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As Time Goes By We Look At Our Roots…

January 15, 2018

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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)

 

 

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New Year… New Opportunities

January 4, 2018

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Sometimes I view each year of my life as a “chapter,” although I don’t believe that most books have that many chapters! As I look back on last year’s diary I see a big mixed bag full of experiences; some of them are challenging, others depressing and just a few are uplifting – but they all presented opportunities to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. If I thought for one moment that this life was all there was to my existence I would be most depressed and miserable. However, I praise Him that, as the years go by, the material things of this life mean less and less to me. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1Corinthians 15v19)

As I embark on another journey through the seasons, I also think of the spring, summer, autumn and winter of my own life. Every decade in our lives presents new challenges, particularly where health is concerned but as long as we are alive upon this earth, the Lord expects us to use the passing years to grow in Him, in the knowledge of His Word and in wisdom concerning the issues of this life.

“…When I am weak – then am I strong.” (2Corinthians 12v10) Looking back on the events of the year that is passed, I remember feeling the Lord’s Presence more in the company of one elderly soul in a nursing home, than in any other situation. And I know for certain that the sincere prayer from the lips of this soul spoke so strongly to me and to those around me. In fact I came away from this person with tears in my eyes, feeling such warmth, encouragement and the love of my Saviour surround me.

You may be comparatively young now, but if someday you feel the seasons of your life ebb away, never think that you are now no use to the Lord as you sit there incapacitated. As His child, despite your physical weakness, you are spiritually strong for He shines through you! Your life and witness for the Lord can go from strength to strength as you rest in His Presence, being a wise and essential witness to those you come in contact with, in the glorious knowledge that your heavenly Home is but a breath away.

I thank Him for the valleys, for the hills – and for the mountains, as I face uncertain days through the new and unknown path that lies before me. And I rest in His promises of old… “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15v57)

I praise Him for His goodness to me in days past and as I face unknown challenges in the year ahead, I thank Him that “with God all things are possible!” (Matthew 19v26)

Five Hundred Years Later… “Evangelicals” are Apologising for the Reformation!

December 12, 2017

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Here in Ireland, while there have been a few events to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and some encouraging articles written about it, other attitudes to this notable anniversary are just unbelievable. It is understandable when the Reformation is maligned by Roman Catholic hierarchy, of course, but when I hear an “Evangelical” refer to it as “the mother of all church splits;” and another saying that “fractures caused by the Reformation must be healed,” I am shocked – but somehow not surprised. We are living in days when many are embarrassed by the Reformation – even those who profess to be Christians.

I believe it is true to say that Roman Catholicism assimilates itself into the original (often Pagan) religions and cultures of many countries… but while it takes on many faces, Roman Catholicism never changes. Some “Evangelicals” are now moving in the direction of ecumenism and many are falling away as they start to see the Roman Catholic Church as “another Christian denomination.”

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2Thessalonians 2v3&4)

Jesus said: “Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” (Matthew 23v9) Who else but the pope on this earth, is referred to as “Holy Father?”

Pope Innocent III said: “The pope holdeth place on earth, not simply of a man but of the true God.”

Pope Nicholas 1 said: “I am in all and above all, so that God himself and I, the vicar of God, hath both one consistory… and I am able to do almost all that God can do. I then, being above all… seem by this reason to be above all gods.”

Pope Julius II was addressed by a papal council: “Take care that we lose not that salvation, that life and breath which thou hast given us… for thou art shepherd, thou art physician, thou art governor, thou art husbandman…” Thou, finally, art another god on earth.”

When he was a cardinal Pope Pius X declared: “The pope is not simply the representative of Jesus Christ. On the contrary he IS Jesus Christ Himself, under the veil of the flesh. Does the pope speak? It is Jesus Christ who is speaking. Hence when anyone speaks of the pope, it is not necessary to examine – but to obey.”

Pope Boniface VIII said: “We declare, say, define and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

As recently as 1984 Pope John Paul 11 was quoted as saying: “Don’t go to God for forgiveness of sins… come to me.”

