Archive for March, 2011

Primroses, New Life – and Showers of Blessing!

March 23, 2011

My favourite wild flower of spring is the primrose. Its delicate fragrance and colour is a joy to experience, tastefully decorating the ditches and hedgerows in this part of Europe. I love those verses in Song of Solomon 2v11&12… “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;” These lovely words fill me with optimism, although it must be said that Solomon had never experienced an Irish winter, which often lasts longer than we would wish!

When we entrust our lives into the Creator of all life, we inherit something special – a deep appreciation of the beauty of His creation. Although tainted by man, we can still experience something of its wonder and beauty when we visit some unspoilt countryside. How glorious is spring; that newness of life, which is not just a renewal, but new vibrant and budding life – a victory over death!  Just as spring emerges from the pessimistic gloom of winter, our lives can emerge from a spiritual death, as cold as winter itself – when we repent of our sin, asking Jesus to forgive us and take control. I once wrote the following, a simple acrostic verse that children may appreciate, which expresses my love of the flower and my joy in God’s creation and in the knowledge of sins forgiven through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Primroses in the Gloaming

(2Cor. 5v17)

Perfume so fragrant at the dawn of spring

Rose to meet me one twilight evening.

I hummed a tune as I strode along,

My heart as content as a bird in song.

Red was the sunset through clouds of the west,

Over the trees flapped the last crow to nest,

Silently, gently, I picked one pale flower…

Enraptured my soul after the shower!

 

Elizabeth Burke

 

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Man Dies on His 107th Birthday! On Longevity and the Christian Life

March 17, 2011

When I heard that Jacob Marshall, an elderly man I knew who lived close to my old homeplace in Northern Ireland died recently on his 107th birthday, I started to think about the fact that longevity is very often synonymous with leading a Christian life.

Of course this is not always the case but I have noticed that those who have truly committed their lives to the Lord and follow in His paths very often do live longer. There are many reasons why this may be so – not least the fact that committed Christians live healthier lives. They regard their bodies as the “Temple of the Holy Ghost” (1Cor. 3v16) which means that they don’t drink themselves to oblivion, they don’t do drugs and they don’t smoke. With regard to food intake, this verse is practised in their daily lives… “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Cor. 10v31). 

They are also not as likely to suffer from depression; a factor which is said to actually shorten an individual’s lifespan – even if they don’t resort to suicide. They have a reason to live – and an assurance in death; they have that unspeakable joy which only their Saviour can impart and they are generally happier and healthier in their minds too, for they “are persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able” to separate them “from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8v38&39)

When we live as peacefully as we can with our fellowmen (Romans 12v18); bearing no grudges, in the knowledge that God is the Final Judge Who some day will see to it that justice is done, it is surely better for our own well-being in the long run. Jesus’ example to us of “rendering not evil for evil” (1Thess. 5v15) is a healthy one for our physical and emotional well-being.

Of course Christians can (and do) sometimes die when they are quite young and Jesus was a prime example of this. All across the world at this moment are those followers of the Lord Jesus who are being persecuted for their faith, flung into prison, starved and tortured; such treatment very often leads to early death. And of course, Christians too live in a world which is polluted by disease of one sort or another and nuclear fall-out which results in cancer, while accidents of all types are universal.

Still, God is sovereign and when we repent, committing our lives to Him, we can rest assured that He will give us the grace to live our lives out to His glory whether they are short and sweet – or exceptionally long, like Jacob Marshall’s – or Methuselah’s!

I will close with a verse of a poem which my maternal grandfather often recited to my mother when she was a child…

“Be good sweet maid, and let who will be clever;

Do noble deeds, not dream them all day long,

And so make life, death, and that vast Forever

One grand sweet song.”

 

The above is one of the many variations of a verse from Charles Kingsley’s poem, “A Farewell.” Surely this is God’s will for the remainder of my life, whatever it consists of… that I will allow Him to work in and through me, to sanctify me to the end that my life, death, and ‘that vast Forever’ are ‘one grand sweet song?’

Fond Memories of my father, Jack Hutchinson (15th June 1926 – 16th February 2011)

March 15, 2011

The following is a little article which I submitted to the Ulster Gazette newspaper in Armagh; it was kindly published by them just recently…

“Wednesday 16th February last saw the passing of Jack Hutchinson, a local farmer and fruit-grower from the Portadown Road/Armagh area, close to the village of Richhill. Well known and loved in his own community and further afield, Jack will be sadly missed by his wife Ella (née Turkington), children Elizabeth, George, Grace and Christine and Jack’s younger sister Ella, who is his only remaining sibling. Jack was loved dearly by each and every one of his 11 grandchildren for his fun-loving personality and will also be sadly missed by his daughter-in-law Jackie and sons-in-law Martin, Bruce and Colin, in addition to his sisters-in-law Rena and Freda, brother-in-law George and his many nephews, nieces and others in the extended family circle.

