Archive for February, 2020

“Reflect Me” – A Thought from Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

February 22, 2020

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Amy Carmichael, born in the little coastal village of Millisle, Co. Down in Northern Ireland, served as a missionary in India for 55 years without furlough. Trusting the Lord to save her at a young age, Amy was to live a long and fruitful in her Master’s service. In the early days she worked amongst the poor of the part of Belfast which the family had moved to, starting a fellowship in the “The Tin Tabernacle.” Today that fellowship remains and is known as the “Welcome Evangelical Church.” Amy’s own family (she was the eldest of 7 children) knew days of hardship, illness and poverty but through it all Amy felt led of the Lord to work in Japan, Ceylon and eventually southern India where she worked amongst Indian women who had been persecuted for leaving their original Hindu faith. After meeting Preena, a little girl who had been offered to a Hindu temple, Amy discovered the horrifying practice of temple prostitution and started to rescue children who had been trafficked for this purpose. The growing place of refuge which she started was known as “Dohnavur.”
With other Indian women, Amy founded a huge hostel as well as a children’s hospital and in time her immense work led to the law being changed in India to protect children from this awful abuse. Of course, in the process of this she faced terrible persecution and much hardship but her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who had saved her as a child carried her through, for the Lord protected her and saw her financial needs for medication met.
However, an accident in later life meant that Amy was left incapacitated for the last 20 years of her life. Confined to bed as an invalid, these years produced much of spiritual worth – and another great legacy was left in the form of around 37 books and much poetry, which live on to touch hearts to this day.
Only days ago I was delighted to discover a little book in a second hand book sale, published by Amy in 1941: “His Thoughts Said…. His Father Said….” These short little thoughts show the private thoughts of man – and the accompanying words of wisdom. The following was written under “Reflect Me….”
“The son was grieved because some whom he had hoped to help would not even look at his Lord. They were trying to satisfy themselves with husks. They were playing with phantoms. As he thought sorrowfully of those dear to him, who were so near and yet so far, he remembered how they and he together had looked at the reflection of a mountain in still water. It was the reflection that first caught their attention. But presently they raised their eyes to the mountain. “Reflect Me,” said his Father to him then. They will look at thee. Then they will look up, and see Me. And the stiller the water the more perfect the reflection.”

Amy once said: “Nothing is too precious for Jesus.”

On this stormy rainy night I think of the Carmichael family home on the Ards Peninsula, where Amy was born all those years ago. Despite frequent illness in her own life, Amy lived on to leave a legacy which would leave its mark on a nation of people and today Amy’s body lies in India where she served her Master until He called her Home at the age of 83.
This single lady who often suffered in life, also once said… “When I consider the cross of Christ, how can anything that I do be called sacrifice?” As His servants, we have a work to do in the society (or even in the tiny sphere) in which we live; such work may or may not be instrumental in changing evil customs… but oh that we would be used of the Lord to reach the lost and to leave a legacy of love and goodness for time and eternity, for He has said: “Reflect me.”
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2v5)

Remembering Harold Irwin, Recently Called Home – & His Lovely Old Cottage Prayer Meeting

