Moving into March always reminds me of St. Patrick’s Day, which I’m quite a fan of. You could say it’s because I like old Celtic music. March 17th is my birthday, which I always assumed excludes me from having to wear green. But the greater weight here is my love for the man the day is named after, the historical St. Patrick himself.
There are plenty of myths and folklore surrounding Patrick. However, we do know that around 400 AD, he was taken prisoner from Great Britton by Irish raiders and enslaved. Eventually, Patrick returned to Britton after experiencing a Christian awakening and later sensed a call to return to Ireland to share Christ with his captors in the 420s. History tells us that God powerfully used Patrick to lead countless Celts to the love of Christ. The picture we have of Patrick is a man who was profoundly committed to Christ and the people of Ireland. He loved God, and he loved the people.
The fruit of Patrick’s labor has more far-reaching ramifications than most people realize. Church historians note that Patrick ordained the monks who continued to spread the love of Christ, preserve scripture, write, and create monasteries even in Europe. This dedication to Christ held back some of the darkest days following the destruction of the Roman Empire. The historian Herbert Kane observed:
“What is the debt the world owes to primitive Celtic Christianity? The answer is that it produced the greatest missionary effort the world has ever seen; that when Europe was overrun by the barbarian hordes, these wandering Irish saints pushed their settlements right into the heart of European heathendom . . . and not only made possible the Christianization of barbarian Europe, but educated and supplied the greatest teachers down to the time of Charlemagne.” [i]
A hope-filled blessing came to the Western world because of Patrick. But the world and Ireland are different today. Probably around 1% of the Irish people would consider themselves evangelical Christians, and those who side with Catholicism know little more than tradition, even if they practice their faith at all. The Irish people today don’t know the authentic Christ. It saddens me. How can people celebrate a day named after a Saint and know so little of him? It saddens me to think of the people who know so little about the authentic Jesus Christ and all he offers for eternal life and peace.
But yet, Patrick reminds me that there is still hope for Ireland and the globe. St. Patrick’s Day reminds us that one man can make a difference. Patrick’s dedication to Christ and the people changed Ireland and maybe even the world. Patrick trusted Christ and sacrificed to see others come to know the savior who saved him. So, yes, this minor holiday on the calendar reminds me that there is hope.
In conclusion, I’ll leave you with a portion of one of Patrick’s most famous printed prayers. Enjoy and go and do!
“I bind unto myself the Name,
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 Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.”
Kane, Herbert J. A Concise History of the Christian World Mission. Grand Rapids: Baker Bok House. 1982. Pg 38.
I love these videos of Matt Harding dancing around the globe. The videos from 2008 and 2012 are probably my favorites. Below is the clip from 2016 and while I’m not stoked on the tune, I’m still enthralled by the beautiful folks from all over the world. Each video is a reminder of how big God’s creation is and how huge HIS love is for that creation. It is also a clear picture of the ultimate Kingdom of Heaven which is not about geography but people in whose hearts God rules. They are an ever present reminder of Revelation 7 that speaks of not only the present, but the future fulfilled Kingdom where a “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, was standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Also, they are an additional reminder of one of the most famous verse in the Bible; John 3:16 in which Jesus proclaims that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That statement by Christ is such a great proclamation of God’s grace and also the diversity of HIS love. All of mankind is included in the offer to respond this amazing grace. And that, along with Matt’s videos, just makes me smile.
A HUGE thanks goes out to the anonymous folks at C4 who gave us a cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary. I told Ronda, our admin, that I was probably more relaxed after a few days into the sail than I’ve been in 10 years or so. It was a good time to decompress and just celebrate our marriage commitment and also God’s creation. For those who live in the Houston area; the ocean water really does turn blue once you get a few miles out from Galveston. It was incredible to see and experience the colors of the sea, sky, greenery and animals of Cozumel and Progreso.
But beyond that, it was amazing to see the international makeup of the crew on the ship that carried us on our anniversary adventure. I had heard of cruises like this before. The complement of the crew was comprised of people from all over the world. Western and Eastern European nations. Russia and Slavic nations. People from the UK, Australia, and South Africa. Countries from Asia, South America, and other were all represented. (more…)
Many of you know that world evangelism and discipleship holds a huge place in my heart. While Deb and I continue to financially support foreign missionaries and projects, it has actually been over 10 years since I’ve been out of the country. Debi has served on a couple of teaching trips to Honduras over the past few years but I have not used my passport since teaching in Nagaland, India with Australian missionary, Doug Willis back in 2003.
What is God doing in our day around the world? Most of my kingdom work is centered in an American cultural context. But what is God doing beyond the box of Western and American thinking about Christianity? Join us this Sunday at 8p Central as we welcome Dr. Chris DeWelt to the show. We will be looking at God and global Christianity. Chris comes to the discussion with the experience of having lived in the cultural context of Chile for 8 years and has served in close to 80 other countries and cultures. Presently Chris serves as Director and Professor of Intercultural Studies at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Mo.
What is God up to around the world? What does authentic Christianity look like in other countries and cultures around the globe? What is it about authentic Christianity that transcends culture? How can we be involved in God’s work no matter where we are on the earth? Those and many other questions will be part of the discussion Sunday night. Don’t miss this exciting internationally charged live webcast. You are welcome to send in questions ahead of time or you can participate live through our SND Google + page, our SND Face Book page, or through the comment section here. So be sure to plan ahead and grab a friend and we’ll see you tomorrow night.
Back in 2008 a great preacher from Nor Cal introduced me to Matt Harding dancing around the globe and I loved the clip from the get-go. It was a reminder to me of how big and beautiful God’s creation is as seen through diversity and nature. Even now it reminds me of Revelation 7 where the apostle Paul spoke of the future and fulfilled Kingdom where a “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, was standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Today while doing some research I saw that Matt created a new clip for 2012 and I was just as pleased. While I like the music better in the 2008 video, it was cool to see places like Moscow, Helsinki, Manchester, and other spots around the US and the greater globe where I’ve been. Either way, the picture is the same. An awesome God, who created a colorful globe, filled with majestic people, and a profound message of divine love to take be taken to the world over. My, what a wondrous world we live in.
PS, if you could visit any of these places, where would you go and why?