Even more recently the portrait of Pope Benedict XV1 was named: “The Truth, the Way, and the Life,” a portrait of His Holiness Pope Benedict XV1. But Jesus said of Himself: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14v6)

There are many other reformers that I could quote on this issue, including John Wesley who said: “The pope is that antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition that exalteth himself in the church…”

Coincidentally, just this week I finished my reading and study to the end of the New Testament again and have commenced once more in Genesis. I was, as always struck by those verses in Revelation 18v4&5… “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”

I believe that we are living in days when ecumenism could pave the way for a “one world system of belief;” there has even been a “common-ground-with-Islam-policy” which has been in place since Vatican II. It is interesting to watch as events unfold in our swiftly changing world but more crucial than ever for those who profess Christ to walk closely with their Saviour. We hear words and phrases like “interfaith dialogue, common belief system, living our faith together, shared values/heritage, ecumenical dialogue, theological common ground…” The list goes on and certainly I can think of a few things that systems of belief like Roman Catholicism and Islam have in common but there is one certain truth… Light cannot have fellowship with darkness! The Lord’s people should not give credence to (or try to find common ground with) belief systems which are not based on God’s Word, the Bible.

“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.” (2Corinthians 6v14-16)

“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 6v17&18)

An Overview of Denominations and Heresies in Ireland

November 30, 2017

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I recently counted the number of different churches in a small village I know well in Northern Ireland. (By the way, this is a predominantly Protestant village and while a few Roman Catholic people might live here, there is no Roman Catholic Church in the village itself.) There are the usual mainline denominations: Church of Ireland, Methodist and quite a large Presbyterian Church. Then there is a small Evangelical Presbyterian Church, an Elim Pentecostal Church and a Quaker Meeting House. Now, these are the six churches I know of; there could well be other groups who meet in private homes and other locations… and I believe there is also a Brethren Gospel Hall situated in the outlying countryside.

Compare this with a village that I also know very well in the Republic of Ireland. This village, although with a population around the same size as its Northern counterpart, contains one church… the Roman Catholic Church. Again, there may be small house groups that I am unaware of, although if there are – they don’t publicize their existence. Of the population in this village in the Irish Republic, I would say that many people would be nominal Roman Catholics. By “nominal” I mean that they would have been baptised in the R.C. church as babies, had their “first communions and confirmations,” and perhaps got married in the church. (However, a sizeable proportion of the population don’t get married at all these days, preferring to cohabit, while a few may opt for civil ceremonies). These “nominal” Catholics (and I believe that a huge chunk of the population in the Republic of Ireland as a whole are nominal Catholics) adhere to all the church’s traditional ceremonies but they rarely, if ever, attend mass, unless on special occasions and funerals. They are referred to by some as “`A La cart Catholics,” choosing to stick with ceremonial traditions and rites but ignoring the beliefs which would interfere with their lifestyle. Very often because of underlying fear and superstition, they will ensure that their children are baptised and have had their first communions and confirmations but really, if they were honest, many have absolutely no interest in spiritual matters.

As I look at these two villages (let us call them “A,” the Protestant village and “B,” the Roman Catholic village) I see in both of them much of this “a la carte” or “pick and choose” mentality. Having said that, I am aware that there are many genuine Christians (those who have been born again of the Spirit of God) residing in “A” and although these individuals may attend a variety of denominations on a Sunday morning, theirs is a daily walk of faith with the Lord and the denomination itself means very little to them. Others in “A” are church going people and they may even be friendly, pleasant and honest people but they have never been truly born again and are relying on their good works to take them to heaven.

However, I know “B” very well; the population has been growing there over the past few years, as more and more people travel out of Dublin city for affordable housing. I see “B” as a challenge but I know that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19v26) It is true that there are the unsaved in “A” who are every bit as needy as those in “B” but somehow the presence of even a few Christians in a village gives it an entirely different atmosphere….

I feel a terrible darkness in “B” – a spiritually heavy darkness which is almost overwhelming and depressing but again… “with God all things are possible.”

While just a few genuine Christians plan to reach the lost in such villages, the devil, of course, is always waiting in the wings with other false systems of belief. The usual Jehovah’s Witnesses make their way around the houses periodically, taking advantage of most people’s lack of knowledge of scripture. But the spiritually parched ground here is also a breeding ground for other lesser-known falsehoods…

False prophets are making their rounds throughout the world and even small localities may be no exception. People are often mesmerised by the sensational and supernatural; these “prophets” claim to possess healing gifts and the answers to a multitude of problems.

In a world of ill health, depression, stress and physical and spiritual poverty, people will flock to them for hope and a warm “feeling” from someone they think cares about them personally, without realising that repentance and trust in Jesus is simply the answer to our every need.

