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“Upon this Rock I will build my Church…”

September 7, 2019

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Ireland is full of famous “rocks,” like the Rock of Cashel in Co. Tipperary, the Rock of Dunamase in Co. Laois and the “Big Stone,” (“Cloughmore” pictured) in the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down. Standing stones are also a fascinating phenomenon in Ireland; many of these are associated with old legends about how they came to be there but I love to draw spiritual analogies from those rocks…
Rocks are sure foundations, rocks are reliable, unchanging, and unmoveable; rocks can be a refuge and a hiding place from the storm and Psalm 81v16 speaks of “honey in the rock.”
Unfortunately many people in Ireland believe that Peter was the “first pope,” of whom they say that Jesus said… “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
However, Jesus when He made this statement was speaking of Himself as the Rock and to get understanding of this we need to read the entire chapter of Matthew 16, especially from Verse 15… “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jo-na: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16v15-18)
When Jesus went on to say “Upon this rock I will build my church” He was clearly referring to Himself because of His words in the previous verses. Throughout the New Testament only Jesus is referred to as “the Rock.” In 1Corinthians 10 Paul is speaking of Moses and his ancestors… “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (Verse 4)
In 1Peter 2v8 Jesus is referred to as “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.”
There is no doubt that Peter was a beloved disciple and later in the New Testament, a faithful and fearless servant of the gospel but he is not the “Rock of our salvation.” Read the words of Jesus to him in Matthew 16v23… “get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Peter, like many, may have meant well by his words (“Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Verse 23) but these words were not pleasing to the Lord. Peter was a mortal man; the church was never built upon mortal man but upon the Lord Jesus Christ “in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Colossians 1v14)
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1v18) Unfortunately mankind like to establish their own organisations, claiming that only their particular denomination is “the church.”
The church, as I have said previously, is not a building, or an organisation or a denomination – but that body of believers throughout this world who have given their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and are born again of the spirit of God. “Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.” (1Corinthians 12v27) This chapter continues to show how the “body,” of which the Lord Jesus Christ is Head, have differing gifts.
“Wherefore also it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believeth in him shall not be confounded.” (1Peter 2v6)
Praise God, these words are also prophesied of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Old Testament … “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28v16)
In Psalm 62v2 the words… “He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved,” are repeated again in Verse 6, this time reinforced by omitting the word “greatly.”
Praise God if we build upon this Rock, like the wise man Jesus refers to in Matthew 7v24, spiritually speaking we are building on the Rock which cannot move.
… “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16v18)
We are living in days when the “gates of hell” are most certainly trying to prevail against the church. Black clouds are threatening those who have taken refuge in the Rock of Ages… that Rock which is so eloquently spoken about throughout the Psalms and many other books of the Bible. “The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” (Psalm 18v46)
But when God promises that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” He will keep that promise. While the famous earthly rocks we are familiar with will some day pass away, the Rock of our salvation is eternal and unchanging and many times prophesied of in the Old Testament. Unto those who believe “he is precious” (1Peter 2v7) but a “rock of offence to them which stumble at the word.”
“And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.”(Isaiah 8v14&15)
“And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Matthew 21v44)
Manmade religion seeks to exalt man above God. How can a mortal man be the rock upon which God builds His church?
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” (1Corinthians 3v11)

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Bicentenary Celebration of the Birth of Joseph Scriven – Author of “What a Friend we have in Jesus”

