Archive for the ‘Prayer, Reflections & Poetry’ Category

The Pope’s Controversial Visit to Ireland in August 2018

April 20, 2018

20170801_162238

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 Unfortunately that spiritual void in their lives has often been replaced by secularism or paganism or some eastern philosophy or one of the many cults pervading society here.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.

Advertisements

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

April 16, 2018

DSCF2169

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

__________________________________________________________________________

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

DSCF7916

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)

The Mater Hospital, Dublin – and Thoughts on the Hymns of Mrs C.F. Alexander of Eccles Street

March 31, 2018

20180307_153914crop

Two members of my family have had occasion to spend many hours just recently at both the Mater and the Mater Private; both hospitals beside each other in Eccles Street, Dublin. One day, in the middle of all those lonely worrying hours spent pacing depressing hospital corridors, I took a breath of fresh air on the street outside and suddenly remembered something which lifted me spiritually. Wasn’t it in Eccles Street that one of Ireland’s best known hymn writers was born? Some say she was born at Ballykean House, Redcross, Co. Wicklow, but either way I believe that this lady had links to both these locations.

It is widely believed that Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander (nee Humphreys) was born to Major John and Mrs Humphreys at 25 Eccles Street, Dublin in early April 1818. In fact this year would be the 200th anniversary of her birth! Best known for the lovely hymns she wrote for children like “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and “There is a Green Hill Far Away,” Frances was a prolific writer who wrote verse from a very early age.

As I wondered on that busy troubled street with taxis blaring their horns and ambulance sirens drowning my ears, I passed asylum seekers from troubled parts of the world and homeless people sitting begging on the pavement and I saw a man with one leg wheeling himself swiftly forward…

Two hundred years have passed and the Eccles Street where Frances was born has changed entirely, so much so that 25 Eccles Street, the Humphreys’ old family home, would appear to no longer exist. From what I could see, there was a park there now; a little area of green with a few trees and birds gently singing in the middle of mankind’s mayhem. I remembered Frances’ well known carol “Once in Royal David’s City” and the little hymn about my loving Creator that she used to teach children about creation in her Sunday school…

 

“All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.

 

Each little flow’r that opens,

Each little bird that sings,

He made their glowing colours,

He made their tiny wings.”

 

And I remembered that the hands that designed the petals on the spring flowers and the glowing colours on the feathers of the tiny birds were pierced for me – and for you. How He cares for and loves us and our families – and every needy soul in that street where hearts are burdened with poverty, suffering and a load of care. I thank Him for His Presence and His uplifting Spirit as I walk in this world which is not my home. I thank Him for the memory of the old hymn writers and their faith in the risen Saviour; something which is portrayed in Mrs Alexander’s hymn for little children…

 

“There is a green hill far away,

Without a city wall,

Where the dear Lord was crucified,

Who died to save us all.”

 

He died that we might be forgiven,

He died to make us good,

That we might go at last to heaven,

Saved by His precious blood.”

 

I returned to that hospital ward with a spring in my step, remembering that He is with me all the way… gently leading to Eternal Day. May you know the love of Jesus, the risen Saviour, in your heart today.

 

“Jesus calls us over the tumult

Of our life’s wild, restless sea;

Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,

Saying, “Christian, follow me!”

 

In our joys and in our sorrows,

Days of toil and hours of ease,

Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,

“Christian, love Me more than these.”

(C.F. Alexander 1818-1895)

Speaking at the Ladies Meeting in Kilkeel, County Down – in the Strength of My Redeemer

March 27, 2018

eburke2

Many months ago last year, a lady who works in the Faith Mission Bookshop in the lovely coastal town of Kilkeel in Northern Ireland kindly contacted me with regard to speaking about my books at her church. When asked how many ladies normally attend this meeting, she told me that there would be around 100… To be honest, I felt a little nervous at the prospect as (like Moses) I always felt somewhat lacking when it comes to addressing a number of people! In truth I am more a ‘one-to-one’ type of person who is more comfortable writing quietly about experiences which have helped me grow closer to the Lord.

