Archive for February, 2011

Jack Hutchinson – “You can be Saved – and Know it!” By his daughter Elizabeth Burke (née Hutchinson)

February 25, 2011

Jack Hutchinson was my Dad and so I knew him better than most! Throughout my unregenerate youthful years I had viewed my father as an honest, upright, hardworking, loving father and husband. My mother and he were always so close; to me their marriage was ‘heaven made,’ as my Mum too trusted the Saviour shortly after my father. One thing that used to embarrass me in my youthful days, though, was Dad’s unrelenting witness to every soul he came in contact with. I remember driving home with him one summer’s afternoon from a seaside location. For some reason there were just the two of us in the car – probably because I had to return home early to get back to work. As we drove along, I saw a young man in the distance who was ‘thumbing a lift’ and I instinctively knew what would happen next. Dad drew up alongside him, the young man climbed into the back seat and Dad witnessed to him for the entire journey! I was silent, squirming in my seat and looking out the window but on that day, to be honest, my father’s words even convicted me.

Since I too became a Christian, my father and I have naturally become close and I love nothing more than to discuss spiritual matters with him. Just recently Dad has been subjected to some traumatic health problems concerning his heart. One lovely afternoon while he rested in his chair after a recent spell in hospital, He and I sat talking about his testimony and his later wonderful experience of sanctification. As he talked and I jotted down quick notes, I felt emotional in the knowledge that some day in this life all of our hearts (as we now know them) will no longer function, but if our spiritual hearts are in the right place, we will receive a new perfect body which will serve us, not for eighty, ninety or even a hundred years – but for ever and ever in the joy of the Lord’s Presence! The following is my father’s testimony, as related to me on the afternoon of Wednesday 31st March, 2010, when he was in still in his eighty-fourth year…

“I was born into this world in the month of June 1926, but I was born again in the month of June 1950. In 1926, as a baby, I was baptised into the Church of Ireland and around eleven or twelve years later I was confirmed as a member of that church. Throughout my childhood and youth I was a regular church-goer; every Sunday my presence would have been seen in the pew and I would have faithfully taken communion at the appointed times. However these ordinances of the church, my church going and my respectability in the eyes of the community did nothing either to rejuvenate me spiritually, or to change my old life in any way.

To those who were acquainted with me I appeared to be a respectable, honest, hard-working young person, but I was not aware of the fact that I needed to be “saved” or “born again.” Sadly in all my years of church going I had never heard such terms used from the pulpit, although the Bible tells us that it is a requirement for going to Heaven. Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3v3&5-8)

It must be said at this point that there were moments in my life, when I would have been in the middle of one of my daily tasks on the farm, and I would wonder about eternity. Supposing something happened to me and I died? Would I go to Heaven or Hell? These solemn thoughts would enter my head at times and I knew that I had no certain assurance about my eternal destiny.

Although my purpose in life was to be a ‘good religious person,’ I really needed to be born again, as it says in 1Peter 1v23: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1Peter 1v23). Being ‘born again’ is not brought about by infant baptism or even confirmation. It happens after conviction, admission and repentance of sin and as a consequence of asking the Lord Jesus Christ to come into our lives to make us new people. However, I had never been made aware of my need in this respect and so my life continued in this way: living, working, trying to be as good possible… until one day a mission came to the rural area in County Armagh where I lived.

In the early summer of 1950, the Faith Mission was given permission to have a mission in Cloughan, in a little hall in a rural setting around four miles out the Portadown Road from Armagh. This was something new for me and I was curious about it, as I had never attended anything of this nature before. A middle-aged lady, a Mrs. Rachel Troughton who lived locally invited me to come along to this mission. “If your grandfather was alive, he would go,” she told me. I was interested by this remark and so, being curious to find out the nature of what it was that would have attracted my paternal grandfather to such an event, I decided to go along.

Well, I must say that this meeting (the first of its kind that I ever recall attending) was very different to the church services that I would have been used to! One thing I noted was that the word ‘saved’ was used a lot during the meeting and it was this word ‘saved’ that spoke to my heart. Was it possible, I thought, ‘to be saved and to know it?’ How marvellous if I could have an assurance in my heart that I was definitely going to Heaven! After the meeting was over I discussed this matter with a Methodist minister, Rev. George Fennel, who was also at the mission that night. He assured me that I most definitely could have this assurance in my heart; this knowledge of sins forgiven and of a certain home in Heaven. As I walked home that night with a friend (who was a professing Christian) I pondered these things in my heart and in my conversation with him. Before going home he and I went into an old shed which was close to my home and we had a time of prayer together. That old shed, like many other landmarks, is long since gone but the memories linger on.

