Archive for April, 2012

Is This Your Stolen Car?

April 25, 2012

On a misty, but warm spring day some weeks ago, my daughter and I decided to take a walk along our local beach at Gormanston in County Meath. This beach has been previously labelled “the most radioactive in Europe” and I can well believe it since it lies directly opposite the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield in England. Sellafield, unfortunately, had been dumping nuclear waste into the Irish Sea for many years and is said to be the contributing factor to higher cancer statistics in my local area and on our east coast in general. On a warm day we used to go into the sea here but I have been a little reluctant on hearing one local say that he wouldn’t even let his dog into the sea now!

The long sandy beach which stretches for many miles from just south of Drogheda in County Louth right through to Balbriggan in County Dublin has the potential to be an area of outstanding beauty, with its scenery and bounty of wildlife. However, because of international and national pollution and the fact that the Irish Army use the Gormanston area for military purposes, this makes it most unattractive.

On this particular day, though, all of nature seemed to be in its glory, with the rush of the sparkling waves slipping in over the sand, the seagulls crying in the breeze and daffodils growing wildly and waving on the high cliff above the beach. I took a deep breath of (who knows what kind of) air and everything looked good until I spotted it – a car which was partially submerged in the sand, with no number plates and smashed windows. When we took a closer look we noticed that the interior was smashed up too. Somehow this cast a shadow over my previous optimism, when we had set out on our walk.

Here was someone’s car which had been stolen, vandalised and left as litter on the beach. My heart went out to the owner, since my husband had his car stolen too once; smashed and dumped by a joy rider, in an area of Dublin where even the police are reluctant to ask questions.

Perhaps I have painted another picture of Ireland here; one that questions its ‘green’ and peaceful image and one that would not readily appeal to tourists. Yes, it can be an unpopular route to take, when we see things for how they are and when we point out the negatives in our society.

Of course other parts of the world have problems too… “for we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8v22)

At this moment those who know the Lord live, sleep, walk and work in environments which have been polluted and in societies where sin abounds. We are not immune to the diseases and effects brought about by mankind’s sinful attitudes and desire to make themselves rich. We live in a polluted world, both from a spiritual and environmental point of view – but God is Sovereign. Just as He delivered “just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked,” (2Peter 2v7) those who trust Him in this the Day of Grace, will find in Him a refuge, through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 The month of April has been designated as “National Spring Clean Ireland,” a time when individuals and organisations can work to clean up their environment. This is an admirable thing to do, but spiritually speaking, only the Lord can get to the root of the problem. Surely for changed attitudes in every sphere we need ‘clean hearts?’

Yes, His blood “can make the vilest clean,” so for those who know Him as Saviour, let us reach out in love to the souls and communities around us, as directed by Him. Not everyone is a joy rider, a thief or suffers from drug/alcohol abuse – but all have need of a Saviour. For the moment, the Christian lives in a world where he may be robbed, attacked and subject to disease which has been brought about by men’s greed but if we are faithful to the end, the Lord will bring us into a haven, infinitely safer than that of Lot’s on this earth. There will be no thief, liar, vandal, immorality or disease; no crying and no pain.

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” (2Peter 3v13&14) Praise God.

Advertisements

The Bible is Still the World’s Best Seller!

April 23, 2012

As tonight, 23rd April 2012, is World Book Night, I have been reflecting on the issue of education (as well as that of women’s education) throughout the world and have also been thinking about the different attitudes towards it in societies everywhere. I would like to know what justification there can be for recent vicious attacks against young girls who are trying to go to school in Afghanistan. Is it a matter of culture and tradition or do those who perpetrate such deeds find justification for what they do in their religious writings?

Young girls have been poisoned, gassed, mutilated… all because of their natural desire to have a basic education.

I was dismayed by the following true story from Afghanistan…

One morning as two young sisters in Kandahar were going to school a man pulled up alongside them on a motorbike and asked: “Are you going to school?”

When he learned that they were, he pulled one of their burqas off and sprayed the little girl with burning acid. This horrific attack has left her scarred for life and nowadays her vision is blurred, making it difficult for her to read.

How I wish that these young girls could attend school on a regular basis without constantly living in fear of such attacks or even of being murdered. Sadly it is a fact that my experience of school many years ago was so encouraging and positive when compared with girls in Afghanistan today.

One of my first memories when I started school was of being seated at a desk one morning and of the teacher coming along shaking a large box of letters from the alphabet. “See how many words you can make out of these letters,” she said. And so, in time the words became sentences and those sentences became paragraphs and the paragraphs were joined to tell a story; I have to say that this activity has stuck in my memory over the years because I found it so enjoyable.

Soon I came to find the art of reading enjoyable too. My family would travel to Smithfield Markets in Belfast where we picked up armfuls of books at just a few pence each and upon our return home I would be engrossed in reading them, often to the neglect of everything else!

What a privilege it is to be able to read – but what an enormous privilege it is to be able to read God’s Holy Word, the Bible. Somehow when I came to know Jesus as Saviour, all other books (while some of them were interesting and even spiritually helpful) paled into insignificance when compared with my daily companion – the Bible.

In this tremendous volume I found all the instructions I needed to live this life to the full and the joy of the assurance that my sins were forgiven; I was taught to respect and love my fellowmen and women; I found comfort, solace and direction; amazing stories which gave me courage and poetry that inspired me. But above all I discovered that the Author loved me personally and wanted to share His riches with me forever.

It has been estimated that world sales of the Bible are currently more than a hundred million every year and yet I feel that most people in the world have still never read the Bible through even once; sadly this also applies to those who have made a profession of having trusted the Saviour.