Anyway, I needn’t have worried as I felt the Lord very much with me that evening. The meeting occurred in the midst of other situations in my life and by the time it came around, I felt somehow that it held no concerns for me compared to everything else that was going on! My daughter and I travelled via Newry and then around the lovely Mourne coastline to Warrenpoint and on to Kilkeel.

This area is featured (both in words and photographs) in “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” and also in my second book “Singing on the Journey Home: True Stories with Favourite Hymns & Photographs.” The idea for the title came from nostalgic early childhood memories of my parents singing hymns on our journeys home from trips to the seaside; the book was written in 2008 to commemorate 30 years since I trusted the Lord to save me. Now, 10 years later, that anniversary will be 40 years on August 28th of this year… and for this I can never thank Him or praise Him enough for keeping me and blessing me through all the weary ways and golden days of life! Linked with each of the 30 autobiographical stories is an appropriate traditional hymn and the interesting short history behind why it was written.

As well as sharing my experiences in writing these books, I read some poetry written over the years and shared my testimony. I felt my Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ very present with me, helping me and blessing me with every word spoken. On the previous evening I had been feeling so weary after the events of the past weeks that I had felt like cancelling my attendance at this meeting as my husband was due to go into hospital on our return, but the Lord was my strength throughout. It was good to have been there and it was an encouragement to me in many ways. I would also hope that the Lord used my presence to bless and help at least one person there too.

There are many spiritual analogies to be drawn from the scenes we see and capture on camera throughout our lives and I was able to display these on a slideshow. Everything from our recent snow storms, local scenery, derelict houses, a lighthouse and the sea; my travels in the Greek islands and other places – and the old farmhouse surrounded by green fields where my life began, were used as a background to the poetry and Biblical parallels quoted.

It was darkest night by the time we had started on our “journey home” but praise the Lord, my heart was singing on that journey and will continue to sing even when my voice fails me – until that day when He calls, or returns to take me to my Heavenly Home. How could I not sing of or speak for my blessed Redeemer – who has given me the victory over sin and death and hell? I am reminded of the second true story from “Singing on the Journey Home” which linked with the hymn “I will sing of my Redeemer,” by P.P. Bliss ((1838-1876)

On December 29th 1876 Philip P. Bliss and his wife were killed in America’s worst train disaster up to that point in history. Ninety-two people lost their lives and most of the others were seriously injured. Initially Philip had escaped with his life, having been flung out of the carriage. However, when he climbed back into that terrible inferno to save his wife, he died with her. Amongst the luggage of the young couple which had been rescued from the flaming carriage after that horrific crash, were the words of Philip’s latest hymn: “I will sing of My Redeemer,” a hymn which was sung by my Mum and Dad many years ago on their journeys. I am always reminded of those days every time we take a trip to the lovely Mourne coastal route where Kilkeel is situated! As a shy teenager still outside of grace I would never have thought that someday my Redeemer would be with me as I spoke of these experiences and gave my testimony at a meeting there…

Link to this hymn: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/305

Dear Peggy O’Neill (Former Nun, Born 1921) Was Called Home on 10th March 2018

March 19, 2018

20170430_200858

Just recently I learned that the lovely lady, Peggy O’Neill that I had met in May 2017 had passed away, aged 97. My visit with her is described in my blog on May 13th, 2017, which can be read here:

https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/a-wonderful-meeting-with-peggy-oneill-who-found-the-truth-after-fifty-years-as-a-nun/

How glad I am to have met her in person and to have read and prayed with her!

I Praise the Lord for Peggy’s testimony of how she came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ at age 70, after 50 years of practising as a nun. Of her early life she says: “I used to light a candle before the statue of St. Therese of Lisieux, and then I knelt down and prayed to her. Later I went to the local convent school where many teachers were nuns. I grew up with the idea that nuns were very special people before God, and their kind of life was the highest calling for any woman.”

