Archive for August, 2012

The Faith Mission Midlands Convention – Sunshine & Encouragement!

August 24, 2012

On the weekend of 17th – 19th August last I received much personal encouragement on attending the 30th Annual Faith Mission Irish Midlands Convention, held for the first time in the lovely Durrow area. Sometimes our private conversations with other souls attending such conventions can be every bit as challenging and encouraging as the words we hear from the pulpit and I can honestly say that I was touched by both on this occasion.

It was impressed upon me more than ever that I am not the only person in the world with problems (health or otherwise) and it is good to know that there are those who pray for us and who genuinely care for both our spiritual and physical welfare.

I discovered another source of encouragement when we visited the public library in the little town of Abbeyleix. On climbing a winding staircase I viewed copies of my books: “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” and “Singing on the Journey Home” on the shelves and was pleased to see that both books had been borrowed multiple times. This discovery, I believe, came from the Lord to give me encouragement at a time when I most needed it. In that little library, on a sunny Saturday morning I could see clearly that my work and distribution had not been in vain and that the Lord’s Word would not return unto Him void.

The Lord was reminding me that seeking souls in little libraries in many Irish towns and villages and in the larger libraries in Dublin city may be reached in this way. Many libraries have previously purchased books from me, but unfortunately libraries are also now victims of our lingering ‘economic downturn.’ Yet, despite this, I believe that the Lord will provide as I now endeavour to donate books to libraries which no longer have funding.

How good it is to know that the words He instructs us to write can live on to inspire, convict, challenge or comfort others with His love long after we have been called Home!

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The Erroneous Doctrine of “The Assumption of the Virgin Mary”

August 15, 2012

I recall some years ago arriving into the Greek island of Corfu quite late on the night of the 15th August, to find that many locals had gathered into our hotel for the celebration of the “assumption of the Virgin Mary.” Throughout the world, this doctrine is held to be true in both Orthodox and Roman Catholic circles, yet few investigate whether there is any scripture to support it.

It is believed that Mary (like Jesus) was immaculately conceived, and that eventually (like Elijah of old in 2Kings 2) she was taken up into Heaven. In my leaflet and blog (The Virgin Mary – and the Bible versus Roman Catholicism) Mary’s “perpetual virginity,” “Immaculate Conception,” and her “Assumption” are all viewed in light of scripture, revealing that in God’s Word, there is no scriptural foundation for these doctrines.

I quote from my leaflet/blog: “As for the “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” which was declared by Rome as recently as 1950, there is no scriptural foundation for this doctrine either. In 2Kings 2 we may read that unique account of how Elijah and Elisha conversed, and how Elijah “went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (Verse 11) In Genesis 5v24 we learn of Enoch, that he “walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Again, in Hebrews 11v5 we read: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” The latter are unique accounts of two individuals who did not see death, but no account exists to tell us that Mary, unlike most people, did not see death. If she had been taken up into heaven in such a manner, then I have no doubt that the infallible Word of God would have recorded such an important event.

I quote again from Mary’s famous words in Luke 1v46-55… “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.”

These are the words of a woman of faith – faith in her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ the promised Messiah of old. Although Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, Elijah and many others did not live to see those days of grace, they too would be justified by faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11v6)

And so, in this, the ‘Day of Grace,’ we are most honoured to have an Advocate and sole Mediator, the risen Saviour, who now sits with His Father in Heaven, awaiting that day and hour which no man knows, when He will return “as a thief in the night” (1Thess. 5v2) to “judge the quick and the dead” (2Tim 4v1). But time is running out, and many today are being deceived. As each hour brings us closer to eternity are you ready for that Day of Judgement and is your name written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life?” (Rev. 21v27)

While many today are only interested in the material, they neglect their soul’s salvation – but what could be more important than the issue of where we spend eternity? May God bless you as you search the scriptures and may you experience that joy and assurance of knowing that your sins are forgiven and that you will have a home in Heaven. Jesus said: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5v39)

Another Hot Day in Kos… Another Rainy Day in Ireland!

August 5, 2012

Often when we were out and about in the afternoon in Kos, these words from an old song would come to me… “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” Even the cats and dogs, it appeared, would sleep between the hours of two and six o’clock which is the usual Greek siesta time and perhaps we should have followed their example. It is difficult to acclimatize yourself to the fierce heat of the sun here in this little island so close to Turkey, especially when your native county happens to be Ireland. And it is even more difficult to adjust to cold grey skies and lashing rain when you return!

