Thoughts on World Poetry Day

March 21, 2017

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Perhaps the most beautiful poetry of all is contained throughout the books of the Bible. Even Poet Laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson described the Book of Job as one of the “greatest poems of ancient and modern times.”

Job, devastated by the loss of livestock and then tragically bereaved of loved ones and robbed of his own health, seeks to understand this in the light of his standing as a righteous servant of the Lord.

I (and many other Christians I am certain) thank God today for the Book of Job which stands as a bastion of truth in an era when “health, wealth and prosperity” are seen as proof of Godliness.

Sadly, those who think this way live only for the things of this life, while the standard for the Christian is to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Corinthians 4v18)

Today, on World Poetry Day, I think on the elements “which are eternal.” Perhaps the most essential poetry of all is that which challenges mankind to think on the eternal… on that which will never die.

Like Job, I have this sure hope: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:” (Job 19v25&26)

Today, in the knowledge that the soul is that which shall never die, I exhort others to think on the value of the soul. (“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Mark 8v36&37) With this in mind I have contacted Christians with my poem “The Graves,” written quite a few years ago now.

Like Job, many Christian poets and hymn writers often write best in the face of adversity, persecution and tragedy. Job said: “Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven in an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!”

Job’s anguished cry was indeed answered… for his words were printed in “the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Peter 1v23) And those words live on to comfort those who still walk the sometimes thorny path of this life. His eloquence in the face of adversity has now been rewarded, as Job rejoices with other brothers and sisters in eternity, who by faith chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” (Hebrews 11v25)

Link to “The Graves” poem: https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/tag/the-graves-poem/

The Disclosure of Abuse in Ireland’s Roman Catholic Institutions – and Little Children

March 17, 2017

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Just recently it has emerged that the bodies of hundreds of babies and toddlers have been uncovered at the Bon Secours “Mother and Baby Home” which operated in Tuam, Co. Galway between 1925 and 1961. Many tears were shed as older folk, who had been victims of abuse (in many other areas of Ireland too) recounted their stories in radio phone-ins. Many of the victims of child abuse in orphanages, industrial schools and mother and baby homes are still psychologically affected by the unspeakable abuse perpetrated against them, every new disclosure opening the wounds of those old memories.

I have previously written of the evils of the “Magdalene Laundries;” institutions run by Roman Catholic nuns, where women of all ages were incarcerated and used as slaves to wash linen for hotels and other businesses. Amazingly the last “Magdalene Laundry” closed as recently as 1996!

It is ironic that the Roman Catholic Church had issued a recent directive with regard to the “scattering of cremated remains in public places.” They maintain that these must be kept or buried in “consecrated ground.” Of course the reason for this may well be that there would be a charge involved for putting the ashes in a graveyard. Personally I do not agree with cremation but the irony is in the fact that the bodies of these babies and young children were discovered in sewage chambers, clearly not in “consecrated ground.” From samples taken, the bodies of the children ranged in age between 35 foetal weeks to 2-3 years, many dating back to the 1950’s.

Yesterday and today (with all of this on my mind) I have coincidentally reached Mark 9&10 in my daily reading. How Jesus loved the little children – and how wonderful to have that assurance that these little ones are in His Presence at this moment!

“And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” (Mark 9v35-37)

“And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9v42)

There is hope for both the victims of abuse – and yes, even the perpetrators of abuse, if they will only look to the Lord Jesus Christ in this scene of time. No man on this earth can heal the broken hearted or forgive the foulest deed… but the Lord Jesus Christ can!

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11v28-30)

He loves you and wants you to repent and trust Him today, whoever you are and whatever your life has consisted of. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23)

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4v14)

What a tiny vapour those little lives were, some hardly entering this world at all, yet they were living souls who now rejoice at Jesus’ feet – something that He desires for each one of us.