Eventually Peggy left home to begin her training with an order which was dedicated to education and Peggy then worked as a schoolteacher in England for many years. “Before and after school, there were long periods given to prayer and religious exercises, and mass every morning in the convent chapel,” she says in her tract.

To anyone looking on, it would appear an impossible situation, that someone so entrenched in Roman Catholicism would ever dream of questioning her beliefs – but Peggy did so when she saw her nephew with what she termed “an interest in the Bible!” Praise God, as time went on, in her own words she “realised that the Catholic Church had a false gospel – one that is the exact opposite of the gospel revealed in the Bible.”

Peggy says in her tract… “After 50 years of serving as a nun in the Catholic Church I came to this profound realisation, and put my whole faith and trust in the saving work of Christ. For me there is only One Saviour and One Mediator, The Lord Jesus Christ.”

I recall some of Peggy’s final words on her testimony tract… “I thank my Father who loved me so much that He sent His only beloved Son Jesus to save me. I thank my dear Redeemer who even now is interceding for me as my High Priest, and who will soon return to take me Home to Heaven where I will shine like the sun and praise Him for all eternity.”

I love the glorious sunsets in the west of Ireland, where Peggy’s life began. As the sun has now set on Peggy’s earthly life, I praise and thank the Lord for saving her. Today as you may look in despair at a seemingly unresponsive loved one, remind yourself that with God all things are possible. Keep sharing with them, loving them and praying for them, for He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance! (2Peter3v9)

The “Beast from the East,” Hospital A&E’s … and Strength in the Lord

March 18, 2018

20180303_151446

Ireland, with its temperate climate rarely gets much snow (if any) but the recent severe weather conditions, aptly named “the Beast from the East,” brought storm “Emma” and drifts of 7feet high -perhaps even more in many areas. Even the sea and waterfalls were frozen in some places! For a few days we didn’t venture out, as our local road had high hard-packed snow. All schools, colleges and places of work closed because of the arctic weather conditions. Directly after all of this I was confronted with another type of blizzard – frequent trips to different hospitals with two members of the family. It is at times like this that we really must cast our burdens upon the Lord!

I am very much reminded of an old phrase “the best laid schemes of mice and men,” which has its origin in a verse of Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse” poem written in 1785…

“The best laid schemes of mice and men,

Go often askew,

And leave us nothing

But grief and pain,

For promised joy!”

It is said that the poet was ploughing in the fields and accidentally destroyed a mouse’s nest, which the poor little creature had built for the winter. Robert Burns was so touched by this that his brother claimed that he composed the entire poem while still holding the plough. As I surveyed the fields around our home recently, I felt sorry for any creature trying to survive the blizzards and freezing temperatures and also acknowledged that, really, we cannot make any plans for the future that we can be certain of. The apparent security of the material things we surround ourselves with, like the little field mouse’s nest, can be obliterated in a split second. With all our modern technology, both the weather and many of the circumstances in our lives are beyond our control. We just have no idea what a day will bring forth!

If anyone had told me last year what lay ahead in these first few months of 2018, I would have sighed and said: “You’re not being serious… really?” But the Lord has given me strength and great encouragement in the midst of unpleasant situations.

“Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint: and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40v28-31)

He also deepens our faith and we live from moment to moment in His strength, with the assurance that when our lives belong to Him, He is in control – even through seemingly impossible situations. We “are not out of the woods” yet with regard to health issues but I rest in His unfailing love, remembering the little Bible that my father and mother gave me over 40 years ago. Perhaps she was thinking of the unknown future that night, when the Lord guided my mother to write this lovely verse in that Bible: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41v10) It seemed strange to me at the time, for I was young and had little to concern me, but the passing years have brought many reasons to rest on this unfailing promise.

