“When I Was Sick Ye Visited Me”

September 4, 2017

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The concerns of everyday life and responsibilities towards our own families consume us sometimes and how easy it is not to be diligent in our visits of the lonely, the elderly, the ill – and the dying. We may remember them in prayer but I believe that the Lord lays the plight of certain people upon our hearts and it is good to spend time with them, whenever possible. Sometimes I have called with someone, only to be shocked at the deterioration in their health and demeanour since I last saw them – even in a very short space of time.

I visited someone once who had no one to give her a sip of cold water. She was alone in this home for the elderly and I was her only visitor that afternoon. She loved the flowers I brought to her – but really appreciated that drink of cold water.

I remember other visits to other souls in the same circumstances in recent times and I recall that when I have visited them that I felt emotional afterwards but also had a strong sense of the Lord’s Presence, even long after I had wandered out of this different world where people are nearing the end of their lives.

I remember a jolt to reality as I wandered out into the strong sunshine again. For that moment I was again part of this world where people go about their business, or laugh or shout or get entangled in all the complications of everyday life. But there is a sense in which I now no longer feel part of this world in some ways. I feel an urgency and concern for the souls I know whose lives are ebbing away…. Are they truly ready to meet the Lord? Driving back into the town again I saw crowds of shoppers milling the streets – they too are only a breath from eternity.

Someone tried to cheat me in a shop that day and I discovered something else which made me despair in the condition of the human race. But someday they too will be nearing the end of their lives – and this bright garish world with all its attractions, financial ‘wheeling and dealing’ and its consumer society will be no use to them.

I believe that for the Christian “the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” We may sometimes wonder about the manner in which we ourselves will depart this life but the Lord has given me lovely promises in recent times…

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Psalm 23v6)

“And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” (Isaiah 46v4)

Meanwhile, as long as the Lord gives me strength I shall go as He leads to visit those who need a sincere witness, that they would place their lives into His care, for as we cross this life into eternity – our hope, our only hope, is life-giving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And there are His children to visit too – those who perhaps are bed-ridden or housebound and who need a loving touch, encouragement and someone to pray with them, as they face the everyday trials of pain and weariness.

Such visits are rewarding for those who make them…. both in this dispensation and in eternity. How marvellous to hear those words: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matthew 25v34-36)

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Monday 28th August, 1978 – The Miracle of Saving Grace

August 28, 2017

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This morning I wakened to a beautiful memory – the memory of what took place in my life thirty-nine years ago this very day. Like today it was a Bank Holiday Monday in the U.K. and like today I was feeling a little weary – but my weariness back then was because I had made a long journey the previous day and I was under a great deal of conviction. My little bit of weariness today is because I am thirty-nine years older and I didn’t sleep so well last night! And yet today I feel well and I am optimistic about the future, for I have placed all my tomorrows into His Hands.

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1Cor. 15v19)

On the evening of Monday, 28th August 1978 a light shone into my soul, for it was on that decisive evening that I came to know my Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save my soul.  As I say in my testimony, ‘I asked Him to carry me from darkness into His light’…. and how bright is that light!

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Cor. 4v6)

“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31v3)

“The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” (Psalm 34v22)

Lord, thank you for sustaining me through worries about my children, through the trauma of serious health issues, through bereavement on the death of loved ones… You have been my constant Companion, Confidant, Counsellor and ever Faithful Friend at times when no one else upon the face of this earth could ever understand. My tears of joy or of pain, or my broken heart – You have understood it all. In the darkness of the night I searched for you and I found you and you comforted me. In good times you rejoiced with me.

“The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” (Psalm 34v17-19)

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34v4)

Help me, my Lord, to “measure my days” and never to waste time. Each day, each hour, each minute must count for Thee and each word and action should glorify my Lord and Saviour. As I embark upon the fortieth year in my walk with Thee, lead me in the way that I should take. Lord, I own nothing in this world – all I have and all I am is thine, to use for thy glory and for the extension of thy Kingdom. Lord, teach me to “apply my heart unto wisdom.” Still you are my loving Teacher for even after the deepest work you do in our hearts, we never cease to grow in our walk with You.

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from you own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90v12)

Lord, I praise you for all that is past – and I trust you for all that is to come. “I will love Thee O Lord, my strength.” (Psalm 18v1)

“My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” (Psalm 31v15)

Today I want to thank you my Lord, that through all the rolling years, you have led me by the hand. Through weary ways and golden days, your loving arms have surrounded me in all the changing scenes of life – and I believe that they will continue to do so, gently guiding and teaching me – until some glorious day beyond the clouds… I will meet you face to face. Oh “what a Day that will be… when my Jesus I shall see and I look upon His face – the One who saved me by His grace!”

