Saint Patrick’s day musing: learning from the Faith of the Irish

 Today, 3/17/2012 is Saint Patrick’s day. A day where people celebrate their Irish heritage. This writer does have family who immigrated from Ireland, so the day has some meaning. Yet, the meaning for me does not rest on green beer and alcohol, but rather the roots of the Church in Ireland. There is a lot of history related to Ireland. Now I am not talking about the modern and infamous Protestant and Catholic battles that can easily focus on. The history is not even the legend and stories related to Saint Patrick. Rather, it is the unique elements of the early Church in Ireland and what it should point us to today. It is very worthwhile to examine and explore the early church history of Ireland. Granted, this writer has only viewed a few articles here and there over years and seen varied writings about “Celtic Christianity” but there is a core element that runs through the early Church and Ireland that want to discuss and encourage others to take to heart. Some of these thoughts are triggered by an old article found here: http://www.cslewis.org/journal/hearts-and-minds-aflame-for-christ-irish-monks%e2%80%94a-model-for-making-all-things-new-in-the-21st-century. There are three key elements of the Irish faith that is important for us to learn from: growth focused, other focused, and wholly surrendered. Let’s look at each area briefly.

 The early church in Ireland stressed growth with a balance of both knowledge and spiritual.  The encouraged discipleship. Growth of the whole person. They developed schools, monestaries and varied means of encourage growth in relating to God and growing in knowledge.  Ignorance was not tolerated. In order for people to grow in truth they needed to learn, so people were taught through a variety of means. Growth was not just limited to education either as creativity was embraced and used to spread and teach the truth. The just not teach things from a growth in knowledge standpoint but encourage over all growth. They truly embraced Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. This focus should encourage us to each continue to learn and grow much like the early Irish Church.

The second area to examine is that the early Irish Church was other focused. They engage others. It starts with Saint Patrick who is rumored to have brought the whole Island of Ireland to be disciples of Jesus. Now, while that is interesting piece of legend, those reach in Ireland were reached because of actions Patrick took to share God’s love with others. The same is true for Columban, who brought the Gospel from Ireland to England and beyond. The Gospel spread greatly because of early Irish Christians. They lived not to hold back but to share and give to others. They did so by word and deed. They created great works that spread. Even the Hymn “Be Thou My Vision” has Irish history. The used the gifts they had and created whatever God put on their heart, by it for a few, or be a reach of many. They gave of themselves to others. Too often in today’s church the focus becomes on what is good for self and what makes me comfortable in the world we live in. We want the world to shape to what makes us comfortable. The early Irish Church impacted the world by engaging with the Gospel and living fully as salt and light. It is a challenge to us to be that engaging and not dependent on what others give, but to give what we have to give to reach others.

The third area is that of a while surrender. The early Irish church recognized that whole submission to God was vital. They gave of all. They even often pursued a “Green martyrdom” of giving up all of self. They encouraged the fully giving of all not just for the purposes of self, but to reach and touch others. A relationship with God was considered, that a relationship involving the whole person with total commitment. In terms of what is best for the whole person, it all stopped and started with growth in knowledge of God. As one grew deeper in knowing God, one also grew in experience of God’s love. As that grew, in turn it flowed to those with whom they interacted. That love built great passion for God and others and that passion was seen in their expressions of music and art. Today, we settle for “good enough” and too often simply lean on the works of others. We sing songs with passion, but do we create? We recycle what others have done, but how much of gifts and self do we give? Do we have limits, do we give all that God asks of us? These are things the example of many of the early Irish Church pushes us to examine.

Admittedly, the early Irish church was not perfect and there are elements of what they said and did that are flawed, for we are all but just a part with limits that skewed by our own minds and imaginations. The early Irish Church though did not shrink back. They advanced the Gospel. They encouraged growth with actions that impacted others with a passionate whole surrender to God. This is the Faith of The Irish that should impact each of use today.

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Freedom House UPDATE: Progress and Praise but Urgent Funds Needed

    Well first the good news, the approval has been granted for 14 beds in the two facilities and the proper zoning to get funding. So the green-light has been given to get things off the ground for the Kingdom Pathways facilities known as freedom house; this was aided by a Property and Zoning Lawyer Mark Theiroff who offered assistance pro-bono. This has had a difficult start and long process of getting through approval and red tape. The owner and found Jim Michaud and his family have given everything to keep things going during the past year. They have nothing more to give. Let me highlight the intent of the program and ministry.