Her now faded handwriting on the old Bible and the love with which she wrote the verse so long ago live on, spurring me on, challenging me, encouraging me to trust her Saviour and mine, in the knowledge that “…He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121v4)

My Lord Knows The Way Through The Wilderness!

March 1, 2018

20180228_114826

The tune to this lovely little children’s hymn has been going incessantly through my head for the last two weeks, perhaps because I have been going through a really hard time! With many discouraging events and ill health in the family, I was trying to make sense of it all but at the same time just looking to the Lord for strength and faith for today and tomorrow. Very often when we pray about certain situations in our lives and in the lives of our families, hard times come upon us – so that His perfect will is done.

My daily reading was coincidentally in Exodus 13 where we read of Israel’s initial exodus from Egypt. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” (Verses 21&22)

Israel’s exodus and journey reminded me of this little tune that my Dad would sing, as he went about his work and somehow I had a tear in my eye as I thought about him recently, on the seventh anniversary of his passing. It was as if he was singing to me from Heaven…

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness,

All I have to do is follow;

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness,

All I have to do is follow.

Faith for today is mine all the way

And all I need for tomorrow

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness;

All I have to do is follow.

 

In our lives too, when we trust Him, as His children He leads us all the way – through life’s darkest, most challenging moments. I have found myself sitting in places that I just did not want to be last week: places like a dismal hospital waiting room and behind the steering wheel of a car in heavy city traffic – and next week, I will be in the same situation when my husband has an operation, weather permitting us to travel!

I know that all of this, if I approach it with the right attitude, can be for good, that I might “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2Peter 3v18) It is interesting to note that, at the beginning of the children of Israel’s journey “that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” (Exodus 13v17) This may have been the short way but the Lord knew that His people, in a journey just begun, would be easily discouraged by the threat of a war-torn terrain. The Lord knows and can gauge just how much we can take on our journey with Him! Life’s afflictions fall upon us all, regardless of our spiritual standing – but those who are walking by faith, have a comforting Guide who goes before, whether the day is bright and pleasant – or the night is dark and dreary. The following verse, which I wrote many years ago, was later included in my book: “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year…”

In days of old His children fled,

Through the Red Sea’s dried-up bed.

The Guide who lit all Israel’s way,

By fire at night, and cloud by day,

Ever lives for all who journey Home,

Where streets of gold, not earthly dust,

Their lovely feet shall roam.

Like the children of Israel who were strangers to the hardships of the wilderness, we are strangers and sojourners upon the earth. And He, our Saviour, praise His Name, is our sure and certain Guide to the golden streets of Home…

 

There Is Nothing Covered That Shall Not Be Revealed (Luke 12v2) Thoughts on the Murdered, “the Disappeared” and DNA

February 14, 2018

CAMERA PHOTOS 2017 106

It was the following well known story in Genesis that recently led me to think about the above issues… Jacob sends his favourite son, Joseph, to find his brothers who are tending to the flocks. How resentful they are when they see that “coat of many colours” approaching them in the distance! Reuben, the eldest brother, thankfully stops them from murdering him but unfortunately seems unaware when they sell him instead (Gen. 37v29&30) We read how he was sold to some passing Ishmeelites and how they “killed a kid of the goats,” and dipped Joseph’s coat in its blood, so as to give their father the impression that Joseph had been devoured by some “evil beast.”

The story has a happy ending, thankfully, when Joseph is eventually promoted to a position of great authority in Egypt and is able to help his family when surrounding lands are ravaged by famine… and how wonderful that Jacob (or Israel as he is later named) has the joy of being reunited with his missing son and is with him for the last seventeen years of his life. (Genesis 47v28)

In Genesis 48v11, after Jacob meets Joseph’s sons we are reminded that God is able to do abundantly more than we ask or think! “And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.”

Still, he must have been heartbroken all those years ago when that coat was returned covered in blood. As a parent, I can completely understand how he must have felt and yet, in this case, all would be revealed and it really did turn out well in the end!