That night I went to sleep still thinking about all that I had heard earlier in the meeting, but I knew that I was still not right with God. The next evening I went along to that mission with one sole intent – to get saved and have an assurance in my heart that I was saved. I can remember that night well. The hall was quite packed, since not so many people had television then. All the neighbours were gathered in and I was anxiously waiting for the appeal at its conclusion. As the meeting drew to a close, this appeal was made for those who wanted to get right with the Lord to raise their hands. I raised my hand and at the end of the meeting when everyone was filing out, I waited behind. To the best of my knowledge I was the only person who came to the Lord that night, and as I sat waiting there while others walked out past me, I felt very conspicuous indeed. However, I knew that I was doing the right thing and that somehow my life would never ever be the same again. As the people in the meeting continued to pass, I recollect that one person stopped with me. This person nodded at me with a gesture that indicated that he wanted me to come along, not to wait behind – but to go outside after the meeting. I thank the Lord that I was firm in my resolve to stay in my seat and to get right with Him that night.

After everyone had left the meeting, I went up to meet the Faith Mission pilgrim, Miss Cordner. She asked me how she could help and I told her that I wanted to get saved; to get right with God. I was asked did I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to which I replied that I did. In fact there had never been a time in my life when I didn’t believe. Apart from attending church regularly, I also read my Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress, but none of this could give me the peace that I needed, for the Bible says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2v8&9) That night I repented as a sinner. I told the Lord that I needed to be saved and having done this I knew in my heart that I was saved. Miss Cordner asked me to tell the first person I met that I had got saved. She also asked me to go and tell my acquaintances and loved ones about what had happened to me that night, quoting Romans 10v9&10 which says: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

That night as I walked home the first person I met was a neighbour of ours who was on a bicycle and I stopped him to tell him that I had got saved. His reaction was not so encouraging, as he just ‘didn’t want to know.’ Then on arrival at my old home, I shall always remember the scene as I walked in that night… My father and a friend of his were sitting on either side of the fire, both of them smoking pipes. I frankly told them that I had got saved that night. “We’ll see how it works out,” my father said. His friend’s response was: “That’s good… you couldn’t have done a better thing!” I later discovered that this man had made a profession at one time and was now backslidden, but perhaps my words on that decisive night spoke to this man’s heart too.

Not long after my conversion I was invited to a Farmer’s Club social evening where two others and I had won first prize for sheep judging. Before going to this event I had promised the Lord that if He gave me the opportunity to speak, I would do so, testifying of what He had done for me. When the cup winners were asked to speak from the platform, my two colleagues did not want to – and so I could see the Lord’s hand in this. Evidently He wanted me to testify! As I used this opportunity to tell the audience of my experience, you could have ‘heard a pin drop.’ After my speech, the chairman’s words were most encouraging… “It would be well for others, if they did what Mr. Hutchinson has done,” he said. I found his words to be most encouraging, like the “cup of cold water” mentioned in Matthew 10v42.

In the next few years I was to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” and it wasn’t long after my conversion that I began to hear the message of sanctification preached. Unfortunately, the latter is something which is rarely heard in today’s pulpits, but I thank God that I came under such teaching in those days. The message “this is the will of God, even your sanctification” was expounded to me and at that time my Bible reading, as well as my witness for the Lord intensified. Deep within my heart was the desire to be “holy as He is holy.”

Then, one early morning, at around 7a.m., in the week before Christmas, in the year 1955, I was going out to milk the cattle when the Lord came suddenly upon me and I was filled with His Presence. Just as with my conversion, I do not have an exact date for that moment when I was sanctified – but I recall the place (the corner of the house) and the instant that it happened so well! Wonderful words from the Lord accompanied this experience…

“the Lord, whom ye seek, shall come suddenly to his temple…” (Mal. 3v1)

“Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (John 15v3)

“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”(1John 3v3)

My life at that moment was flooded with the Lord’s Presence and for a time (as the old hymn goes) I was “living on the mountain top.” Yet this was only the beginning in my closer walk with the Lord, for there is always new land to be possessed and praise God, we can possess it in the strength of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has “by one offering perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10v14)

After this experience of sanctification, the Lord used me to witness for Him in ‘Open Air Meetings.’ I recall dangerous times when those of us who took a stand for the Lord in this way could have been attacked – but thank God, He always protected us under all circumstances and who knows how many souls were touched by His Word in those meetings!

