Archive for January, 2014

Holocaust Memorial Day – and Personal Memories of a Jewish Cemetery on the Island of Kos

January 27, 2014

5865

 On this cold 27th January day while many mark the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945, my memories are of a hot day a couple of years ago on the Greek island of Kos. That lovely summer afternoon we found ourselves in a village called Platάni where we decided to have lunch. It soon became evident (from the names of the restaurants) that Platάni was home to Muslims as well as those of the Greek Orthodox persuasion. We sat for a while in one of those Muslim restaurants watching the villagers go by in the heat of the day and later we took a stroll down a narrow road a little way out of the village where we were intrigued to find two well hidden cemeteries, in very close proximity to each other.

The first cemetery was clearly a Muslim one – again we could tell by the names, the Arabic inscriptions used and those shallow graves that are typical of how Muslims are buried. Walking around this cemetery, I thought of the souls of those buried there…. Sadly some of them were comparatively young; I wondered what type of life they had led and why they had died this young. I later learned that this cemetery is still in use by the local Muslim community which is small on the island; they have their own mosque, although the children of Turkish speaking Muslims on Kos attend regular Greek schools.

I felt, in a strange sense, the type of atmosphere in that village which is still prevalent in parts of my native Northern Ireland. At a first glance it would appear that the members of that local community knit well together but I felt an undercurrent… I instinctively knew that behind that peaceful village scene lay deep cultural, historical and religious differences – and perhaps even hostilities.

With these thoughts in mind, we wandered out of the Muslim cemetery and there, just a very short distance away, we saw two lovely stars of David adorning an old gate. Sadly that gate was locked and these days I’m not so good at climbing high walls but I did manage to get a few photographs of the tombs of this Jewish community which, in 1922, still amounted to 66. In 1943 those remaining members of the Jewish community were rounded up by German forces and taken away to concentration camps where many were murdered. Today the only remaining synagogue on the island is used as a cultural centre.

I remember my feelings of disappointment on discovering that the gate was locked to the old cemetery. For a long time I just stood staring through the bars of the gate at the grey tombs set amongst the fir trees where little birds were flitting around the branches. There was an eerie silence about the scene and an atmosphere of deep sadness which words cannot adequately describe… How terrible, how unthinkable I thought, that the forces of hatred pursued the Lord’s ancient chosen people and captured them even from a lovely Greek island to bring them to a horrific place of torture and misery…

Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away; first the King of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones…” (Jeremiah 50v17)

And yet the Lord said: “Behold I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria, And I will bring Israel again to his habitation…” (Verses 18&19)

Memories of talking to a young Jewish couple on the deck of a ship which was sailing between Cyprus and Israel return to me on this Holocaust Memorial Day. The year was 1981, I was young (and young in the faith) – but trying to be a witness to this couple who were coming from different parts of the globe, to return to Israel and live there. How amazing and what a miracle that Israel became once more a nation on May 14th 1948!

Surely “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh…” (James 5v8) This time He is returning to judge the “quick and the dead” (2Timothy 4v1) “for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13v11)

Hidden graves and ancient tombstones will open and the sea will give up its dead; billions will rise again – either to be with the Lord or to face the horrific consequences of a lost eternity.

 “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16v15)

Love and pray for the people of this world, wherever possible witnessing to them of God’s love for them, in sending His only begotten Son to be their Redeemer.

To those who know and follow Him… “there is neither Jew, nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3v28)

The divisive traditions of mankind melt away, when souls have been truly touched by the Lord Jesus Christ.

“He came unto His own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1v11&12)

Yet many have come to see that he was the Messiah – My prayer is that many many more would do so, seeing the wonderful prophetic truth in scriptures such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53…

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53v4&5)

5871

5880

5867

Advertisements

A Recent 60th Wedding Anniversary Celebration – and Some Thoughts on Fidelity and Eternal Security

January 20, 2014

1

We were delighted when my husband’s parents recently celebrated their 60th (diamond) wedding anniversary. Even though health issues have meant that circumstances are not what they once were, it is wonderful to see a couple so emotionally close after all those years. Swans also keep the same lifetime partner – which is why they are often depicted on wedding anniversary cards, as a symbol of fidelity. Unfortunately where the human race is concerned, nowadays the very institution of marriage itself is under threat. Sadly these days, many people move from ‘partner to partner’ with an alarming disregard for the Word of God – but what is even more disturbing is the fact that many who would say that they are ‘committed Christians’ seem to take the same view as the rest of the world on this matter.