Friends, neighbours and acquaintances will also miss Jack, an unassuming man who encouraged others and whose life was characterised by honesty, integrity, hard work and love for his fellowman. He and his wife Ella were married for almost 59 years and their united faith and devotion to their Saviour and each other was exemplary, mirroring their commitment to the Lord in the early 1950’s. Jack came to put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ in June 1950 and had a later experience of sanctification in December 1955. Prayer was of the utmost importance to him throughout the years; both his own personal prayer and the prayer meetings which he attended with others, while his well-studied Bible was his constant companion on the armchair beside him.

Above all, Jack would want sorrowing loved ones and close friends to know that although he is “absent from the body,” he is joyfully “present with the Lord” (2Cor. 5v8) and that for all who put their trust in his Saviour and lifelong Friend, there is this sure promise… “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30v5)

Finally, Jack would also desire that his testimony should live on to speak to others, long after his passing. Jack’s testimony can be viewed and printed from this website:

https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/jack-hutchinson-%e2%80%93-%e2%80%9cyou-can-be-saved-%e2%80%93-and-know-it%e2%80%9d-by-his-daughter-elizabeth-burke-nee-hutchinson/

Copies are also available from his daughter, Elizabeth. (Email: readywriterpublications@gmail.com)

Should Christians be Involved in Politics – or Even Vote?

March 9, 2011

After the recent general election and establishment of a new government in Ireland, I was thinking of those who don’t (or cannot) vote for one reason or another. However, few people realise that there is a substantial percentage of the population whose religious convictions prevent them from voting because of these words of Jesus: “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18v36) Yet I am also reminded of His words in Luke 20v25: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.”

As I go about my business every day, I am very much aware that (like it or not) I actually live and participate in this world; a world where I buy and sell (for the moment) and a world of political leaders who make decisions which affect the nature of our lives as human beings. Could I, for example, as a Christian, stand by and take no part in a referendum which would introduce ethnic cleansing? If I had lived during the era of Hitler’s regime, would I not, as a Christian, have had strong views on this man’s murderous attitude to the Jews, God’s ancient chosen people – and to other minority groups whom he abhorred?

Yes, as an individual I feel morally bound to use my vote but to be honest I find myself voting to keep certain candidates out, as opposed to putting people into government.

Unfortunately in Ireland there are political parties which have been (and very possibly still are) associated with terrorist organisations. Therefore, how can I, as a Christian, stand back and not use the tiny influence that I have in my vote to stop such political parties gaining power in my country? In Proverbs 28v5 I read: “Evil men understand not judgement: but they that seek the Lord understand all things.” Therefore I feel that as a Christian the Lord would have me to use my vote prayerfully at both election and referendum times. However… should a Christian be a politician?

One good example of a Christian politician in history is William Wilberforce. This young man came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in 1784, having been influenced by a book “The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul” by William Doddridge who was a leading non-conformist in the early 18th century. It was the influence of William Wilberforce in politics which lead to the abolition of the slave trade but he also advocated many other changes in society which were based on Christian principles.

Having quoted this example of a Christian politician in history, however, I also believe that there are relatively few Christians involved in politics in today’s world, something which is evidenced by the introduction of evil laws and legislation which are contrary to scripture.

In answer to the question: “can a Christian be a politician?” I believe that the answer is ‘yes’ but only, of course, if the Lord definitely guides the individual to do so. He or she would need to be strong in their relationship with the Saviour and to be in no doubt as to their calling into this field for it is a difficult sphere in which to take a stand. Many snares are out there and the Christian must “dare to be a Daniel – and dare to make it known!” It must be remembered that neither politics nor any other issue in this life must get in the way of our relationship with the Lord. He must come first in our lives above all else and we must never be tempted to compromise our position because of popular or majority support for something which is contrary to God’s laws. Jesus said: “He that is not with me is against me;” (Matthew 12v30)

There can be no ‘sitting on the fence’ and no ‘grey areas’ when voting on any issue.

With this in mind it is interesting to note that William Wilberforce was an independent Member of Parliament. For obvious reasons, it is perhaps not a good idea for Christians to be involved in ‘Party Politics’ – unless the Party concerned has a manifesto which is based solely on Biblical principles.

As someone who was born in the middle of the 20th century I have watched, with interest, the political events of this world unfold. Totalitarian regimes and the many faces of communism have come and gone. Proverbs 1v14 warns of those who beg… “cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse;” and Proverbs 28v15 warns of wicked rulers… “As a roaring lion, and a raging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.”

Proverbs 27v24 declares… “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” And so, this world will some day come to an end – along with all earthly kingdoms and political ideologies. But there is a King who is coming to reign and “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end…” (Isaiah 9v6&7) He is “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19v16) and His glorious Kingdom “is not of this world.” Therefore let us who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour serve Him with a pure heart in this life, whatever our standing in the communities in which we live. We must take a stand on the controversial issues of our day, for if we claim to own Jesus as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” then we are the “salt of the earth” – but “if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matthew 5v13)

Link to the hymn: “Sing we the King who is coming to reign:” http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/s/i/singking.htm