August 28, 2019

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On 10th September next it will be 200 years since the birth of hymn writer Joseph Medlicott Scriven (1819-1886) and I hope to use the occasion to distribute tracts, based on the title of his beautiful hymn. On Saturday 14th September free hourly bus tours of sites connected with the hymn writer will take place in Banbridge, County Down and these can be booked through the Visitor Information centre in the town. I have a lovely early memory of discovering Corbett Lake; near Banbridge and pictured in the old photograph above, it reminds me that Joseph Scriven’s formative years were spent in this area. Joseph did write other hymns and poetry but I believe that “What a Friend we have in Jesus” is sung universally and has been translated into multiple languages.
I have one very personal and poignant memory of the singing of this hymn. One hot Sabbath summer morning far away on the Greek island of Crete, I was feeling downcast as we tried to find an International Evangelical church in a certain town there. Then somewhere on that street, carried on the warm breeze I heard the sweet strains of music and singing in my own language… “What a Friend we have in Jesus…” In that instant I felt the singing of that familiar hymn and the beautiful name “Jesus” touching my very soul and it brought tears to my eyes; I felt the Lord’s Presence very strongly at that moment.
Indeed the singing of the hymn has touched many a troubled heart over the centuries. Little did Joseph Scriven know when he sat down in his little room to pen a few comforting words to his mother who was going through a time of great sorrow, that in years to come those words would touch hearts all across the world. When a Christian neighbour (who helped Joseph in his later years) discovered the manuscript, he asked him who had written these beautiful words, to which Joseph replied… “I wrote it. The Lord and I did it between us.”
Life’s journey, along with happy times, inevitably also brings trials, temptations, grief and trouble but praise God, Jesus our Saviour is a certain Refuge for all who put their trust in Him. Not everyone wants to know about our sorrows but there is “a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18v24) Unlike earthly friends and acquaintances who may indeed “despise, forsake thee,” this Friend is faithful, loving and caring throughout life’s most troubled and sorrowful moments – and He is but a prayer away.
The Bible tells us that “there is One God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2v5) Do you know this Friend today? He gave His life for you, so that you may have abundant life now – and eternal life in His Presence in the next.
“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14v11&12) It is better, surely, to repent of your sin now and ask Him into your heart, while on this side of eternity – than to face Him as Judge on that Day when the small and great stand before Him.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7v21) His will is that you repent, commit your life to Him today, obey His Word and trust Him for all your tomorrows.
What a Friend you will have in Him as Saviour – a Friend and Confidant who will all “your sorrows share,” and a Friend who will “take and shield thee” throughout life. Only in His arms will you find the great “solace” for which you seek.

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear!
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Look out for Old Bibles in Charity Shops

August 21, 2019

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Here in Ireland when someone passes away, relatives often have house clearances with many old books and even Bibles being deposited in charity shops. I have, on occasions, picked up books which are well over a century old… and sometimes I have found interesting little notes and even faded letters tucked away between those musty pages. In their hurry to dispense with what some thoughtless beneficiaries see as “sentimental rubbish” belonging to the deceased, they either throw the lot on a bonfire or pack it in a box to give away to charity shops.
There are a world of stories, personal life experiences and thoughts to draw on from these findings, I believe, and some old letters or indeed telegrams are of great historical importance and should never be lost. I have a copy of an old telegram written to my great grandfather (whose wife had died some years previously) concerning his only son (my Great Uncle Johnnie) who had been shot in 1920’s New York by someone trying to rob from the business he worked in. He was only in his early twenties and I can only imagine the shock on his father’s face when he received that telegram.
These thoughts sprung to mind when in recent times someone gave me a copy of “Bible Gems… A Birthday Text Book.” This tiny book with its royal blue cover has a Bible verse for every day of the year and also served as a “Birthday Memoranda” in bygone days. One birthday I noted was of an “Arthur Sheppard” who was born in February 1862. There are other names noted, none of which are familiar to me as I believe they are English – not born anywhere here in Ireland. I would like to think that the person who had noted the birthdays, prayed for these people and that the little introduction applied to them…
“They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.”
“Thine for ever! God of love,
Hear us from thy throne above,
Thine for ever, may we be,
Here and in eternity.”
Arthur Sheppard, whoever he was, has long since gone into eternity but here is his name, written in faded handwriting in a tiny book – and I would love to think, in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.” I wonder did he ever think that someone would be writing “online” about him 157 years later… If Arthur Sheppard returned, he would no longer recognise this world now, with all the technological changes that have taken place.
Nevertheless, some things have never changed in this world. Certainly, as I have said in a previous blog, human nature is much the same as it was “back in the day” and these days as depraved as it was in “the days of Noah.” A few months ago in a charity shop I picked up an old Bible, which despite the fact that it contained both Old and New Testaments, was very light in weight, as the pages were so thin. This one was given to a certain young boy as a special prize, presented by a certain “Boy’s Brigade” in May 1943. I find some Bible notes very interesting, but this one contained two tiny handwritten notes… nothing marked on the Bible itself. Whether the young man himself would have written these, I’m not certain and I felt that I should tread carefully by not naming him as there is a possibility he is still alive…
There is nothing sensational about these Bible notes. It’s just that I would be concerned that whoever wrote them all those years ago was perhaps not thinking for himself. On one of them was written: “Don’t hold-up your Bible Class – Uphold it.” Perhaps the young person who wrote this “held up” his Bible study by asking a question and he was told to “uphold it – not hold it up.” Questions are not always welcome in some communal Bible studies and from experience I have seen that some “Bible studies” are more like “dictatorships.”
On the other note was written: “My Bible Class Membership means a pact to act.” I’m not sure exactly what that vague statement meant but deep down I sadly feel that the person who was leading the Bible study may or may not have been a Christian. That sad reality was the same back then as it is today. Praise God, nevertheless, His Word never changes and He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
I remember talking to a lady at a Christian convention in years past, who told me that she had decided that the King James Version of the Bible was “too old fashioned.” “I got myself a new version and threw that one in the bin,” she said. I can’t remember my reaction…. probably just an open-mouthed horrified stare. At least if she had deposited it in a charity shop, someone else could have benefited from it but I will pray that even this discarded Bible will be used somehow to reach someone.
In my own society I feel that materialism has such a grip on people that they are discarding everything that they don’t see as relevant to their affluence in the “here and now.” When a loved one dies, their diary and their Bible notes may well be thrown out in favour of possessions with monetary value. They don’t see the wisdom in learning from the experiences of previous generations, particularly those who truly knew their Lord as Saviour. Also, there are areas of the world today where people are hungering after the Word of God and yearn for their own personal Bible and there are organisations which need used Bibles and good Christian books to take to English speaking areas of Africa and other countries.
If you find old Bibles, do use them prayerfully in your own distribution and witness. Certainly there are migrants living in centres here and in other countries who would benefit from Christian literature in their midst. The Lord said that His Word would not return unto Him void. (Isaiah 55v11) Everything in this material world shall one day be burned up in that Great Harvest of the world – but those unseen attributes which have for their foundation the Person and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ shall survive into eternity. Let us use what He has provided prayerfully and to His glory, while it is still day – “for the night cometh when no man can work.” (John 9v4)

