Archive for November, 2010

Snow on the mountains – and a Song within My Heart!

November 29, 2010

On Friday last (26th November) I travelled up for the carol service in the Disabled Christian Fellowship Centre, in Newcastle County Down, Northern Ireland. ‘Early for a carol service,’ one might say and I suppose it was, but in carols such as “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley, there are words which are joyfully relevant at any time of the year…

“Christ, by highest heaven adored,

Christ, the everlasting Lord,

Late in time behold Him come,

Offspring of a virgin’s womb!

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;

Hail the incarnate Deity!

Pleased as man with men to dwell,

Jesus, our Immanuel.”

 

What truths are proclaimed in this carol! The virgin birth, the Deity of Christ and then in the third verse – His death and resurrection, whereby mankind can be born again to an inheritance incorruptible!

That night after the carol service I travelled back through the ice and snow to the mountain house where we would stay the night. I hate driving in this weather, but the Lord took care of us throughout the entire journey. During the night we were wakened by a thunder storm, followed by hailstones pounding off the roof and windows but the fury of the weather during the night was replaced by a beautiful and peaceful scene next morning, as I looked out to see white capped mountains glistening in the sun.

This heralded a most encouraging and interesting day when I was able to visit little towns and villages that were new to me. We stopped briefly at the St. Patrick’s Centre in Downpatrick which provides an outlet for my first book “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” and then we moved on to the small town of Killyleagh. Here we spotted the fascinating 12th century Killyleagh Castle, complete with turrets and believed to be the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland. Strolling up to its great doors we discovered that there was a craft fair being held there that day.

Our next ‘port of call’ was the small town of Comber, home to “Revive Books,” a Christian Book and coffee shop in Castle Street. Along the journey I could not help but wonder at the diversity of Ireland as a whole. How the Lord loves its citizens – from the glens of Antrim to the rocks of Mizen Head. From the families who live in ancient Castles and ancestral homes – to the families who live in crowded conditions in the cities of Limerick, Dublin or Belfast. He is no respecter of persons and it is His will that all souls would put their trust in Him as Saviour, whatever their backgrounds. How He loves the souls of Ireland in their rural and urban communities, with all their differing customs, dialects and denominations!

At last we arrived in the much larger town of Newtownards, home to around 30,000 people and also home to another Christian Bookshop: Ards Evangelical Bookshop, Crimond House, in Frances Street. Both of the Christian Bookshops listed kindly facilitate copies of “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year,” “Singing on the Journey Home,” and “God Made You, God Loves You, God Saves You.”

We started the terrifying journey home from the mountain house that night. I say “terrifying” because of the weather conditions that prevailed close to our home in County Meath. I prayed before the journey, I prayed during the journey – and then I prayed, giving thanks to the Lord for His protection when finally we slipped through the entrance to our home. It was a short but memorable trip – and one that increased my resolve to serve the Lord by distributing the words that He gives me throughout the spiritually needy land of Ireland with its diverse cultures.         

Link to this hymn: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/h/h/a/hhangels.htm

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November’s Doom and Gloom and Ireland’s Economic Disasters – but “Look Up!”

November 25, 2010

November can be a bleak month when lengthening shadows cast a gloom on the cold earth and autumn’s gold is facing certain death. I took a walk today away from the things that threaten to burden me – and to be alone with the Lord. Usually nature ‘lifts me’ but today it didn’t. The trees are almost skeletal now and yesterday I had discovered a young pigeon which had been shot and seriously injured. It sat alone, shaking in the cold hard furrows of the field; I knew that it was so seriously injured, that there was nothing I could do for it and so I left it there, wishing that somehow it would recover. ‘Why does mankind feel the need to kill everything?’ I had asked myself. Today I learned that the pigeon had been cruelly killed and I thought about the wonderful truth that God is aware of even a sparrow falling to the ground. (Matthew 10v29) As I listened to more news on the radio about economic doom and gloom here in Ireland, I also thought about what an ugly world we live in, with corruption at every level. Surely the weak and the vulnerable are cruelly exploited? In the middle of the recent gloom I received a call from someone, telling me that their neighbour had attempted suicide…

Then tonight I saw a great beautiful amber moon rise above the dark shadowy fields and I reminded myself that the sun is always up there too – even on the darkest, most depressing days of winter! With this in mind I suddenly remembered a little poem that I had written some years ago now, based on my own feelings of despondency at the time Furthermore, I also remembered my recent reading in Genesis… “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1v4)

That “God divided the light from the darkness” is truly significant and a recurring theme throughout scripture. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1John 1v5) Thank God for “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1v9-13) Praise God for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power to lift us out of any situation to new heights of joy in Him! If our happiness is solely dependant upon the material things of this life – we will be so miserable. Yes, it is possible to feel despondent on occasions but for those who know the Lord (and I tell myself this too) our eyes should look above and beyond the darkest night, for we have a sure light “that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2Peter 1v19)

 

Look Up! 

