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Archive for August, 2008

spark 08

Posted by rickhill on August 11, 2008

began today!!

really positive start. beautiful to see over 200 young volunteers get stuck into action in 7 areas across the town. many projects underway and lots of communities to impact in positive ways.

photos to follow…

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Fuel 08

Posted by rickhill on August 9, 2008

In partnership with atiG Events and Ballymena Borough Council we are excited to bring “Fuel 08” to Ballymena …a one day festival of music and activities to be held at the Ecos Centre on 16th August 2008.

Fuel 08 will bring together some of the best of both international and local artists and the plan is to use it as a celebration concert for the whole community to mark the end of the week of Spark and Deepfish.

The main stage artists confirmed so far include Starfield, Onehundredhours and The Johnny Parks Band. In addition to the main stage, other entertainment will include an Acoustic Cafe and a Rock Tent (providing a showcase for up and coming local bands), a photographic art exhibition, and various seminars in the Ecos Centre. Admission to the event is free.

We are really excited about having the opportunity to have this type of an event in Ballymena…the potential is huge so can we encourage you all to be praying for it, asking God to use it to build His kingdom in Ballymena.

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spark prayer journey #5 – naive grace

Posted by sarah hill on August 8, 2008

Today I want to share a little from a book I read a few years ago, but this particular chapter has always stuck with me…the wonders of God’s grace just blow me away as I think about all he has given me the freedom to have and do despite what I’ve done.

“A few years ago I asked some friends if they would have their two-year-old daughter, Alana, colour me a page out of her colouring book. When Alana coloured, she never worried about lines, realism or symmetry. It never occurred to her hat something could be wrong with her work. Alana coloured the page, and she brought it to me just before the Sunday morning worship service.

She was very proud and excited, anxious for my response. I did respond, in the same manner i imagine most of us would respond: I lied.

“Oh, Alana, thank you for this beautiful drawing. It must have taken you a long time and it’s very special. Thank you again.”

Of course, part of me was thinking, This is terrible. Is red the only colour you could use? How about yellow?  Blue?  Green?  None of your strokes are even close to being within the lines. What’s the matter with you?  Take this back and draw it again-only do it right this time!

But i couldn’t criticize Alana, in part because she exhibited grace, he grace of a child who knows it’s ok to colour outside the lines.  Was she naive?  Sure.

Most of my life I heard the message loud and clear that Christianity was all about colouring within the lines and colouring well. If I was a good Christian, if I loved Jesus and wanted to please Him, if I read my bible, prayed, and went to church, then I would get better and better at colouring. And if i lived a long and godly life, I would eventually be able to draw close to the perfect drawing.

Wherever that message came from, it was a lie. I am fifty-five years old, and my colouring still looks like Alana’s.

I believe God looks at my colouring and says, “Hummmm. You certainly like the colour green! Lots of passion in this stroke. I like it.”

Even as I write those words, i can hear the concern of those who worry about others misunderstanding the gospel. “You’re not suggesting, are you that nothing matters to God? Certainly, God has standards.”

What I am suggesting is that God’s grace is so outside the lines o our understanding that we can only stand in awe and wonder. Christianity is not about learning to live within the lines; Christianity is about the joy of colouring. He grace of God is preposterous enough to accept as beautiful a colouring that anyone else would reject as ugly.”

– Taken from Mike Yaconelli’s “Dangerous Wonder.”

What an awesome freedom we have in Christ, free from constraints of sin thanks to his death for us. Today let’s thank God for the freedom he has given us in his son and the grace he has for us in it. As we look ahead to tomorrow-the start of Spark ’08, pray that God will show you the full freedom you have in him, that you will feel completely yourself as you serve him on the streets, free to do exactly as he has planned.

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spark prayer journey #4 – your prayers

Posted by rickhill on August 8, 2008

okay, enough of us being the ones who are doing all the praying, today it’s your turn!!

so what are the things you want to pray about in regards to Spark 08? what do you have on your mind and heart that you want to give over to God?

why not put your own prayers up on this blog by leaving a comment below? it’s that simple!

it’s over to you – go for it!!