After reading this account in Genesis my train of thought immediately switched to terrible events in my own country and how the advent of DNA has been a major factor in the solving of crimes. In those days there may well have been some non- scientific method of telling the difference between human and animal blood but at the time Jacob sadly believed that the blood was Joseph’s.

There are many “firsts” in Genesis; from very creation itself, with the first man, the first woman, the first sin – and the first murder. Sadly our world has been the scene of perhaps billions of murders since Cain murdered Abel. Today, in my own small country murder is very common, including those tit-for-tat shootings between drug-dealing gangland factions. And there are still numerous missing people, presumed dead at this stage. I know of many young people who have disappeared all over Ireland, apparently without trace; books have been written profiling them all and the circumstances surrounding their disappearances. How heart-breaking for their loved ones and parents!

In the case of Joseph’s disappearance, all was revealed after famine struck and the brothers travelled for “corn in Egypt.” The Lord had protected Joseph from evil and worked all things together for good for everyone concerned. In the days in which we live, however, there are few happy endings where the disappeared are concerned. To discover the victim of a murder is horrendous enough but when someone has no idea where their loved one is after many years, is heart wrenching in itself. They cannot mourn properly and there is always that small glimmer of hope, which some have to the very end of their lives.

But “there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed!” In this life, crimes may be hidden from the forces of law and order – but the Lord knows exactly who is responsible for the disappearance of that young woman in Tullamore or the little boy who disappeared while walking back to his Dublin school in 1986, or that little girl who disappeared while on holidays in Portugal, or Ireland’s youngest and (longest) missing person, little Mary Boyle, who disappeared on March 18th 1977 and whose case is currently being investigated once more. And He also knows about who is responsible for “the disappeared” in the realm of Ireland’s political conflict.

I am so thankful that someday justice will be done when Jesus returns. “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” (Ecclesiastes 3v17) A murderer may correctly believe that no one else on earth knows – but the Lord sees and knows everything in this world.  Meanwhile, in this the Day of Grace, whether your crime is great or small, there is forgiveness with God, if not with men.

In the case of Joseph and his family there was forgiveness with God and men. Eventually his brothers saw how the Lord had blessed Joseph and forgiveness was the order of the day between everyone concerned. “And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.” (Genesis 50v17) The Lord had given Joseph a love in his heart for his brothers, despite their treatment of him and so he forgave them and they also were reconciled to him and could see God’s hand in it all. He said to them: “Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” (Genesis 50v21)

The Lord knows our hearts like no one else can ever do and His desire is for mankind to confess and admit their sinful state before Him and then to repent of it and let Him cleanse them from all unrighteousness.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v9)

In Ireland there is no death penalty, the last person being executed here in 1954 – but many regions of the world still uphold the death penalty which is seen as a deterrent. Certainly, the manner of our death is something that anyone would naturally fear and the innocent have been wrongly hanged in the past. But Jesus said: “… fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10v28)

Praise God, there is a remedy for sin in this dark world “because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.” (1John 2v8)

The Lord Jesus said: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12v46)

But time is running out, in this the Day of Grace and decision. I pray that, in these spiritually black and sinful days, men would see that “true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1v9) That Light that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and so many others who loved Him – saw, by faith.

As Time Goes By We Look At Our Roots…

January 15, 2018

IMG-20151002-WA0001

We inherit so much from our forefathers; everything from physical characteristics and mannerisms – to the genes which have an influence on our physical and even mental health. I believe that as we grow older, most of us are fascinated by the lives of our forefathers and when parents pass away, it is comforting to see some resemblance of them in our children.

Above is a photograph of my paternal grandmother who was born in New York in 1892 but returned with her parents to their native Ireland some years later. When I look in the mirror I sometimes see my father and at other times, my mother looking back at me and I smile in the knowledge that they have gone to a far better place where inherited diseases of the human race are no more. It is interesting to know why I look a certain way but it’s also good to know that I may be susceptible to certain problems with age – such as the glaucoma which my father inherited. Hereditary problems are something which can be prepared for, managed or even prevented when we have knowledge of them.

