National Ploughing Championship – Ireland

Ploughing has always been a sport between neighboring farmers in Ireland. This sport reached a point in 1931 when two farmers from Kildare and Wexford had an argument over which county had the best ploughmen. As a result the National Ploughing Association was born and the first National Ploughing Championships were held in Athy, Co Kildare, with a total of 40 entries. Not much is known about this first plouging championship, but it is known that Wexford won the county championship with Wicklow and Kilkenny finishing second and third while Edward Jones won the individual title.

Early ploughing competitions were for horse drawn ploughs, and it was not until 1949 that tractor ploughing became part of the competition. Since then the Ploughing Championships have kept pace with the development of machinery and technology of farming equipment. Today the National Ploughing Championship is the largest annual exhibition in Ireland and is run by the National Ploughing Association of Ireland.

Today the National Ploughing Championships attracts crowds in excess of 100,000 people over the three days that make up the event. The location of the championships is changed each year, although in recent years locations have been revisited biannually (2000 & 2002 – Ballacolla, 2004 & 2006 Grangeford). The event needs at minimum of 300 acres to accompany the competition and the huge village of trade stands and livestock exhibitions.

The most successful ploughing champion in Ireland is Marin Kehoe of Co. Wexford who has won the national senior champion no less than 12 times in succession, from 1987 until 1999. The 2007 Ploughing Championship is to be held in Tullamore, Co Offaly and is expected to attract more than 150,000 people over the three days.

Today the championship is on such a scale that nearly 1,000 stalls will be present to showcase machinery, industrial equipment, cars, tools, gadgets, livestock, household items, books, animal feed and fashion among many other things. The event is truly a national event and attracts visitors from all walks of Irish life, and not just the farming community.

When We Agree With God – Part II

If you had the opportunity to learn from anyone in the Bible besides Jesus, whom would you choose? For me and for this season of my life, I would choose the Prophet Elisha. One of the reasons I would choose him is that he himself knew the value of learning from a great man of God. His teacher and mentor was none other than the Prophet Elijah. So hungry was Elisha to learn from this man of God, that even when Elijah seemed to not want him around, Elisha refused to be offended or to lose his opportunity to learn what he desperately needed. How well did Elisha learn? He ended up being used of God to perform twice as many miracles as his mentor. He learned well.

We have an amazing example of a woman who also learned the most valuable lesson in her life. Yet, this time it came through Elisha. Elisha was able to teach her that in order to regain a lost miracle she must “agree” with God no matter how dark the circumstances. Many of us believe that if God has done something for us, especially a miracle there is nothing else we have to do. Yet, that is not only not true but can be a dangerous line of thinking. Let us see what we can glean from this story.

If you recall the passage in 2nd Kings there was a woman who observed that Elisha passed by her house on a regular basis as he traveled to the various places he was called to minister. She also saw that he was often tired and hungry and was moved to do something about it. So she asked her husband if they could put an addition onto their house so that Elisha could come and be refreshed there. Her husband agreed, and they built the room, putting in a bed, a table, and a lamp. Dear one, when we care for those whom God has called to minister to us, it opens up an avenue in our lives that has no limitations.

As Elisha lay on the bed provided for him by this thoughtful man and woman, his heart naturally began to think of what could be done for this precious couple. Let us look now at this unfolding passage:

2 Kings 4:11-13

One day Elisha came by to visit and stopped in to rest in the upper chamber. He told his attendant Gehazi, “Call this Shunammite.” So when he had summoned her, she stood in front of him. Elisha told him, “Ask her, ‘Look how you’ve gone to all this trouble to care for us! What can I do for you?’ “

She responded to Elisha with the statement that she really did not have any needs, and that she did not do this because she was looking for something in return. Yet, the man of God just could not get them off of his mind. He called his servant in and they discussed the couple and what could be done for them. The servant noted that they did not have any children, and when he told it to him, immediately, Elisha knew that is what they wanted the most.

What we learn from this is that sometimes it just seems like our opportunity for our dreams to come to pass has passed us by. Perhaps because it has just been so many years of trying to believe that we no longer have the strength to continue to hold onto them. Perhaps it is because we have made so many mistakes. It may be that we have just failed too often. The point is that God has not forgotten! Further, when we do the right things it opens doors we never dreamed could be available to us.