In the lovely words of Timothy… “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2Timothy 1v12)

“I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me He hath made known,

Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love redeemed me for His own –

But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able

To keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”

 

Link to my testimony: https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/my-testimony/

 

 

 

“Be Not Afraid Of Their Faces” (Jeremiah 1v8)

August 14, 2017

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In recent times I have had the opportunity to be in the company of some very learned people – people who are knowledgeable in the affairs of this world but sadly devoid of spiritual life. I attended an event after the recent conference in Crete where business cards were exchanged and conversations struck up between professors and “doctors of book knowledge.”

Sharing your faith with proud people who are full of education and knowledge in their sphere can be quite a challenge; yet possible when we have a love for them in our hearts which only the Lord can instil. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” (1John 4v17-19)

When we are in the middle of such a situation, it is good to pause for a moment and listen to the hum of voices around us as they converse on that which will someday completely pass away. These things have their place in life as people obviously have to work for a living but the most important issue of all is the question of the health of the soul and mankind’s eternal well-being. Above the voices and the traditional music I hear a still small voice calling me, just as He did Jeremiah and Samuel in days of old – and He is calling me to be a witness to those around me. But I am terrified!

It was late, time to go back to our little apartment in the “middle of nowhere” and we might get lost en route, my husband said. I sigh and leave the table. The people at this table don’t even appear to notice that we are leaving…. In fact I have felt invisible for the entire evening and anyway I didn’t understand what language they were speaking. Is this all there is to this evening? Can I not say even one tiny word for the Saviour who died for me? Just as we reach some steps by a swimming pool in the darkness of the night I shout to my husband… “Wait! I need to go back. I’ll join you in a moment.” I remembered the tracts in my handbag that I felt the Lord wanted me to bring.

When I return to the table there is, amazingly, exactly one tract for each person left sitting there. Shaking, I approach each of them with a little tract and a smile. I believe that they are East Europeans but I know that they will understand these simple words…

They look bewildered. I can’t speak their language and they had made no attempt to speak English to us previously. The one woman in their midst looks at me and smiles back. I say “goodnight” and leave my feeble attempt prayerfully with the Lord. Glancing back, I can see that I have left them with something interesting and controversial to talk about!

I am emotional as we leave the hotel and I really don’t know why, as I feel that I’m really quite a failure and yet I had a strange sense of something having been achieved on this night. Only eternity will tell. As with the two little loaves and the five fishes (Mark 6v41&42), the Lord can take the miniscule seeds we sow or the small contributions we make and accomplish something with them for time and eternity. And in His strength and with the love He gives us for souls, we can reach out more and more as He leads, in His strength and in seemingly impossible situations.

The Unknown Homeless Man Of Kalyves

August 5, 2017

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Life has been hectic since our return from the Greek island of Crete just last week but somehow I keep thinking about him. These are words which I scribbled down on the night we had made enquiries about a homeless man we had previously met in 2009…

“We returned after eight years and found the square again in the same traditional Greek village of Kalyves but you were gone…

“Look after yourself,” I had told you but sadly I cannot remember now our conversation. We bought you something to eat – you, the drifter, a million miles from home. But where was “home?”

“America,” you had said. When we said we were from Ireland, you smiled at some distant memory and whispered simply: “I remember Ireland… lots of rainbows…”

Mystery soul, you are gone, a local told us; buried in a municipal grave; your funeral financed by the government. Every night you would sit on a circular seat built around a tree in the square. My husband gave some money to the nearby kiosk owner before we left. We had only stayed there for a week in 2009. “Please give that man some food each day when we are gone,” he had asked him. But there was a different kiosk owner now. Nothing ever stays the same, as life ebbs in, like the rolling tide beyond our little balcony…

Where did you come from? You never really wanted to talk about yourself or how it was you came to be there. Were you a missing person from where you once lived? Somewhere in this world a mother gave birth to you once. Then you drifted around the world, or perhaps you were running away from something or someone… You weren’t very old – forties perhaps. Is your mother alive or did she die, not knowing where on earth you ever went to?

The full moon reflects tonight on the rippling waves of Kalyves as we think of you, homeless friend, wondering whatever happened in the end. Sleeping rough, even in Crete, can wear a body down. Where is your soul tonight, homeless man? Will I ever meet you again? Did I share salvation’s story with you? What did we say to you?