Reflections on Greencastle: a Royal Medieval Castle – and Mankind’s Need through the Centuries

August 9, 2019

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I have felt led to produce some tracts on themes of historical interest to give out in the areas where they are situated. The following, written about the lovely ancient Greencastle in Co. Down, is one of those…
Greencastle, like most ancient castles and fortifications throughout Ireland has a colourful history spanning the centuries. Built in the 13th century by Hugh de Lacy in the 1230’s, it guarded the entrance to Carlingford Lough in medieval times. Lying close to the tiny village of Greencastle which now hosts a ferry transporting visitors to and from Greenore in the Republic of Ireland, many famous names in history are associated with it. Hugh de Lacey, John de Courcey, Edward Bruce, Sir Nicholas Bagnall and Oliver Cromwell are just some of those names.
Today the little hamlet of Greencastle, the green pastures and the familiar sight of the castle are somehow comforting to me in a world that is changing too quickly… and not always for the better.
The familiar coastline here and the nostalgic scene of Greencastle surrounded by green pastures, reminds me of childhood days and carefree walks along the sandy shore from Cranfield to visit this beautiful old castle. I am reminded of shared experiences with loved ones who are long since gone…
What stories the stones of Greencastle could tell me if they could speak and yet the ancient battles and human drama associated with it have long since faded into the misty oblivion of historical records. But of course not all historical records can be trusted because of the very nature of mankind…
Yes, famous people down through the centuries of Greencastle’s existence have come and gone. It has been said that human nature is the same in every era. Indeed it is true to say that…. “there is no new thing under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1v9)
Mankind’s need of a Saviour is the same today as it was in 1230. Well over a thousand years before the first stone was laid in Greencastle, the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to give His life for you and me and every other person who was ever born into this world. “And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2)
Some day, as His Word says, He will return. “Surely I come quickly,” the last recorded words of Jesus tell us in Revelation 22v20. Are you ready for His return – or for the moment when you will depart this life? The Bible assures us that we can be ready – and that we can know that we are ready. We cannot have this assurance in our hearts because of all the good works that we have accomplished. “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.” (Ephesians 2v8&9) It is after we trust Him as Saviour that our good works are evidence of a new life begun in Him.
We must firstly acknowledge our sin, repent of it and put our trust in the all atoning sacrifice, once for all, of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary, for He has paid the price for our sins. “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10v17&18)
God is no respecter of persons and the famous people connected with Greencastle, like all of mankind had to die and face judgement: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9v27&28)
Even the ancient solid stones of Greencastle will some day be no more for the Bible tells us that this old world will soon pass away and that there will be “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21v1).
But repentance and simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’s shed blood at Calvary will stand the test of time and eternity. He longs for you to put your trust in Him alone today, so that you may be ready for that great Accounting Day when the “small and great” (Revelation 20v12) stand before God. May you know the wonderful joy, peace and assurance in your heart of the knowledge of sins forgiven and the promise of a Home in Heaven.