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10v13-15)

What beautiful words Jesus uses to refer to little children… “for of such is the Kingdom of God….” The Kingdom of God is made up of those who have come in simple faith as a little child and humbled themselves at the feet of Him who loved them so much that He suffered, died and rose again… to redeem them to Himself. Praise His Name.

Of Trees: A Bible Wordsearch distributed to Coincide with “National Tree Week” in Ireland

March 10, 2017

I have distributed a little leaflet (adopted from something I had written previously) this past week, using the above occasion to somehow awaken interest in spiritual matters. I believe that very few people read the Bible at all in some areas and, sadly, children are not brought up to know the characters of the Bible who were so familiar to me as a child. May the Lord bless these seasonal leaflets to those who read them!

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ACACIA ALMOND  APPLE  ASH  ASHUR  BALM  BDELLIUM  BAY  BOX  BRANCH  LEAF  CEDAR  CHESTNUT  CINNAMON  CYPRESS  DATE  EBONY  ELM  FIG  FIR  FOREST  GRAFT HAZEL  JUNIPER  MULBERRY  NUTS  OAK  OLIVE  PALM  PINE  SYCAMORE.

One tree listed here is not in the grid. Which one is it? Who climbed into this tree and why did he do it?

There are numerous references to trees (and indeed different species of trees) mentioned in the Bible but perhaps some of the most spiritually significant are those trees which are mentioned in parables and in the first and last books of the Bible – Genesis and Revelation.

How sad that mankind ate of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” but how marvellous that God has sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to save ‘to the uttermost’ those who trust in His finished work upon the cross of Calvary.

Trees have existed since those early days of creation and if ancient trees could talk, what stories they would tell us! They have been used as weapons, turned into paper, regrettably carved into articles of worship; used to make an ark of ‘gopher wood’ and the ark of the covenant; in the day of the battle of David and Absalom “the wood devoured more people than the sword;” they are a source of paper for the printed word, and once so long ago a large piece of wood was carried to a place which is called in the Hebrew “Golgotha.”

The Lord Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose again that we might have right to the tree of life.

 

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they might have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates of the city.” (Rev. 22v14)

Only in His strength can we “do His commandments,” so that we may be likened to the “man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. And he shall be like a tree planted by the river of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1 – 3)

Our leaves shall never wither while we are walking in the perfect light of the Son.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)

 

Let a Man Examine Himself – on “Letters of Commendation”

March 6, 2017

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Just recently I happened to be researching places of worship in an area which I may visit in the near future. One particular place of worship had an online statement: “letters of commendation required for visitors wishing to remember the Lord.”

My understanding of this is that if you are a stranger in a certain place of worship and you want to have communion with the other Christians there, then you must carry a letter “of commendation” from your normal place of worship. As to whether your “normal place of worship” must be of the same denomination as the one you are visiting was not made clear. As it happens no such denomination exists in our area – and in fact we would have to drive for a very long time before finding one!

That Paul wrote letters to churches, commending brothers and sisters who would be visiting there, is an entirely different matter, as he was introducing these people as fellow workers in the gospel. He was not passing judgement or comment on whether these individuals were eligible to participate or receive communion in the church they were proposing to visit.

In the world in which we live, any person could find himself in any area at any particular time – and if that soul is truly a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and wants to have fellowship with local believers in a place where he or she is a total stranger – should they not be given a warm welcome?

Years ago my husband and I were visiting a certain church in a certain city and (although I don’t remember much about it) it must have been decided that we shouldn’t have communion with the rest of the congregation as ‘they didn’t know us’ and so we were amused to find ourselves ‘put behind a curtain.’

I refer to the words of Paul in 1Corinthians 11v26-31: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged, But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

Here we see that we should judge ourselves, otherwise we will be judged by the Lord. The Lord “looks on the heart” of men and women and only He knows whether that person eats or drinks unworthily and only He can judge. Obviously, if some stranger came in, acting in an unruly manner, then clearly someone should have a quiet word with this person so that the service is not interrupted. However, this passage talks about “judging ourselves” and the “Lord judging us.” No one else should be able to decide whether we are worthy or unworthy, unless there is some very obvious reason for doing so, like the one previously mentioned.

