Archive for August, 2014

On Anniversaries, Broken Ceasefires – and an Unfailing Promise

August 31, 2014

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In the last few days I have been reflecting on an assorted selection of anniversaries.  This week will mark twenty years since the IRA declared a ceasefire on the first day of September 1994. Especially significant this year is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War; a global war that began on 28th July 1914 and lasted until 11th September 1918. This terrible war sadly took the lives of 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians.

On a personal level, I have been thinking about anniversaries too. This month marked our 29th wedding anniversary – and next year, Lord willing, we will celebrate our 30th. How those years have flown!

Just some days ago, on 28th August, I remember writing up my diary and thinking just for an instant… ‘Now this date is very significant in my life, but why?’ And then I remembered straight away… that date during the week marked the 36th anniversary of my coming to know the Lord as Saviour, back on the bank holiday evening of Monday 28th August, 1978.

Many people, having taken this life-changing step of faith, have never noted the date or the time but they remember for sure the moment that it happened; they remember how and where it happened and most importantly they remember the events, especially the conviction leading up to this most important moment in their lives.

Sadly many testimonies today lack that element of conviction of sin and all too sadly ‘easy believism’ has become the order of the day, leading to a shallow experience – if indeed it is an experience.

I remember a line of an old hymn: “Oh Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end…” A decision to follow the Lord is serious, life-changing and should be eternity changing. I remember once someone telling me that it was going to be a certain special anniversary in her marriage shortly – but that marriage had sadly ended when she had left her husband some years previously, so she added distantly… “I suppose our anniversary no longer counts.”

How many other promises are broken in the secular world too; we have only to look at broken promises and ceasefire violations in the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict and indeed in our own country when it emerged that new weapons were being developed after that declared ceasefire.

Surely only the Lord can change a man or a woman or a nation of individuals to be those steadfast people of substance and honesty that He would have them to be?

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Corinthians 5v17)

“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1Corinthians 6v19&20)

His desire is that every soul’s experience in Him would be genuine – and He wants each new anniversary in our walk with Him to be more precious as the years unfold with all their unknown challenges.

Only the Lord Jesus can make wars and man’s inhumanity to man to cease upon the earth and He has promised those who faithfully follow Him that… “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15v7). Surely… “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4v18)

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The Mission Halls of Ireland

August 12, 2014

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On a recent visit to the Mourne Mountains in County Down, Northern Ireland, I discovered a little mission hall on a quiet country road, not far from the Silent Valley Reservoir. Somehow this brought back to mind thoughts that I previously had about discovering the mission halls of Ireland.

From time to time I hope to research and accumulate information about mission halls throughout Ireland, inserting this into a new category in my blog. I hope to discover how often they are used and include details of the times of meetings, as well as historical information on how each mission hall had its beginning and, if possible, the contact details of those who are currently responsible for the meetings.

In the past many of these small non-denominational places of worship have been a wonderful blessing to local Christians and, at the same time, an essential local lifeline to the unsaved. Mission halls fulfilled a great need in the communities in which they started up; it cannot be denied that many of those who occupied the pulpits of mainstream churches had not been faithful in their proclamation of the gospel, often because they too were unsaved! Unfortunately, although nothing has changed in this regard, the mission halls are used much less frequently in these days.

Above all the mission hall has a tradition of transcending denominationalism and bringing souls together in a spirit of love and unity. They were once a ‘reservoir’ in the spiritual sense; many having had their roots in the 1859 Revival.

Sadly the mission hall would appear to be a dying phenomenon, even though the faithful witness which once emanated from within their humble walls is as essential today as it was in bygone days. My personal memories of mission halls are very positive ones; it was within mission halls rather than churches that I would have felt convicted, challenged and experienced that great sense of the Lord’s Presence. And it was within mission halls that I would have heard many stirring and challenging testimonies.

Mission halls exist mostly in Northern Ireland but there are some, too, in the border counties as well as in the midlands of Ireland. If anyone reading this has information about a Mission Hall they know well, I would be delighted to hear from them!