Archive for April, 2018

An Amazing Discovery and Encouragement from the Lord!

April 29, 2018

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One afternoon recently when I thought the long winter would drag on forever and the spring flowers never emerge, I found myself sitting outdoors enjoying the pleasant sunshine. I was reading one of W. A. Weir’s little booklets from 1973, “Gleams of Glory.” One of the stories was about the conversion of Wade Thompson, who once lived in Clonskeagh Castle, County Dublin. As a rich young man, he was also addicted to gambling and spent much time in the casinos of Monte Carlo and elsewhere in Europe. But the conviction of God came upon him one day after one of his gambling episodes; he later met his mother who was also in Europe and they travelled home together – but he was very distressed. As the story goes “the fear of God and the fear of judgement had fallen on him.”

One of Wade’s uncles, an earnest evangelical and gospel preacher, was rector of a parish at the foot of the Dublin Mountains and it was to him that Wade hurried to for help. The story goes that “the next day (a Sunday) was one of summer beauty. While he waited for the usual morning service to begin in the church, he took a book from the library, and seating himself beside a haystack, began to read. The book was called “Grace and Truth” written by Dr W. P. Mackay. As he read, the light poured into his soul. He saw the Lord Jesus bearing his sins in His own body on the cross. He learned that there was an infinite and perfect sacrifice and atonement made for his sins. The price had been paid, and a full pardon offered. He believed the Word of God that nothing of human effort was needed to add to what Christ had finished on the cross. God had accepted the sacrifice, and therefore accepted him. Wade ran into the vestry crying: “Uncle Robert, I am saved – the Lord Jesus Christ has saved me by His death – oh. I am free and happy!” On that great Sunday for both the rector and his nephew, they both rejoiced together. Both continued to live lives of unceasing service for Christ, leading many others to repentance and joy in Him.

Now here is my amazing discovery… the book “Grace and Truth” that Wade Thompson had read that Sunday morning was by W. P. Mackay (1839-1885) – who features in my blog of 16th April: “The Pawned Bible – a True Story Set in Glasgow, Scotland.” (Dr W.P. Mackay had pawned his mother’s Bible and later it returned to him, when a dying patient asked for it to be sent to him.)

Putting the booklet aside on that sunny afternoon, my thoughts travelled back to W. P. Mackay’s mother in Scotland. Here was a lady who prayed fervently for her son. She gave him the Bible in good faith, never dreaming that it would be pawned but later returned to her wayward son by way of a dying patient who had already trusted the Lord. Not only was W. P. Mackay marvellously saved – but he went on to preach the gospel and to write many hymns and books, including “Grace and Truth” – which in turn spoke to a young Irishman, Wade Thompson – who was not only saved from a life of sin and gambling but was mightily used of the Lord.

I read that “Wade Thompson, once a gambler, but transformed by the grace of God, was followed in the heavenly pathway by his family of sons and daughters, who took the same glorious message of salvation to India, China, Persia and other lands.”

Mrs Mackay’s prayers for her son had far reaching effects – perhaps she never knew about them while she lived on this earth – but she knows now! Praise God, He is able to do abundantly more than we ask or think, when we pray fervently for the salvation of friends, acquaintances and loved ones!

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3v20&21)

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The Pope’s Controversial Visit to Ireland in August 2018

April 20, 2018

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There is no doubt about it; the Ireland of 1979 was vastly different to the Ireland we know today. Between 29th September and 1st October, 1979 Pope John Paul II visited Ireland and by all accounts, received a rapturous welcome from citizens young and old. I remember half of my work colleagues in the office where I worked in Northern Ireland taking the day off to travel south of the border in order to get a glimpse of him. However, back then no one knew what the following decades would reveal in terms of shocking and horrific child abuse carried out by Roman Catholic Priests and nuns – and the historical abuse of women in “Magdalene Laundries.” We were to learn of mass graves at the back of institutions run by Roman Catholic orders, the abuse of little children in “industrial schools” and the fact that babies and young children were used for medical experiments. Many babies and young children were forcibly taken from their mothers and sold to those wanting to adopt in U.S.A. and a great number of mothers would never see their children again. I have heard heart-breaking stories of how mother and child had tried to find each other years later but sometimes it was just too late and one of them had passed away. The aura of secrecy and the withholding of records in the early days certainly didn’t help either.

Many people are justifiable very angry about this and many have understandably abandoned their affiliation to the Roman Catholic system. Unfortunately that spiritual void in their lives has often been replaced by secularism or paganism or some eastern philosophy or one of the many cults pervading society here. That being so, there are still quite a number of “mass goers,” especially amongst the older population and also many “a la carte Catholics” who will pay homage to the system at particular moments in their lives or in the lives of their families.

