Monday, 19 March 2007


As St Patrick's Bank holiday is today (the actual St Patrick's day being the 17th) I thought I would dedicate this blog to the Irish saint. He was fearless , humble and like Paul before him motivated by Christ. Be inspired also by 'his shield' which is included at the end and also hit the link to read his full Confession. It is not long and will be well worth the effort. He was one Brit who came over to this island to do good and must surely be Ireland's best loved Brit.

"Before I was humiliated I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall.

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.

I am Patrick, a sinner, most uncultivated and least of all the faithful and despised in the eyes of many. If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen, even though they may despise me.

If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me. No one should ever say that it was my ignorance if I did or showed forth anything however small according to God's good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be thought, that - as is the perfect truth - it was the gift of God.

I was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people---and deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep His commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought over us the wrath of his anger and scattered us among many nations, even unto the utmost part of the earth, where now my littleness is placed among strangers.

And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son.

But after I came to Ireland---every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed---the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; and I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me---as I now see, because the spirit within me was then fervent.

That which I have set out in Latin is not my words but the words of God and of apostles and prophets, who of course have never lied. He who believes shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be damned. God has spoken.

I pray those who believe and fear God, whosoever deigns to look at or receive this writing which Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, has composed in Ireland, that no one should ever say that it was my ignorance if I did or showed forth anything however small according to God's good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be thought, that---as is the perfect truth---it was the gift of God. This is my confession before I die'.

Attributed to St. Patrick and paraphrased by Cecil Frances Alexander

I bind unto myself today the strong name of the trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, the One in Three.
I bind this day to me forever by power of faith Christ's incarnation,
his baptism in the Jordan river,
his death on the cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb,
his riding up the heavenly way,
his coming at the day of doom I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch,
his might to stay,
his ear to harken to my need,
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide,
his shield to ward,
the Word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me;
Christ to comfort and restore me;
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three,
of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word;
praise to the God of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Friday, 16 March 2007


After being told by Michael Wardlow of the Belfast Bible College that Chris Wright had a new book on mission coming out I immediately put in my order to Amazon. It arrived the other day and to say the least it looks most impressive (I've only read the first two chapters!)and without doubt is sure to become his 'Magnum Opus.' This weighty tome entitled ‘The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative’ contains 581 closely argued pages and maintains that equally, the ‘proper way for disciples of the crucified and risen Jesus to read their Scriptures , is (both) messianically and missionally. ( p.30)

Most books on Mission fail to provide an adequate O.T. basis for mission. David Bosch for example in his excellent book ‘Transforming Mission’ gives us little if any. In this book however, Wright ( also a noted OT scholar as well as Missiologist ) goes a long way to rectify this imbalance.

'The Mission of God' is not a light read but should be of great interest to Theologians, missionaries and pastors as well as Theology and Bible students. Chris Wright has also designated that the royalties from this book will go to the worthy charity Langham Literature ( see link).

John Goldingay, the author of 'Old Testament Theology', and professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary writes of it:
"This marvelous book is all I hoped and expected, and more. . . .We are so fortunate to have the mature fruit of a lifetime's reflection on the missional nature of the Bible by this outstanding teacher, scholar and missionary theologian."

I also picked up a few good books at the second hand section of the Evangelical bookshop. The first one entitled 'Conversions' by Kerr and Mulder contains conversion stories of fifty well known Christians including The Apostle Paul, Augustine, Calvin, Pascal, Booth, C.S.Lewis, Merton, Muggeridge and Colson. One particular passage that caught my eye was story of the missionary E. Stanley Jones which was originally taken from his autobiography 'A Song of Ascents.' He writes:

I am an ordinary man doing extraordinary things because I 'm linked with the extraordinary. But apart from this I am very ordinary. And worse. A woman put it this way: 'Apart from the Holy Spirit, Brother Stanley would be a mess.' She was right. But with the Holy Spirit I am not a mess, but a message, for I have a message. This is not boasting. It is witnessing, witnessing to Another. To say anything else would be a false humility which is concealed pride.'

The other book was 'Witness to the world ' edited by David Peterson with contributors from the Oak Hill School of Theology. As the title suggests it deals with how the Church can be an effective witness in the world particularly amidst the rising tide of postmodernity which threatens to engulf the Christian worldview.

Another little book I picked up in a Charity shop was 'Body Facts' published by Dorling Kindersly. It has been a while since I read a book about human biology. In fact the last time was when I was studying A- Level Biology and had to read 'Biology:a Functional Approach' by M.B.V. Roberts.This little book has had the same effect on me as 'Roberts.'
To read again about the wonders of the body was to again fill me with worship for our most amazing Creator. These are some of the facts:

1. The adult human body contains 50 trillion cells.
2.Three billion of the body's cells die every minute: most are renewed.
3.About 10 billion white blood cells are made every day and help fight infection.
4.The average adult has 206 bones.
5. More than half the body's bones are in the hands and feet.
6. Bone is five times stronger than a steel bar of the same weight.
7.The skull contains 22 bones.
8.The body has over 600 skeletal muscles.
9. All the body's nerves laid end to end would measure about 75 km ( 47 miles).
10. Nerve signals can travel at over 400 km/h ( 248 mph).
11.One brain cell can connect with over 25,000 other brain cells.
12.The human eye can detect a lighted candle 1.6km (1 mile away).
13. A person can see up to 10,000 colours.
14. Blood and circulation:The cirulation system contains around 150,000 km ( 93,000 miles) of blood vessels.
15. The heart pumps about 13,640 litres (3,000 gallons) of blood per day.
16.Respiratory Facts:THe lungs contain about 2,400 km (1490 miles) of airways.
17. Each lung has a total surface area of 180 metres squared ( 646 feet squared).
18. Sex and Reproduction: Men's semen contain 300 million sperm.
19.Only 50-150 will reach the egg as it travels down the fallopian tube. Of these only one will fertilise the egg.
20.Do you think you are a loser? WITH ODDS OF 300,000,000 TO 1 AGAINST YOU BEING BORN, YOUR SPERM WON -TO PRODUCE YOU! YOU ARE A WINNER. Winning the lotto would have been far easier!

Be amazed and filled with praise, for we are indeed both fearfully and wonderfully made.

Do you feel down or discouraged or unimportant? You are a living miracle!