane. The problem with the church is that we are in it! Anyway that's my rant over...

A while ago, actually a year ago I posted on things I hope to do before I turn 30. Sadly, this is now less than a year away. I am scared and slightly depressed about that. I have this huge fear of getting old and having done nothing for God. I actually live most of my life out of this huge fear of failure in relation to God. I probably need some counselling. Anyway here is a wee update on some of the things I had set out to do.

  1. Get fit: well this last year I have trained my butt off...quite literally. I have been pounding away on my spin bike at the gym and I have successfully kicked off 3 stone in the last year. I have got down from 16.5 to 13.5 stone. I am chuffed about this but more chuffed about building the discipline into my life. I leave my house every morning at 5.45 to go to the gym. Getting up early is amazing. I find by the time I get to my desk at 8.30 I am awake, alive and pumped for the day ahead. Sadly I have become addicted to spinning and I hope to take my instructors course in the Autumn and start teaching classes.

  2. Travel: I said I wanted to travel more. So in the past year I travelled around the world with Becs and our friends Johnny and Susanna. I was in Calgary preaching with Pete Morrison and I was in Moscow with Malcolme J from YFCEE. I am not gonna get to travel much in this incoming year but I am hoping if I can save some money...a first...that maybe Rebecca and I could go to New York for a few days for my 30th.

  3. Ministry: I also set out to preach more in the run up to my 30th year. I used to preach every week but then I had taken a year off to get settled in Emmanuel. When I started preaching again I had lost my confidence so in the past year I have tried to take more dates on and try to find a rythmn again with the Word. So in the past year I have taken 6 or 7 Weekend Teaching events across NI and 1 in Canada and then in around 20 churches and around 20 youth groups. I am starting back to Bible College, one day a week in September to take my ministerial/pastor training with the Irish Baptist College for the next four years. I am hoping that this really adds depth and experience to my preaching and hopefully I will mature into a wise and able communicator.

I have had a few other personal targets, some are going well, some not so well. But life is a journey. A couple of things I am thinking about, are deep thoughts that others have spoken into my life that are helpfully transforming me as I try to figure out there application in my life...

  • "Think of your life in decades...figure out what God wants you to do for the next ten years" Brian Heasley (24/7 at True/Emmanuel). As I approach 30 I am feeling the challenge of this almost daily. God what do you want me to do for the next ten years? Could I ask you a favour? If you have identified gifts or ability in me or if you could advise me..would you comment on the blog or email me and let me know? Please! Proverbs 20 Verse 5 says "The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out" I love this picture... my heart and my dreams are like a well and I need some wise people to reach down with a bucket and pull some stuff out...

  • "Think of a country and ask God to give you it...and if a country is to big a city, pray for a city and ask God for it and if a city is too big a church and find what fits you and give your life to it" Graham Wylie, Roscommon (Church planter/Apostle). Graham shared this with Alain Emerson and I as we travelled around Ireland in the Axiom van. It has messed me up big time. At this moment I lead a national ministry, in other words I have a country...but if I am honest it feels to big for me

So...that's where I am at and throw into that our little baby due anyday now...these are exciting, scary, challenging this what it means to live by faith?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Camp 08

Got back from camp in the early hours of Friday morning. I was shattered so I wanted to take 24 hours to rest before I started unpacking the last week of my life. I was speaking at ChristChurch Belfast's Youth Summer Camp at Whitepark Bay over this last week and I have to say it was one of my ministry highlights so far. I was anxious about the camp, I was really under-prepared, I was without Rebecca who is now 8 months pregnant and I was tired after a hectic ministry program in July. However, despite all my worry and limitations God showed up in a massive way. I had six sessions, each one about 2 hours long and I spent the week challenging the young people towards community and relationship. There was a very powerful, evident transformation in the group and I am really excited to see where God leads them as youth group. God also did some new things in my heart over the week. I loved being back in a place of loving and encouraging young people, not just as a preacher, but as their pastor and mentor. God is continuing to shape me and also show me what he is asking me to do with my life. I have only been back from camp 2 days and I already miss the young people. The leaders and young people were such a blessing to me. Thanks guys.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Update: the sequal

I have been busy. It has been two months since my last blog but it seems only a matter of weeks for me. So I am going to give you a ministry/life update and then try to find my blogging rhythm again.
Summer Madness: YFC ran 'The Yard' a venue for 11-14s. It was esssentially the biggest, coolest drop in centre I have even been involved in. We had everything from pool tables, fusball, air hockey, a pamper room, basketball and football courts, to big inflatables and go-karts. It was a blast. Hundreds of young people visited each afternoon and the YFC Volunteers did a fantastic job. It was great to be a part of such an amazing festival of life and faith.
The Emerging Leaders Conference: On July 4th at Belfast Bible College we had a 1 day leadership conference. 150 young leaders attended to sit under the ministry of my brother Pastor Ken Castor from Canada. Ken taught through Colossians and challenged our hearts in a loving and caring way.
Thirst08: I have just returned from a two week mission in Killyleagh, working alongside Killyleagh YFC and Brentview Baptist Missions Team (Calgary). God worked in a big way in this little forgotten village in County Down. The highlight for me was our 12th day evangelistic project. We went to Newcastle and spent the day reaching out to the Orange men, the bands and the thousands of people attending the parades. We distributed almost 5000 bottles of water, each labelled with scripture and had lots of great conversations with people.
Summerserve Tomorrow morning, Summerserve training starts. We have 70 young people, Americans, Canadians and Irish heading into 6 locations to spend two weeks on mission. I am preaching tomorrow night on the theme for the mission this year 'LOST'

Youth for Christ stand in 'The field' Newcastle, on the 12th Day

Free water: but it won't quench your thirst!