However, the following words of our Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister) have angered a considerable number of Irish taxpayers. He was making the statement that “while the visit by Pope Francis is not a State visit, it will be treated as such in terms of security measures and cost.” He went on the say: “It is ultimately taxpayers’ money but I believe the majority of taxpayers in the country would want us to meet these costs as it is an historic visit. The vast majority of people will welcome Pope Francis to our country.” Given that the cost of this visit will amount to at least 20 million Euro and Ireland has a health care crises, homelessness and uncompensated victims of abuse, well, I am not so sure if he is in touch with reality…

There will be widely differing reactions to the pope’s visit but the Christian should and must use it as an opportunity. There are expected to be around 3,000 journalists from around the world in Dublin at that time, for the “World Meeting of Families” (held from 22nd – 26th August) which is to coincide with the pope’s visit. (The pope is to arrive on 25th August.) The Taoiseach has also said that “families in all their shapes and forms should be celebrated” and that this will “be relayed to the Vatican.”

As I said, the Ireland of 1979 is vastly different to the one we know today… But the need is still the same. Men, women, boys and girls need to find the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour – something which cannot be achieved by infant baptism, confirmation, participating in the mass, confession to men or penance. Only “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1John 1v7) “The Church” is not a building or an organisation or a denomination but is made up of those souls who have repented and trusted in Him alone for salvation and who are “walking in the light as He is in the light.” If only mankind could see this!

It is all too easy for the Christian (those true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ) to despair when they look at the prevailing circumstances in society but we must look up, always keeping in mind that, in the words of an old hymn, “the sky is our goal – not the grave.”  But before we depart this life or the Lord comes to take us Home, there is work to be done, for it is not His will that any to perish. Yes, He can use those who have committed their lives to Him, however weak and helpless we may feel in the face of this rapidly deteriorating world where “spiritual wickedness in high places” abounds. May the small number of stalwarts who truly know Him, write, witness, speak, reach out in love, distribute tracts – and most of all pray for the salvation of souls before the Lord’s return.

The Pawned Bible – a True Story Set in Glasgow, Scotland

April 16, 2018

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It is lovely in this era to still get an old-fashioned hand-written letter from someone. I occasionally get correspondence like this from people that I have never even met – people who are a wonderful encouragement to me! There is a retired lady, a widow, who writes to me, sometimes enclosing little tracts. I felt led to share the following true story in tract form which I have just received from her in the post…

William Patton MacKay left his home in Scotland to attend college at the age of 17. His mother gave him a Bible, writing her name, his name, and a verse of Scripture on the fly leaf. He graduated with high honours and became the head of a large hospital. He also became the head of a club of infidels where they practiced everything that was licentious and vile. He was open in his ridicule of God and the Bible. Two of his chief pleasures in life were confronting critical medical cases and drinking.

One day the ambulance brought in a man who had been horribly crushed. On his face, however, was a look of calm and peace so pronounced that it amazed Dr. MacKay, who was accustomed to seeing people suffer. With a smile the patient asked what the verdict was.

“Oh, I guess we will pull you through and fix you up.” replied the doctor.

“No, Doctor, I don’t want any guess,” said the man. “I want to know if it is life or death. Just lay me down easy anywhere, Doctor, I am ready. I am saved and am not afraid to die.” With a radiant face he continued, “I know I am going to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6v37), and I have come and accepted Him as my personal Saviour. But I want the truth. Just what is my condition?”

The doctor replied: “You have at the most three hours to live.” The doctor was touched, and thinking there might be relatives to notify asked, “Is there anything you would like to have us do for you?”

Thanking him, the injured man replied: “In one of my pockets is a two weeks’ pay cheque. If you can get it, I wish you would send it at once to my landlady, and ask her to send me the Book.”

“What book?” inquired the doctor. “Oh, just the Book,” the man answered. “She will know.”

Dr. MacKay arranged for the man’s request to be cared for, and then started on his rounds through the hospital. These words kept ringing through his ears: “I am ready, Doctor. Just lay me down easy, anywhere, Doctor, I am ready.”

Dr. MacKay had never been known to inquire about a patient from any personal interest, but for the first time in his life he wanted to know how this one was getting along. He returned to the ward where the man had been placed, and seeing the nurse whom he had assigned to the case, inquired as to his condition.

“He died just a few minutes ago,” the nurse informed him.

“Did the Book get here?” asked the doctor.

“Yes it arrived shortly before he died,” the nurse answered.

“What was it? asked Dr. MacKay, “his bank-book?”

“No, it wasn’t his bank-book,” replied the nurse. “It is still there, though, If you care to look at it. He died with it under his pillow.”

Dr. MacKay went to the bedside, reached under the sheet and drew a Bible from under the pillow. As he did so the Bible opened and the pages turned over to the flyleaf. There in his mother’s handwriting was Dr. Mackay’s name, his mother’s name and a verse of Scripture. It was the very Bible given to him by his mother when he left home to attend college. Long ago in a drunken spree, he had pawned it to obtain more liquor.

