Archive for February, 2014

“Little Pillows” by Frances Ridley Havergal (1891)

February 19, 2014

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Very often people have house clearances when someone in their family dies and invariably many books of interest are deposited with charity shops. The latter can certainly be a good source for out of print and very old or rare Christian books! It is also true to say that many people may recognise the value in an antique but are simultaneously blind to its riches in the spiritual realm.

 Just recently my daughter picked up a copy of a tiny (approximately 4.5 inches by 3 inches) antique book, “Little Pillows” by Frances Ridley Havergal from a charity shop. This little book was clearly meant for children but the beautiful simplicity in the way in which it was written has been a great comfort to me in recent days… or should I say nights. I have read a little chapter every night before going to sleep, which is clearly what the book was intended for, as it is described by the author as “A Book of Good-Night Thoughts.”

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), although her life was short, was a prolific writer. An English poet and hymn writer, she also wrote melodies, tracts and works for children. It is wonderful to think that this writer’s works are still touching and comforting souls in today’s world, although she has been with the Lord for 135 years now. It is somehow irrelevant to me that “Little Pillows” was written for children, for it has touched me with the love that inspired it to be written – more than any great work of theology.

In the first chapter an explanation is given on how the little book came to be written. An aunt, on saying goodnight to her little niece, asks her: “Now shall I give you a little pillow?” On hearing this, the little girl responds that she has one and then in the author’s words…

“Then I told her that, just as we wanted a nice soft pillow to lay our heads down at night, our hearts wanted a pillow too, something to rest upon, some true, sweet word that we might go to sleep upon happily and peacefully. And that it was a good plan always to take a little text for our pillow every night…”

As a child when I had difficulty sleeping, my mother always said to me: “Think about all the nice things.” She too loves the words from Philippians 4v8…

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

What better way to go to sleep, than with lovely, pure thoughts based upon the Word of God?

The following are two links to “Little Pillows, A Book of Good-Night Thoughts” by Frances Ridley Havergal (1891)…

https://archive.org/details/littlepillows00havegoog

http://wonder.riverwillow.com.au/books/little_pillows.htm

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Gloomy Forecasts from the Meteorological Office and World Health Authorities but… Look Up!

February 4, 2014

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It has been said that ‘no news is good news’ and perhaps there is some truth in that phrase. Rarely will good news on the front of a newspaper create the sensationalism that sells – but bad news will! This morning as I listened to the radio, I was confronted with two very gloomy pieces of news. The first was that we are to expect high winds, high tides and severe flooding resulting in damage to property in many parts of Ireland over the next weeks. The second was issued by the International Agency for Research on cancer which has predicted that within the next two decades the number of new cases each year will rise to 25 million. The agency referred to it as a ‘tidal wave.’ A gloomy forecast indeed! Apparently some of this increase can be attributed to the fact that people are living longer, while another contributing factor is population growth. However, this agency and other spokespersons also claim that tobacco, sugar and alcohol are all contributing factors.

Today (4th February) as it happens, is internationally known as “World Cancer Day” – a day on which awareness campaigns take place for all types of cancer. To people who have had a cancer diagnosis, though, it can seem a little simplistic to attribute the cause of their cancer to tobacco, sugar or alcohol, particularly when many of them (a) have never smoked a cigarette in their lives, (b) don’t have a ‘sweet tooth’ and would honestly prefer savoury/healthy options and (c) don’t drink! Strangely governments and organisations rarely cite environmental issues as a possible cause of cancer, even though our General Practitioners do. Could it be that if certain elements were to be exposed, then big companies (like those who produce carcinogenic artificial sweeteners) would stand to lose out financially? For example, we are rarely told the full truth with regard to radiation levels at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant which lies directly across the Irish Sea from my own home. Only today I learned that it has been partially closed due to recent elevated levels of radioactivity. Surely the “love of money is the root of all evil!” (1Timothy 6v10)    

Another little piece of news which caught my attention this morning is the fact that at least 75% of people in Europe think that their Government is dishonest and that corruption is widespread. Following that interesting (but unsurprising) news, came a statement from the Irish Minister for Energy and Communications to the effect that ‘pylons pose no health risk.’ Apparently 750 new pylons are to be erected between Leinster and Munster, despite raised objections and international prestigious organisations voting by a vast majority in favour of the view that pylons should be considered possible human carcinogens.

So, here is the news… bad weather, a gloomy world health forecast, widespread dishonesty, disregard for the health of citizens and distrust in those in our governments!

If these were the only prospects on our horizon, how miserable we would be! From a personal point of view, when I look around me I see dishonesty in many quarters; the horizon is so dark spiritually but I must, I must…look up! As the storm rises (and it surely will) those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour have the great privilege of knowing that our sojourn here is but a temporary one. Oh what joy to know that when earthly storms are over, whatever their nature, if we love the One who gave His life for us, we can rest assured of peace and everlasting joy in His Presence. And indeed, we can know something of that joy and peace today…

Today I was reading the verses where Peter, at the Lord’s invitation goes to meet Him on the water… “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14v30) Above all we are exhorted not to take our eyes off the Saviour when we are in the midst of troubled waters, or depressed by evil forecasts, for if we do – we will surely start to sink.

The good news is that this privilege of knowing that you can look above and beyond the temporary gloom of this life can be yours too today! If you do not already know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, then He lovingly beckons you to come this very day; to repent and put your trust in Him, for He can lift you out of the darkest and deepest troubled waters known to mankind.

Then, with your brothers and sisters in the Lord you can say with joy… “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13v14)

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