Archive for October, 2015

St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography

stpatrickSt. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography

Book by Philip Freeman, published by Simon and Schuster, NY 2004

Most of what we think we know about Patrick of Ireland is myth. He did not drive any snakes out of Ireland. He didn’t use a clover to teach the concept of Trinity. His doctrine was nothing like that of the current Catholic church. He was not even Irish.

But we do have access to Patrick’s real story, contained in letters he wrote over 1500 years ago. Philip Freeman has taken these letters, combined them with the history and archeology of the region and has written a spellbinding biography of the early missionary.

Patrick’s story begins with his abduction at age 15 by Irish pirates in the slave trade, who carried him back to their country and sold him to the highest bidder. Patrick ended up working as a shepherd, alone with is thoughts all day long, far from home and friendless. Like Joseph, those who sold him meant it for evil but God meant it for good. Patrick said:

But it was here in Ireland that God first opened my heart, so that—even though it was a late start—I became aware of my failings and began to turn with my whole heart to the Lord my God.

During his six years in slavery, Patrick was able to learn the language and customs of the people of Ireland. He escaped from his captors, returned home and then, to everyone’s amazement, felt the call of God to return to Ireland as a missionary. He led a long and fruitful life mightily used by God. He closes his Confession with these words:

My final prayer is that all of you who believe in God and respect Him—whoever you may be who read this letter that Patrick the unlearned sinner wrote from Ireland—that none of you will ever say that I in my ignorance did anything for God. You must understand—because it is the truth—that it was all the gift of God.

The full text of Confession and Patrick’s other surviving letter have been translated from Latin and are included in the book, available through the Mid-Continent Library system or from for about $11.00 (paperback).

Book review by Susan Verstrate

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Order of Worship

By Tim Juhnke

Being a creature of habit, I am usually not a big fan of change; but change can be good. Some of you might have noticed that we recently made a few alterations to the order of our worship service. Behind these changes are ardent desires that (in the words of our Philosophy of Worship) seek to “present the glory of God in such a way as to provide a framework for the congregation to respond in worship.” Thus, we want to be Biblical and intentional in everything that we do in our corporate gatherings. The following is a brief explanation of the order of our worship service.

The worship service should actually begin before you are seated. When possible, adequate rest is necessary. I know for some this is a huge challenge because they have to work the night before. But in general, the only thing worse than a sleepy Christian in the worship service is a boring preacher leading the worship service! Furthermore, Christians should arrive to church with sins confessed and heartfelt desires to experience God in the communion of saints. You might be surprised how important those prerequisites are! In ancient days the worship service began with the blast of a ram’s horn that aroused the attention of the worshipper. Our services start with a vigorous song of praise that serves as a call to worship for all the church. Sundays are often bustling with activity and warm chatter, but the call to worship signals that our gathering before God as His people is about to begin. After the call to worship, the congregation is seated. What follows is what I call a necessary (but not necessarily) evil: announcements. Announcements take care of family business, but we endeavor to keep them brief. It is after the announcements that our worship service actually begins. In the past, we simply started singing after announcements, but now the worship service will begin with a pastoral prayer and the reading of Scripture. The portion of Scripture read is almost always the portion of Scripture that will be expounded upon in the preaching service. After the reading of Scripture, our corporate worship in song will commence. By placing the Scripture reading at the beginning of the service, it is our hope that your mind and heart will begin to be prepared for the exposition of that Scripture through the songs and prayers and preaching that follow.

Posted in: Pastor Tim, Worship

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