Soon we’ll gather by His Throne

July 20, 2019

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“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6v11) These words were written of the days of Noah, just prior to God’s command to him to build an ark. Today we have all the technology available to let us know just how corrupt, violent, twisted and evil this present world has become and some of it is quite frankly… the subject of nightmares. I am aware, yes, I pray for people, yes – but I don’t dwell on the horrific things that are taking place or I find myself getting more and more depressed at the very thought of it. We read that Lot was “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.” (2Peter 2v7)

Today Jesus is “our Ark.” To those who will still listen – and yes, I believe there are some; cast all your burdens, sins, and despair upon the One who loved you so much that He gave His very life for you. Take refuge in the Ark that saves you now and grants you peace and safety from the wrath which inevitably is going to fall upon this old world.

Jesus said: “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24v37) The rainbow is a sign to us that the Lord will never flood the world again “but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” (2Peter 3v10&11)

Just last night I was alone and feeling despondent when I reflected on certain news events. I felt the Lord showing me the reality that He was coming again – perhaps soon and that His people must “work for the night is coming…” He also gave me the words of this little poem – a challenge to the unsaved and encouraging for the Christian.

Soon we’ll gather by His Throne

Soon the night of sorrow

Will take its wings and fly.

Soon the Son of Morning

Will beckon us on high.

 

Away away from darkness,

From sickness, pain and grief;

Oh sinner come to love and life

To pardon and relief!

 

Soon the saved will meet their own,

Who left them long ago,

Soon they’ll gather by God’s Throne,

Where the crystal waters flow.

 

© Elizabeth Burke 2019

 

 

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21v4)

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14v3)

“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24v44)

“One for Sorrow”… Reflections on Superstition

July 6, 2019

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I’m not sure about other nations as regards this, but the Irish, I feel, are generally a very superstitious nation. I remember a Christian telling me that she had once struggled with that little rhythm about Magpies… “One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl – and four for a boy…” To see one magpie, for her, was something which had the potential to ruin her complete day!

Car registrations here have even been dictated by superstition, with number “13” being viewed as a number which brings “bad luck.” In the Republic of Ireland the registration starts with a number, then the first (and sometimes last) letters of the county where the car was registered and finally the year. All was fine with this new registration system until we reached the year “2013”… In 2012 a Meath car could have a registration of “12MH….” But once the year 2013 arrived, the numbers were swiftly changed to “131” or “132.” From that moment on, number “1” was added to each forthcoming year and if the car was registered in the second half of the year a “2” was added. It is incredible, to say the least, that an entire car registration system in a country has been dictated by superstition, as it was felt that no one would buy a “2013” car!

The list of superstitions is endless really… from “Friday 13th” to breaking mirrors and “7 years bad luck,” to a “lucky rabbit’s foot” to the belief that “bad luck comes in threes.” A black cat crossing the road in front of you is supposed to be “lucky,” but if that cat changes its mind and decides to walk back again, that is most “unlucky.” It is usually wiser not to walk under a ladder (for obvious reasons) but not to do so because of superstition is so wrong.

The Greeks, like the Irish, often have many religious icons dangling around in their cars – something which is supposed to give an aura of “protection” for the driver and his passengers. I recall being a passenger in a Greek taxi which flew around “hairpin” bends at a speed which made me feel sick as I looked down on the occasional wreck of an old car which had gone over the cliffs. Those beads and icons dangling from the mirror did nothing to allay my fears… No, I prayed to my living God and Saviour for protection.

Spiritually speaking, I have seen people in chains of anxiety because of superstition; Roman Catholicism, I believe, breeds superstition, blending as it does with whatever Pagan system was prevalent in the particular part of the world where it unfortunately came to have a presence.

The phenomenon of “moving statues” has attracted huge numbers of people to a certain area of Ireland over the years and throughout the world Catholicism has benefited financially from “apparitions of the Virgin Mary” supposedly appearing here and there.

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious…” (Acts 17v22) Today, as in Paul’s day, many worship “they know not what.”

And today, as in Paul’s day, the risen Saviour wants to free mankind from the shackles of superstitious thought which can often dictate the very nature of their daily lives.