Legalism and the letter of the law are so at odds with the spirit of the law. Ironically, at the end of the day, the stranger who enters one of these churches might be in a better standing with the Lord than someone who is known to the elders, because… who can know the heart of man? “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17v10)

Praise the Lord, we can have fellowship with (and love for) others without denominationalism being an issue when we pray sincerely about these matters, leaving them at the feet of the “Judge of judges. “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1Samuel 1v7)

Ever Thought About The Countries Which View Your Blog?

February 28, 2017

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In the past week “International Mother Language Day” was celebrated on 21st February and this led to my thoughts on the thousands of languages throughout our world and how many souls are currently being reached with the gospel through the internet in their native countries or in the far-flung nations that lie thousands of miles beyond my own little shores. I have made a list of mine (for my own information) in order of the total number of views from each country and although I don’t have that many views, on the whole it is encouraging and fascinating to see just where they come from!

United Kingdom, United States, Ireland, India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, France, Greece, Malaysia, European Union, South Africa, Jamaica, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Italy, Poland, Netherlands, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, Indonesia, Norway, Brazil, Singapore, Kenya, South Korea, Turkey, Belgium, Russia, Czech Republic, Ghana, Romania, Serbia, Thailand, Nigeria, Sweden, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Denmark, Israel, Bulgaria, Austria, Switzerland, Chile, Taiwan, Hong Kong SAR China, Qatar, Japan, Zimbabwe, Slovakia, Iraq, Trinidad & Tobago, Colombia, Bahamas, Isle of Man, Latvia, Mexico, Oman, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Cyprus, Iceland, Peru, Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda, Ecuador, Myanmar (Burma), Kuwait, Tanzania, Finland, Portugal, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Estonia, Lithuania, Guatemala, Mongolia, Fiji, Guam, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Ukraine, Uganda, Venezuela, Georgia, Syria, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Tonga, Jordan, Morocco, Afghanistan, Maldives, St. Kitts & Nevis, Armenia, Slovenia, Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Albania, Mauritius, Nepal, Malta, Malawi, Guyana, St. Lucia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Netherlands Antilles, Guadeloupe, Gabon, Cameroon, Macedonia, Monaco, Paraguay, Cambodia, Luxembourg, Togo, British Virgin Islands, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Croatia, Guernsey, Puerto Rico, Grenada, Liberia, Vietnam, Algeria, Cook Islands, Dominican Republic, Swaziland, Belarus…. Perhaps in time North Korea, Yemen, Iran and many more can join that list!

I find it interesting that countries like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are on the list. I know that I had a view from Syria with regard to one of the old hymns I write about. Was it some homesick U.S. soldier or even an army chaplain… or even a native? Who knows? When I look at the landscape of some of the countries, they appear so beautiful in the online photos. Gabon on the west coast of central Africa looks fascinating, with lush green fields, golden beaches – and the wildlife is wonderful! But then there are the world’s war-torn and famine ridden trouble spots – and the “hermit kingdoms…”

It was reported in the last week, too, that NASA had discovered a large batch of earth-size habitable zone planets. Where is it all going to end with these new discoveries, I wonder? We are living in amazing days; in my lifetime I have seen so many changes but I feel that the Lord is no happier with some of these than He was about the Tower of Babel. However, I also feel that He is using the sincere and true testimonies and words written for Him all across this world today on internet sources.