I remember finding conviction in the words of the Bible before becoming a Christian and I believe that those who sincerely want to find truth will be spoken to. I also believe that the best place to start reading is in the New Testament – and then the Old Testament.

My prayer is that the Bible will be translated into every dialect and language of the world and that men, women and children throughout the world will be given the opportunity to discover within its pages the remedy for sin and the recipe for happiness.

“Search the scriptures,” Jesus tells us in John 5v39, “for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

Jesus loves you, He died for you and He rose again in triumph for you – over sin and death and hell, if you will only repent and trust Him with your life, your all. I pray that you will read His beautiful story today, if you have not already done so.  

Beautiful Free Bookmarks with John 3 Verse 16 in many Languages of the World

April 18, 2012

It has been estimated that there are at least 6909 living languages in the world today – how amazing! I am uncertain about whether the Bible has been even partially translated into most of these but surely one verse which the souls of the world must hear is the lovely John 3v16… “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.”

Originally I used to make bookmarks as a little complimentary gift to go with my books but in recent years I have felt fulfilment in making and distributing colourful bookmarks with John 3v16 depicted on them in different languages too. Translations of John 3v16 in many languages of the world can be downloaded, printed and then pasted to colourful card or old gardening magazines. I cut these into bookmark form, laminate them and then hand them out as free gifts to those I meet on my travels.

Two years ago my bookmarks were almost confiscated by airport security, supposedly because laminated articles are sharp and can be used as weapons! After that incident I decided that the best place for them was to be safely stored in luggage that goes in the hold. So far I have made and distributed bookmarks in Greek, Albanian, Chinese (Mandarin), Polish, Irish – and English of course. Just recently I was speaking to a missionary friend who will be travelling back to her work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so I have decided to send her some gift bookmarks with John 3v16 in Swahili, which is the main language there. (However, I have now discovered that there is more than one dialect in Swahili!)

It is interesting also to note that there are many languages in the world which are only spoken – but have never been written. How faithful we need to be in our prayer for those who have never heard! Surely the Lord can reach into hearts with His convicting Spirit, whether on remote mountains, or in equatorial forests or in crowded city slums, so that souls for whom Jesus died would know the cure for the sin which all of mankind has inherited?

Here in the Republic of Ireland we have had an influx of people from many nations of the world in recent years. I have the opportunity to give bookmarks to Chinese people in their restaurants and to the many people from Eastern European countries, such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and even Russia, although many of these speak English anyway. I feel led to reach people from Muslim backgrounds too, although their religion forbids them to accept any other system of belief. However, as regards the recently handmade bookmarks in Arabic in my possession, I feel certain that the Lord will provide an outlet for these.

I am fascinated by languages with their different lettering systems and also the fact that even one small country can have multiple dialects. Sometimes when my personal concerns rush in to crush me, I remind myself of that vast world out there and its billions of souls for whom the Lord laid down His life. You and I, as individuals, are seemingly so insignificant in the midst of it all – but He knows each one of us intimately; even to the point where each of the hairs on our head is numbered! (Luke 12v7)

“For God so loved the world, (Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Bulgarian, Arabic, Armenian, Russian, Haitian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Greek, Irish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean (north and south), Maori, Portuguese, Romanian, Punjabi, Swahili, Sakata….) that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Gift of Life – and the Greatest Donation Ever Given

April 6, 2012

Just a few minutes ago I tuned in to hear the closing minutes of a radio phone-in programme, on which the subject of organ donation was discussed. One man was emotional as he related how he felt after wakening up to a new life, all because a much younger man had died in an accident. He was so grateful for this donation, describing how he looked out in the early morning to see the sun shining and to hear the birds singing. This wonderful gift had effectively enabled him to lengthen his life – and to have a better quality of life! He now felt much healthier and all his blood tests were coming up as normal. And yet he admitted that (although he doesn’t know them) he very often thinks sadly of the family of his donor and their great loss when their son had died. Another lady in the discussion reassured him, explaining that the family would look on this as a most positive thing to do under the circumstances.

Yet another man explained how his sister had so lovingly offered him one of her lungs (she was the most suitable donor) so that he would be able to continue to live. I was touched by the selflessness of people in these situations – both live donors and the families of donors who had sadly passed away.

Then, immediately, I thought of Jesus and His great sacrifice for all of mankind. Most live donors would naturally be reluctant to willingly offer a part of their body so that a violent drunkard, or murderer could have a new lease of life; yet the Lord Jesus Christ left the wonders and beauty of Heaven to lay down his life, so that this entire fallen human race could be awakened to new life in Him – and the promise of a Home in Heaven forevermore.

“But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5v8) 

People on waiting lists for organ donations very often never receive their required organ; they wait for months and sometimes years with a poor quality of life and sadly many die.

Now here is a thought – how strange it would be for someone to refuse the gift of new life and improved health!

The Lord Jesus Christ promises us new life in Him, if we acknowledge our sinful state, repent of it – and ask Him to lead us into fullness of life in Him – a life in His glorious Presence for all eternity.

The good news is that there is no waiting list for this offer! In fact His desire is that you, the precious soul for whom He died, would accept His offer now. “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Cor. 6v2)

Tomorrow may be too late, for soon your own life may pass away – or Jesus may very suddenly return as your Judge, for He has promised: “I will come again.” (John 14v3)

His desire is that you would turn to Him now, in the quietness of your heart, asking Him to forgive you for your sins and to come into your life. Surely the horrific alternative to a life with Him in eternity is unthinkable?  

May the Lord richly bless you as you ponder these truths, so that your spiritual health will be eternally rich, for this Great Donor who gave His life so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly, rose again and is alive today and forevermore.

“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of a cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2v8-11)