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17v30&31)

The devil is indeed a “hard taskmaster,” seeking to fill his subjects with superstition, worry and obsessive compulsive disorders relating to old traditional beliefs.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36)

Oh the freedom, liberty and joy that we can find in Him as Lord and Saviour!

Eternity – A Message for Everyone

June 11, 2019

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In recent times I’ve had an urgent sense that I must make the most of the time that the Lord gives me and not waste it. I believe that even in the midst of turmoil in our lives, we can use these experiences to reach others. The Lord expects us to take care of loved ones and He also knows that we need rest but the Christian must make the most of his allotted span, in using the resources and talents that He has given each one of us to reach others. At the end of the day we really don’t know how long the remainder of our lives will be. Life is so short but eternity is, well, forever. There are so many distractions in the era in which we live – for everyone.

People on public transport used to be receptive years ago, when you struck up a conversation with them, with the intention of being a witness; but now the majority have their earphones on. Earphones or not, you can still offer an individual a tract though and if he doesn’t want it he will invariably shake his head vehemently in refusal or perhaps just glare at you or simply ignore you. Sometimes though, even the simple gesture of offering the tract in itself will speak to someone or perhaps they may get a glimpse of one word on that tract which could change their lives here and their eternal destination forever.

Just recently I came across this interesting true little story from long ago…

“On the Hudson River, a man, in indignation tore up the tract which was handed to him, and pitched it into the river. But one of the pieces was blown back, and fell on his coat sleeve. That piece contained the one word, ETERNITY, by means of which he was at once aroused to his godless condition, and led to “seek the Lord while he may be found.” (Isaiah 55v6) Truly “the wind bloweth where it listeth.”

To the Christian… go in His strength this day, for we cannot depend on our own, looking to Him for direction and wisdom in all that we undertake.

To those who do not know Him, seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him while He is near, for He has said “My spirit shall not always strive with man…” (Genesis 6v3)

 

Loved ones with the Lord… Remembering my Mother Today

May 27, 2019

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My mother was born 90 years ago today, on 27th May 1929 and she and my Dad were married on her 23rd birthday, in 1952. Every day since she went home to be with the Lord in December 2014, how I have missed her loving presence! Unfortunately a whole way of life also passed for us after her departure…

She had deep concern for our welfare and took a special interest in all of our accomplishments. My daughter who has recently gone through so much, was able to make a lovely little cake at the weekend, decorating it with seasonal fruit. I know that Mum (to whom she was so close) would have found it delicious. Having a sense of humour, she would also have laughed at our cat eyeing it with longing! But she now resides in heavenly realms and “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (1Corinthians 2v9)

I miss the old days and I still mourn my parents’ passing but I know that they would want me to grow in their Master and be a witness for Him for the rest of my life here, even under the circumstances in which we have found ourselves in of late. In the knowledge that my parents would want all of their loved ones here below following their Lord and Saviour, He gave me these words one day…

 

Loved ones with the Lord

No wave from the window

No greeting at the door

No loving voice of welcome

Out the hallway anymore.

 

No smile of tender care

No outstretched mother’s arms

No reassuring hug

To comfort our alarms.

 

Gone the laughter and the warmth

Gone the tales they loved to tell.

Gone the softness of her touch,

Gone the voice we loved so well.

 

Gone the scripture from the wall,

Gone the hours of fervent prayer,

Gone the faith that once held sway,

Gone the Bible by his chair.

 

Gone the pain that gave them grief,

Gone the heartache and the woe,

Gone from here to Paradise,

Gone where tears will never flow.

 

But never gone their Master’s love,

Never gone His love for thee,

And while thy life is ebbing in,

Yet still He whispers: “Follow me.”

 

© Elizabeth Burke

The Danger of Bridges – Old and New

May 7, 2019

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Ireland is full of bridges; some are small and not very high, gently curving over shallow rivers and ravines in the countryside; others are like the bridge over the River Boyne near Drogheda which spans 230 metres of the motorway between Dublin and Belfast. Some bridges are rustic, others functional but one of the most beautiful I know is the “Craigmore Viaduct” with its eighteen arches near Newry railway station, its construction ending in the year 1852.