The island of Ireland is currently full of denominations of one sort or another – but the number of people who truly know Him and who daily walk the narrow way with the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour are, I believe, dwindling. Yes, people love the sensational – and the modern. Worshipping “in spirit and in truth” has somehow become rare in this age, with the discarding of traditional hymns and the confusion of an assortment of modern versions of the Bible. Yet, in the midst of all this confusion, this spiritual darkness, these heresies and this craving for sensationalism, the Lord still speaks to those who will hear His “still small voice.” And, in this the Day of Grace, He can still use those who truly know Him as Saviour. Spiritually speaking, these days would appear to be discouraging days to live in but we must remember His words: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor. 12v9)

The battle is the Lord’s – not ours! (1Samuel 17v47) But the Lord also instructs His people that “Light cannot have fellowship with darkness.” (2Cor. 6v14) “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2Cor. 6v17) I feel that the bottom line for the Christian is that he cannot worship properly in a church where he has not the full assurance that the Pastor, minister or person in charge is, at the very least, a Christian!

The Lord gives us discernment when we lean on Him and He can use just one or two people in the midst of all this darkness if these, His people, are obedient to His will and pliable in His hands.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places…” (Ephesians 6v12)

Uncle George’s Testimony… Kept in Another Day!

November 17, 2017

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Earlier this week I attended the funeral of my last surviving uncle and good friend (George, 95) who was called Home just last Monday. It has been a difficult week for many other reasons too but surely the Lord’s message to His children is: ““Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55v22) As another link in the family chain is broken, I am reminded of the bereavement I felt upon the death of my parents and I do miss their prayerful sincerity, especially in the difficult moments of life. I thank my Lord (and theirs) for the strength He gives me in the midst of adversity to continue to write as He directs. Above all I feel that He wants me to share the testimony of Uncle George (below) which was given out at his funeral this week. A testimony distributed at a funeral is surely an uplifting encouragement – and a witness!

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Most of us prefer to spend as short a time as possible in hospital these days, given that there are many infections we can pick up, but perhaps it is a good thing that Uncle George stayed in “another day,” away back in the year 1954!

My Uncle George Trouton was born on 7th June 1922 in Thomas Street in the town of Portadown, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. He met my mother’s only sister (Aunty Betty as we called her) around the year 1943 and the couple were married on 23rd August, 1948 in Ardmore Church of Ireland. All who knew them would agree that George and Betty were very close and an inseparable couple who worked together over the years in their chemist shop in Church Street, Portadown. And when they weren’t working in their business, they would travel to England, Scotland and Wales on holidays, often visiting friends and acquaintances as they journeyed. My memories of Uncle George and Aunty Betty are of warm family gatherings, often facilitated by my loving parents, Jack and Ella Hutchinson – wonderful times and memories which have enriched my life so much in my youth.

On Friday 10th June, 2016 my husband Martin and I called with Uncle George, who was so glad to see us and took great joy in telling us of the day he had come to know the Lord as Saviour. In February 1954 he had been suffering from appendicitis. He had gone into hospital to have his appendix out and was supposed to come home on a Wednesday. However, they kept him for another day… At the time they were living in Killicomaine estate and occasionally went to Edenderry Presbyterian Church as it was a shorter walk than Thomas Street Methodist Church, where they had previously attended, when they lived in that area. He and Aunty Betty indeed found it a much shorter walk as they did not have a car at the time.

Uncle George had no record of the date of that most important day of his life (only that it was February 1954) although it could well be ascertained from his hospital file, which is most likely a slim enough volume for all his 95 years; given that Uncle George had relatively good health for most of his lifetime! Rev. Dr. Craig came in that day on the Thursday at lunchtime to visit the patients in Craigavon Hospital and it was then that he spoke to George of the things of eternity and of the Lord Jesus Christ and how He had suffered and died so that he could have a new and wonderful life here and a Home in Heaven.

He told us that he had previously had a form of ‘salvation experience’ in Thomas Street Methodist and would have been regarded as a respectable church going person. However, when Dr. Craig spoke to him of spiritual matters, he knew immediately that this was something missing in his life and that he had never really put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. Yes, he may have been an honest, church-going person but the Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) and therefore all need a Saviour. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4v12)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2v8&9)

Dr. Craig prayed with George that afternoon and led him to the Lord – an experience which was so real this time and a life-changing moment which he would often refer to in later life. How glad he was for the day and hour in that hospital ward when he repented of his sin and asked the Lord Jesus Christ into his heart!

