Reflections on the Old Methodist Church, Drogheda

October 18, 2021

Having visited this town recently, I noticed once again an old church which had come to my attention previously. No longer used as a church, there was a notice to say that it was currently being used for an art exhibition. Seeing an opportunity to view the interior (which I had never seen before) I strolled in and had an interesting conversation with the caretaker. He was of the opinion that in months to come the church may be going to be turned into retail units, having been purchased by developers some years ago, although the building was listed as being of historical importance and the structure to be maintained.

Many church buildings which were once built to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth have sadly either fallen into disrepair or have been turned into businesses (furniture/restaurants/undertakers/warehouses) and some are even used as homes. I met a lady once who lived in a draughty old church, surrounded by a graveyard!

 Later, on research, what interested me about this particular old church is that Adam Clarke (1762 – 1832) whose Bible commentaries I consult) laid its cornerstone in 1811. It is interesting to note that the laying of the foundation stone would have taken place just a year after the publication of his commentary. The ground floor was apparently used as a Sunday school and the upper floor for worship, while a hundred years later in 1911 the building was renovated and improved.

With dwindling numbers attending, the closing services were held in 1963 and the building as well as the manse were sold to a member (C.E. Wilde) in 1965 for £4,000. Adam Clarke, as he laid that cornerstone in 1811, would have shaken his head in sorrow if he could have seen future events…

Twentieth century life was to see two world wars and then a decadence in spiritual life, with ecumenism, apostasy and materialism taking their toll. As for the twenty first century, there is more of the same spiritual decadence as well as total lack of respect for the Lord’s Day. I wonder what Adam Clarke would think today if he took a stroll down one of this town’s streets on a Sunday morning?

Yes, church buildings are falling into disrepair and of those that stand intact, many are being used more like social or entertainment outlets – but God is still on the throne and concerning His living, breathing Church consisting of those (the remnant) who love and follow Him – the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16v18)

Despite what many would have us believe about Matthew 16v18, that Rock was Christ and the “Church” are those who have been born again of the Spirit of God. Paul speaks of Moses and the believers of that day… that they “did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1Corinththians 10v4)

Buildings will fall, all around is change and decay but our Spiritual Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ stands unchanging forever. Adam Clarke may have laid the cornerstone of a building which will some day pass away, but Isaiah 28v16 prophesies of another Cornerstone… “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”

And Peter speaks of Him in 1Peter 2v6-9, with a message of exhortation and encouragement for all who love Him today… “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Si-on a chief cornerstone, elect precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

We Have No Public Water Supply…

October 1, 2021

But we do have our own well, which can be an advantage these days for many reasons. We don’t have any choice as to our water supply source, as mains water does not reach this area and, yes, it may seem like a bonus to not have to pay for water charges but of course sinking a well can have its own challenges!

After recent drought conditions (unusual in Ireland) many thoughts on the subject of water sprung to mind. The neighbouring cattle, goats and horses were thirsty and our own water supply was beginning to taste a little strange. When the water table is low, the surrounding fields which have been sprayed with weed killer and other toxins can make their way into the water supply…

In bygone days I don’t think that people were subjected to the same level of harmful toxins. Those were the days of the “village pump,” many of which you can still see standing in villages and rural areas. Although mostly no longer in use, some have become brightly painted attractive features around the countryside, memories of former days.

Those were also the days when you knew your neighbours, as you greeted them when going about the communal activity of pumping the local well for your basic water supply. It must have been a wearying task, carrying a bucket of water in each hand back to your homestead!

I have no doubt, too, that in those days there were people who would have preferred not to come into contact with other neighbours for a variety of reasons and so they would visit the village pump at a time when they knew it would be quiet. Thousands of years ago there was a lady who visited her local well on such a quiet time as this; perhaps she too wanted to avoid contact with the locals. In latter times and even in these days, the marital status of individuals has often become the subject for gossip and disapproval amongst the locals. This lady had many personal problems and I feel that few may have cared for her or showed kindness to her. It was just another lonely day as she made her way to the well in the blistering heat…

But that day was different for when she reached the well, a tired and thirsty stranger was sitting there. “Give me to drink,” He said. There followed a fascinating conversation between the two which is related in John 4v9-26. This caring stranger knew absolutely everything there was to know about her life: that she was living with someone who was not her husband and that she’d previously had five husbands. Furthermore when she said to Him: “I know that Mes-si-as cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.” Amazingly the stranger said: “I that speak unto thee am he.” (John 4v25&26)

So overwhelmed was she, that we read that this lady “left her waterpot” and went immediately to the city where she told others of this encounter. “Come, see a man, which told me all things which ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (V.29) We read that many of the Samaritans of that city believed “on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” (V.39) In verse 42 we see that many more believed on him when they heard him for themselves, saying… we “know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” How marvellous that a city was reached for the Lord, when one lonely soul was touched at the well!

