Thursday, 6 December 2007
Visited Waffle House, Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Sweet Tomato. Perfect day!
Tomorrow we fly home leaving here at 3pm ish.
My honest thoughts on the whole experience would be unprofessional to put here.
With the exception of one person on our whole visit we have been made very welcome and treated extremely well - even by people who don't know us. In that sense we've been left with a very positive view of the "south".
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
Here's the set list.
Smitty was on top form and looked completely relaxed as usual. Off stage he was amiable and approachable as well. It was truly a pleasure to be here and share this musical event. Here's a little medley...
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
Wednesday 28th November
So, arrived in
Thursday 29th November
Drove up to
About 2400 seater probably and pretty well sold out. It became apparent as soon as we arrived that something was amiss. It first became evident when Mac nearly dropped his mic during rehearsal when he saw me.
He has no idea that we were coming. Then one by one we heard the same from Tai, Mark, Brad and David.
The gig was interesting but not riveting, Jars of Clay did all Christmas stuff. Dan has an amazing voice.
The whole “we’re here” thing was rather embarrassing for both them and us, Mac tried to work a few things out as he felt bad about what had happened, but we just went back to our hotel and told him not to worry.
Friday 30th November
We drove quite a bit North of Rome to
The gig here was in a University Arena which seated 6000, probably sold 4500. Good gig and a new song which Brad had written about his adopted baby daughter from
Said a genuine goodbye to the guys after the gig and back to the hotel.
Saturday 1st December
Drove down into
Sunday 2nd December
Elvis Day! We did
His airplane was cool and his cars amazing.
Long live the King!
Monday 4th December
We drove most of the day and ended up in Sulphur Springs near
and had the meal of the trip. Amazing for £5.50!
Tuesday 5th December
Arrived at the Meyerson Symphony Hall to see Smitty. Got a VERY warm welcome from everyone. He’s touring with special guests Melinda Doolittle from American Idol and CCM band the Katinas.
Sound check sounds amazing
and I’m really looking forward to tonights gig. Just need to find a hotel that doesn’t cost the earth…..
Monday, 1 October 2007
Saturday, 8 September 2007
Next day, Dog warden came back. Same again. Now way!, I thought. But then the Dog Warden goes to pet Sue and guess what? Sue snarls at her! I couldn't believe it! And what a person to choose to snarl at - the bleeding Dog Warden!
Yesterday - you guessed it - dog warden's here again. I'm getting worried. Today some of my young staff turn up to get the stuff they need for their job - one goes to pet Sue - Sue tries to bite her. Long story short, in two hours Sue is going to disappear. Breaks my heart to have to do it, but I've no choice. And it makes me really sad to have to take her away. Years of memories gone just like that.
Then I was reading Google news as I do every day. And the Maddy McCann thing is all over the news at the moment. What must those poor parents be going through..... they lost their child - not just their dog.......
As I click through pages about Maddy I come across the story of Morgan Nick.
You've probably never heard of her unless you live in the USA. But Morgan disappeared 11 years ago just like Maddy did. And she's never been found. Google her name and read about her. Put her name in Youtube and watch her video. Ironically the music behind the video is Smitty.
It's really made me think about the plight of missing, abducted and slave children yet again. This world can inflict so much pain on some people, pain that must be all nigh impossible to bear.
I'm gonna miss Sue tonight when she's gone. But I'm gonna hug my kids just that little bit tighter...
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
The prices of things here are DIRT cheap! We're eatiing out for about £23 for the SEVEN of us! That includes unlimited food and drink! Amazing.
We had Taco Bell tonight for supper - £12 for the 7 of us to eat our fill.
I bought Rob Bell's Nooma videos (17 CD's) - they are about £9 each at home - I bought the full set of 17 for £63!!! And it goes on and on. The weak dollar is making everything so affordable.
Laura collapsed with the heat yesterday - Linzi had to carry her down the slope of the mini-golf course she was on - the heat was just too intense. I had already retired after nine holes(three strokes in the lead at the time of course!). It's been between 36 and 39 every day - just like home. Laura was fine after an hour or two and a bottle of rum (water).