Over the years the Lord has comforted him in the ups and downs of life. In 1977 George and Betty retired from their Chemist shop business, as they had often been called out in the middle of the night because of bomb scares during the Northern Ireland troubles of the time, which they found very stressful. In later years George was especially comforted after the death of his beloved wife Betty, on Monday, 1st June, 1998. There is a great loneliness which is like no other when a beloved lifetime partner passes away… but how good and comforting to know the Lord Jesus, that “friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18v24) Although missing Betty terribly, Uncle George maintained his outgoing and cheerful disposition; attending his church (Bluestone Methodist) regularly, involving himself with Scripture Union distribution and visiting and having lunch out with friends and loved ones, particularly his niece Ann. We also appreciate very much how he kept in touch regularly with my mother, Mrs Ella Hutchinson (his wife Betty’s sister) after the death of my father, Jack.

In later years George was still working with a church sponsored Container Ministry, sorting items to be sent to needy people all over the world in places as diverse as the Philippines, Brazil and many parts of Africa; in recent years he also received an award for his work in this ministry with Aqua Boxes – a system which gives a family pure water. Above is a photograph of Uncle George still working for this ministry in October 2013 when he was 91!

On a spiritual note… how good to know the One who said: “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. “ (John 4v13&14)

Yes, those of us assembled here today will miss my Uncle George so much but how good to know that he is gone to be with the Lord Jesus Christ “which is far better.” If he was able to tell us today, other events in life would fade into insignificance and he would speak only of a decision to follow the Lord Jesus – a crucial decision which each soul must make on this side of eternity, in order to enjoy eternal life in the Lord’s Presence. It was good to have known the quiet unassuming Uncle George whom we all loved and talked with and I pray that his testimony to the Lord’s mercy and goodness in his life will continue to speak to and bless others long after his passing.

Thank you William Tyndale!

October 31, 2017

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Recently, as I took another of my reflective walks in the fields behind our home, I viewed in the distance a beautiful scene. Against the blue horizon of the sea two tractors were ploughing a field, while behind them was a great company of seagulls following them like a white cloud. My thoughts wondered back to a time when tractors didn’t exist and that ploughed field reminded me of the words of Tyndale… “I defy the pope and all his laws; if God spare my life, I shall cause the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the scripture than thou dost.” These justifiably angry words were spoken to a priest of the Roman Catholic Church – an institution which desired that the “common people” should be kept in darkness. I say “justifiably” because the priest in question had made a statement tantamount to the opinion that we are “better to go without God’s laws than the pope’s!”

Of course, when people are kept in darkness and ignorance, evil men retain their power – and ultimately their riches and standing in society. Today, as then, it is still the desire of the hierarchy in Roman Catholic circles to keep people from studying the scriptures and thereby coming to a realisation of the truth that this system of belief is contradicted by the Word of God.

In those volatile days it was illegal in England to translate any part of the Bible into English. In Norwich a young man, having been found with a mere piece of paper with the Lord’s Prayer in his native language, was burned alive. In this dangerous climate and having faced fierce opposition to his proposed translation of the New Testament into English, William Tyndale fled to Germany where it was possible to print his translation.

William Tyndale (1494-1536) was a learned Oxford scholar who had mastered eight languages – but more than this he had clearly found the Lord as Saviour and had a passion for the scriptures. I can only imagine how it must have felt for him, after the terrible opposition, to hold that first bound edition of the New Testament in his hand. Printing was a laborious task in those days and previously he was only nearing the end of St. Matthew’s gospel when the print shop was raided by those in opposition to Martin Luther at the time. However, he and a colleague escaped with their precious manuscripts up the Rhine to Worms where he lived life as a fugitive. Copies of his New Testament were eventually smuggled down the Rhine to the English and Scottish seaports where they were hungrily received by Christians. A great number of his New Testaments, however, were apprehended at one point and destroyed in a bonfire outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

It was in Worms (a centre of rabbinic learning) that Tyndale learned Hebrew and started his translation of the Old Testament into English. King Henry VIII at one point decided that Tyndale, it appeared, was a man of influence, who would be better to live under his jurisdiction… and therefore his control. He sent someone to look for Tyndale but he was angered by Tyndale’s response to him on personal matters and this never transpired. Eventually, having been betrayed by a “friend,” William ended up in a cold dark dungeon, in an old castle in Leuven where he suffered much persecution from Roman Catholic priests who tried to get him to confess to his “heresy.”