Today that “stranger at the well” is glorified in heavenly realms, having purchased with His own blood for us, the victory over sin and death and hell. As in the case of this woman at the well, He knows every finite detail of your life and mine – and He cares for you more than anyone you will ever know. Today His words are the same as they were all those years ago, to a lady who never wanted to thirst again… “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4v14)

Jesus said… “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” (John 7v37) Whatever the manner of your life; whether you see yourself as an upright honest person or someone who is “beyond redemption,” or perhaps “somewhere in between,” God tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) And no matter what you have done, remember that the Lord Jesus Christ loved you enough to die for you.

There needs to be an acknowledgement of sin, a repenting of it and a trusting that only the Lord Jesus Christ can save us and take us Home to be with Him when this earthly life is finished. Remember that only He can forgive us our sins – because only He has never sinned. Spiritually speaking, the water that He gives those who trust on Him alone for salvation, shall be in them “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4v14) The weary ways of life, the worries over health, water charges, water contamination and the personal aspects of our lives, we can take to Him in prayer, when we have repented and given our lives to Him. My prayer is that you may find in Him, the water of life, a joy and peace that passes all understanding – and a path by still waters that leads to your Heavenly Home.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22v17)

(For tract use.)

The Stones Cry Out

September 24, 2021

Earlier this week I walked on a quiet part of the nearby beach, something which I find very therapeutic when the concerns of life come flooding in. The tide had been fully in and was now going out again as I climbed down the steep rocky path. Seagulls spread their wings, crying and diving in the white spray of the turn of the tide. On the far horizon I could see the distant Mourne Mountains, looming invitingly but I haven’t been there in more than a year. Maybe soon…

For a short time I sat on a rock and with the lovely sound of the waves of the sea in the background, printed little verses on pebbles. I left them there – for others to read. I was thinking of those verses in Luke 19v37-40… “And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

How can we not but praise Him for all He has done for us, as long as He gives us breath in these transient lives of ours?  The words of an old hymn came back to me…

“By and by when I look on His face,

I’ll wish I had given Him more…”

A spoken word in season, a tract given with a smile, a deed of kindness, fervent prayer, caring deeply for the souls around us… how can we not but praise Him and tell others of the wonders of His mercy, love and grace? “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4v18-20)

Some Thoughts from Exodus in Today’s Pandemic

September 19, 2021

My recent reading in the book of Exodus reminded me once again of how God is able and willing to deliver us from all that would enslave and burden us in this life. We should never forget that the same Almighty God we pray to for all that concerns and burdens us, is He who parted the Red Sea for the Children of Israel to pass over. I have an old book with a sketch in it which depicts those walls of water on either side of the Children of Israel, while the ground they passed over was dry. It must truly have been an amazing sight – a sight which I can only begin to imagine in my mind’s eye! For a moment this morning, as I walked down the back lane, I imagined that the banks on either side of me were those walls of water, while the ground on which I walked was the sea bed. Yet, I am also reminded that many of the Children of Israel seemed to forget all this and the plagues that descended upon Egypt and how they were protected and delivered through the miracles that the Lord wrought. We read that they continue to moan to Moses about the monotony of the manna diet, lack of water etc., all of which the Lord dealt with in His own good time.

The marvellous things that happened in those days, though, were meant for a certain people at a certain time in Biblical history but unfortunately some professing Christians right now, in this present pandemic, are adamant that they can use the same protective measures to protect themselves. Yes, the people then were asked to put blood on their doorposts – but that was for then! I have heard it said that some are tying a “red ribbon” somewhere in their homes to represent the blood of Jesus for protection and there has also been some suggestion of anointing one’s home “with oil.”  Such suggestions are nothing more than pure superstition – and superstition is surely something that the Lord has delivered us from…

Superstition and ridiculous theories have pervaded the entire scenario of this pandemic since ever we came to hear of it nearly 2 years ago. I was deeply saddened just recently on hearing of the death of a very well-known (otherwise healthy) young person in public life. This person was a professing Christian too but from his public and online rhetoric it was clear that he was very anti everything associated with taking precautions against Covid 19. He leaves behind many mourning loved ones – a tragic story which is repeated the world over in present times.