So, yes, we live in fascinating days but in reality man’s need for salvation remains the same and although technology has transformed exponentially, human nature needs the touch of a Saviour. “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12v4) Yes, knowledge may have increased and men are indeed running to and fro now, even throughout the entire universe – but sin is as it was in the days of Noah. Jesus said: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of No-e were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24v36&37)

His message to His servants in the nations of the world was never more urgent…. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matthew 24v42)

“Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” (Matthew 24v46)

Never were there more signs of the Lord’s soon coming than in the days in which we live. His message to every soul in every nation in their own language remains the same: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3v16&17)

Informal Ladies Meeting in the Barbican Centre, Drogheda

February 21, 2017

Lord willing, the above will take place on Friday, 24th February, 2017 between 7.30pm and 8.45pm approximately.

A testimony will be shared, as well as some reflections on a selected Irish hymn writer. Sadly many of our old hymns have been abandoned in the days in which we live, in favour of short choruses, many of which have no depth. These are very often sung repeatedly in an effort to stir up a certain “atmosphere” in the congregation, all to no avail.

Manie Payne Ferguson is the selected hymn writer at this meeting. Born in the town of Carlow, County Carlow, Ireland in 1850, she eventually emigrated to U.S.A., where with her husband Theodore, she founded “The Los Angeles Mission.” She wrote many other poems and hymns, including “That Man of Calvary” and “Christ in the Storm.”

I have written about her in my book “Singing on the Journey Home,” where I choose the hymn “Blessed Quietness” for a true story: “Lonely Hotel Room – and a Comforting Presence.” I write: “This hymn writer was mightily used of the Lord, having been associated with the Wesleyan/Holiness Movement in the 19th Century. After her conversion Manie had been struggling with a sinful nature but having experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit, she felt empowered to write “Blessed Quietness.”

I pray that all will go in accordance with the Lord’s will at Friday’s meeting. Indeed I have no idea who will come along, as some people I have invited may not be able to make it… but I trust that it will be a blessing, even if our numbers are small!

 

 

Ladies, you are invited to an informal meeting

In the Barbican Centre, Drogheda

On Friday 24th February, from 7.30pm-8.45pm

Local lady will share her testimony

 Admission Free/light refreshments

For further information Email:

readywriterpublications@gmail.com

 

 

Thy Welcome Call… Avails for All!

February 16, 2017

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I have always admired the voices of a Welsh choir… particularly when they sing some of the lovely old hymns like “Gwahoddiad,” which is Welsh for “Welcome.” The words and music of this beautiful hymn (“I am coming Lord” or “I hear thy welcome voice”) were written by Lewis Hartsough (1828-1919) who composed it at a revival meeting in Iowa and it was subsequently published in “Guide to Holiness.” There are many stories of how it went on to be used in revival meetings and how it blessed many souls and brought many more to a place of repentance.

 

So, why am I thinking of this hymn today? Well, today is the anniversary of when my Dad (who prayed much for revival) was called Home to be with the Lord. Above is a little hall (Ballytyrone) where he used to pray with friends. I recently put a memoriam notice in the local newspaper, in remembrance of him, followed by a little verse which I composed just last week. The Lord gave me the words in an instant one morning, just after I had woken up.

 

Hutchinson, Jack, Called Home 16th February, 2011.

 

Lovingly remembered by Elizabeth, George, Grace, Christine and their families.

 

 Oh, the arms outstretched to all

 

Who gladly hear Thy welcome call!

 

Oh the joy on heaven’s shore,

 

That greets Thy saints forevermore!

 

© Elizabeth Burke

 

All sorts of people read newspapers (even local newspapers) which are left in all sorts of places and waiting rooms and somehow I believe that some simple words which we have been led to write may strike a chord with someone somewhere and will be used of the Lord to, at the very least, inspire them to think upon eternity and spiritual matters.

 

His arms are indeed still outstretched to all in this the Day of Grace; He died for all (“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1John 2v2) and it is not His will that any should perish. (2Peter 3v9)

 

Today I sing along to the words of this lovely old hymn which has blessed thousands the world over. I don’t recall Dad referring to this hymn but I know he would love it… I quote the first and last verses and chorus and share the link as a tribute to him.