Elisha calls the woman in, and tells her that this time next year she better be ready because a baby is going to be born in this family that had given up on their dream. What would it be like if God were to reawaken in you or I the most important dream of our life? I believe the word of God teaches us that we are all born with a dream put into our spirit by the Lord himself. Obviously this dream in order to be fulfilled must be refined by the fires of life to remove the selfish and carnal aspect. Still, the dream is there, and it is truly God’s will to rekindle what perhaps seems so impossible.

Let us take a moment here to clarify what I believe is the difference between the dream, and the path the Lord calls us to so that we can accomplish the dream. One of the greatest errors we make is to believe that the path is the dream. No, the path is but the tool God uses to bring the dream to pass. You see the greatest inner drive that has been put into man is to become like God. You and I often confuse the desire for a particular position, job, or opportunity as the “dream.” Yet, how many have achieved their goal for a position of importance, or wealth, or power, yet, have found it to be empty and unsatisfying. No, the inner compass in all of us is to fulfill the original purpose of God. What is that? Let’s look into the book of beginnings and remind ourselves of God’s original purpose for creating man.

Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, to be like us. Let them be masters over the fish in the ocean, the birds that fly, the livestock, everything that crawls on the earth, and over the earth itself!” So God created mankind in his own image; in his own image God created them; he created them male and female.

Perhaps there is no other deception in all of the body of Christ than the one that pursues a recognition, position, or accomplishment at the expense of becoming Christ-like. The story of King Saul is just such a tragedy. It was the purpose of God to form King Saul into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ when Saul was made King. Saul, however, loved the position more than the call to Godly character. How many times have I seen a choice by God’s leaders to choose to protect their position at the expense of their Godly character! I am sure the choice to do this has been done so often that many of us do not even recognize we have done so. Yet, what does the scripture say?

1Samuel 15:23

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.


How can we protect ourselves from ending up like Saul? By coming into agreement with God. I use this word agreement as the Greek word that speaks of a symphony. That is we are in such agreement with God our words, our spirit, and our countenance are all in such unity that our life is sweet, in harmony with the character and nature of our beloved Savior. Let us remember this – the opportunity to come into harmony with the Lord and His nature is greatest when we face the most difficulties in our life.

This is what happened to the woman we were talking about in the beginning of our teaching. She indeed got a great miracle from the Lord. In fact it was the secret desire of her heart that she had even forgotten herself. She received a genuine miracle. Yet, after a few years this child died!

What about your dream? Have you received something wonderful from the Lord and then seen it taken from you in some unbelievable moment of disappointment? It is right here – right at this moment that the test of Godly character comes to us. How will we react, what will we say, and what will we do? This wonderful woman of God had learned from the man of God she had cared for, to be very careful with her words in times of disappointment and crisis.

She had indeed learned from the Prophet that to be like the Lord we must learn to speak like our Lord. She guarded her heart and her tongue. She would only speak a positive word over her situation no matter how hopeless it looked. Oh, how we need to learn the value of this measureless lesson. Dear one, we will never come into, nor hold onto our dream, if we do not know how to come into agreement with God when we face the giant of what seems to be failure and disappointment. Have you not prayed to be like our beloved Lord?

What then does the scripture say?

Hebrews 5:8

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

What did He learn? Obedience! When I first came into the prophetic anointing, I was taught by the Holy Spirit that the most important thing a prophet learns to do is to speak “life” into hopeless situations. That is what Elisha taught this Shunammite woman over the years he was in her home, eating at her table and fellow-shipping with them as he rested in the room they had built for him. We close with her words when she was faced with the greatest difficulty of her life. May we too be so transformed into the character and nature of our dear Lord that we can speak and do the same things when we are faced with utter disappointment.

2 Kings 4:26

Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child? And she answered, it is well.

Dear one, our precious Lord is more interested in you and I becoming more Christ-like than He is in us attaining some opportunity, position, or accomplishment. In fact, it is through the loss of that very dream that the opportunity comes to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives. How will we respond?