However, the jailer and his daughter in this place respected William Tyndale and were impressed by this scholar who could converse with them in their native Flemish language. They grew fond of him, listened to his witness and were wonderfully converted as a result, a story which is recounted in the Foxes Book of Martyrs.

In October 1536 William Tyndale was taken from the dungeon, strangled first and then set alight in a public burning. With his last breath he offered up a prayer – not for himself, but for that of his own country and that the “King’s eyes would be opened.” That prayer (unknown to William) had already been answered, for King Henry VIII had approved of a new English Bible by Miles Coverdale, Tyndale’s friend. Little did the king realise that Coverdale’s Bible was nearly 70% of Tyndale’s work. Later, in 1604 James 1 approved a new translation of the Bible into English. What a wonderful answer to Tyndale’s prayer before his martyrdom… for his work became the basis of 90% of our beloved King James Version!

By his courage and obedience to the last, William Tyndale had started a fire which would flame and spread in his native England and further afield. I thank William Tyndale for his legacy to us all: the scripture in English, written with a clarity which even common people like me (and the men who plough the fields!) can readily understand. And we can understand it with a depth (which has nothing to do with education) when we have made the Master of William Tyndale – our Master.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119v105) “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119v11)

I am beyond grateful for this great volume that I hold in my hands – I have grown to love it more and more through the ups and downs of life, as I walk by faith each step of the way.

How marvellous, having first met our Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, when we get to heaven, to meet loved ones and then souls like William Tyndale and others who forged the way, in His strength, to put the Bible into our hands. Let us never forget that the English Bible was made with blood!

Calm Before Hurricane Ophelia: Remembering “Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)”

October 16, 2017

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Just yesterday I took an enjoyable stroll in the lane that lies behind our home. Autumn leaves gently falling in the mild breeze carpeted the scene before me, while in the distance a pleasant sunlight glinted on the calm waves of the sea. Who would have thought that today would have brought such countrywide devastation? Yet, unfortunately I have no idea at this point what the rest of the day will hold as Hurricane “Ophelia” sweeps across Ireland. With many thousands of homes without electricity, we are most fortunate at this point to still have a supply at all – never mind internet access!

Today I recall my blog written back on January 6th 2013 entitled “A True Fireside Tale – The Night of the Big Wind – Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839).” It will soon be 180 years since this ferocious storm unleashed its fury, leaving widespread destruction and death throughout the entire island of Ireland. The full extent of this hurricane and some of the truly incredible things that happened are recounted in my previous blog at: https://readywriterpublications/thenightofthebigwind- Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)

This afternoon I felt a little frightened as the wind beat around our home. Like our two cats I have no desire to venture out into the wilds! Yet I trust the Lord on this unusual day, when schools, colleges, transport and businesses are closing or coming to a standstill. Who would have thought that yesterday’s calm and beautiful morning would result in the scene before us today – and sadly there were people who were alive yesterday but today have lost their lives as a direct result of this storm.

I hope to modify my original blog about “Oídhche na Gaoithe Móire (1839)” (which translated from the Irish means “The Night of the Big Wind”) and distribute it locally as a tract, in outreach. There is so much to say about storms in the spiritual realm and sometimes, even as Christians, we can find ourselves “in the eye of the storm” in another sense. Today, with more sophisticated forecasting equipment, we may have some warning of these hurricanes which are becoming so common in our times – but even then we often have no idea as to the extent of the destruction that will take place.

The one thing that struck me this afternoon is that I am totally helpless in the face of a storm. I can take precautions and secure my property as best I can and stay in as safe a place as possible – but at the end of the day I cannot control that storm. Property (and more importantly lives) may sadly be lost but the soul of mankind lives on… and there is only one sure refuge for the soul of mankind as the storms of life (whatever their nature) unleash their fury.

Yes, naturally I feel apprehensive as I look outside right now – or as I take a good hard look at certain circumstances in my own life. But how marvellous to know the only sure Refuge and Anchor to whom I can flee on the stormy sea of life! He is the Holy One of Israel: the Lord Jesus Christ who said to His disciples: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8v26&27)

The Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us is indeed our Hope, our only Hope in the eye of the storm, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 6v19&20)

 

Signs and Wonders: “False Christs and False Prophets”

October 2, 2017

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“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not…” (Matthew 24v23)

Amazingly it is recorded that there have been individuals claiming to be “Christ” since as early as the first century. Throughout the centuries there have been those who either made this claim for themselves, or their followers were convinced of it. Today, however, the world is full of “false Christs” and perhaps an even greater number of “false prophets.”

