Archive for March, 2019

Lurganearly Mission Hall, County Monaghan

March 28, 2019

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With all the current discussion and fierce debate regarding “Brexit,” I found a recent trip through Irish border areas very interesting. The narrow country roads I traversed that day meandered, sometimes north of the border and sometimes south. In fact I kept driving from one country into another without even realising it! Driving through areas which would previously have been seriously troubled, sadly I believe that today, in a sense, they still are; suspicion of strangers is still very much the order of the day in some places…

I remember a large family my parents used to visit when I was a child. This family lived on a farm close to the border and I can still see in my mind’s eye the old kitchen, with a table by a window where the sun shone in on the mother of the house who stood making bread. I have been told that the farmhouse now lies uninhabited. It is not unusual to find abandoned houses in rural areas of Ireland with all the bedding, old furniture and crockery still sitting there!

It is fascinating to realise that the Irish border is not easily defined. Some people’s land or farms straddle the border, while there are those who claim that some rooms of their houses are in the Republic of Ireland while others are in Northern Ireland. I sincerely hope that they’ll never require a passport to walk from their living room into their kitchen! It is many years ago now since we visited that family but as I reminisce on youthful days, I realise that spiritually speaking the need of mankind remains the same and the people of Ireland, whatever their political views, need to come to personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if they have not already done so.

Still nestling amongst the peaceful emerald drumlins of County Monaghan (which is south of the Irish border) are some non-denominational little mission halls and Lurganearly is one of these. Lurganearly is a small townland, lying just 10km (around 6.5 miles) south east of Castleblayney. There is good car parking space across from the little hall, which is ran by a Mr J. Smyth who lives halfway between Castleblayney and the hall. Every Sunday at 12noon a Sunday morning worship service is held here and I know that anyone desiring to go would be made most welcome.

Every Wednesday night there is a prayer meeting at 8pm and a Sunday evening service is held on the first Sunday of each month at 8pm. The visiting speaker at this first Sunday evening meeting normally also speaks at the morning service. Unlike many mission halls, this one continues to operate during the summer months, except on rare occasions for a very good reason. There are sometimes other special mid-week meetings arranged, with visiting speakers and organisations invited to the hall.

This year (2019) it will be 63 years ago since Stanley Conn (see previous blog https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/the-testimony-of-stanley-conn-1928-2007/ ) put his trust in the risen Saviour in this very place and I thank the Lord for the existence still, of such places of worship where there are no denominational barriers. In the sparsely populated rural areas of Ireland and indeed in the towns and cities, I pray that souls will still repent and listen humbly to that “still small voice” which continues to whisper in this the Day of Grace… not only in places of worship but in city streets, villages, country lanes, mountains and valleys.

Political regimes and leaders may come and go, terrifying events will surely happen and this old world is changing fast “but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever” (1Peter 1v25) and “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13v8)

Praise God for the text on Lurganearly’s wall which may even speak to weary travellers on that narrow country road… “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16v31)

 

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The Testimony of Stanley Conn (1928-2007)

March 16, 2019

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“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)

Photos of the verdant countryside of County Armagh remind me of my father’s farm and the many people who helped him out on it over the years. Having recently found the personal testimony of an old friend of Dad’s, I decided to transcribe it and post it with other testimonies here. Stanley was saved in a mission in Lurganearly Mission Hall, County Monaghan; one of the few mission halls which still exist south of the Irish border. Mr Edmund Sandford, another old friend of my parents was speaking on the night that Stanley came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The following are Stanley’s own words, taken from his testimony tract…

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”

I was born in Newtownhamilton, County Armagh. I left school at the age of thirteen. My horizons soon broadened, as I thought, when I smoked my first cigarette at the age of fourteen. I drank my first bottle of beer at fifteen, and at the age of eighteen I drank as much as I liked.

Education was not a big emphasis in my life as all I aimed to do was to have a good time. When I reached the age of twenty eight, I realized there had to be more to life than this – my life had no meaning, ambition or satisfaction. I never attended Sunday school and rarely went to church.

