2018…..on the Third day

A new year is here.
And it actually is a NEW year.
It’s name is 2018
2018 isn’t like previous years.
It’s different.
On previous “new years” little changes but the date.
Different day, different number, similar life.
2018 means we finally get to walk into our dreams.
Actually it’s more like a stumbling and crawling than walking recently.
I’m sitting here on my bed, and i can’t sleep on the eve of our big move.
Tonight feels like our personal “new years eve”
Tomorrow i get to drive to Cork and move our stuff to where we’re gonna live for the next while.
I’ll tell you why now.

Here’s the short version.
Over the last 5-6 years, specifically the last 3 years, God has been calling us to move to Cork and start a new church.
I say called but to be honest we feel more “summoned” than “called”.
Karen and I had no desire to live in Cork, and both agreed before we got married that we would never live there. Little did we know that God had that purpose on our relationship the last 18 years. Over the last while God has made it crystal clear that we had to sell our home, leave our family, friends, church family, and jobs that we love and entrust it all to Him, and trust Him that he wanted to start a different church that was going to focus on his tangible Presence here in Ireland, starting in Cork.
I wasn’t always a believer.
So the cynical part of me thinks that if God is real then He should be able to be experienced and known. I don’t just believe that. It’s been my personal experience. So much so that I have laid down everything I have known and loved my whole life, and moved somewhere that I didn’t plan to simply because God told us to. Jesus’ disciples dropped their fishing nets and followed Him when he invited them to. I don’t have a fishing net. Just a sale agreed sign in my front garden, no house to buy for a year at least, a letter of resignation for our employers, friends and family who will be sorely missed and 3 sets of eyes to look into and a promise to do my best to look after them. I would never do anything to deliberately hurt my 2 kids or wife. I want to protect them. I want the best for them. Yet I know I have to do this for them as much as it is for me and many others. I need to show them how to risk and obey God and follow what they know is true in their heart, even when it seems like foolishness and madness. I don’t want to teach my kids how to be a coward. Sometimes you have to go all in and actually risk it all.
There’s this great line in the movie “The Greatest Showman” I saw in a trailer recently.
One character says “you’re risking everything you ever built!”
And Hugh Jackman’s character replies “how do you think i built it!”

So in 2 weeks we will be living in Cork. All because God put a dream in my heart, and has faithfully formed it over the last few decades.

As my good friend Jim once put it, “there’s a church in my heart, that if i don’t get to see it in the real world, something inside me will die.”
I grew up not liking church. It was the least favourite part of my week. Funny how things change. God told me when I was 15 he wanted me to lead a church, and at the time I said no way, I don’t want to go myself, let alone be in charge and inflict it on other people.
That was the start of him shaping the church in my heart that i had to see in the real world. I needed to be a part of it.
The church in my heart is so alive and unlike the churches I grew up in.
I don’t want to plant a “church service”, although i have no problem making sure they happen.
It’s just not the goal.
It’s a gathering.
Some people measure the success of the church by the size of the Sunday morning service. I think it’s definitely something to pay attention to and factor in. But there a lots of people who go to church who don’t live like Jesus. There are lots of people who have gym memberships who aren’t fit. Going to church services isn’t a hallmark of spiritual health or being a follower of Jesus.
Jesus said that everyone will know that you are My disciples by your love for one another.
Discipleship at it’s core is learning.
Being a disciple is about learning how to live FROM Jesus, and loving others well.
Discipleship is a better hallmark of being a follower of Jesus, and the “success of a church”.
The church in my heart isn’t just a church service.
It’s a family.
I want to plant a family that loves each other really well, and loves the city by serving it.
I want to plant a family that wants to always leave space for others to join in.
I want to plant a family that want to live a life like Jesus lived, by caring for the poor, healing the sick, and kicking the enemies butt by walking in the power, authority and love of Jesus.
I want to plant a family that follow God’s voice, and follow an actual living person, rather than following a religious faith that has more rules than God.
I want people to experience the presence of God and encounter Him rather than a religion.
I want to plant a family that is not solely focused on getting people into Heaven, but is just as interested in getting Heaven into people’s lives today.
I want to plant a family that want to do life together, and learn how to live better from our Heavenly Father.
I want to plant a family that makes Cork one of the greatest places to live on the planet.
I want to plant a family that helps the local economy, influences local businesses to thrive, and brings the city and it’s people fully alive.
I want to plant a family that is passionate about Ireland experiencing God’s presence and restoration to this land and all who set foot here.
That’s why the church is called Presence Church.
There’s so much more i could say but i don’t want to preach anymore than i have done.
Tomorrow we move a van load of our stuff down to a small and very expensive house we will rent. House prices and rent prices in Cork are almost triple what they are in Belfast. We are still praying for 20 people to have joined us to help plant the church by the summer. If you know anyone interested in visiting, helping or moving for a while, please drop us a message. I firmly believe that there are people who God wants them to come but like us, it isn’t their preference for their life. I know there are people who have a lot to offer and will come more alive themselves if they move to Cork and join in.
I also believe that you don’t need to be called or summoned as powerfully as we were. God gave us those encounters as we are moving there for life.
First ones in and last ones out.
At the end of the day we have to give an account for our life
Sometimes God is silent because if He told us what to do every single time we wouldn’t have to give much of an account.
Sometimes we live by His spirit, but we are also called to live by faith.
God wants to see what we will do with what He as already given us, and said to us.
If no-one else comes by the summer that’s ok.
It won’t be the first time God creates something out of nothing.
When God speaks, His Words can become Worlds as Kris Vallotton says. 

However we don’t just want people to come and help us.
Of course church planting needs people and of course ministry costs money.
Yes we need both, but this is not meant to be an appeal for either.
We would like you pray for us.
Praying is one of the most loving things you can do for someone, because it is so easy to not do it. It costs us time and focus, which is a loving thing to do.
Even if it’s only 30 seconds on the loo or in the car going to work.
If you feel like God speaks to you, or you get word for us, or if you have something to say that will encourage us, please message us.
Encouragement and support is always welcome.
I’m gonna stop rambling now, and get some sleep before we hit the road tomorrow.

In the words of one of my favourite singers, Myles Kennedy……..

‘In the year of the tiger, I won’t weep and moan
Got no time for cooling heels, I’ve got to roam
In the year of the tiger, I’m gonna roll these bones
Gonna leave behind the heartache that I’ve known”

If you’re still reading this, thanks for reading.
This is gonna be a big adventure.
May your year be as big of an adventure as ours 🙂

2 Replies to “2018…..on the Third day”

  1. A true adventure is taking a step into the unknown. But it is only unknown to you. Not to God.
    May your prayers be answered and may the word spread and your congregation flourish.


  2. Wow !!! Amazing testimony of a faithful servant powerful glory to Our Father God . I pray for safe journey for you and your family to my home town and hopefully I’ll get to meet you.
    God Bless


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