Archive for October, 2011

Halloween Horror Stories – and the Great Commission

October 30, 2011

Last night the sounds of soaring fireworks hissing through the cold night air reminded me of how much I dislike everything that is associated with this time of year. And yesterday I noticed that our local free newspaper was advertising ‘bags of haunted bones, spooky specs, garlands of skulls, hanging ghosts, vampire teeth… and Happy Halloween Banners,’ amongst other things.

‘So what’s happy about Halloween?’ I ask myself. This same newspaper informs me that a cat in the locality is found stoned to death, while another is skinned alive within the space of one week; these horrific practices very often occurring in the run-up to Halloween. It also warns of the dangers of bonfires and of children handling fireworks, resulting in severe hand, facial and eye injuries.  

Halloween for me is a time of the year which is permeated by satanic influences. Those who are guilty of the horrific practice of throwing small defenceless animals onto bonfires may well be described by some of the words from Romans 1v30&31… “Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:”

Having said that, I am sure that most people who celebrate Halloween are certainly not guilty of the vile deeds mentioned above; they merely see it as a tradition to pass on and some fun for their children, unaware that this celebration has its roots in darkest evil.

Oh how our nation needs the Lord! While the masses trudge on through the dubious celebrations of the seasons towards a lost eternity, many Christians keep a low profile and are reluctant to speak out on the issues of our times. Perhaps instead of staying indoors with our earplugs in on Halloween night, those who are able should prayerfully go as the Lord leads to try and reach these souls for whom Jesus died.

Neighbourhood bonfires and organised firework displays are always well attended, making them excellent venues for giving out tracts and striking up conversations with families and individuals. In the darkness of the night recipients may not be able to read the tract – but later at home they will find it in their pocket, read it – and hopefully be spoken to by it!

It is good also to arrange a meeting for this time of year, at which someone who was once ensnared in evil will speak and perhaps give his or her testimony.

As Christians the Lord has placed us where we live today for a purpose and He has commanded us to reach the souls with whom we come in contact and those who live around us.

Let us not cower and hide away because of the evil atmosphere that this time of year brings and let us “be not overcome with evil,” but rather let us “overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12v21), in the knowledge that “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1John 4v4)

 

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Who stole my Father’s Gate?

October 28, 2011

I recently wrote a little article for a local newspaper after the disappearance of a gate which my father, the late Mr. Jack Hutchinson, had fitted to the entrance of the back lane of his farm. These gates bring back memories for me of peaceful country walks and of happy days of my closely knit family throughout the seasons. I am saddened that the gates are gone as I associate them with my father who died only a few months ago. One has been taken away by my brother, in case it is stolen too and the other… who knows where it is? The theft of the gate is only a minor one in a number of other more distressing recent events in my life. But the photograph of the gates and the poetry which they inspired me to write will live on… hopefully to touch hearts for a long time to come. Below is the poem that I wrote almost eight years ago for a baby niece’s christening, inserting a photograph of the gates…

Today, a precious baby girl,

I watch your tiny life unfurl,

Knowing not the future path of years,

You sit with smiles, and sometimes tears

At the gateway of life.

I trust you will blossom and grow,

As lovely days shall come and go –

Each joyous occasion a treasured milestone

On a path that belongs to you alone.

There may be a mountain to ascend

And often a spiralling bend,

And crossroads too – a difficult decision –

For not all roads are signed with vision.

And some may carry a heavy toll,

As the journey of life shall onward roll.

But I know a narrow little road

Where the cares of life you may unload.

Branching off from busy highways,

It leads so far from this world’s byways.

There you may rest in green pastures,

And be restored by still waters –

For its toll has once for all been paid

By one, Jesus, who died in your stead.

So, I will pray for you little niece

That you may choose this road of peace,

And take the hand of a Shepherd Friend,

Who will guide your life to journey’s end,

Until you meet that crystal river,

And dwell in the light of His presence

Forever.

 

 

Derelict

October 18, 2011

I have always been fascinated by old deserted farms, cottages and even the ruins of what were once the grand mansions of aristocracy now lying miserably derelict and dangerous in their decadence. The Irish countryside is full of them! It is interesting how a house will soon fall to wreck and ruin because it is no longer occupied, a phenomenon known as ‘entropy’ or the ‘law of universal decay.’ I once explored the rooms of an old cottage in the Mourne Mountains which lay deserted and abandoned like the Marie Celeste. Within its walls lay the writings of those who had once lived there; I felt strangely saddened by the atmosphere and those possessions, now ruined by the lashing rain which had long since infiltrated the cottage in many places. How sad to think that if those people were still living there, the cottage would not have fallen to ruin…

Surely without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we too would face ultimate destruction?

A man, rich in prestige and the things of this world, but without Christ, is as without hope and decadent, as the ruins of any great house, but if he can humbly come to the Lord, and truly say with the Psalmist… “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow,” (Psalm 51v7), then the Lord will come in strength, and fill that heart with His presence!  I wrote the poem ‘Derelict’ many years ago now…

I see them everywhere,

The empty houses, the derelict houses,

In various stages of ruin,

But the end of them all is the same –

If they are never occupied again.