I miss the five Romanian girls who are living in my house in Ireland at the moment - and I think about my little circle of friends all the time too - when I get to a good ride in Universal or somewhere I'll think how much I wish McIntyre was here to see it - or I'll see a big pair of humorous boxers in a shop and they'll remind me of Pete!! And I think of all the times Elaine has been here with us.
But even here I can't get away from thoughts of the Third World. Florida is like the consumption capital of the US (at least it seems that way to me) - everyone here looking out for number one and doing their utmost to have a good time. More restaurants than in the whole of Northern Ireland are within five miles of me I bet, no wonder they have huge arses over here! And we're so close to Haiti and the Dominican Republic - two of the most needy countries on earth. Strange world indeed.
Anyway, tomorrow we will go to Typhoon Lagoon - Disney's best water park. Kids are very excited about it. I can never stabd the heat so I'll probably leave around lunch and go cruise the Christian bookshop - Boring old Dad!
Sunday, 12 August 2007
A couple of days ago I managed to see Amazing Grace, the movie. And what a movie. Make sure you see it. Funny how names like William Wilberforce conjur up images in your mind of old people dressed in suits and speaking in olde English. At least it always did for me. The movie really blew away those preconceptions and showed how Wilberforce and the Prime Minister of his Day (Pitt I think) were young vibrant men with a mission from God. I've always been interested in slavery because of the modern problems with human slavery and found every minute of the film totally captivating.
One theme which resonated with me when an ill Wilberforce was being encouraged by those around him to slow down and get his health back, but he knew God had called him to a life of challenge and service. I still feel the same way about my own life in many ways but i tell you, I've never been so confused.....
One of the reasons I'm confused is this - I've no idea any more what being a Christian means. All my life (until about 5 years ago) I thought my Northern Ireland Presbyterian (with a little bit of Elim and a heavy dose of brethren mixed in, what a cocktail!!) upbringing was 100% right. Strict rules on do's and don'ts, such a strong bible emphasis, a real evangelical. At 18 I thought I had it sorted. I was as tight as the proverbial duck's arse. But life started to challenge those beliefs. Prayers weren't answered for good people around me. Good people died. The church's I had belonged to had ceased to be a real influence, if they ever had been. Then I read Tony Campolo's "Letters to a young evangelical". He could have written that book for me. It challenged everything i'd ever been taught. And it made perfect sense. It almost left me without a foundation.
Then recently I read Shane Claiborne's first and only book to date. What a challenge. To live literally as Jesus had talked about. To give away everything. To forsake most things that the world offers. (Now may be the right time to tell you that I watched Amazing Grace on the plane to Florida for a family holiday. The guilt that this laid on me I can't begin to tell you. Especially after Shane's book.) How the H£$L am I supposed to figure out what God wants from me? Should I sell my girls two ponies and give the money to Compassion to feed the poor? What if that leads my two precious girls into a life of hanging out with bad mates when they would otherwise have been safe and sound in a good environment and on and on..... Should I not be in Florida where I really get the chance to leave a hectic and stressful life behind? Was that a wrong use of money? I honestly don't know the answers....
Then think of this. I have spent a lot of time recently in Romania. About 25 visits probably in the last few years. And built some amazing friendships and mentored a lot of kids. But recently I've began asking myself just how to explain the gospel to them. What is the gospel? How should they react? Is it really a matter of just saying the sinners prayer and being sorry for what we've done? I'm sorry, but I can't buy that anymore. And I know that would devastate some of my Northern Ireland religious friends. They'd think I've gone all liberal. Which in some ways I have.
Then I start to read Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis. What an amazing book. Read it all in the last two days . Totally broadened my horizons and my mind yet again. But in some ways it seems like yet another viewpoint. Another angle to consider which confuses the issue. But in still another way the whole point of the book is that we SHOULD be really struggling with our faith. We should be asking BIG questions. Because our faith's an alive and vibrant thing which moves and changes and flex's. Sacrilidge to all the Drewe's in Northern Ireland. But I believe true none the less.
So here's what I've decided. I'm in Florida now anyway. So best enjoy it. Best give my wonderful kids the time of their lives. Build memories that will last a lifetime. And read some more books as well. And maybe one day I'll understand. Maybe I'll come back to Florida, maybe I won't. But according to Rob Bell, that day may never come when I truly understand....