The facility are board and lodge residential facility providing Christ-centered treatment to homeless men who have substance abuse issues. Christian principles and building of personal mental health skills are part of the treatment approach. The program seeks to draw from churches in the area to connect with these individuals. It is something I have committed my time and resources to helping once underway and have prayerfully served on the board of directors during the past year. This outreach is long needed and brings together a variety of people. This facility serves the Frogtown area of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Personally, I have known Jim Michaud and his family for many years and there is a reason God put us together for me to have a chance to help these individuals and staff. Jim has taken up and given all they have to the poor. They have no further resources to give of their own. Now they need assistance from others. It was harder to ask for money for them when going through the bureaucratic red tape. So now is a critical and awesome time. The red-tape is finished and now resources are needed. I will share the breakdown of what is needed but the amount of resources needed for January and February is $17,500. Please prayerfully seek God about what you might be able to give to this ministry. Consider even having Jim Michaud come speak to your church in MN about this opportunity. Also please pass this on to other people or print it off and provide it to them.

Here is the breakdown of the $17,500 provided by Executive Director, Jim Michaud:

One Time Expenses:

* Board and Lodge License Fees: $1,450

* Commercial Dishwasher Purchase and Install: $4000

* Commercial Sink Purchase and Install: $1000

* General and Professional Liability Insurance Down Payment: $700

 

Monthly Expenses: (Need Help with January and February)

* 426 Oxford Mortgage: $2,200

* 1038 Aurora Mortgage: $1,400

* Debt Payments: $1,100

* Household Insurance for both properties: $240

* Gas and Electric for both properties: $925

* Phones and Faxs: $240

* Trash for both properties: $120

* Water for both properties: $260

* Comcast for both properties: $229

* General and Professional Liability Insurance: $150

PLEASE, help us with these interim costs. Feel free to send this to any and all you feel led to send this to. We NEED your help. All payments will be tax deductable, reported to, and reviewed by the Freedom

House managing board shown on the website. Donations can be made on-line at http://www.KingdomPathways.org, or sent to Kingdom Pathways, PO Box 4125, St. Paul, MN 55104.

 

You can contact the ministry owner at:

Rev. Jim Michaud

Exec. Director, Kingdom Pathways, 501(c)(3)

http://www.KingdomPathways.org

Ph: 651-387-8393

Fax: 763-862-5336

 

Thanks for your consideration. Feel free to contact me if have any questions or as feel led.

 

 

Musings on the New Year: Digging Deep and Advancing

Well 2010 has came and went and 2011 is now here and under way. For me there are two words that have been resonating and seem central to what God is doing in my life. These words started even back during Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year but seem to be at an apex. The two words are deep deeper and advance. For me these are key to whatever change is coming in the year to come. For all those that read this blog want to challenge you do the same.

Now granted, some of you may be thinking “Um, Tim, your articles and musing can already get deep enough, you encourage going deeper?” Well, the answer is absolutely, for no matter the appearance of depth, compared to the greatness and awesomeness of God the depth is still shallow. Going deeper involves letting God’s truth sink to the depths of my heart and soul. It is drawing deeply from living water. It is being root and grounded at a deep level on God’s word and truth. No matter where we are there is more depth to be found. Take a quick look at Luke 6:48 (ESV)
he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
In all my time going over the verse, talking about it, even teaching on it the “dug deep” part is missed. We focus on the rock versus sand, but the rock is down “deep.” Here is the reality, sound and sure faith is one that is deep, for there is support and surety in depth. Whatever we do, whatever fruit we hope for, whatever may be ahead is only sure by becoming deeply immersed in God’s truth. So ask the Lord God to show you ways to grow deeper.

The other word that comes to my mind is advance, moving forward. This is key for me for there is much ahead. The past year was one of a lot of preparation complete with assorted trials in my life and those around me. But God calls not just to prepare and passively sit by. He does not call us to dig deep and rest. He calls us to move ahead, move forward. Again with the thoughts of advance, God leads me to some other words of Jesus in Matthew 11:12 (ESV)
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. These words perhaps lose significant in the English for we may think in the terms of physical violence and force of will. But if you take time to consider the words, it really speaks to an intensity of moving forward and grabbing hold of that which God sets before us. It is true for walking into God’s kingdom and true for our moving about in the areas God directs us to engage. One way to put the phrase may be the Kingdom of heaven is “Wild” and those energized will seek to seize it. This involves no sitting passively by, it involves energy to grab hold of that which God puts forth, which is not predictable. Now scripture is filled with many action words and directions that entail the seizing such as “reap, sew, love, rise up, take up” and so on. This is a concept beyond “Carpe Diem” of seizing the day. God does call us to live in the moment, but the moment is saturated in Him and His will. And here is the deal, in the moving forward, in the advancing we need one another. We need support and encouragement. For it is easy to get twisted and deceived and there are many traps and we need others to speak us the truth and help us back on the path when we could no longer “grasp hold” and go flailing about on our own way.