These are questions that have been burning in my mind, as I think of this and other souls I have met in recent years – only to later discover that these souls had passed into eternity.

As I journey along, sometimes meeting a drifter (or even a very conservative settled person) that I will never ever meet again in this life, Lord help me to be faithful to them, sharing Your love and Salvation’s Story with them. Their reaction is irrelevant – I must do my part in the strength of the Lord – and then pray with all my heart for these souls you loved and died for.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1v16)

Lord, help us to be faithful. Help me to be faithful.

Sheltering in the Shadow of His Wings

July 7, 2017

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Birds and animals have featured much in our lives this summer and as a result of this – many little stories with spiritual parallels. There was the robin and the butterfly, baby owls squealing in the night, the pigeon and the cat, the buzzards, the swallows in the porch, the hares on the road, the flitting bats and the house martin and the cat…

A baby house martin, being adventurous, had decided to leave the nest prematurely but had sadly ended up in the mouth of our cat. However, my daughter managed to rescue the little bird and miraculously it survived unharmed! Above is a small photograph of it feeding on greenflies from a leaf picked for it. My husband, on his return from work, climbed a tall ladder, managing to restore it to its nest while the parents were not around. How glad it must have felt to be with other little siblings once more – and subsequently in the shadow of the wings of those who loved and cared for it!

If the Lord can answer prayer for the safety of a little bird – how much more will He do so for those who love Him and call upon His name for safety and deliverance? I am about to take a long journey – a five-hour flight that I am apprehensive about for many reasons but He has given me the words of that beautiful Psalm 91. Recent news reports, both locally, and all across the world make for depressing reading but spiritually speaking I dwell “in the secret place of the most High, under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Verse 1)

Like the little house martin now in his feathery nest, I am safe from the evil one, for I have surrendered myself to a more powerful force who was able to rescue and deliver me when I was powerless to help myself. We live in evil days, when unmentionable, horrific things are happening in our world and sometimes, unfortunately, the Christian succumbs to depression in the face of it all… but “His grace is greater!” Remember, as you venture forth today, whatever perceived ordeal you are facing, the only real safety in this world of ours is “in the shadow of His wings.” If we go our own way, in our own strength; prematurely venturing without His presence in our lives, we face the greatest danger from an evil enemy.

But… “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)

And for those who know and love Him, all the great promises of Psalm 91 are theirs: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91v4)

“For He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Psalm 91v11)

And as we venture on in the Christian life, we have this promise… “He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job23v10)

May the Lord bless and encourage all who read in the days ahead, whatever pain, despondency or challenges you have to face. The answer to it all is to take refuge in the shadow of His wings. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8v38&39)

“The Love of Money is the Root of all Evil”

June 26, 2017

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“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1Timothy 6v10)

Other versions such as the NIV translate this as: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” or “the root of all kinds of evil.” However, I stand by the King James Version and its translation. Ultimately, this verse makes it clear that all evil, although it may not be immediately apparent, can be traced back to this evil root: mankind’s love of money. Today my Bible study brought to mind the specific evil of idolatry…

I have been reading of Paul’s fascinating journeys in territory which would be highly dangerous to travel through in today’s world. Nevertheless, in those days before the advent of Islam, there was the “great goddess Diana whom all the world worshipped” (Acts 19) and who “brought no small gain unto the craftsmen,” (V24). Back then anyone who preached the gospel would have been in danger, just as Paul was. The reason for this was obvious: great profits were to be made from the sale of silver shrines of “Diana” and no craftsman likes to see his livelihood in peril! In fact today, as then, the love of money in itself can be a source of idolatry.

“Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone in Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.” (Acts 19v26&27)

It is interesting to make the comparison with idolatry then and Roman Catholicism today. I see that the Pope wishes to visit Ireland next year (2018) and I believe that there are many reasons for this, not least a report that there is great disillusionment here with the Roman Catholic Church, with numbers of people leaving it faster than ever before. But superstition still abounds. Take for example the village of Ballinspittle in Cork where “the moving statues” phenomenon has brought in tourism and prospered small businesses since 1985 when so called “moving statues of the Virgin Mary” were first observed. Imagine what the “fall of Roman Catholicism” would mean for just one small village – and if it happened all across the world what it would mean for the Vatican in financial terms!