When you are despondent

Do not dwell upon the loss,

Look ever unto Jesus

And cling to the cross.

When all around

Seems bleak as darkest night –

Look beyond the clouds

For that Eternal Light.

This world’s pain and glory

Will soon pass away,

From the black of midnight 

To the dawn of Heaven’s Day,

And though you are oppressed

By sin on every side,

Look upon that face of Love,

For His grace will provide.

 

                                                                                                                 Elizabeth Burke

The Rewards for the Christian Writer – Remembering a Cold November Day in Düsseldorf

November 18, 2010

I have poignant memories of the moment I held my first book in my hands. “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” wasn’t just something that I had dreamed up or concocted from many little true experiences. No, I can honestly say that the Lord guided my every word, including apt quotes from the Bible. I write because He has commanded me to do so and my prayer is that He might always have the glory and that souls may touched, encouraged and challenged by the words He has given me.

As a writer and distributor of Christian literature, I have had enormous joy in the process. I feel enriched – certainly not materially, but spiritually. The whole process is an onerous task which involves much more than writing but it is immensely rewarding to receive letters from individuals who have been comforted and encouraged in some way. Also, I have had so many adventures in the process of selling and distributing my books – enough to fill another book!

Yes, it was an encouragement to know that branches of well known bookstores like Waterstones and Easons, as well as other secular and Christian book outlets would stock my books, but even more encouraging are those seemingly small incidents when I know that the Lord is using them to reach individuals. I have made a list of all these ‘small’ incidents, for I know that they are of great significance in His eyes. Here is one…

In the late autumn of 2008 my husband and I were in Düsseldorf in Germany. I decided to use the occasion to donate a copy of my first book to the English section of the International Library of Düsseldorf, as I feel that libraries are a great way for Christians to spread the Word. But somehow, our short visit did not allow a visit the library and before I knew it, we were sitting in a taxi headed for the airport and our return flight. As I glanced wistfully at the book on my lap and proceeded to put it carefully into my hand luggage, I had this strange feeling that it was meant for someone…

It was a bitterly cold November day, as we crossed the Rhine where ducks and autumn leaves were floating in the icy waters. Later we boarded the plane which would bring us back to Dublin and I thought no more about the book. There weren’t so many passengers; I vaguely noticed a lady sitting directly across the aisle from us, her head in her hands. Then as the plane accelerated along the runway I noticed that this lady was sobbing in despair. Her whole body was shaking as she cried – something that made me want to comfort her. But… shouldn’t I mind my own business? After all, this was a stranger and perhaps she wouldn’t take kindly to me asking her what the matter was.

But as she continued to cry, I knew that I had to say something and it was at that point that the Lord revealed to me who the book was meant for. After a while I quietly made my way across the aisle and sat beside her. I cannot remember my precise words to her, but I wanted so much to be guided of the Lord in my choice of words. She seemed a little embarrassed at first but after a while this German lady dried her tears and accepted the book with thanks. I didn’t ask her why she had been crying but she told me. “My mother has just died,” she said. She had flown back to Düsseldorf for the funeral and now she was making her way back to Ireland.

After wishing her well and telling her that I would pray for her, I moved over to sit beside my husband again, with tears in my own eyes now. A small incident perhaps, but “His eye seeth every precious thing.” (Job 28v10) I have no doubt about that and I have no doubt that the Lord continued to speak to this lady – and still does today. The written word can go anywhere in the world, touching a million hearts in the process but it must be based on the greatest literature ever given to mankind – “the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1Peter 1v23) Yes, the words of mankind will some day pass away but I thank God, the Divine Author, for His inspired Word which will never pass away. May His Name be praised!

Tell Loved-One, Neighbour, Friend & Foe – Before it is too Late!

November 6, 2010

This week I learned of the death of a friendly lady whom I had once known. I could scarcely believe that I shall never see that dear face again in this life and now I wish that I had said more to her. This experience reminded me of “The Graves,” a poem of seven verses which I wrote in 2004 following the death of an elderly neighbour. Oh Lord, help all those who know you as Saviour to reach precious souls before it is too late. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10v32&33)

 

The Graves

 

One cloudy restless Sabbath Day,

I went in search of where he lay.