I have often wondered how it would feel to have been adopted, without any knowledge of who my parents were. If we have no idea who our parents are (or who even one of our parents is) it can leave a great void in life but it can also be a problem from a health point of view. I feel that if I had been adopted, I would really want to know my parents and yet I also know (from the experiences of friends) that such a meeting could possibly be a fiasco, at best. We have all known of emotional reunions between mothers or fathers and their children which have been a great success. We see two people running in slow motion towards each other. They talk non-stop and catch up on all the lost years between them, finding so much in common – and then they become friends for life. Often, however, in reality this is not the case.

I recently read of a lady who had been brought up by her mother, a single parent. She was anxious to meet her father but her mother seemed reluctant for this to happen – possibly because she wanted to protect her daughter from the inevitable hurt she knew would ensue. Eventually this young lady met her father, who to her shock was a priest in the Roman Catholic Church – and to her hurt was very secretive about their meeting. The last thing he wanted on earth was for there to be knowledge of this daughter and so, although he met her, he really wanted nothing to do with her. There is, in fact, now an organisation/support group for the many children of R.C. priests who are in this hurtful situation in which they may have been supported financially – but not emotionally.

In the era in which we live, the traditional family unit is under attack and there are really complex situations going on where people have no idea who one or even both of their parents are. Researching a family tree, as time goes on, may well become an impossible feat for many people. I have heard, too, of other terrible situations where someone discovers to their horror that they are dating “a half brother or sister” that they had no knowledge of.

As I read and take notes through the Book of Genesis once more, I also see that it was always God’s will for the family to be defined as one husband, one wife – and their family. Despite modern day philosophy and also some cults claiming otherwise, it was never in God’s will for a husband to take concubines and more than one wife or for a family unit to consist of two “husbands” or two “wives.”

Because something is recorded as an historical event or common practice in the Old Testament did not make it right in God’s eyes. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2v24) Jesus also echoes these words in Matthew 19v5.  I recall feeling sorry for Hagar, as she was the unfortunate victim initially when Sarah and Abraham didn’t wait for the Lord’s timing. But God took care of Hagar and her son, when she felt that there was no hope for either of them. “And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.” (Genesis 21v19)

Isaac, the son of promise, is the distant earthly forefather of our Lord Jesus Christ – who, praise God, is the answer to all of mankind’s sin and problems. Society has evolved into something undesirable in His eyes, “just as in the days of Noah…”  Yet, in this the Day of Grace, He still stands with arms outstretched to the “whosever” that “shall call on the name of the Lord” and they “shall be delivered.” (Joel 2v32) He came to set us free from sin, death, hell and the snares of this life. He came that we would have life and have it more abundantly and His will is for us to know and love His Word which teaches us how to live.

In much of society it is now considered offensive to quote God’s Word with regard to the great moral dilemmas of our age but do we choose to be silent about the world’s wrongful philosophies or do we uphold the teachings of God’s Word? Like Moses, today’s people of the Lord are “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” (Hebrews 11v25&26) Like Moses, by faith we must forsake Egypt!

As I read my Bible these days, absorbing how it was from the early days of creation, to Noah and the flood and then on to Abraham and the generations after him, I feel the Lord saying to me continually that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19v26) Faith is the victory that overcomes the world! “For whosoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1John 5v4)

The faith of a multitude of Old Testament characters is portrayed in Hebrews 11 and it is faith that has made men and women triumph over adversity throughout the ages. Yes, there is no situation too impossible or too complicated for the Lord to deal with and put right. Whatever our background, our inherited problems or the complications of our family history or situation, there is nothing too hard for the Lord, if we but give Him our all and trust Him to save us to the uttermost.

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18v14) Praise God, those who put their trust in Him look… “for an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (1Peter 1v4) and “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11v10)