When I look back over my life, there have been rough and smooth paths to traverse since those early days, when as a young man I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ to save and sanctify me, but I thank Him for those “great and precious promises” which are spoken of in 2Peter 1v4… “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The following verses in this chapter are God’s will for His children… “And beside this, giving all diligence add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Peter 1v5-8)

As the years go by, I see the Lord’s guiding hand in all my life. Naturally as we grow older, even the Lord’s people are subject on occasions to ill health, but I have that joy in serving a living Saviour who will take care of me whatever the future holds for me. I thank God that I can still be used of Him to reach others and that (even when we are going through low times) He will use our presence to speak to needy souls. Just recently when I was in hospital, I had occasion to meet a man whose father was a Christian who once spoke at meetings in our area. Unfortunately this man, as he admitted himself, had never trusted the Saviour even though his father had witnessed to him ‘a thousand times,’ as he put it. I believe that the Lord was now using me, an old acquaintance of his father, to speak to this person and that the fact that I was in the same ward, at the same time as him was amazing and certainly no accident.

Praise God for His continuing Presence in my life to this day! I have a longing for all my loved ones and the people I know or come in contact with, to find this Saviour who has done so much for me. I am very conscious that the terrible signs of the times show us that we are living in the last days and that the Lord’s coming may be imminent. I thank Him that I am ready, by faith, to meet Him and that my Risen Saviour has made provision for every living person in this world today to have abundant life in Him. Yes, there is no limit to what the Lord can do in, and through, the life of a saved and sanctified soul – and today, as always, I praise Him for His great love to me.”

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14v12)

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“Absent from the Body – Present with the Lord” (2Cor. 5v8)

February 24, 2011

A few days before the end of 2010 my father took a severe stroke. What a shock that was and how my loved ones have rallied around for the seven weeks (to the very day) that he died! How much we shall miss him – especially my mother; yet I have that assurance in my heart that Dad is with His Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. On Saturday 19th February as Dad’s body made its last journey down the tree- lined avenue from his home, it was a beautiful day. New baby shoots were pushing their way up through the soil – the promise of another spring of growth and of the warmth of the sun, after winter’s dark cold sorrow. Yes, I cry as I write this, in the knowledge that I shall never see that dear face, or hear his voice on this earth again but I have such joy in serving my father’s risen Saviour who has given me that ‘peace which passes all understanding.’ Now I must go, in His strength, to proclaim His love for all mankind, for I am aware, more than ever of the brevity of life and of the need for souls to be ready for His coming again. I felt privileged to do the reading from 1Thessalonians 4v13-18 at Dad’s funeral service. With trembling hands I opened at this reading which commences with the words… “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”  

After the long journeys made to his bedside these past seven weeks, I had been feeling drained and yet the Lord gave me the strength to climb the steps to the lectern, to do this reading. Hundreds of faces stared up – something which would leave me quivering under normal circumstances, as I am a naturally shy person, but I was doing this for the Lord – and His servant, my Dad. Afterwards my three daughters hugged me and I was greeted with the words: “Grandad would have been so proud of you.”

The two hymns which rang out that day were: “My Jesus I love thee, I know thou art mine” by W.R. Featherston and “Jesus the Name high over all” by Charles Wesley. I love the final verse of “My Jesus I love thee…”

“In mansions of glory and endless delight

I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright

I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.”

And I love the final verse of “Jesus the Name high over all…”

“Happy, if with my final breath

I might but gasp His name,

Preach Him to all, and cry in death,

‘Behold, behold the Lamb!”

Outside the church another sea of faces greeted me; some I had not seen since childhood and scarcely knew now. Hands shook mine, old acquaintances embraced me and a world of people from another era of my life floated around. It was almost surreal; I walked as if in a dream with my loved ones behind the funeral cortège, down the village street where I had walked as a child from school. Later at the ‘Orchard cemetery,’ in a lovely rural setting just outside the village of Richhill, my husband and daughters were a comfort as the interment took place. As the coffin was lowered into the grave, the sun suddenly came out in full force, shining strongly and triumphantly through the clouds and I felt embraced by its kindly warmth. How I felt the Lord’s strong Presence and reassurance with me at that moment!

That night my eldest daughter had a dream; she wakened and said to me: “Mum, Grandad is alright. I dreamed that he hugged me and told me not to cry. In the dream he was tall, strong and healthy… and so happy. But when he hugged me, it was as if there was something separating us… ”

“Yes love,” I said, “he is alright. I know that.”

And yes, there is something separating us – the last enemy which is death. Perhaps I will face it some day – and maybe not, but this I know…

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4v16-18)

My prayer is that all who read would trust in the precious Name of my Dad’s Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation!