At least one “false Christ” has emerged from the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) cult, while Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012) who was the founder and leader of the Unification Church or “Moonies” also considered that he was “the Second Coming.” Nevertheless, like all mortal men he is gone from this scene of time now. His false system of belief unfortunately lives on, under the leadership of his second wife, Hak Ja Han. There are numerous current-day claimants, including Australian Alan J. Miller, who also claims to have met Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Mahatma Ghandi, Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob… In the summer of 2007 David Shayler, born as recently as 1965 and a former MI5 agent, also proclaimed himself to be the Messiah. These are just of a few of the well-known claimants of false “Christs,” of whom there are an increasing number throughout the world.

In Matthew Chapter 24 we learn of many of the signs of the Lord Jesus Christ’s coming, in His reply to the question that was asked of Him by His disciples in the Mount of Olives: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24v3)

Jesus told them of “wars and rumours of wars,” “nations rising against nations,” as well as famines, pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places – which are the “beginning of sorrows.” Also, that “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Verse 11) and in that well-known Verse 24 Jesus tells us: “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

“If it were possible…” Some deceivers are perhaps more convincing than others, while the claims of others are so outrageous that even non-Christians don’t find them believable. However, those who walk closest with the Lord amongst His people are most discerning in these matters and will not be deceived by even the most convincing false prophet, particularly when they look at the fruits of that person.

I think it is true to say that there are more “false prophets” than “false Christs” – and many throughout the world are indeed deceived by them.

We all know of certain famous evangelists of our times – some are very clearly deceivers; others perhaps are more convincing, as has already been discussed. But look, for example, at who a famous evangelical will meet in his life. If he meets with someone in order to be a witness to that person and to show them their need of salvation, that is a different matter – but if he looks, for example, on the pope of Rome as a “fellow Christian,” then there is very clearly something wrong with this “evangelical’s” relationship with the Lord. He may seem to preach the gospel in its entirety but when we see him giving credence to other erroneous belief systems which have departed from God’s Word, we know that he is a deceiver.

As Christians we must be discerning in our walk with the Lord. Ultimately He is the Judge and “the Lord knoweth them that are His” but we must make decisions in our own minds about the standing of those in positions of spiritual authority, so that we can pray intelligently for them and for situations where we are concerned that others believe in them.

I knew of a man, once, who had a dream that the devil was there in a Christian pulpit… preaching the gospel, but he was preaching it in a way that “hardened hearts.” The preacher in the dream did not have the Spirit of the Lord. I believe that we are living in incredible days when pulpits are indeed full of deceivers and we are also living in those days of which Jesus said “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24v12&13)

We learn that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2Timothy 3v12&13) In these evil days those who profess to know Him must not sleep, in the spiritual sense, but be awake, alert and aware that the devil comes in many guises. In order to deceive people… does it not make sense to come in the guise of even the Pastor of a supposedly “Christian” fellowship?

If we love the Lord Jesus Christ and desire to follow Him, He has promised that He will lead us into all truth. False Christs and false prophets are surely a sign of the times we are living in. God forbid that those who profess to know Him… would not “love His appearing.”

Paul’s advice to the young Timothy in 2Timothy Chapter 3, still applies to Christians today… “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” (Verse 14) Praise God for His precious Word and for His Son Jesus Christ – a sure anchor in the storms of life, when we are buffeted on all sides by deceivers and false doctrines.

May Paul’s words be ours, as we face our final battles: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2Timothy 4v7&8)

“Signs and Wonders:” “Miracles” of Healing

September 23, 2017

We are living in an era of the “supernatural;” scenes in “mega churches” (and sometimes not-so-mega churches) where people are violently “slain in the spirit” and seemingly amazing miracles take place. (The former is another discussion for another time.) I am certain that miracles can and do take place in the lives of those who trust the Lord, having experienced answer to prayer in my own life and in the lives of loved ones. “the prayer of faith shall save the sick…” (James 5v15). But surely the sincere prayers of a couple of souls who are close to the Lord in a quiet place are worth a million hysterical voices who clamour for great “signs and wonders?”