 

Link to this hymn:  https://youtu.be/TlR1ot4QzP0

“I hear thy welcome voice,

 

That calls me, Lord, to Thee,

 

For cleansing in Thy precious blood

 

That flowed from Calvary.

 

I am coming, Lord,

 

Coming now to Thee:

 

Wash me, cleanse me in the blood

 

That flowed on Calvary.

 

 

All hail, atoning blood!

 

All hail, redeeming grace!

 

All hail, the gift of Christ, our Lord,

 

Our strength and righteousness!

 

“Be of Good Courage and He shall Strengthen Thine Heart”

February 6, 2017

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On a recent journey for a hospital procedure I received a gift from an elderly Uncle of mine – a little “box of promises,” which he had left for someone else to give to me. Just before embarking on the next leg of my journey, I picked a promise… “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27v14)

Now, my Uncle had no idea that I was going for a procedure on that particular day or that I was driving close to his house around that time, or that I had received the “promise box” – although I called with him later and told him! How lovely were those words – and how comforting to know that the Lord was with me “and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8v28)

How He was with me on that day – and how I felt His love and compassion surround me and uplift me… and how He answers prayer! I quote from an inserted leaflet in the little promise box: “Dating back over a century to the 1860’s and each containing 140 extracts from the Authorised King James Version of the Bible, Promise Boxes were widely used by our Victorian ancestors. Seeking comfort and reassurance from God in times of trouble the ladies would draw a scroll, replacing it carefully after use. Given as keepsakes by the men going to the front, to their wives and sweethearts during the First World War, they gradually faded into oblivion and the actual date of origin is unknown. The few which have survived the passage of time have been handed down from generation to generation and become treasured family heirlooms. Used with respect and reverence these charming, unusual gifts are appropriate for any occasion, happy or sad, for their message and purpose are timeless.”

Yes, the message of God’s Word is indeed timeless. Sometimes, indeed, as we go through life we face situations which are tantamount to “going to the front” in a war situation. That battle can be a physical or a spiritual one – or sometimes both. None of us; no, not even those who faithfully serve the Lord, sail peacefully through the seas of life without some storms and testing times. Of course the ultimate testing time is death itself, for “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1Cor. 15v26)

“Have you anyone with you?” the nurse asked me, looking somewhat surprised when I said “no.” But in a sense I did have someone with me – and that ‘Someone’ is always with me and will be with me, for as long as I serve Him here below… “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28v20)

Praise God for every one of His precious promises, of which there are thousands in the Bible. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for inasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Cor. 15v55-58)

Thoughts on Holocaust Denial…. and the “Apple of God’s Eye”

January 27, 2017

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I am currently quite close to the end of the Old Testament once more in my daily reading. This morning I read from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah, in Chapter 2: “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.” (Verses 8-13)

This phrase “the apple of your eye” is used commonly today to refer to someone you cherish – and there is no doubt about the fact that the Lord held His ancient chosen people, those who were obedient amongst the Jews, in this esteem. This chapter is also prophetic of the promise of the Messiah – Jesus our Lord and Saviour; and today, for all those amongst the nations (whether of Jewish ethnicity or not) who accept Him as Lord and Saviour, we are “the apple of His eye.” In this regard I believe it is true to say that offences may come – but the Lord’s judgement will ultimately fall upon those who are responsible for these offences. (Luke 17v1)

Later on I coincidentally heard a lady speak on the radio of her court battle with a “Holocaust denier.” Today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I thought: “For a historian or public figure to go out of his way to try to prove that the Holocaust ‘never happened’ must surely take up a lot of valuable time, money and energy. So why would they do it?” I researched just a few of the many well-known personalities who are so strangely adamant that the Holocaust never happened and found that they all had one very obvious trait in common… anti-Semitism. However, to research the psyche of the deniers would take much longer and would perhaps take up much more than just a few paragraphs…