The Lord looks down with compassion and sees every situation that is going on in our lives at this present time. He knows the heavy loads we bear as we try to support a loved one through serious illnesses like cancer, while at the same time trying to stay safe in this present age. When we have given Him our lives, yes, He is in control but we are not immune from the diseases and pestilences which will continue to fall upon this earth from now until the end of time. He will, however, use our personal experiences for the good of our spiritual growth and also to witness to and comfort others.  

I remember years ago a Christian saying to me… “Christians can never take cancer, you know – this is something which happens people who are not right with God.” Well, how wrong can one be!  But whatever happens to us or family members on this earth we can use the situation to reach others who are similarly affected in hospitals and waiting rooms – souls who may never previously have spoken to a Christian.

No, this is not the first Pandemic – and it won’t be the last. In my recent reading, a verse in Exodus struck me very much…

“He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: And he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field.”(Exodus 9v20&21) These words relate to the 7th of the 10 plagues – that of the “grievous hail” which killed man and beast, but it is interesting to note that even among the Egyptians there were those who feared the Lord in this thing and would be ultimately protected by their God fearing attitude to what was happening.

Surely only a fool mocks the providence of God because, whatever point of view we hold, God is in control. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God….” (Psalm 14v1) I also believe that the fool says in his heart that God has nothing to do with this pandemic. To disregard what is going on in our world, to not pray about it and to not love and deeply care for the spiritual and physical welfare of others who have succumbed to illness is far from Christ like.

How can we not pray about the fact that the army have now been brought in to deal with the situation in hospitals in Northern Ireland? Also, many medical staff will ultimately give up their jobs because of the terrible daily abuse they suffer from people who refuse to be tested for the virus because they say “it’s a conspiracy.” We continue to pray that the Lord will work out His perfect will in homes and lives and we beseech Him for those who are ill, depressed and greatly bereaved at this present time. We long for something good to rise out of the ashes of these depressing times and that souls would be delivered and come to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, rejoicing together like Moses and the Children of Israel in the Song of Moses long ago… “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (Exodus 15v2)

Thoughts on Foraging, Poisoned Mushrooms… and Other Poisons

September 6, 2021

 I went for a walk down our back lane in the early autumn afternoon, climbed the gate into a meadow and found growing here and there some wild fungi. “I wonder are they edible?” I thought, as I do enjoy the taste of mushrooms. However, as I’m not experienced in these things, I had no intention of putting it to the test! Then I remembered a story that I’d read just days ago about an Afghan family who having recently escaped their native country, were living in a refugee camp in Poland. Unfortunately, they had gone out to pick mushrooms to make mushroom soup and having mistakenly picked the poisonous variety, two of the little brothers (5 and 6) had become very ill. Sadly both little boys have since passed away, despite one having had a liver transplant.

How distressing and tragic this was; here was a family, who having escaped the horror of an emerging oppressive system, have now been struck by tragedy at their place of refuge in a foreign country. Immediately my thoughts took me to that spiritual parallel of someone, who having escaped a wrongful system of belief, is subsequently deceived by that which they see in a new realm.

I have had (before the advent of Covid 19) many visitors to my door who were Jehovah Witnesses, although once Roman Catholics. Yes, they have seen and become disenamoured with the many fallacies of Roman Catholicism but they have turned to something which is just as fatal in the spiritual realm. Sadly, all cults rely on works, as opposed to faith and there are many other cults out there waiting in the wings for unsuspecting wanderers searching for something good to consume.

Really, the only good thing we can consume (spiritually) is the Word of God as contained in the Bible. Any religion or system of belief in this world can be put to the test, by whether they adhere to this – or not. Looking to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word will satisfy our spiritual hunger, something that no manmade sect can do. …. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5v39) Like the Berean believers, we should search the scriptures daily to check the veracity of what is being preached. (Acts 17v11) There is life everlasting and bread eternal for all who look – and live.