Silversmiths like Demetrius in Acts 19v24, statue- makers and those travelling with “relics” of saints would be at a financial loss, while locations all over the world from Medjugorje in Bosnia to Tapao in Vietnam would lose out on tourism, if crowds no longer travelled to see places where there was supposed to be “apparitions” of the Virgin Mary etc. Shrines and statues as objects of worship would be no more, if many turned to the living God as in Paul’s day, when “mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19v20)

“Sirs,” said Demetrius the silversmith to his colleagues in business, “ye know that by this craft we have made our wealth.” Demetrius, as with all who think only on the affairs of this world, clearly had no concept of this truth: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8v36&37)

Later we read of another “Demetrius” in 3John 1v12 and this Demetrius was a disciple. I would like to think that this Demetrius was the same one, this time, converted – but unfortunately there is no evidence for this either way. Eternity will reveal many things and perhaps, too, many pleasant surprises…

There is nothing more precious in this world than the value of your soul; perhaps it needs attention today, whatever your standing in society, or your church or denomination. It may not be well with your wealth or even, worryingly, with your health – but is it “well with your soul?”

As Paul travelled, contending with dangerous “crowd mentality,” vicious opposition, beatings, persecution, imprisonment – and eventually death (although we are not told the manner of his death), he said: “neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy…” Acts 20v24. When his fellow believers feared for his safety, they “besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.” (Acts 21v12) But Paul answered: “What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (V.13)

The proposed visit of the Pope next year should be viewed by those who have been born again as an opportunity. There may be many protests from ex-Catholics who are angry about child abuse and other issues, while pious clergy, church dignitaries and ordinary people will line the streets but this is an opportunity for tract distribution and outreach as the Lord leads, so that eyes would be opened, just as Paul’s were, after acknowledging blindness on the Damascus Road. If the Lord can work in the life of Paul, transforming him from being a persecutor of the church – to someone who was an outstanding apostle, He can perform this same miracle in many lives.

Oh that the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ Saviour today would be able to say with the apostle Paul: “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men” (Acts 20v26)

The believer must aspire to nothing less than these words of Paul (for whom material possessions and riches meant nothing)…. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Philippians 3v8)

My Recent Visits to Five Castles and Thoughts on a “Fortress for the Soul”

June 10, 2017

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In the last couple of months, I have had occasion to visit five old Irish castles, for one reason or another and it never ceases to fascinate me how these fortifications are still standing at all after hundreds of years! By the way, there is little difference between fortresses and castles, since both are “fortifications,” although castles may have been more comfortable to live in!

At the end of April we stayed close to Ballybunion Castle by the Atlantic Ocean in County Kerry when we visited that lovely lady, the ex-nun, Peggy O’Neill. Built around the dawn of the 1500’s, if Ballybunion Castle could talk it would tell us of ancient battles, sieges and power struggles over the centuries. On the way home we stopped to take a photograph of Desmond Castle by the pretty village of Adare with its thatched cottages in County Limerick. Beautifully reflected in the River Maigue, this castle (see the second one above) was built in the early part of the 1300’s and again was witness to turbulent struggles for hundreds of years.

A week later I had to travel over to Trim Castle with a delivery of my first book – “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year,” for Trim Visitor Centre. Trim Castle is impressively large and medieval (12th century), standing by the River Boyne in the historical town of Trim in County Meath. Some days later I had a call from my aunt who (although approaching 88!) loves to travel and takes a great interest in history. “I’ll meet you at Tullynally Castle in County Westmeath, as I hope to travel there with the Historical Society,” she said. Unlike the others this castle is not at all in ruins and is actually still lived in, being a home to the Pakenham family for over 350 years. I took a photograph of it (above) with gathering clouds in the evening.

Soon after this we had a family reunion and picnic in the grounds of the more recent lovely Ardgillan Castle (built in 1738) which overlooks the Irish Sea in north County Dublin. Like Tullynally Castle, this one is not in ruins and is currently used for events at all times of the year. Older castles were often built by rivers or the sea and always strategically so as to afford protection from the enemy. Moats and drawbridges were a common sight at medieval castles and when the enemy would come to invade; the drawbridge would be taken up to bar their entry.

Castles are mentioned throughout the Bible; we read in 2Chronicles 17v12 “And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.” Castles were a sign of power and enormous wealth; to attack a castle one would have needed to be accompanied by a very great army indeed! In these dangerous days of random terrorist attacks I have been thinking of that verse in Isaiah 59vv19: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.”