To tell an escapee from Daesh, or a person who has been mugged and robbed that it ‘has never happened’ is a hurtful and spiteful attack on the credibility of that person and the very real traumatic experience which has impacted his or her life. I can only imagine how the (now very elderly) victims of the holocaust must feel when they hear the derogatory words of a denier about a very real pogrom which was directed at millions of their people. The horror of those memories and the extent of those evil offences are still a very real part of their lives too, whether sleeping or awake. Jesus said: “Woe unto the world because of offences!  for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” (Matthew 18v7)

Furthermore, despite what some would have us believe; real Christians, those born again of the Spirit of God have this one thing in common: their love for the Jewish people. It has been recorded in history that “Christians” at one time persecuted the Jews. However, those by whom offences came throughout this world’s turbulent history may have called themselves “Christians,” but they most certainly were not.

How wonderful that the promised Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, of David’s royal line, still stands today with arms outstretched to all individuals of the nations of the world – whatever their background. “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3v14)

I also believe that it is significant in these dramatic days in which we live, that a very great number of Jewish people are coming to see the truth of this beloved Messiah who loved them and gave Himself for them and indeed for all the world. Only He can bring healing to troubled minds in the wake of terrifying experiences and only He can break down the barriers that divide mankind. To those who truly know Him as their personal Lord and Saviour, Paul says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3v28&29)

What is “The Church?”

January 16, 2017

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I was at a funeral a few days ago, in a small church which was absolutely packed to capacity, given that the deceased was very well known in this rural community. Later after standing in the bitterly cold wind in the country churchyard, I decided to make my way into the warm church hall for a welcome cup of hot tea and the customary sandwiches and “tray bakes.” Some people that I talked with referred in vague terms to “the church” in conversation, something which led me to my present train of thought…

So what exactly is “the Church?” Many would say that it is an organisation or denomination… their denomination; others would say that it is a building; still others would use the term generally, in the ecumenical sense for members of many (usually mainstream) denominations, while there are those who would say that “the Church” consists of those who “attend church services.”

Well, the truth is that “The Church” as portrayed in scripture is not a building, nor an organisation of religious people, nor a denomination or denominations, nor even the “people who attend church services.” “The Church” is that body of believers throughout this entire world who have been truly born again of the Spirit of God – those who have trusted, by faith, in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and who “walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1John 1v7) These individuals may attend a variety of different churches or denominations but they are marked by one common trait – the love in their hearts for both their Saviour and each other. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13v35)

The warmth and love that is felt when having fellowship with other believers is second to none… and this love is also extended to my fellow travellers in life, whatever their faith or indeed lack of. The believer, the member of that body of Christ has a love for souls and a desire to see them saved and while they may not always see “eye to eye” with fellow Christians of other denominations, they have a love in their hearts for those individuals; love which transcends their differences.

We are not to be surprised if “the world hates us.” (1John 3v13) But understandably it would be surprising to feel the coldness and animosity of those who claim to be our brothers and sisters in the Lord – and yet this must not affect our attitude to them.

In Matthew 24 we are told of many of the signs of Christ’s coming again. In Verse 10-13 we read: “And then many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Coldness and lack of love are surely traits of these last days. Places of worship are full of many nominal Christians but “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1John 3v13)

To love the Lord our God and one another is the greatest commandment upon which all others are based. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1John 4v18)

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1John 3v23)

And so, “the Church” know the Lord and the Lord knows those that are His. I love the old hymn by Samuel J. Stone: “The Church’s One Foundation” which embraces this truth… “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Timothy 2v19)

Many denominations were represented at that funeral, but there is only one Church – the Church which is made up of those individuals who have availed of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation; those who love Him and walk with Him until He comes or calls them Home…

The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord:

She is His new creation by water and the Word;

From heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy bride;

With His own blood He bought her, And for her life He died.”

Link to this hymn, which in its original form has seven verses: https://youtu.be/iOGF93cDYNs