Perhaps some of us may know of a situation like the following… someone you once knew well had a testimony. Then a few years later you discover that this person has since left his wife and family and has been with another partner for quite a while. You later discover that he still believes himself to be justified and his eternity secure, even though he is openly living in disobedience to God’s Word.

Now, some may say that you are judgmental and have no right to have an opinion on how this person conducts his life, but surely it is perfectly legitimate (even for an unbeliever) to point out the hypocrisy of leading a life, where on the one hand a person is quoting from God’s Word through social media – and on the other he is living in sin and disobedience to this same Word?

Sadly this person has most likely been subjected to some erroneous doctrines when he was young in the faith and today he is in danger spiritually. You feel angry about this situation; about the broken homes and the children involved and this persistent hypocrisy but you also feel despondent that this terrible doctrine of unconditional eternal security is accepted so readily. Ezekiel 18v20 is clear: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

“But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?” (Verses 24&25)

The issues of divorce, remarriage and of leaving one’s marriage partner to be with someone else are clearly covered in God’s Word. Jesus says: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19v6)

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matthew 19v9)

We live in a world where fidelity is rare and where even laws and financial implications encourage couples to live together, rather than commit to marriage. But the Word of God is unchanging and cannot be twisted to suit the desires of mankind. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus Christ… “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24v12&13)

The Lord is not willing that any die in his sin…“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Verse 23)

If at one time in my life I repent of my sins and make a commitment to follow the Lord, this does not mean that I am suddenly covered and secure in future sins or as some would put it… ‘God no longer sees my sin.’

God sees all sin (whatever the person’s profession of faith) and knows all hearts and it is totally His will that the soul who is living in sin “should return from his ways, and live.”

Jesus also said: “For as the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24v27)

Judgement will come as fast as a sheet of lightening… we must be ready and not as “that evil servant” who says in his heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” (Matthew 25v48)

Note that it is the servants who are exhorted to be ready in many portions of scripture… “Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” (Matthew 24v46)

May the Lord through His own loving words speak to those who read, that many may recognise the danger of living in adultery or any sin, while deceived by a false security.

2

Where Are They Now? Don’t Let Old Acquaintances Be Forgotten!

January 6, 2014

0101

1a

A little gift I was given at Christmas awakened such a multitude of thoughts, observations and feelings of sadness and happiness, depending on the memories. You see, I had this old tattered address/telephone book for years, with the result that I was presented with a new one… which meant that I had to transfer all the old names to the new book!

My first observation was that some old friends and acquaintances had actually passed away, even though their names were still in the book. There were those of whom I felt an assurance in my heart that they had gone Home to be with the Lord, but on the other hand I felt a great sadness when I came across the names of those deceased whose spiritual standing I had been uncertain of.

Old feelings of sorrow returned when I found little notes jotted down beside the number of a hospital… “had a comfortable night…” Did he really have a comfortable night or were they just telling me this?

There were the happy times too… excellent exam results jotted down and memories of holidays, good news and sunny days… I wonder are there other people as untidy as me, with my exclamation marks, drawings of smiley/unhappy faces (depending on the circumstances) all marking this ‘telephone book?’ (I have this habit of doodling when I’m talking to someone on the phone and I’ll probably still retain my old telephone book for sentimental reasons.)

My attention was taken up with those names again… where was she now? Did she still live at this address and was her telephone number the same after all this time? Sadly I had lost contact altogether with many of those listed but I felt that I should transfer them to the new book and indeed I should find out… in order to pray for them.

I see in my old book a portrayal of much of life, because every name and address tells a story. We often lose contact, for many reasons, with those we once knew so well. Where in the world are they now? But more importantly where are they now in the spiritual realm?

As the New Year replaced the old, I felt that the Lord had laid it upon my heart to contact those I knew so long ago. I must never forget about them but reach out in love and in His will and pray for old acquaintances that may desperately need prayer for their physical or spiritual health – or both. Who knows what may be achieved for the Lord through contacting those I once knew?

And perhaps some of them can encourage and pray for me too…

“But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13v16)