Get Rob's book and read it. Go to his Mars Hill church website and download some of his sermons. He has mind-blowing teaching in the book about Heaven. Again, teaching which totally challenges what I've always been taught. After I read it earlier tonight I found myself getting out of my bed, quietly walking to the room where my two boys were fast asleep, and sitting in the dark and smiling at them contentedly. Because I know that God is in control.
I hope this hasn't bored you - but I wanted to share my struggles and questions. How to best live as a Christian challenges me every day. I've learned so much recently about what it does and doesn't mean, yet it's still such a challenge to figure it all out. Sleep calls!
(I'll tell you a bit about Florida tomorrow).
Saturday, 7 July 2007
These little ones need us so much. It just never ceases to amaze me that they come here for a few days every year and crave our love. They live in a world so devoid of it. I thought before this trip that it may be the last but I know once again that it can't be. So many of these kids are like family. And we are the only family they have. This truly is the kingdom of God out here - next year people - either you're all coming here or we're bringing them all over to Pete's house, It's your decision....
Sorry, one more thing. I really haven't felt the need to preach this year. Just to love. To hug, to listen, to be a warm and open human being. And it's benefitted me as much as everyone else.
Friday, 6 July 2007
My back has been killing me for two days - right down at the base of my spine. I don't know if it comes from the hip problem or not - but i've made up my mind to go under the knife again and get my other hip replaced. Too many years of constant pain - so next February it'll be back into Belfast. Then at least I'll know if the back problems stem from there.
Been thinking about Pete - for those of you who don't know he has had a double by-pass last week - so please pray for him.
I finished Shane Claiborne's book yesterday - it really challenged me about wealth, possessions and community. And it made me even more sceptical of Northern Ireland "church" I'm afraid. Like Campolo said, take Jesus teaching in the beatitudes and try to set up an organisation completely opposed to thse beliefs, and you would have the church. I'm jealous in some ways of people who love church - who have that genuine community.
I was reading my mates blog, Gary Smith, http://garyideas.typepad.co.uk/, and it's clear how much he loves his church. Lucky fella.
Another interesting thing he talks abut in one of his posts is Duncan Bannatines encounter with God in Romania (he of the Dragon's Den). Read it, it's fascinating.
He also mentions Bannatines tears out here. I've been in tears a lot myself over the last couple of days - tears of searching and tears of anger at God for the hurt that exists here. Hurt that has no earthly justification.
I started to read Rich Mullin's book yesterday and it drove me to tears as well - he had a similar relationship with his father as I did and I've been told recently that I need to deal with that aspect of my past. When I read the letter that Rich had written to himself as if it were from his Dad, I completely broke. So maybe that's something i SERIOUSLY need to consider.
Anyway, there we are. Broken backs and broken hearts. But thank God I still have a Saviour who was broken too. And who doesn't mind worn out cliches....
Thursday, 5 July 2007
Friday, 29 June 2007
Michael is a genuinely good guy and he does a lot of work for Compassion International, work we will be highlighting on this tour. Just today a new video of Michael in Africa was posted by Compassion - click below to view it.
Monday, 25 June 2007
Sorry to say that Shane Claiborne's community home burned down last week. Shane lost ALL his earthly possessions (he didn't have many) and many of the surrounding families lost their homes.
Click on the simple way website to read about it and see how you can help.
Thursday, 21 June 2007
Is poverty and our response strictly relative? For eight years now I've been involved in Romania, helping out young kids practically, with guidance and hopefully spiritually. It's cost a lot of money, mine and other kind peoples. I've a friend there who spends about £15k per year improving the lives of five severely disabled kids.
But should we be doing that? Wouldn't that money be better spent in South Africa, or Haiti, or Ghana or any one of another 50 countries where lives are on the brink? Where they can't eat, have no homes and don't have water to drink? Or in trying to rescue some of the thousands of human slaves.
Should we just prioritize everything on a basis of strict need? And if we should, should we be spending thousands bringing Franklin Graham to Belfast Odyssey Arena to preach the word to the most evangelised people on the face of the planet? WWJD? Would he have a mission, or would he join Mother Theresa on the front line (if she were still there and not dead!)?
