Archive for March, 2017

Thoughts on World Poetry Day

March 21, 2017

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Perhaps the most beautiful poetry of all is contained throughout the books of the Bible. Even Poet Laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson described the Book of Job as one of the “greatest poems of ancient and modern times.”

Job, devastated by the loss of livestock and then tragically bereaved of loved ones and robbed of his own health, seeks to understand this in the light of his standing as a righteous servant of the Lord.

I (and many other Christians I am certain) thank God today for the Book of Job which stands as a bastion of truth in an era when “health, wealth and prosperity” are seen as proof of Godliness.

Sadly, those who think this way live only for the things of this life, while the standard for the Christian is to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Corinthians 4v18)

Today, on World Poetry Day, I think on the elements “which are eternal.” Perhaps the most essential poetry of all is that which challenges mankind to think on the eternal… on that which will never die.

Like Job, I have this sure hope: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:” (Job 19v25&26)

Today, in the knowledge that the soul is that which shall never die, I exhort others to think on the value of the soul. (“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Mark 8v36&37) With this in mind I have contacted Christians with my poem “The Graves,” written quite a few years ago now.

Like Job, many Christian poets and hymn writers often write best in the face of adversity, persecution and tragedy. Job said: “Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven in an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!”

Job’s anguished cry was indeed answered… for his words were printed in “the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Peter 1v23) And those words live on to comfort those who still walk the sometimes thorny path of this life. His eloquence in the face of adversity has now been rewarded, as Job rejoices with other brothers and sisters in eternity, who by faith chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” (Hebrews 11v25)

Link to “The Graves” poem: https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/tag/the-graves-poem/

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The Disclosure of Abuse in Ireland’s Roman Catholic Institutions – and Little Children

March 17, 2017

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Just recently it has emerged that the bodies of hundreds of babies and toddlers have been uncovered at the Bon Secours “Mother and Baby Home” which operated in Tuam, Co. Galway between 1925 and 1961. Many tears were shed as older folk, who had been victims of abuse (in many other areas of Ireland too) recounted their stories in radio phone-ins. Many of the victims of child abuse in orphanages, industrial schools and mother and baby homes are still psychologically affected by the unspeakable abuse perpetrated against them, every new disclosure opening the wounds of those old memories.

I have previously written of the evils of the “Magdalene Laundries;” institutions run by Roman Catholic nuns, where women of all ages were incarcerated and used as slaves to wash linen for hotels and other businesses. Amazingly the last “Magdalene Laundry” closed as recently as 1996!

It is ironic that the Roman Catholic Church had issued a recent directive with regard to the “scattering of cremated remains in public places.” They maintain that these must be kept or buried in “consecrated ground.” Of course the reason for this may well be that there would be a charge involved for putting the ashes in a graveyard. Personally I do not agree with cremation but the irony is in the fact that the bodies of these babies and young children were discovered in sewage chambers, clearly not in “consecrated ground.” From samples taken, the bodies of the children ranged in age between 35 foetal weeks to 2-3 years, many dating back to the 1950’s.

Yesterday and today (with all of this on my mind) I have coincidentally reached Mark 9&10 in my daily reading. How Jesus loved the little children – and how wonderful to have that assurance that these little ones are in His Presence at this moment!

“And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” (Mark 9v35-37)

“And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9v42)

There is hope for both the victims of abuse – and yes, even the perpetrators of abuse, if they will only look to the Lord Jesus Christ in this scene of time. No man on this earth can heal the broken hearted or forgive the foulest deed… but the Lord Jesus Christ can!

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11v28-30)

He loves you and wants you to repent and trust Him today, whoever you are and whatever your life has consisted of. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23)

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4v14)

What a tiny vapour those little lives were, some hardly entering this world at all, yet they were living souls who now rejoice at Jesus’ feet – something that He desires for each one of us.

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10v13-15)

What beautiful words Jesus uses to refer to little children… “for of such is the Kingdom of God….” The Kingdom of God is made up of those who have come in simple faith as a little child and humbled themselves at the feet of Him who loved them so much that He suffered, died and rose again… to redeem them to Himself. Praise His Name.