In the year 1956 Mr Sandford came to conduct a Gospel Mission in Lurganearly, near Newtownhamilton. I was invited to go along. Mr Sandford spoke of Someone who could change my life – His Name was Jesus. He explained God’s way of salvation: first, I needed to repent of my sins, to turn away from them, and ask God’s forgiveness; then I needed to receive Him as my Saviour, the One could cleanse me from every sin because He took my sin on His own body when He died on the cross.

2 Corinthians, 5:21 – He became sin for us,

Who knew no sin; that we might become

The righteousness of God in Him.”

I had never heard the gospel explained in such a way as this before and realized it was of utmost importance to accept Jesus into my heart, because one day He will return for those who know Him. God spoke to me clearly through a verse of a hymn:

“Come every soul by sin oppressed,

There’s mercy with the Lord;

And He will surely give you rest

By trusting in His Word.”

That night I made a decision to follow Christ. I knew within my heart that my life would be renewed. I never smoked another cigarette, or drank another beer, as God was faithful to His promise – “Old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new.” God completely delivered me from every bondage that these things had over me.

God performed a miracle of Salvation in my life and also in healing. In 1978 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour with uncertain predictions, but it was God’s will to have me fully recover to tell of His great miracle in my life. Through my years as a Christian, my life has proved meaningful with complete satisfaction and my only ambition is to tell others of God’s great love and of the urgency to respond to the Gospel Message.

Two groups of people – saved and unsaved.

When Christ returns eternal life will be:

Heaven for the saved – Hell for the unsaved.

 

 

Link to Hymn, “Come every soul by sin oppressed:” https://youtu.be/nfeSkHqd0sY

 

Are You Sleeping on the Cliff Edge?

March 6, 2019

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In September 2018 I was saddened to hear of deaths associated with Storm Ali which was raging through Ireland at the time. One lady, a Swiss tourist, died tragically when the caravan she was sleeping in was swept over a cliff in County Galway, in the west of Ireland. To go to sleep to the sound of the waves on the beach below is a pleasant experience but clearly this lady had no idea that her caravan was going to be swept over that cliff and ripped apart during the night.

On hearing of this my mind travelled back to another story and another time. This story is set in a warm summer day in the east of the country, in July 1861. Two policemen who were on patrol in an area of County Wicklow happened to see a young man sleeping on the very edge of a dangerous cliff. They knew that they must proceed with caution in order to save him from the danger he was in and so quietly approached the sleeping youth. However, he wakened with a start and struggling against “his attackers,” he almost landed all three of them over the cliff! Thankfully their firm grip on the boy was successful and they were able to pull him to safety. It seems that he had been looking after some cattle in a field and had fallen asleep, rolling away towards the cliff as he did so. Of course he afterwards apologised to the police officers for resisting their attempts to save his life, on discovering the danger that he had been in! Thankfully this true story set in 19th Century Ireland had a happy ending for all concerned.

There is a spiritual lesson to be learned from “sleeping on the cliff edge.” There are at least 100 references in the Bible as to the brevity of our lives and in a sense all our fragile lives are fairly close to this “cliff edge.” “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.” (Psalm 144v4)

Surely each day lived is a step closer to that cliff, over which lies the abyss of eternity – and whatever that will hold for each one of us as individuals.

The Bible tells us of two destinations for the souls of mankind after this life; each as far removed from the other as it is possible to be. One is unthinkably horrific beyond any suffering we have known upon this earth, while the other is joy beyond anything we will ever experience here.

But it is not God’s will that “any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2Peter 3v9)

Jesus said: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3v16&17)

Like the boy who fought the police officers in his drowsy and confused state, are you fighting conviction in your own heart today? In order to be rescued we must realise and admit that we are in danger and need to be saved – and let the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us, do the rest. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)

Someday we will reach the “cliff edge,” whether that will herald the Lord’s return – or the end of our own lives upon this earth. If you have not already done so, it is His will that you admit your sinful state (For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3v23)

By faith let Him rescue you; cease struggling and let Him drag you away from the imminent danger of that “cliff edge,” for it is not His will that you are lost in that terrible abyss. Why not trust in the great sacrifice that He has paid for you and in His redeeming love for you this day, in the knowledge that tomorrow could be too late? He who loves you will carefully rescue you and guide you safely in future years, as you walk with Him in “newness of life” – into His gift of joyful eternal life.

“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)