So pensively I picked my way,

Past ancient headstones and decay.

*******

Celtic crosses in the mist,

Coloured gravestones, raindrop-kissed,

Crying curlew overhead,

Wooden crosses, unknown dead.

*******

The old, the young, the rich, the poor,

A child, a babe…. a grief to endure;

A nobleman, a pauper, a puritan, a thief:

Death knows no boundary, and nor doth grief.

*******

Who were these within their day,

Whose bodies now lie clothed in clay?

Were they told, or did they see

That Jesus died all souls to free?

*******

And then I thought on the living-dead

For whom His precious blood was shed,

And how I wished that they could be

Joyful, saved, from sin set free.

*******

Oh, how I longed to talk with him,

Before the flickering light grew dim,

But hope had drowned in the Great Forever,

Where land and riches matter never.

*******

So, brother, sister we must go –

Tell loved-one, neighbour, friend and foe,

For how can we so silent be…

If we love the Author of Eternity?

© Elizabeth Burke.

Halloween and the Spirit of Evil

November 1, 2010

In this part of Ireland where I live there are numerous megalithic tombs on the landscape. Tonight my daughter and I were driving along when, out of curiosity, we stopped at one of these places where Neolithic people buried their cremated dead. I was curious to know whether some activity was going on around the place, given that it was Halloween night – a night when many animals suffer on account of satanic rituals. I was uneasy about walking up the narrow little path towards the tomb, which stands like a dome against the skyline. However, if anything was going on, I was determined that it should be interrupted. Anyway, we parked the car and by the light of a torch we made our way over to steps which we had to climb to get onto this winding path leading to the tomb. My daughter climbed up first but then she hesitated and screamed at what she saw. I joined her at the top of the steps and looked towards the dome where to my horror I saw a shadowy figure (wearing what looked like a cloak) standing right on top of it against the skyline! To be honest I didn’t feel so brave anymore and just wanted to get away from the place as soon as possible. We jumped from the steps and ran over to the car, which I started up – with difficulty. My daughter was worried that we were going to be stranded there, as the clutch seemed to be giving trouble. An isolated road in rural Ireland, close to a megalithic tomb where some shadowy figure in a cloak is standing – not an ideal place to be stranded, especially on Halloween night! Thankfully, I eventually got the car into gear and we were driving towards home. Unfortunately authorities turn a blind eye to such activities in Ireland, as elsewhere. As a child I enjoyed the normal activities which were traditionally associated with Halloween: the fireworks, the food, the pranks and knocking on doors. However, today as a Christian I feel totally estranged from this traditional festival which I feel has underlying satanic influences.

Never has Halloween been as popular and commercialised as it is today, and never have those who worship the devil had such freedom to exercise their ‘crafts.’ While the witches in bygone days were clandestine in their operations, because of the fear of being put to death, witches nowadays do television interviews and are open about their ‘craft.’ In Galatians 5v19-21, we read: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Our world, our neighbourhood, is currently full of superstitious rites, magic, spiritualist practices and ‘therapies’ of dubious origin, all of which are condemned in God’s Word. At some otherwise harmless events, such as craft fairs one will more than likely find a fortune teller, someone selling ‘Angel Cards,’ or some ‘New Age’ related articles or literature for sale. “Psychics” advertising in newspapers claim to offer “peace of mind, and assurance.” Surely we should be aware, as Christians, that there is a great turning away to the evil things of darkness, in the age in which we live? Let us therefore, as Christians, not celebrate the works of darkness – even if they are cloaked in seemingly harmless well-known traditions.

It was on 31st October, 1517, on the eve of a “traditional religious celebration,” that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the church door. Perhaps a celebration of the great truths of the Reformation would be more appropriate on this date? The following verses are surely at variance with many of those pranks (and much more evil practices) on Halloween night… “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand:  let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”  (Romans 13v10-12) Perhaps you feel that you do abhor those “works of darkness,” but have never trusted the Living Saviour. Why not trust Him now? God forbid that you should spend eternity with those who are described in Rev. 21v8… “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” The Saviour’s will is that you would be numbered with those who have overcome the evil one “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death” (Rev. 12v11).Then with the redeemed you can say: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption, through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Col. 1v12-14)  Oh that all who read would claim these promises, cast off the works of darkness (in His strength) and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  (Eph.6v12)