How do I know if something I see is safe to eat? I must look at the evidence – and the evidence can be found in the truthful testimonies of those who have partaken of the food. Are they alive and well? Spiritually speaking, if someone has found the truth, there will be outward evidence of a changed life within them. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Cor. 5v17) Do they have love, joy, peace – and the many other fruits of the Spirit which may be attributed to a changed life? (Galatians 5v22&23) They will have life “more abundant.” (John 10v10) What does the world see when it looks at the lives of those who claim to have the truth? Ultimately… “By their fruit ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7v16-20)

Then there are the foods we consume which are more subtle. There are those who are described as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” We are told: “from such turn away.” (2Timothy 3v5) These will slowly poison us in some way and sap the life out of us, spiritually speaking but if we turn to the Lord and ask Him for His guidance, as we give Him our all, He will direct us away from poisonous doctrines and usher us safely Home. The True Shepherd is the only one we can put our trust in because He has our best interests at heart.

At the end of the day, much that looks like the real thing, is fatally poisonous. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14v12)

In the middle of all the mayhem, confusion, opinions and belief systems, the Lord will guide us in all things and if we are not 100% certain about something, He will gently usher us in the right direction for it is not His will that any should perish – but we must be willing to give Him all of our lives, not just part of them. How good to know the One who loves us and gave Himself for us: The Real Shepherd – not “an hireling.” (John 10v12) Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10v11) Having escaped a dangerous situation, He wants us to reach a place of refuge in Him, where we can partake of the riches of all He has to offer us. “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6v33) Praise God, the Bread of Life – that wholesome food, will abundantly sustain us until at last we dwell in the eternal light of His Presence forevermore.

A Letter I Wrote About Events in Afghanistan… Twenty Years Ago

September 2, 2021

Some days ago I happened to find documents from twenty years ago and was amazed to find a copy of this old letter which was later published in a newspaper. On the subject of the transition from letter writing to emails, it is amazing how technology changes, yet certain societies, while advancing technologically, remain firmly entrenched in uncivilised behaviour, as is evidenced by the spectacle of individuals pointing their smart phones at seventh century barbaric behaviour.

My eyes scanned the letter and I shook my head sadly because I was thinking about the terrible events in the past couple of weeks. It was dated 1st October, 2001 and spoke of the cruelty of the Taliban in Afghanistan and also referred to the then recent horrific event of September 11th 2001.

 Dear Sir,

I was dismayed by the mere suggestion, in last week’s Independent, that we should now recognise the Taliban Movement. If ‘recognise’ means that we should ‘give credence to as a legitimate and respectable organisation’, then anyone with an inkling of what the Taliban stands for would have to disagree.

Under Taliban law, schools for girls have been closed; women are not permitted to have careers outside of the home and are publicly beaten if they refuse to be completely covered and veiled in public. Also, within Afghanistan’s starving community, women are not allowed to be trained as doctors, which is ludicrous since female patients are not permitted to be cared for by male doctors. The results are inevitable.

Please, let us not give credence to an organisation whose philosophy has claimed many thousands of precious lives, as recently as September 11th last. Long ago, Jesus in His compassion, interrupted the stoning of a woman, and dismissed her accusers with these words: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” (John 8v7). Today, over 2000 years later, women and men are still stoned to death in societies where Islamic Fundamentalism prevails. In Ireland we live in a society where civil and religious liberty is still upheld. We can love others, while perhaps not agreeing with their philosophy or religion. My personal belief is that Jesus, in His great love for every soul in mankind (Osama bin Laden and all suicide bombers included) died for all that we might have freedom from sin, happiness and a love for others in our hearts. Surely we can abhor philosophies which only bring degradation to mankind, while still loving and praying for the individuals ensnared in them?

Yours faithfully,

E. Burke.

How dismaying the thought that, after all this time little, if anything has been achieved and that country has yet again been plunged into misery. A common question people ask is: “Do you remember where you were when you heard about the attack on the twin towers?” I was just about to drive to collect my children from school when I heard the start of the news alert. Twenty years on – and mankind is still as decadent as ever, if not more so. This has certainly been a challenging new century so far. I often wonder how people cope on a daily basis without the Lord in their lives. Nobody knows what is lurking around the corner either globally – or for them personally. We need a Rock, an unchanging and loving Friend who is always there for us 24/7. Praise God, that perfect Friend lives in the hearts of those who trust Him and “…He faileth not.” (Zephaniah 3v5) I trusted Him over 40 years ago and can never thank Him enough for all that He has done for me in the often distressing times of life. This Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ is alive for evermore and I have that assurance in my heart that one day I will meet Him. He wants you too to have that deep assurance and if you have never repented and trusted Him as Saviour, He still beckons you. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)