Of Trees: A Bible Wordsearch distributed to Coincide with “National Tree Week” in Ireland

March 10, 2017

I have distributed a little leaflet (adopted from something I had written previously) this past week, using the above occasion to somehow awaken interest in spiritual matters. I believe that very few people read the Bible at all in some areas and, sadly, children are not brought up to know the characters of the Bible who were so familiar to me as a child. May the Lord bless these seasonal leaflets to those who read them!

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ACACIA ALMOND  APPLE  ASH  ASHUR  BALM  BDELLIUM  BAY  BOX  BRANCH  LEAF  CEDAR  CHESTNUT  CINNAMON  CYPRESS  DATE  EBONY  ELM  FIG  FIR  FOREST  GRAFT HAZEL  JUNIPER  MULBERRY  NUTS  OAK  OLIVE  PALM  PINE  SYCAMORE.

One tree listed here is not in the grid. Which one is it? Who climbed into this tree and why did he do it?

There are numerous references to trees (and indeed different species of trees) mentioned in the Bible but perhaps some of the most spiritually significant are those trees which are mentioned in parables and in the first and last books of the Bible – Genesis and Revelation.

How sad that mankind ate of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” but how marvellous that God has sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to save ‘to the uttermost’ those who trust in His finished work upon the cross of Calvary.

Trees have existed since those early days of creation and if ancient trees could talk, what stories they would tell us! They have been used as weapons, turned into paper, regrettably carved into articles of worship; used to make an ark of ‘gopher wood’ and the ark of the covenant; in the day of the battle of David and Absalom “the wood devoured more people than the sword;” they are a source of paper for the printed word, and once so long ago a large piece of wood was carried to a place which is called in the Hebrew “Golgotha.”

The Lord Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose again that we might have right to the tree of life.

 

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they might have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates of the city.” (Rev. 22v14)

Only in His strength can we “do His commandments,” so that we may be likened to the “man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. And he shall be like a tree planted by the river of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1 – 3)

Our leaves shall never wither while we are walking in the perfect light of the Son.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)

 

Let a Man Examine Himself – on “Letters of Commendation”

March 6, 2017

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Just recently I happened to be researching places of worship in an area which I may visit in the near future. One particular place of worship had an online statement: “letters of commendation required for visitors wishing to remember the Lord.”

My understanding of this is that if you are a stranger in a certain place of worship and you want to have communion with the other Christians there, then you must carry a letter “of commendation” from your normal place of worship. As to whether your “normal place of worship” must be of the same denomination as the one you are visiting was not made clear. As it happens no such denomination exists in our area – and in fact we would have to drive for a very long time before finding one!

That Paul wrote letters to churches, commending brothers and sisters who would be visiting there, is an entirely different matter, as he was introducing these people as fellow workers in the gospel. He was not passing judgement or comment on whether these individuals were eligible to participate or receive communion in the church they were proposing to visit.

In the world in which we live, any person could find himself in any area at any particular time – and if that soul is truly a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and wants to have fellowship with local believers in a place where he or she is a total stranger – should they not be given a warm welcome?

Years ago my husband and I were visiting a certain church in a certain city and (although I don’t remember much about it) it must have been decided that we shouldn’t have communion with the rest of the congregation as ‘they didn’t know us’ and so we were amused to find ourselves ‘put behind a curtain.’

I refer to the words of Paul in 1Corinthians 11v26-31: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged, But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

Here we see that we should judge ourselves, otherwise we will be judged by the Lord. The Lord “looks on the heart” of men and women and only He knows whether that person eats or drinks unworthily and only He can judge. Obviously, if some stranger came in, acting in an unruly manner, then clearly someone should have a quiet word with this person so that the service is not interrupted. However, this passage talks about “judging ourselves” and the “Lord judging us.” No one else should be able to decide whether we are worthy or unworthy, unless there is some very obvious reason for doing so, like the one previously mentioned.

Legalism and the letter of the law are so at odds with the spirit of the law. Ironically, at the end of the day, the stranger who enters one of these churches might be in a better standing with the Lord than someone who is known to the elders, because… who can know the heart of man? “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17v10)

Praise the Lord, we can have fellowship with (and love for) others without denominationalism being an issue when we pray sincerely about these matters, leaving them at the feet of the “Judge of judges. “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1Samuel 1v7)