I sometimes have concerns about certain bridges I know, because perhaps they have never been checked!  The little local one which is familiar to me was most likely built many years ago – but how safe is it when a great truck comes thundering over it? As I recently waded through the wild garlic and the shallow bubbling river underneath it, I could hear traffic above my head. I also sometimes wonder when I drive, take a train (or even walk) over a bridge, how reliable it is and indeed sometimes it is the new bridges we have to be concerned about…

These thoughts on bridges came into my mind recently on reading another true little story from my very old book: “A Thousand Tales worth Telling,” It is entitled: “A Startling Sight…”

“A horseman road across a dangerous bridge one dark night; and on reviewing the place next day, he fell into a swoon when he became sensible of the danger which, by the darkness of the night, was hidden from him. If unsaved men and women could only see how near they are to a lost eternity, how they would “flee from the wrath to come” (Matthew 3v7; Revelation 6v16)… to the mighty Saviour of sinners.”

When souls travel through life in spiritual darkness they are truly unaware of the great danger they are in. Which “bridge” are you using to span the great divide? There are many bridges which mankind may put their trust in – from the bridge of humanism and the many other thousands of dangerous bridges, each one the name of a different system of belief. Some bridges are old, some are modern, while some get a minimum amount of traffic and some have a massive amount of traffic. People think that by using their particular “bridge” (whether it is used by the multitudes or by the few) they will land safely on the “good” shore of eternity. How safe is our “bridge?” This is the vital question. Surely all bridges need to be checked….

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2v5&6) Jesus is the only Mediator – the only Bridge, spiritually speaking, Who can span the great divide between God and mankind. “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)

This is the only Bridge we can put our trust in, His great love spanning the great divide – that no other person or philosophy could ever adequately fill. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10v12)

His will is that you put your trust in this “one sacrifice for sins for ever” and have faith in Him alone; the One whose dying love spanned that great divide between God and men. He loves you and wants you to know that all other “bridges” have shaky foundations and will someday crumble and fall but Jesus Christ, praise His Name, is “the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever,” (Hebrews 13v8) and we can trust in Him alone to take us safely over. Praise God, “I won’t have to cross Jordan alone…. Jesus died for my sins to atone.”

Sing Praises to thy Lord and King: Thoughts on Traditional Hymns

April 25, 2019

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Having returned from more hospital treatment we heard our robin friend singing his little heart out behind our home – and my daughter got a lovely photograph of him! If there is anything I love to hear… it is birdsong. How they love to praise their Creator – and how their song can cheer the weary soul! Around here we have chaffinches, bullfinches, blue tits, great tits, wrens, greenfinches, goldfinches, blackbirds, gold crests, sparrows, swallows, swifts, robins and of course birds of prey like buzzards and long-eared owls. Starlings, curlews, pheasants, crows, jackdaws, pigeons and magpies, although sometimes noisy or with their own peculiar plaintive call, have their songs too!

The Lord wants mankind to praise Him too and it is true that many beautiful hymns have been written to His glory and for the extension of His Kingdom over the centuries. However, for a number of years now I have noted a departure from the traditional hymn, with all its depth and sincere exaltation of the risen Saviour. Not everyone is aware of this, as they may worship in a fellowship or church where traditional hymns are always sung – but these are rare nowadays.

Unfortunately the traditional hymn, rich in doctrine and divine truth, has been discarded in many places, in favour of modern choruses with little depth. What is worse, sometimes their words are far from the truth…

“You’re the Lord of every man…” “Really?” I thought, as I heard these words sung recently. Someone told me once that he felt that some modern choruses were like “the vain repetition of the heathen” and sadly I was inclined to agree with him.

Of course mankind can only truly praise the Lord in song when he owns Him as Lord and Saviour. How many have sat in congregations over the years singing words which did not at all apply to their own spiritual state? Only those who have true communion and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ can sing out the beautiful words of hymn writers like Frances J. Crosby. Somehow, I feel that only those who know Him as Saviour can truly appreciate and are especially touched by something as simple as a little member of His creation singing sweetly to his heart’s content.

Rich are the moments of blessing

Jesus my Saviour bestows;

Pure is the well of salvation

Fresh from His mercy that flows.

 

Ev…er He walketh beside me,

Bright…ly His sunshine appears,

Spreading a beautiful rainbow

Over the valley of tears.

 

Rich are the moments of blessing,

Lovely, and hallow’d, and sweet,

When from my labour at noon-tide

Calmly I rest at His feet.

 

Why should I ever grow weary?

Why should I faint by the way?

Has He not promised to give me

Strength for the toils of the day?

 

Tho’ by the mist and the shadow

Sometimes my sky may be dim,

Rich are the moments of blessing

Spent in communion with Him.

(F. J. Crosby)