Fast forward another twenty years and this world may no longer exist or you and I may no longer be alive but either way, our souls will be alive – somewhere. The great question is… “Where?” Praise God we can have assurance of sins forgiven and a Home in Heaven. Jesus said… “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) Whatever happens in this old world or in our own lives in the years ahead, it is His will that we rest and take refuge in His unchanging love and care for us, until that Day when we meet Him face to face. That Day may be sooner than we think. The last recorded words of Jesus are… “Surely I come quickly.” (Revelation 22v20) May you trust in His redeeming blood and know His loving Presence in your life in these uncertain times.

We found it as the Sun Went Down

August 23, 2021

After a Faith Mission drive-in meeting in Durrow, Co. Laois recently, my husband and I started to embark on the two hour journey home, when on impulse we took another route off the “beaten track.” Dappled sunlight was still shining through the trees as we meandered through a maze of tiny lanes in the lovely Laois countryside but we eventually found what we were looking for… just before the sun went down! In the old churchyard of Ballintubbert lies the Kelly family vault, where Thomas Kelly (1769 – 1855) Ireland’s most prolific hymn writer is buried. My parents and others of their generation loved the hymns of Thomas Kelly but sadly he is not so well known by anyone of this generation. A blog that I wrote about him back in July 2010, tells of how Thomas Kelly, not willing to dilute his sermons for the sake of the hierarchy, was cast out from the church and barred from all ‘consecrated buildings.’ He found his place amongst the ordinary people, relentless in his preaching of the gospel to hungry souls. Those were days of both spiritual and physical hunger, with the result that Thomas was greatly loved by the poor of Ireland, especially during the potato famine of the 1840’s.

Thomas Kelly was the only son of a judge, Thomas Kelly of Kellyville, Co. Laois – which was then known as ‘Queen’s County.’ His father wanted Thomas to follow in his footsteps, which he did for a time, for he graduated from Trinity College Dublin and moved to London to further his career. It was there that he came under conviction of sin and subsequently put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

After this life-changing experience he left his original choice of career to return to Ireland, where he was ordained a minister in the established church. However, because his heart was in the right place, Thomas could not but preach the truth in all its fullness, which in turn made him unpopular with the hierarchy of the church. In those days he suffered immense persecution from his superiors in the church but it was perhaps the opposition from his own family which hurt him the most.

As I have said in my previous blog… “If Thomas Kelly had remained within the established church, diluting his sermons to please the hierarchy and if he had put his family before God, surely we would have been denied the rich legacy of his hymns today? Such lovely compositions clearly stemmed from Thomas’s own personal sufferings. Above all, if Jesus had called on the angels to deliver Him from the cross, what hope would there be for humanity today?”

Thomas Kelly, like Moses, esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” (Hebrews 11v24-26) Today we have a rich legacy of hymns (around 765 in all) left to us from the pen of Thomas Kelly. Some well-known ones are… “Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted,” “We sing the praise of Him who died,” and “Look ye Saints the Sight in Glorious.”

The faded engraving of the monument which stands upon the Kelly family vault, reminded me that the old hymns written by saints now in glory are currently in danger of fading away too. Hymns of the seeking Saviour, the Crucified Jesus, the cleansing blood, the Exalted Christ, the invitation, the warning note, the grand decision – and the joy of pardon. Then there are the hymns of Christian Service, warfare, progress, trust under trail, pilgrimage heavenwards, divine guidance and the glorious “end of the journey.”

As we walked back to the car, I glanced once again toward the ancient bricked-up vault where Thomas Kelly’s remains lie, in the knowledge that right now he and others are rejoicing in glory in a Land that is fairer than day and a land where the glory of God is the light and “there is no night there.” (Rev. 21v23 & 22v5)

The sun was sinking slowly as we journeyed home, until at last it was but a mere red hue on the horizon. ‘No,’ I thought, ‘we must not let these beautiful words of the old hymn writers, which were written to the glory of God, die.’ These are not “hay, wood and stubble” but spiritually rich in truth and, I believe, inspired by the hymn writers’ Master. Despite what many may think, they are as relevant to today’s needy generation as they were to those who lived hundreds of years ago.