Link to these hymns: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/m/j/e/mjesusil.htm

http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/j/n/a/jnamhigh.htm

Today I Saw a Rainbow!

February 7, 2011

After weeks of weary wintry days, I looked up to see the beauty of soft light filtering through the clouds and then I looked down to see these words on an old calendar… “Great is thy faithfulness!” I subsequently remembered the words of Lamentations 3v22-24… “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.”

Recent days have been dark and depressing for many reasons but I have felt the Lord’s presence with me in some of those darkest hours. This afternoon I also saw a rainbow, its colours strong and vibrant after the rain shower. The birds are singing, buds bursting out of the soil and “I hope in him!” Yet my hope must be in Him whatever the prevailing circumstances. Even if thick black clouds of misfortune drift my way, to whom can I turn but my Lord and my Saviour? “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” (Psalm 62v7)

Strangely, it is as if nature itself has mirrored my life over the past weeks and now with the promise of spring, I see a fresh ray of hope in the improvement of a loved-one’s health – like that rainbow emerging from a brighter sky. I am also reminded of a verse from Thomas Chisholm’s lovely hymn “Great is thy faithfulness…”

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,

Sun, moon and stars in their courses above

Join with all nature in manifold witness

To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

Yet, whatever bleak outlook awaits those who are walking with the Lord in this life, he or she is in a “win win” situation because the future promises joy beyond death itself…

“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth

Thine own dear Presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”

With Job I can say: “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) May the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ be praised!

Link to this hymn: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/g/r/e/greatitf.htm

My Love for the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible (1611-2011)

February 2, 2011

I have always had respect for the Bible and when I was very young, my father ensured that we learned to recite many passages; one of these being Psalm 1: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…” Today I can still recite that Psalm by heart, but it wasn’t until I became a Christian that I felt the words of the Bible come alive and especially relevant for me. “Read the King James Bible,” my old English teacher had advised, “for its great literary content.” Then, in the autumn of 1977 I asked my mother for a simple gift for the following Christmas – a copy of the King James Bible. Indeed I still have that old Bible but it is now carefully stored in a little box to keep the pages together, since over the ensuing years I was to search those pages for inspiration, for answers, for hope. I started to systematically read it through and I came to love every word, but I also came to question the nature of my life and to be convicted by words like… “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53v6) Despite the fact that I was a ‘law abiding citizen’ I came to see that, like every other soul born into this world, I needed a Saviour because of words like: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3v23)  Then one late evening in August 1978, just eight months after receiving my first Bible, in the quietness of my heart I repented of all that previous life lived outside His grace and asked the Lord Jesus to come into my heart and to be my Saviour.

From that moment on my life was never to be the same again, for it was to be guided by the Word of God; a book which even some atheists will admit is extraordinary in content. Its words brought revelation, guidance, comfort and joy throughout the years ahead. When my children were ill or in hospital I would seek the Author of this book in prayer and then He would comfort me with loving words from its pages; words which were amazingly apt for every situation I would find myself in.

The beauty of its language is second to none and despite the fact that there are numerous other English translations of the Bible, I feel that there is no better translation than this one for the English speaking world today.

Tonight I lift my first Bible in my hands with nostalgia. Inside its cover I read words which were written nearly 34 years ago by my mother:

Christmas 1977 from Mum and Dad. (Isaiah 41v10)

Then I go to Isaiah 41v10 and read: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

How often those beautiful words would speak to me over the years and how comforting they are on this night as I pray for my father who is very ill in hospital. I love the poetic beauty of those books from Job to Song of Solomon, the history, the genealogy… yet everything contained in the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation ultimately points to the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for all mankind, making it possible for every soul on this universe to be born again, “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Peter 1v23)

Years later my husband gave me another Bible; still the beautiful King James translation but in bigger print this time because I was growing older! Every time I read the Bible through, I record the date of that reading and leave a comment like “Praise the Lord!” Today its words breathe life to me and as the years go by they are more precious than ever. The full colour gift books which the Lord has led me to write, quote extensively and exclusively from the Authorised Version and in this, the 400th Anniversary of its launch, I hope, in the Lord’s strength to promote it all the more.

This is the Bible which inspired the great spiritual revivals in history throughout Britain, Ireland and the U.S.A. My prayer is that its words will once again, in this 21st Century, live on to pierce the hearts of men, women and children with its truth and that souls would search its pages and turn to its Divine Author in repentance before “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4v5)

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22v18&19)