Birds nest in their chimneys,

Cattle walk in windowless living rooms,

Where children, long since dead, laughed and ate.

Rats nest in ancient fireplaces,

Stoked years ago by willing hands,

But the last flame died when love had gone.

Now weary travellers shelter from rain

Within their shadowy walls,

Once witness to the joy and tears of life.

But in time they start to crumble,

Becoming decadent, dangerous,

Worse than useless.

Even the ruins of what were once

The grand mansions of aristocracy

Now lie sadly decomposing, with weeds and fungus

 Sprouting from their tarnished walls.

And one bleak day, with stones

And memories washed away by time,

The wind will whisper in a space

That once was home.

I see them everywhere –

They are like a stage without actors,

A person with no personality,

A plan without a purpose,

A body without a soul,

Man without God…

No indwelling Presence

To nurture, love and fill with warmth…

The second law of thermodynamics:

All things left to themselves…

Will eventually decay.

© Elizabeth Burke

Where is Youcef Nadarkhani?

October 8, 2011

A global day of prayer has been called on Sunday 9th October for this young man, Youcef Nadarkhani who has already suffered so much. He was originally charged with protesting but later the charges were changed to apostasy and the Evangelism of Muslims. Anxious to carry out the death sentence in Youcef’s case, the authorities have come up with new charges of rape and extortion, although there was no mention at all of such charges in the original documents. Now we are told that a verdict will be delivered in his case on Monday (10th) next.

The words: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake,” (Matthew 5v11) came to mind when I first learned of these new charges.

Youcef has remained loyal to his Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, for how could he deny He who went to Calvary to purchase his salvation?

“The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16v2) I sincerely believe that the persecution which we are currently witnessing in Iran will someday (perhaps sooner that we think) become a worldwide phenomenon and only those who are walking closely with the Lord will be able to endure such persecution.

Much to the consternation of the Iranian authorities, the eyes of those in power in the international community are now focussed on this case and it is unanimously agreed that these new charges are ‘trumped up.’

Please continue to pray for Youcef in the knowledge that, whatever happens, the Lord will have the last say in the life of His servant. Pray too, for his wife, his children, the members of his congregation and for other anonymous souls who have been imprisoned for their faith throughout this country with its evil regime.

So, where is Youcef at this very moment, as I write? Is he still in the secret police security prison in Lakan, where he has been held in solitary confinement – or (knowing that the Iranian authorities are capable of such things) has he been taken away and hanged secretly?

I just don’t know but I will continue to pray, as the Lord leads, in this ongoing horrific situation.

And I do know that wherever Youcef is, he is in a safer place spiritually than the most supreme religious ruler of Iran… because no one is safe in this sinful uncertain world, as long as they have not yet repented of their sins and trusted in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

24th February 2012… The lastest news on Youcef  is  that  an order for his execution has been signed. Please pray for him and his loved ones and make representation on his behalf to the Iranian Embassy in your country. But mostly – continue to pray.

Sowing the Seed on All Ireland Poetry Day

October 7, 2011

Seeing a window of opportunity in “All Ireland Poetry Day” on 6th October, I made a leaflet entitled: “A Little Selection of Christian Verse from the Irish Countryside.” It was interesting to discover again the old villages of Garristown and the Naul in North County Dublin. Garristown has a small Carnegie Library and the Naul is known for ‘the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre’ which also accommodates a small coffee shop. I distributed my poetry leaflets to both locations and also to the village of Stamullen and to the library in the town of Balbriggan. Little seeds can sometimes blow much further than we think!

How good it is to use every opportunity we are presented with to reach others with the good news of salvation. Even when we find ourselves in situations that are far from pleasant, we can use these new developments in our lives to the glory of God and for the extension of His kingdom. During recent months I have been in hospital because of ill-health but I have made contacts in that situation and have had the joy of giving signed copies of my first book “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” to some patients who I instinctively know it will touch.

In recent times I have also been thinking about the little maid who was carried away by the Syrians in 2Kings Chapter 5. I am sure that this was the last thing that she would have wished for herself, but that little maid was able to put a man of influence in touch with the Lord’s servant Elisha – and ultimately God’s healing and saving power!

I also think of Joseph who was sold by his brothers into Egypt; yet the Lord not only protected Joseph, but He raised him up to use him to save a nation from famine!

Yes, life can lead us down some dark paths, for even as Christians we live in a polluted and dangerous world, where satanic opposition should not be underestimated; yet we have this reassurance that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8v28)

And so we walk on, by faith, even through the darkest of nights, trusting that the Lord will protect us and bring us Home to be with Him forever, when life’s short day is over. Meanwhile, we have so little time to serve Him here and the night is fast approaching when “no man can work” (John 9v4). Therefore, let us ask His guidance for every new and unique opportunity that comes our way to reach the souls!

Below is one of the verses from my little poetry leaflet, based on the verse… “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4v18)

The Path of the Just 

Softly glowing light

Throughout the darkest night,

Every cloud its silver lining,

Every sorrow, love entwining.

My path meanders on,

In faith towards the Dawn –

Oh breaking glory, eternal Day,

Forever with my Lord to stay! 

© Elizabeth Burke