We Sing The Praise Of Him Who Died hymn – YouTube

Through the Darkness and Aggression – Let Your Light So Shine

August 12, 2021

In recent times a young man in a town not too far from here went on a bottle smashing rampage when asked to wear a face mask by security in a local supermarket. The security man, as seen on the video, stands by waiting for the police, not wishing to accost this violent person. In another even more recent incident, a man petrol bombed somewere in revenge after he was asked to leave in an argument over a face mask.

No doubt their solicitors will claim that these young men were “emotionally challenged” by current events and just “lost the rag.” To be honest, I hardly notice whether someone is wearing a mask or not but what I do notice is when someone glares at me for wearing one. “I don’t glare at you for not wearing one, so why do you feel threatened by my mask?” I would like to ask such people.

Masks aside, we are living in an era when people do not like to be reminded of their own mortality – and if ever we were constantly reminded of our own mortality it is now. This is the era of the “would be forever young,” who are so materialistic and “on the surface.” This is the era of Botox and “me” time. Many are self-seeking and self-serving, caring only about themselves and the image that they portray. I could not imagine for one minute this generation being able to cope with a World War 2 situation, when rations were enforced for the good of the nation as a whole. As for the enforced black-outs when people were told to have no lights on at night, in order to prevent bombing from German warplanes, if that was now… yes we would most certainly be bombed because people would not co-operate. They would say that this was a government conspiracy to keep them in “unnecessary darkness.”

This terrible aggression and preoccupation with “my rights” has sadly crept into the domain of some Evangelical Christians. Surprisingly, it sometimes appears that the people of this world have much more compassion and wisdom than some who call themselves Christians. Sermons in certain quarters have become almost political. There is an “I’m alright Jack” attitude amongst many who claim to be eternally secure, even if the worst happens… but at the same time they are going around as usual, having a complete disregard for the lost souls of others who make no profession of faith.

There is a continual talk of “persecution” in some churches – persecution, to some individuals, includes taking the necessary precautions to stop the spread of a dangerous virus. I have even heard this “persecution” mentioned from the pulpit in the same breath as the speaker is talking about people being burned at the stake, which is completely outrageous. Such people have no concept whatsoever of the suffering of martyrs in bygone days and of Christians in many parts of the world today.

For the last couple of years, the Lord has been looking down upon this whole situation and monitoring the responses to it of people who claim to follow Him. The large heavenly searchlight of these days has exposed and illuminated the dark areas of people’s lives. It has separated the law-abiding citizen who desires to “live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12v18) from the rebel and the careless one. We have seen that some Sunday morning worship appears to be more like a social club and people resent not being able to do “their own thing,” in their own way and “online giving” has not quite reached some pastors’ expectations. We have seen impatience, aggression and lack of love and compassion displayed in certain churches and amongst certain individuals. There are situations where the latter have caught the virus and have subsequently asked for constant prayer – but as soon as this no longer affects them, all requests for prayer are abandoned and they have no interest in how this pandemic continues to affect the health or livelihood of others. Not only have they no interest, but they are careless with regard to the health of vulnerable people with whom they worship and in defiance of all safety guidelines.

Sadly sinister forces have been at work to influence thinking and it is shocking to think that people should be under such “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” (2Thessalonians 2v11)

These are difficult days, especially for anyone who is suffering from ill health or on a hospital waiting list, as it seems like the entire world is preoccupied with the issue of the virus to the exclusion of other health problems. However, this is no excuse for aggressive, or even careless behaviour and while we might not be surprised to hear of the world behaving like this, it is dismaying to hear of it in those who profess to be Christians. “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration, because of advantage.” (Jude 16)

Jesus said… “Therefore, be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24v44) We are also exhorted to “be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2v15)

I have found the old hymns of those who have lived in the era of other pandemics in our world’s history to be very uplifting. S. Baring Gould (1834 – 1924) who died shortly after the end of the Spanish ‘flu era wrote “Through the night of doubt and sorrow.

(I quote the first and last verses)

“Through the night of doubt and sorrow

Onward goes the pilgrim band,

Singing songs of expectation,

Marching to the Promised Land.

Soon shall come the great awaking,

Soon the rending of the tomb;

Then the scattering of all shadows,

And the end of toil and gloom.”

Praise God the “end of toil and gloom” is a reality for all who love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ in truth and sincerity.