In Ireland the volatile nature of our weather is an ever-popular conversation piece throughout the island. It is also a safe subject matter to dwell on – unlike politics, or religion. Strangers from the north of the island who are holidaying in Kerry will freely discuss the weather situation with the natives. It is something that affects all of us, sometimes very deeply, when we depend on benign conditions to grow fruit, and other crops that are grown so effortlessly in other parts of Europe.

The same Lord who said “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9v13), is He who is sovereign over earthquakes throughout the world, tornadoes in the Americas, melting glaciers in the Alps … and wintry days in an Irish summer.  He has lessons to teach the human race – both collectively and individually. I have no right to feel angry about a “grey day” for “he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew5v45) So many are suffering in our world today, which is something I know nothing about! Certainly we can, (and must) pray about weather conditions when lives are in danger, or when the livelihood of farmers is being affected. Let us never forget … “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (James 5v17&18).

With all the great advances in technology in recent years, people have found no way to drag clouds away from a blue sky, or create rain in the parched lands of the earth … but “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5v16). This is as true today, as it was in the days of Elijah!

I read media reports on global warming, and yet God’s word tells me:  “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”  (Gen. 8v22). And yet someday the earth will be subject to the ultimate trauma, for we read … “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2Pet. 3v10).

Are you ready for this day? Remember that while we live in this, the ‘day of grace,’ His invitation stands in rain, hail, sun or snowstorm!  To the Christian He says: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” (2Pet.3v11) “Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2Pet. 3v13). With these crucial exhortations and wonderful promises, let us in the words of Peter … “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.  Amen.”   (2Pet.3v18).

Walking Uphill to the Traditional Greek Village of Kéfalos

August 1, 2012

So enthusiastic was I about being in the sun that I made the mistake of getting too sunburned on our first days in Kos! Soon I felt much better but we still decided not to go to the beach and so on the third day, armed with plenty of water, we walked steadily uphill towards the large medieval village of Kéfalos. I discovered that the latter was actually the first capital of Kos, named Astypalaia. After an earthquake destroyed the town in 412BC, it was abandoned and Kos town (today’s capital) was founded by the survivors.

Along the dusty road we were passed by all sorts of transport, including motorbikes and those beach quads which people seem to hire here. I had purchased a straw hat enroute, in a little shop where an elderly lady, sitting at the door and dressed all in black accepted one of my John 3v16 Greek bookmarks: “Οὕτω γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.”

She, of all the people we had ever met made an impression on me; I was very touched by how grateful and enthusiastic she was about it. She did not speak English at all but a younger man behind the counter looked at the bookmark and said: “You are Christian?” This gave us an opportunity to talk to him and somehow I felt more than the warmth of the sun as we left that shop.

Soon we were walking along a more rural area where the parched scenery was relieved only by the beauty of vibrant pink bougainvillea, growing wild by the roadside. After a while I began to feel quite ill in the heat of the day and I was just praying for some shelter from the sun when we spotted it… the little Greek Orthodox Church at the top of some steps. It was worth the climb to be able to find an open door to a cool place with a seat, where we drank most of our remaining water. As we sat there in that little church, I took in our silent surroundings… Greek icons, revered here as if they were the very saints themselves. Coincidentally my daily reading was in Jeremiah at the time: “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” (Jeremiah 7v18) Although Orthodoxy denies that the icons themselves are objects of worship, there is evidence that the regard in which they are held is certainly tantamount to worship.

Apart from small Muslim and Jewish minorities in Greece, as well as very tiny numbers who follow other sects and cults, most of the population adhere to the Greek Orthodox Church. While not accepting the pope of Rome as the spokesman for Christianity, the Greek Orthodox clergy also oppose the Reformation and Evangelical Christianity. It is sad that much of the Greek population today have still never been presented with the true gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

After exploring the ruined medieval castle in Kefalos with its few remaining walls overlooking the beauty of the azure sea below, we strolled into the sleepy village, largely untouched by time.

How good it was to have had the opportunity to leave the little bookmarks in the Greek Orthodox Churches that we visited and in Kéfalos and other villages; yet I feel in my heart that this region is so spiritually needy. I love the people of Greece and its island and wish that they could be reached with tracts in their own language that they could read and absorb. Most of all, I pray that precious souls would come to a knowledge of sins forgiven and a firm assurance of knowing my Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.