It's not a mission team without a random night of fun and haircuts!

The Youth for Christ team and the Brentview team listening to St. Patrick's prayer at Patricks grave.

My good friend Ken Castor (Calgary) and I getting some time away from team life, seeing the sights in Belfast (Stormont)

On either side, two men who teach me about God. On my left Ken and on my right Alan Wilson

My new friends from Brentview Baptist in Calgary

Pete and Qara leading worship at Rooted: a conference for Emerging Leaders

Question and Answer session with Pastor Ken, Judith (YFCNI) and me

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Youth for Christ Emerging Leadership Conference

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Tour

hey for anyone interested in following our tour, we are blogging daily on the True blog.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Sorry for not blogging in a while, I had an amazing holiday, but when we got home, Rebecca was really sick and had to go into hospital. This kind of through me and I got really far behind in work and to be honest I am still catching up. Going away at Easter is nice, but it really breaks ministry momentum.

Anyway, enough of that.

On Sunday, Alain Emerson, myself and Pete Morrison along with the Emmanuel Church Interns are heading away on an adventure. We are loading up the Youth for Christ van, with sleeping stuff, tents, some food, clothes etc and going on a kind of mini tour around Ireland. The goal? To quote John McMullan...the goal is Soul!

We plan to meet people, hear hearts, catch vision, pray, listen, speak, learn, laugh and allow God to show us something of His Kingdom in Ireland.

In Dublin we are staying with Alex and Keely, old friends from Bible College, meeting some of Alain's contacts, visiting CORE Church, catching up with Suzie Evans, YFC in Bray and then heading to Wexford to collect the Intern Team.

Then it's across to Cork, meet some more of Alain's contacts, in Cork City and then in Kinsale. After that we are up to Tipperary to meet Shane Tucker from CIYD, before heading to Galway via Limerick and the Cliffs of Moher. In Galways we are meeting up with Naomi, a YFC Worker there, and also joining up with Joshua Jones from Enniskillen YFC. Then we head inland to Athlone, to meet some more of Alain's contacts. Then we head north to Fermanagh, where we will spend some time with Josh and Dave, before meeting 2 or 3 local church leaders to catch a bit of what is going on around Fermanagh, before heading home.

I didn't really want to take this trip, it's a bit out of my comfort zone and with Rebecca's pregnancy, I seemingly had more reasons not to go, but God kept prompting and Rebecca was very sure that I should be going.

So if you get a chance, pray for us, for safe travel, maybe some good opportunities to share Jesus and that we would be a blessing to those we meet.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Update Time

The past month has been so busy! Youth for Christ had its Fundraising Corporate Dinner which raised a staggering £24,000. This should help keep our Ministry going for around 8-10 months along with all our current support and donations. God is good. I am very fortunate to have seen God work massively in the financial arena in respect to His work. In YFC we have managed to stay in the black for 6 weeks. That might not sound like very much, but my Finance Administrator has worked in YFCNI for 8 years and she is amazed to tell me this is the first time that YFC has been in the black in her time with the organisation. I am not suggesting that I have special financial arrangement with the Lord...actually when it comes to finance, personal and ministry, there is a huge gap in my skill base. So my response at times like this is to simply make the statement...God is good...because He is! It is awesome to be dependent upon such a bountiful God and to be connected through Jesus to some of the most generous people in the world.
I have just got home tonight from a meeting with a Trust in Portadown, a group of people whose ministry exists to give money to God's work... I mean how awesome is that! I shared some of my vision for the work with them and I will just trust God that if it is right He will move them to get behind us.
Even the last time I mentioned on my blog about needing more help to raise my personal support, the response was amazing with 3 people committing to support my ministry monthly.
God is good and His people are amazing.
So what about Rebecca? Well she is pretty sick, in a good way I think. The little baby inside her is now nearly 16 weeks old. One of my friends commented on the scan pictures that it is was like a little peanut.. so we have temporarily given the baby this cool name...wee peanut mccready. Needless to say the kids in Rebecca's P5 class think that name is great! Thanks to everyone who is praying for us...and peanut.
Holiday week we are heading away on our holidays. We have been saving up for ages and next Friday we are spending all our pennies as we are heading off to the Carribbean for a week. I will get the mrs to take some pretty pics and I will stick them up here.. So how can we afford a trip like this...good question. We have saved hard for well over a year because we knew that this trip was coming up. We are heading away with Bec's parents. They are celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary and asked us to come with them, I guess due to the distance and our travel experience. Anyway all that to say, I can't wait, I need a break, and this is going to be a great one.
The only bad news I have is that I am missing the last two matches of my rugby season. My team, Grosvenor Stags are top of the league, with only four games left. It has been an amazing year and I am joint top points scorer, which I will probably lose out on due to being away on holiday. Still, I really hope the boys get the wins we need and we secure the title.
Sorry for the gap in my blogging...I will try to get back into the swing of things.