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spark prayer journey #3 – hope

Posted by rickhill on August 7, 2008

each morning at spark, before we go to our individual areas and projects, we are gathering together as one huge collection of people to take time to meet together, pray together, laugh together, worship together and get involved in God’s word together.

last year, many of you commented on how these times were one of the highlights of your week, and we’re hoping the same applies this year. and so today we want to pause and pray for these morning gatherings.

the theme we are focusing on this year is ‘HOPE’. hope is a word that’s been used so much in our country over the past year or so. we’ve had the hugely successful ‘celebration of hope’, as well as numerous events, initiatives, books, songs and cds called hope. it’s kinda been the buzz word!

when thinking about Spark 08, it seems that Hope is the word which best describes what we’re wanting to bring to Ballymena.

Hope as we cut people’s gardens. Hope as we help those who feel helpless. Hope as we pick up litter on the streets. Hope as we chat with residents about what were doing. Hope as we play with kids who few friends. Hope as we pray for those we’ve just encountered. Hope as we invite young people to events. Hope as we share our own stories. Hope as we worship together each morning. Hope as we encourage churches.

and so, much more than a cliche or a nice phrase, we want Hope to be a living reality in Ballymena next week. because Hope is more than a word. Hope is a Person and His name is Jesus.

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prayer journey #2 – look around

Posted by sarah hill on August 5, 2008

Sometimes i think it’s so easy for us to slip into the mindset that God only does big things and only changes lives in miraculous ways in far flung places….places you’ve travelled to on the back of a minibus down hundreds of miles of dirt track under the blistering sun to some tribal community.  That’s where God works, not sleepy little Ballymena in comfortable Northern Ireland.

Yet our God is that same God, the God of the universe, beyond our earthly minded limitations…He does far more in Ballymena than we’ll ever see and has been here for centuries. So often we may as well drift through everyday life with our eyes closed and ear plugs in, we’re not really expecting anything to happen here.  We focus on the obvious things of life, not really searching for God’s presence in every moment.

i was challenged recently by this passage from Mark where Jesus speaks to His disciples about the yeast of the Pharisees.  Here’s a key few verses,

“You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?  Don’t you remember anything at all?  What about the five thousand men I fed with five loaves of bread?  How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?”

“Twelve,” they said.  “And when I fed the four thousand with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” “Seven,” they said.  “Don’t you understand even yet?” he asked them.

Let’s not be like the disciples as prepare for next week.  We believe in a God who powerfully acts, everywhere on his earth.  Let’s ask Him in our prayers today to show us how He is already working in peoples’ lives in our own town.  Let’s not be so rooted on the physical practicalities of Spark that we can’t see the spiritual truths.

Let’s be open to the ways of God, ask Him today to reveal ways that you can join Him in the work He is already doing. Watch closely for places God is, if we ask expectantly He will reveal Himself in Harryville…in Dunclug….n Fisherwick…on the Doury Road…in Ballykeel…in Ballee…in the Town centre and in Demesne.

Open our eyes and ears today to see God at work, He’s already there.

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prayer journey #1 – what are you bringing with you?

Posted by sarah hill on August 4, 2008

Well here we are, just under a week until Spark 08 hits the streets of Ballymena.  Hundreds of God’s young people flooding the streets in service of their king, sweeping, weeding, chatting, laughing to show people Jesus.

It all sounds so exciting, the potential housed in this week is phenomenal but it’s up to us, the volunteers, to be totally available and willing for God to use us and send us wherever he wishes.

How are you feeling right now with God, have you talked to him today?

I know that during the summer it can be hard to maintain regular times with God I suppose it’s partly due to the lack of routine in life or maybe I just wind down and get a bit lazy.  Yet the calls us in Hebrews,

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run…” Hebrews 12 v1

As we enter next week it’s vital that we’ve talked to God and off loaded the burdens we’re carrying.  The worries of friends, the stresses of work, our attitudes, our habits or even anxieties about our relationship with God himself.

It would be foolish to try to enter an exhausting, trying race carrying extra weight.  Clearly you wouldn’t do as well…so let’s take that same attitude to Spark.

Today let us bring these hindrances to God, throw them off at his feet so that we can be totally focused on progressing towards our goal of serving in Spark next week. Seeing people come to know our Saviour.

…it’s as simple as that, no strings or baggage attached, just us and our Father walking hand in hand as we enter the week.

Today let’s seek our true freedom in God.

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