My hope and prayer as you read these thoughts is God stirs in you awareness of areas to dig deeper and move ahead. Also please do feel free to check in with me related to my digger deeper and advancing. The starting point is what is God stirring in you. It is a new year, new day, new chapter, and a new beginning. Let God move you deeper and then seize what God has before you and then buckle up, for serving God is always a wild ride.

Christian Creativity: Sand Art- The Passion by Joe Castillo

Just learned of some Christians using the medium of sand art.  I once saw a video of sand art before and found it interesting but empty as it wasn’t being used to point to Jesus.  I did not look around at that time to see if anyone was using the medium to point to Jesus.  Joe Castillo is one such artist. Will post other videos at another point and time but wanted to highlight this one.  It also should encourage all to use your gifts in a way that points to Jesus to build His Kingdom.

Guest Commentary: The Gate called Beautiful by Meg

Recently one of the contributors on the forum made a post that is challenging. This post points toward the looking toward appearance and failing to get to the heart of those hurting  and lost in darkness.  These words should be challenging to us all. Also remember it is Jesus who went after those outside this gate, the prostitutes and tax collectors.  So take time and read the commentary and let the Holy Spirit speak to you regarding the content.

It seems to me there is a gate on the American church called Beautiful. Its a gate gilded with money and success. It is all too easy to hide behind that gate and pretend that nothing on the outside of that gate matters. It seems to me that everything outside the gate called Beautiful is either too dangerous or too unattractive to look at closely. Or maybe its just too expensive; after all, these days time is money.
I knew a woman in 2006 whose daughter died of a drug overdose right here in the Bible Belt. That young woman was just outside the gate called Beautiful! Right outside!!! Her mother knew it, but there was nothing she could do to stop it, because she too was trapped outside the gate called Beautiful. My best friend died outside the gate called Beautiful. He never knew he had a choice. He thought God was a slot machine, nothing but random chance, and he got dealt the losing hand, he really thought that, and that horrifically mistaken impression killed him — slowly. I had the front row seat in that horror movie. That was one of the wounds I never thought could heal… It literally took an act of God to heal that one.

It seems to me that the church has decided that unless someone is getting paid to do something that nothing is going to get done. Since money is so important, they spend quite a bit of it to build impressive sanctuaries that attract money to pay the staff to “do something”, then they build a gate called “Beautiful” to keep the ugliness tightly shut out. Its safe in there, and it is beautiful; the money insists on that, because everybody knows that poverty kills, so therefore the lie becomes true, and the prosperity gospel becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy with a great deal of credibility.

Doesn’t the dying matter??? I see it every day, the people who live behind the gate called Beautiful singing “Blessed To Be A Blessing” while they turn their backs on everything they don’t want to see. And its so convenient how everyone they don’t want to see find somewhere else to die. Cemeteries are very quiet places by nature, where death is hidden under the soil easily forgotten. The wealthy are so easy to look at that it is equally easy to turn away from anything that doesn’t fit inside the gate called “Beautiful”. They justify themselves with ministries to the homeless, who they cannot ignore, but its the people trapped behind the gate called “Almost” who are doing the real dying. They are the people who are easily ignored. They are the people who are pointedly ignored. They would rather work than steal, they work cheap and are easily replaced, and easily exploited as well. They neither cost much money nor cause much trouble, so the existence of the working underclass is both useful and easily taken for granted.

Turning your back is effortless. Nothing could be more visibly important than success, so it makes perfect sense to pour all their time and energy into creating more success. Nothing could be easier than failure, all they haver to do is stop trying, and since anything easy is cheap, and anything cheap is plentiful, hell is filling up fast, and anyone who doesn’t measure up is expendable. Right outside the gate called “Beautiful”…

We are fearfully and wonderfully made: Laminin bears witness!

