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One question that people love to ask of couples is how they met etc. So after being in a conversation like that today, I thought I'd post on it.

First I have to preface the following with the honest truth that apart from Christ having worked in my heart, I would never have even met Barbara. I grew up quite loyalist (orange) and had somewhat of a deep rooted ... hatred for the south (perhaps hatred is too strong a word, but i can't think of a closer word). Then Jesus saved me. His Word re aligned my thoughts and before i knew it, I'd left the orange, turned completely away from all the trappings of loyalism and was pursuing Christ.

One of the earliest things I remember God really deepening into my soul was to look at others as Being created in the image of God - just like me.
Fallen, sinful and an enemy of God - just like me.
In need of a saviour - just like me.

These make for a good filter to see people through and can reshape how we act and respond to people around us. Anyway, back to the subject at hand - I began going across the border and helping at CEF camps along with a few friends.

The Story Begins
And after a few years doing camps, that's where I met Barbara; at a South Dublin CEF camp, held at Avoca Manor in Wicklow.

I have to say that at that time I was not attracted to her the way I am today, (I'd have been arrested if I had been). I was her Camp leader as she was 15 or 16 at the time, and a camper at her first teen camp.

Flash forward a few years and this young girl had grown into a young lady and was no longer a camper but a camp leader at the CEF camps. I remember being at a re-union for the camp leaders and on the Saturday night looking across the bonfire; I saw this beautiful, amazing girl standing on the other side. The glow from the fire lit up her face and caused my heart to go ablaze along with the fire. She was stunning, long dark hair, eyes blazing with life, a girl so pretty and lovely that at moment it seemed that nothing or no one else was there, she alone captivated me!

Unknown to me, God was moving, and at that same weekend, as I brought a message from the Bible on the Sunday morning, Barbara looked up at me and her heart fluttered!

A few weeks later Barbara's friend text me to ask if I 'ever thought of Babs in a romantic kind of way' and though I hmm'd and Hah'd about answering this, the goddess like vision of beauty that I'd saw across the bonfire that night was seared in my mind, and has remained there to this day.

A month or two went by with a lot of texting and msn'ing (msn was on every night) and our friendship deepend, untill one fateful night our conversation on msn led to my asking "If a guy was going to romance you, how would he best go about it?" and after she answered I simply asked if she fancied such a date with me.

She said 'Yes', and the following Friday came up North with her friend and stayed at another friend's house. That Friday night we went on our date; restaurant, walk, cinema and a weekend in each others company, spending time alone together and with a group of friends.

I'm told that as we walked in Newcastle on the Sunday afternoon with a few friends that I held Barbara's hand, though I have no recollection of such bravery on my behalf, but on Sunday night when I left her off at our friend's house, where she was staying, the ground moved as we kissed. A memorial ought to be placed at the end of the Kerr's driveway saying 'It is here where Gary Boal first Kissed Barbara Felton' (though a million more such memorials could be covering the country since).

[On the Monday Barbara text me to ask if we were 'going out', I had assumed that we now were, but since our culture has so many people casually kiss each other, and with the decline of its meaning in our society I needed to give clarity to her. I have often moarned the fact that the kiss has lost its power and today means nothing.]

She stayed up for 2 more nights after that, nights that saw us talk through the night until we saw the sunrise.

The next few months saw a lot of travel as we dated and courted, her living in South Dublin and I in Hillsborough outside Lisburn. I have much gratitude for the (then) CEF worker in South Dublin, Rodney Moody, who along with His wife, opened their home and give me a place to stay over many weekends, and who encouraged and helped our relationship to grow.
After a while Barbara moved north and we've been together ever since, marrying on June 6th 2005.

Today this, 38 year old enjoys God's favour in a 33 year old, beautiful wife and in an 10 year old son, a 7 year old daughter, a 2 old son, and a 1 year old daughter, and as our wedding anniversary nears (6th June) I can say that I am more in love with her than ever before, constantly amazed that such a 'Proverbs 31' lady would love 'me', and I look forward to spending as many blessed years as God grants, together. And I continually give thanks to God through Christ because "He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the LORD." (Proverbs 18:22)

As a kid I often wondered why the shepherds were invited by the angels to go visit the newly born Jesus.

In the area around Bethlehem the sheep were bred for the purpose of sacrifice in the Temple. Every first born lamb born on these hills under the care of the shepherds were checked for blemish and set apart for the purpose of sacrificial death.
 Luke 2:8 says "in that same region' meaning that these Shepherds were in the same region as Bethlehem.

So these shepherds who had the responsibility of witnessing and setting apart the first born male lambs that were born, were invited to witness the birth of THE LAMB OF GOD.

It's a beautiful touch to Christ's birth.

Many people are currently 'into' angels. If that's you then why not look a little deeper into their origin, what they do, how powerful they are, and even who is in charge of them...

Over the past couple of weeks I've heard quite a few people mention angels.

It's made me think about Tim Millen's series on the world of angels.
I have the transcripts from him for these, but i'm pretty sure there's audio knocking about as well, but i can't find it at the moment.

The World of Angels:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

I was chatting with Simon this morning and one of the passages we talked about was Luke 10:17-20 were the 72 disciples come back to Jesus all pumped up and excited cause they were even casting out demons.
They'd just had a blazing ministry campaign with miracles and signs and they were excited - understanbly so!

Yet Jesus responds by saying:

"Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

Is that enough? Is it enough to have our name down?

The question we had to ask was then; is it enough for us, will we be content to go through life without any blaze of glory or amazing wonders and miracles, so long as our name is written in heaven?

Why am I seeking Christ?
For His earthly benefits or for His Kingdom?

Bang ... Bang ... Bang ... Went the door.

The guy banging at the door was in fancy dress.
Each bang caused a shudder to run through the strong doors. Rather than knocking the door on 31st October this guy had hammer in hand. He was nailing a list to the door.

Bang ... Bang ... Bang ... Went the door.

With the nailing of Martin Luther's 95 Theses of what was wrong with the roman catholic church, not only did the vibrations cause the door to shudder; but the ripple ran right across Europe, and history. Thus the reformation began. Biblical truths such as being saved by faith alone would shine a light on the dark practises of rome.

A huge part of the reformation was the fact that it's leaders and preachers did not want to keep people from reading the Bible for themselves, nor from reading it in their own languages. Where church said that commoners could not have it, reformers handed it out to all who would take it. They did not force it upon people, as the bishops and priests did with catholic doctrine and darkness. But preached Christ and grace and Christ alone!

On 31st October a more important event than halloween took place at a door. Rather than knocking for a gift this young monk came knocking with a gift. The gift of truth!

499 years later I sit here writing this thankful for the reformation of Biblical truths and pray for a revival of them in my own life.