Often when someone is not healed instantly, leaders in these churches will put it down to the person’s “lack of faith” and that person can feel ostracised, vulnerable and now in a worse situation than if he or she had never disclosed their health problem in the first place.

I remember someone telling me once that we should not wear corrective lens – whether it is for the myopia of youth or the long-sightedness of later years. “You should,” this person lectured me, “have the faith to believe that you don’t need them.”

My views on this are…. Whatever the Lord’s will is. I don’t live in a perfect world and I don’t have a perfect physique; yet He has promised me… “as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33v25)

What is most important is that I am walking closely with the Lord and always within His will for me. To me, spiritual health takes precedence over physical health; for someday I will be out of this body anyway, praise God. After all, did not Paul have “a thorn in the flesh?” (2Corinthians 12v7) And did not Timothy have “stomach problems…” (1Timothy 5v23) and Frances Crosby lived a very productive life, despite being completely blind in the physical sense. The Lord could have healed her in an instant… but would her prolific hymn writing still be touching lives today? When I close my eyes there are no distractions…

However, if a chronic disease or pain gets in the way of us being able to physically accomplish what the Lord wants of us, then I believe that He very often does remove that “thorn in the flesh.” Still, sometimes the experience can help us to understand the sufferings of others, so that we can comfort (and have a greater empathy for) those who are going through similar problems in their lives.  Sometimes the Lord can allow (even temporarily) illness to overtake us so that His will is accomplished in our own lives and ultimately in the lives of others that we come into contact with. (Job is one example of this.) “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2Cor. 1v2&3)

Yes, and He does comfort us for He has walked this road before us and understands exactly what we are going through, more than anyone else – even loved ones. And yes, I believe that very often He does want to stretch out His hand and heal us in His time and in accordance with His will. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4v15)

However, the notion that we must always be in perfect health (and that this is somehow equated with our spiritual standing) which is put about in some circles is just one malaise in a world which is deteriorating rapidly in the spiritual sense. There are many other aspects of “signs and wonders” which I would like to touch on, for surely we are living in that era of “false Christs” and “false prophets” which Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24v24? “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

Does Anyone Know The Author Of This Poem: “The Holy Life?”

September 19, 2017

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I recently enjoyed a visit with Mr and Mrs Harold Irwin who are old friends of my parents, Jack and Ella Hutchinson, who are now with the Lord. I noticed while we chatted, that hanging on the wall there was a lovely poem surrounded by flowers in a frame which looked very like one of those my mother would have used for her paintings. As it turned out it was indeed given to the couple as a gift by my mother!

Entitled: “The Holy Life,” the words are rather faint now. I later discovered that my sister, who is good at calligraphy, had printed the poem for Mum but she was unable to remember its source. Upon further investigation I discovered that one source was “Gospel Banner” but the author still unknown.

If anyone knows the author of this poem, I would be delighted to hear from you! By all accounts there are at least two versions of this poem which is what happens, unfortunately, when words are without copyright. Seeing it there touched me and brought back lovely memories of the fellowship my parents once had with Mr and Mrs Irwin and other souls who would gather in to the little cottage prayer meeting in the beautiful countryside near Richhill in Northern Ireland. There, in the warmth of a real log fire, hearts were lifted to the Lord in prayer. How delighted my mother would be to know that, of all their possessions, this gift is still precious to Mr and Mrs Irwin. These are the words on my mother’s version of this lovely poem…

The Holy Life

There is a faith, unmixed with doubt,

A love all free from fear,

A walk with Jesus where is felt

His Presence always near;

There is a rest that God bestows,

Transcending pardon’s peace,

A lowly sweet simplicity,

Where inward conflicts cease.

There is a service God inspired,

A zeal that tireless grows,

Where self is crucified with Christ

And joy unceasing flows.

There is a being ‘right with God,’

That yields to His commands,

Unswerving true fidelity,

A loyalty that stands.

There is a meekness free from pride,

That feels no anger rise,

At slights, or hate or ridicule,

But counts the cross a prize.

There is a patience that endures,

Without a fret or care,

But joyful sings ‘His will be done,

My Lord’s sweet grace I share’.

There is a purity of heart,

A cleanness of desire

Wrought by the Holy Comforter,

With sanctifying fire.

There is a glory that awaits

Each blood-washed soul on high,

When Christ returns to take His Bride;

With Him beyond the sky.