Dr. Mackay slipped the Book under his coat and rushed upstairs to his private office. He asked God to have mercy upon him and in repentance accepted Christ as his Saviour. He was heard; “his blind eyes opened on a sweet new world.” The old things had passed away, and he realized he was a new creation in Christ Jesus. (2Corinthians 5v17)

Dr. Mackay, the physician, became Dr. Mackay the preacher; and as a preacher of the Gospel, he turned many to the Lord.

Just as God had His eye on that Bible and on W.P. Mackay and had determined that they should meet again, so he has his eye on you, dear reader. ‘The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’ Hebrews 4v12

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I would also like to add that Dr. W.P. MacKay (1839-1885) became a renowned hymn writer. Some of his hymns include “Memories of Earth,” “We take the Guilty Sinner’s Name” and “Worthy is the Lamb!” “Revive us Again” is the one which is best known today. This amazing story gives us such hope, for the same Lord who answered W.P. MacKay’s mother’s prayers for her son is at work in answered prayer to our own situations today!

 

On Ecumenism, Heresy – and the Difficulty in Finding True Fellowship

April 12, 2018

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We are not “mystery worshippers” but sometimes we attend various mainline denominations and small non-denominational fellowships in our area and much further afield. Unfortunately, the nearest churches where we feel that we can worship regularly with others of like mind in “spirit and in truth” are in fact a very long drive from where we live. However, as the Lord’s people know and I have said before “the church” is not a building or a denomination, but the members of the Body of Christ. The true Church consists of humble souls who have a genuine love in their hearts for each other and for the souls around them and they pray fervently for the salvation of loved ones and those they come into contact with. The members of the true Church today are scattered throughout this world; often they are poor in spirit, discouraged and suffer persecution at different levels. Certainly the evil one gives them a really hard time.

While the masses sweep onwards towards the shores of eternity on a tide of ecumenism or turn a blind eye to the obvious heresies in the “constitution” put together in whatever fellowship or church they attend, genuine Christians often feel like “a round peg trying to fit into a square hole.” Certainly, when I found myself in such a situation, I felt that there was no point in “trying to fit in” when this was not the Lord’s will for my life. I feel that I cannot overlook, or give credence, to ecumenical or other heresies for the sake of trying to be seen to be going somewhere on a regular basis. However, having said that, I am aware that many genuine Christians do attend certain denominations and although genuinely not happy with them, this is not their primary source of fellowship anyway and they feel that they can have some influence or witness to those they come in contact with there. The Lord is their Judge in this, although I feel that the bottom line is that the minister or pastor should (at the very least) be a Christian. Also, no genuine Christian can persist in taking part in the mass, for example, or in any denomination which finds this acceptable.

There are occasions when I will attend certain events in mainline denominations though. I have been to many funerals and memorials where opportunities have arisen to be a faithful witness to the living (but spiritually dead) who are perhaps thinking on things eternal on such a solemn occasion. I can be present at a graveside, as a mark of respect to a life that is passed but not take part in any of the rituals that I disagree with and I can be a comfort to the bereaved and share how the Lord has touched my life – and how He can do the same for them.

The first question many professing Christians will often ask when they meet you at some event is “so where do you find fellowship in your area?” Perhaps some are genuinely curious, wondering about your situation and even caring for you – but others unfortunately become very judgemental; at times they become so harshly critical that you wonder whether they really are Christians at all. However, the Lord does give His people discernment and sometimes we discover that the person interrogating us on this issue, has really lost something in their walk with the Lord by meeting with those who are carried away by ecumenism or perhaps it is a case where they were never even saved in the first place.

Wikipedia tells me that: “Ecumenism refers to efforts by Christians of different “Church traditions” to develop closer relationships and better understandings.” The concept of ecumenism has been with us for a very long time and many (even so called “evangelicals”) have been drawn into it but one thing is evident: although many changes have taken place in Anglican/Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist and even amongst certain Baptist churches and others who would say they are evangelical – the Roman Catholic Church never changes. While others grovel and make concessions, Roman Catholicism sees itself as “the one true church,” despite its erroneous claims which contradict scripture.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2Corinthians 6v14-18)

From time to time we do visit certain denominations and then have a talk with people we meet there, not wishing to cause dissension, but with a desire to go as the Lord leads and to be a witness for Him. I hope to share my experiences about these and about different denominations in future blogs. The one thing we must keep in mind, though, is that Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18v20) Very often the best fellowship I have had is at some little non-denominational event or prayer meeting which has been arranged by the Lord’s people in a community hall, little mission hall or even a humble cottage. It is easy for the Lord’s people to be discouraged by the decline in “church circles” but there is work to be done before His return; none of us are exempt from the Great Commission and He will open our eyes about ways to reach souls in this needy world. As different members with varying gifts, He will bless our endeavours in that which He directs us to do for Him and He goes before us. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” (2Corinthians 5v11)