“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 21)

“Because Iniquity Shall Abound, the Love of Many shall Wax Cold” (Matthew 24v12)

July 24, 2021

For the best part of two years now, I have felt that the Lord wants to do “a new thing” (Isaiah 43v19) in the lives of Christians the world over but sadly many are not responding in the way that they should. The Lord is shaking this world and to ignore, ridicule or disregard the finger of God as sovereign in a situation, is dangerous and sinful, to say the least. Who is listening today? Very few, it would appear. Nothing will ever be the same – and there will be more and more pestilences fall on the earth, because the Word of God has said it. This is a time to reach out to the lost, the hurting and the lonely. A love for the spiritually lost and a yearning to see them saved is surely the need of the hour.

Life will never be the same

Many suffering, who to blame?

All is crumbling, all around.

Lives are threatened, sins abound.

Souls are dying, souls are lost,

Yet faces hardened, cold as frost.

Oh for that love within your heart,

To reach these lives, His love impart!

Soon the clouds of night will flee,

To love Who loved our only plea,

Soon before the Throne we’ll stand,

From every nation, every land.

Oh reach dear souls for Him today,

For the things of life shall fade away

And only those who loyal stand,

Shall throng the choirs in Glory Land.

© E. Burke 2021 “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24v12&13)

Heavenly Sunlight

July 18, 2021

Ripening fields of gold and emerald green against a clear blue sky and the warmth of the sun made me thankful today for the goodness of God. In the last couple of years through strict lockdowns, He has shown me the beauty of my own surroundings and taught me to be content with this little place I call “home.” I have learned to appreciate our animal friends – both wild and tame, while the taste of home grown strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and potatoes is second to none. From a social point of view, yes, I suppose we’re a bit isolated but we have plenty of forms of communication in this age. I feel that terrible though this time has been for many, the Lord has been wanting to use the situation to do something new in different individual’s lives.

In the distance the Irish Sea blends with the blue horizon and I think about the faraway places I used to visit but for now all that is on hold. I heard a young person say recently… “The only reason I’m getting this vaccine is so that I can get the travel certificate to fly out of here to Spain.” Well, I am fully vaccinated now (and no, I am not controlled by a well-known billionaire with an agenda) but I have no wish to fly anywhere right now, unless the Lord shows me otherwise. As numbers of people with new versions of the virus escalate again, we really have no idea what tomorrow holds and I am under no illusions as to whether vaccines are the ultimate deterrent. The future looks hazy and uncertain…

While in Ireland we have been enjoying an unusual heatwave, there are places in Europe, including Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland which have been experiencing severe flooding, with many lives lost and homes swept away by the surging waters. By coincidence, my reading is presently in Genesis once more and my thoughts on Noah. I feel that we are currently living in the “just as in the days of Noah” times that Jesus described in Matthew 24v38-44… “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that No-e entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (v38&39)   

I thought about Noah and his family circle, just eight of them, living in the confinement of the ark for around 370 days, it is has been said. We are not told but we get the impression that Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives on board with all their furry and feathered friends co-existed very well. They had no contact with other human souls (all of whom perished) and they would only have had fellowship with one another in this confined area. They were, of course, glad to be alive. Contrast this with the impatience, the fury, the denial, the protests, the rebellion and the constant complaining since ever this pandemic descended upon the global community. It surely reveals that very few would be happy to find themselves in an “ark” situation. Many would probably say that the ark was built to “control” them and turn their backs on it. My heart goes out to people who are actually suffering with the virus or from “long Covid,” or to those who have lost loved ones, or whose livelihoods have been destroyed. However, ironically it appears that the people who are making most of the noise are those who have been affected least by it – and sad to say, some of these would profess to be Christians.

I asked myself the question today… what if this beautiful weather suddenly changed and our home was swept away by rushing tides? If I have given my life to Him, I must also believe that He will provide for those who trust Him. Yes, it is easy to talk positively when flowers are blooming and the sun is shining but I must remember to praise the Lord in every situation, beseeching Him for help for “He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” (Psalm 62v6&7)

The safety of the ark then is the safety we know now in Him, if as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, the winds of adversity blow against us and the dark cruel floods of life’s storms threaten to overwhelm us. Even the beautiful sunlight of this earth pales into insignificance when compared with the heavenly light of the Son, which His faithful followers will experience some beautiful day when all of this life’s troubles are over. But how we long for and pray that loved ones, neighbours and acquaintances will join us over there… “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21v23-27)