February 10, 2020

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Nestling in the lovely emerald countryside of the Northern Irish countryside, near Richhill in County Armagh, lies a little old cottage beside the former home of the Irwin family. For some reason, I often feel nostalgic about old times and memories on a windy night and this weekend past was no exception. I have lovely memories of sitting in this little cosy cottage which Harold and his wife Evelyn provided for use as a mid-week prayer meeting. Harold piled the logs on the fire and before long everyone would feel the warmth of the little room in more ways than one! There would be a short devotional and then rousing singing of the old hymns, followed by sincere prayer. Those who attended loved this time together, where they felt the true fellowship of fellow believers.
Sadly, Harold and his wife have been suffering from ill health for a number of years and just recently, in his 98th year, Harold fell into a peaceful sleep one night, only to waken the next morning, as his daughter put it, “at home in heaven.” “At Home in Heaven” where my mum and dad (Jack and Ella Hutchinson) and others from those days are rejoicing in the glory of the Lord’s Presence. What a wonderful way to waken up!
We travelled to Harold’s funeral in Richhill last week, where the little church hall was packed to capacity. Meeting old acquaintances that I hadn’t seen in a while was emotionally daunting and I felt moved by the hymns, which touched on some of the experiences in my own life of late. Even before the service started, many of Harold’s favourite old hymns were sung and I felt myself shedding tears as I remembered loved ones who had once attended the little prayer meeting.
Strangely, the old hymn “At Home in Heaven,” had been going through my mind for some time prior to Harold’s death. I discovered the hymn, written as a poem in an antiquarian book “Christian Lyrics Illustrated,” published well over 100 years ago. What I like about this old book, is that it shows many of the hymns printed in full, in their original wording. I think it is terrible when old hymns (no longer under copyright) have been “mutilated,” both in regard to their lyrics and the original music which was set to them. Worse still, is the fact that some modern musicians will claim that they have written those hymns and this is believed by many in today’s generation. Perhaps it would be a good idea for people to research the words and music of these hymns and “songs,” before assuming anything.
“At Home in Heaven,” was written by James Montgomery (1771-1854) who was born in Scotland but spent some years in Ballymena, Northern Ireland and in England. At best, most hymn books show 8 verses of the hymn but there are in fact 22 verses in its original form, as a poem!
Harold loved poetry, particularly of a spiritual nature. The above old photograph of the cottage prayer meeting setting was taken back in 2008, one night just before the prayer meeting, when I was visiting from my former home. As Christians may we never neglect the place of prayer, whatever the setting, until that day when we too are “Forever with the Lord.”
“At Home in Heaven.”
“For ever with the Lord!
Amen; so let it be;
Life from the dead is in that word,
‘Tis immortality.”
Link to this hymn: https://youtu.be/FBRge7RC95M

 

“The Love of Many Shall Wax Cold”

February 6, 2020

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We are living in days when much of Matthew 24 is being fulfilled before our very eyes. Certainly we are reaching that place in history where the Christian faces hatred and betrayal from even his own fellow countrymen, for taking a stand on the truth of God’s Word. Have you ever felt that you have been given “the silent treatment?” You try to understand why this is so, to no avail, not fully realising the extent to which there is a natural and very strong enmity between those who truly know the Lord as Saviour – and those who do not.
“Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Mark 13v12&13)
Spiritual wickedness currently resides very much “in high places.” (Ephesians 6v12) And many individuals have now all those characteristics mentioned in 2Timothy Chapter 3. Savage attacks on defenceless individuals on public transport and elsewhere shows a lack of “natural affection” but this is also portrayed on another level, with many having become cold, unloving, callous, uncaring, even “mercenary” in their attitude to the plight of life’s fellow travellers. Sadly these traits and lack of warmth have taken root in those who would once have made a profession of faith. We are living at a time in history when the love of many is waxing cold because iniquity abounds. (Matthew 24v12)
Whatever is going on in our lives right now, we can be sure that “offences will come.” (Luke 17v1) Jesus said: “ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24v9) Paul echoes the words of Jesus when he says “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Timothy 3v12)
“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24v13) The secret is to abide in Him by faith and though we may be cruelly slighted, we continue (in His strength) to love as He loved. Our short lives will soon be past history but we love and follow Him, letting our hearts be filled with love (and grave concern for) the destiny of souls, regardless of how those individuals are mistreating us.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2v5-8)
The Lord knows, sees and understands everything in His children’s lives, including when they are unfairly treated, for “what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” (1Peter 2v20) Someday we will be rewarded for patiently bearing that which we could never bear outside of Him.
We journey on, showing love for hate, sincerity for ridicule, caring for coldness – for we follow in the footsteps of He “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled , reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” For were we too not once “as sheep going astray?” But, praise God, are “now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” ((1Peter 2v22-25) In this great knowledge, we love and pray on for those who are facing a lost eternity, in these “the last days,” when “perilous times shall come.” (2Timothy 3v1)