Recently learned of a molecule in the body that holds things together.  This molecule is Laminin and it is amazing evidence of design and a creator and corresponds even with scripture.  This little molecule, the “glue” that holds things together is in the shape of a cross. The Bible in Romans 1:20 (ESV) states: For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  In Colossians 1:16, 17 ties nicely to Laminin as the verses state: For by him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold togetherIt is amazing because the Bible also refers to “the church” as a whole as the “Body of Christ.”  Amazing is it not that in our body the molecule that holds things together is shaped like a cross.  The same is true for the church. We have many thoughts, disagreements, and understandings sometimes shaped around our place in the body of Christ, but it is the work of the Cross that holds us together.  It is Jesus paying the price to set us free, without that we are all nothing.  Without Jesus the best any of us can hope for is simple coexistence.  Yet, God has left evidence pointing to his divine Creation and his ultimate act of love.  Now, skeptics and unbelievers may look at this and scoff. They may pass it off as people reading religious meaning into things that simply exist.  Many will consider this to be like seeing an image of someone famous in varied sorts of food. Yet, this in and of itself is “evidence” in creation pointing to the creator, but not only that but to the truth of the divine act of Jesus to die so that all that turn to Him may be set free.  Take time and watch the Video clip from Louie Giglio giving a presentation on Laminin. 

Haiti Days of Prayer and Repentance

 Received this via Andrew Strom’s email list. 

AMAZING MIRACLE in HAITI

Jerry Miel is a radio engineer who served as a
missionary in Haiti with World Team mission when we lived there.
He worked with the Christian station, Radio Lumiere (Radio Light).
He has gone back to Haiti to help in the aftermath of the earthquake
and makes these important observations. — Boxley

AN INCREDIBLE DAY in the HISTORY OF HAITI
-by Jerry Miel (Feb 17). (actually per this blog article: http://haitiinhishands.blogspot.com/2010/02/incredible-day-in-history-of-haiti.html the article was written on February 12th.)

I think that I will remember this day as one of the most significant
in my life, not because of what I did, but for it’s meaning…

Today was the one month anniversary of the great Haitian earthquake.

About 3 days ago the Haitian President announced that there
would be 3 days of holiday from work for the purpose of fasting
and prayer.  This is absolutely historic.  If you have ever been in
Haiti as a visitor or missionary, could you ever have imagined
such a pronouncement? Could you image such an announcement
from the U.S. President?  This morning I saw a young Haitian-
American woman, the leader of a work team, crying because the
Americans could not understand the incredible importance of this
day and wanted to go about business as usual. Remember, it was
only about 6 years ago that a former Haitian president called the
nation to come together to rededicate the nation to Satan.

This was not “a minute of silence for the deceased” or something
as equally insignificant.  Whatever the President might have
originally intended, this became a real commitment for the Haitian
people.  As I sit here this evening, I can hear the preaching coming
from a nearby church.  Services have been going on all day…

Let me tell you what I saw and felt today.

Peniel and I had planned an inspection trip up to the Artibonite
Valley today. Right or wrong, I don’t really know, but since it was
the only opportunity, we went ahead with the trip.  As we left the
guest house about 7:30 am, we were met by throngs of well
dressed people headed to various churches.  The sounds of
Christian music and worship filled the air everywhere.  The next
observation was that there was NO traffic. Port-au-Prince streets
are always clogged and overflowing with bumper to bumper traffic.
This morning there were only a few vehicles on the roads, a few
small buses (tap taps), some UN and military vehicles, and a few
private cars.  We had clear sailing through town.  The same was
true of foot traffic.  Usually the streets are clogged also with
people walking.  Today there were only a few and many of them
dressed for church.  The only place that there were traffic blocks
was in front of several churches where the congregations had
overflowed the buildings and the yards and had moved out into
the streets as well.

The next observation was that EVERYTHING was closed!  We
could not find even one business or gas station open.  There were
no intercity buses running.  Whereas the sidewalks are usually
overflowing with millions of street venders, we only saw a few here
and there.  The huge outdoor market near the wharf where
thousands work each day and is  spread out to cover most of the
street, was EMPTY.

Where were all the people?  They were in churches and makeshift
meeting sites. Every church (except a JW church) had services
going on, almost always overflowing into the streets.  Beside
broken down churches, services were taking place outside.  In
homeless camps, there were services.  Everywhere the nation was
gathered to worship and pray.  No, I did not see any voodoo,
Islamic, or Buddhist services.  This scene was repeated in every
town and hamlet that we passed during the day.

Tonight, Pastor Ignace, who is sharing the room with me, asked
this question: “Can people still say that Haiti is a voodoo country?”
What has been happening and is continuing to happen in Haiti did
not happen because of the earthquake. It has been happening
because the Haitian people know how to pray. This is a tremendous
outpouring of God’s power as the result of prayer.  Twenty years
ago I started praying for the Gospel to change the Haitian culture.
I think that I am seeing God do that work.

The only sadness that I feel today is for our nation.  While a nation that has long been under Satan’s domination is turning to God with total commitment, our nation, founded on Godly values has rejected God and rapidly trying to forget that his name even exists.  Let us pray for revival.

4-MIN VIDEO of HAITI DAYS of PRAYER-