Don't get me wrong, I'm in no way criticising the mission. But this relative need thing it's a very valid question that I think we all have to answer in our own lives. I'm feeling less and less inclined to stay in Romania, feel that I'm now wasting resources of money (and just as importantly time) on children who are not truly in poverty (relatively speaking).
I'd be genuinely interested in your thoughts.....
Friday, 8 June 2007
Thursday, 7 June 2007
I've invited him to Belfast to speak on October 30th in Spires conference centre. And he's accepted thankfully.
Have a look at this interview with him.
Sunday, 3 June 2007
Tonight I took the time to read my boys a story for the first time in....well, I'm embarrassed to say. A simple story about pirates. Then another and another. It was the best time we'd spent together in ages.
No big deep point to make here. Just spend some time with those you love most and be thankful that you have them. Become a pirate for an hour...........
Monday, 28 May 2007
This is the kind of thing that the web is full of. I've spent days lately surfing and trying to understand the world that we live in. But without success. Man's heart truly is evil beyond measure.
I didn't intend to comment - but I have to. While we live lives of affluence and trivia, these kids are abused by the thousands. It's our responsibility as Christians to do something about this. It's not a choice. God didn't put us here to have a picnic. We're to be salt and light to a rotten , corrupt world. Pray that God will break your heart for the world around you.
Sunday, 27 May 2007
I sit here with tears in my eyes, in fact streaming down my face, as I think of things around me.
This adoption thing just won't let me go. I still haven't persuaded Steve Curtis Chapman to change his mind and play Belfast on August 2nd. But I'm trying. So I was reading a bit more background material on him to try to find the key to persuading him.
Anyway, I ended up at his adoption site again. And then I clicked on to a page listing little kids waiting for adoption. Little ready made families for someone, normal little boys who love computer games and normal things. But they have no families.
My mind couldn't help but go to my own two little boys. Daniel's 9 (I think!) and Ryan's 6. Today we wrestled, played the computer and hugged a lot. And we went out for dinner. We had fun. And we laughed. What a cruel world that deprives little children of the joy of parental affection. I can't help but imagine my two boys sitting in a home somewhere waiting.......and hoping.....to be loved. It breaks my heart to even think about it.
Give thanks to God tonight that you have a home. That you have parents who love you. And shed a tear for these little kids who have to keep on waiting and hoping.
The web-site is here.
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Bear with me on this one.... About three weeks ago I agreed to host a gig with Steve Curtis Chapman. Looks now like the gig has fallen through but that neither here nor there.
As sometimes happens, you know the artist and you know a bit about them, but as soon as you sign a concert you go and dig a bit. Find out what makes them tick, who they really are. It soon became obvious that Steve is driven by the issue of adoption. He has adopted three beautiful little chinese girls (see above)
That really got me thinking about adoption and the chance we have to TOTALLY turn around a life in Jesus' name. I was running this over in my mind for a few days but forgot the issue a little when I went to Glasgow with Third Day. After the gig I'm sitting in the Hilton talking to Brad the guitarist and we're discussing flying. He tells me he's just been to Australia, how long it took and so on, Then he tells me that he's taking his whole family to China next month. "Holiday?" I ask. No, going to collect a little girl we've just adopted, he tells me. I could barely hide my excitement for him. And he could barely contain his. So it was back on my "thought" agenda again.
Yesterday I agreed to host Tony Campolo next May in Belfast, with an American artist called Geoff Moore. Went to Geoff's website - guess what? TWO chinese orphan daughters! I think God's telling me something. Here are Geoff's girls....
Geoff points out that adoption is a perfect picture of God's relationship with us. He chose us, he gave us the rights of His children. He adopted us. Should we be prepared to do any less?
Friday, 18 May 2007
Thursday, 17 May 2007
Just finished a couple of dates promoting Third Day in Belfast and Glasgow and joined them on their London show as well. Used Brian Houston as support on both gigs and he was a HUGE success. Well, with most people.
Brian's an edgy character and it's strange how church people don't know where to put people like Brian. They don't have a ready made box for him.
He told me last night that when I was first introduced to him about three years ago, he heard mostly negatives about me. I heard the same about him. And we both heard the negatives from other Christians in the music business. Funny how the first things we hear about people are usually the bad things.
Why don't we try for a week just to talk people up instead of down. To emphasise peoples gifts rather than their shortcomings. That would be good.