The only hope for safety in our times is in our Fortress, the Holy One of Israel… the One of whom David said: “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. We may not have the equivalent riches of the great lords and kings of old – but our riches are not of this world and while the fortresses of olden days will someday fall to ruins and eventually scattered ancient stones, our Fortress is an Everlasting One which cannot ever be moved. Our armour is a spiritual one and the Force that defends us has already won the battle. We already have the victory – if we have put our trust in His finished work at Calvary! Our riches in Him are beyond compare.

Who knows what future events will occur in our times, with regard to the current enemies of civilised society? Today the enemy is not as obvious as in days of old; he doesn’t wear the uniform of an invading army and he walks our streets with thoughts in his head that no one knows… When he attacks, it is without warning and sometimes there is no place to hide our physical bodies.

But there is a sure place to hide for the soul of mankind. There is a refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us and if we have repented and are trusting in Him with all our hearts, “walking in the light as he is in the light,” He is our sure refuge for time and eternity… a rich and Everlasting Fortress for the soul. His will is that all should put their trust in Him today, for He loves you and paid the ultimate price to make you His own.

“And 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)

LINK TO HYMN: “A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD” (BY MARTIN LUTHER: 1483 – 1546):

That Word above all earthly powers,

No thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Thru Him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also –

The body they may kill:

God’s truth abideth still:

His Kingdom is forever!

 

Oh for a Glimpse of Eternity!

May 28, 2017

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There are many thousands of different religions and systems of belief in this world – and many conflicting views as to what happens human beings when they depart this life. Roman Catholics believe in an intermediary place known as “purgatory,” although the Christian Bible contains no reference to any such place; Hinduism teaches reincarnation, “karma” and the cycle of life, while Islam believes that “mankind will be divided into two groups, one in Paradise and one in hell.” Both, they say will “abide therein forever.” Of course, they maintain, that only Muslims can go to Paradise. Whatever conflicting views they have, there is a general consensus amongst all systems of belief that our behaviour in this life will determine the nature of our life in the next.

There are also multiple conflicting views on the nature of paradise too. Mormons, for example, have some strange views, talking of “three heavenly kingdoms:” the celestial, terrestrial and telestial. However, that is another discussion for another time. In the wake of recent suicide bombings, it is the nature of Islam’s “paradise” that has been very much occupying my mind this week. Amongst all the systems of belief that I have ever heard of, their view of “paradise,” with its promise of 72 virgins to jihadists must surely sound evil to any right-minded person.  It is said in Palestine that a mother who sends her son to die as a martyr is sometimes seen as “marrying him off.”

All of this makes me wonder what supposedly awaits female jihadists – and there have been quite a few. Sadly, those who die this way, unless they repent within the very short time they have before death, face an eternity more horrific than we can ever imagine. I only wish that they could have a vision of this – for if they did, they would never murder and maim so many men, women and children the world over. If only they weren’t brainwashed by the words of their fellowmen and would seek the living God – the one God who sent His only Son to die that they might inherit the real paradise, which can never be compared to anything we have experienced on this earth. Even the peaceful green fields of my childhood to which I sometimes return to walk with joy, are nothing in comparison with what awaits those who love the Lord.

Those who have not been born again of the spirit of God have a view of heaven that is akin to a continuation of their own base greed and earthly desires in this life. They don’t see it as Jesus described it… “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22v29&30) But as it is written, 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)

As the Muslim month of Ramadan has just commenced, there have also been calls for jihadists to perpetrate yet more crimes in the countries they are living in throughout the west. With all my heart I wish that potential suicide bombers and terrorists could see that far from an eternity of self-indulgence and their own strange ideas of “paradise,” they will face judgement, for “as it is appointed unto man 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)

Sadly, Islam maintains that Jesus never died at all – and therefore He never rose again. On the contrary those who know Him love Him and see His resurrection as the ultimate victory over sin and death and hell. “in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in the heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1v15&16.)

I have often thought about heaven and the joy of meeting loved ones again. It is important to remember that our relationship with them will be different, yes – but it will be better beyond anything we can ever conceive of in this life. And most of all, what joy to meet the One who saved me by His grace! “His smile will be the first to welcome me.” How I wish those who are planning evil deeds could believe that there are untold wonders in the real paradise, for all who repent and put their trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. Frances J. Crosby’s hymn “My Saviour first of all” describes the scene so beautifully and scripturally… This lady was physically blind in this life, but oh how she could see spiritually! How amazing for her, when on the first day of eternity, she had the joy of meeting and seeing her beloved Saviour!

“Thro’ the gates to the city in a robe of spotless white,

He will lead me where no tears shall ever fall;

In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight;

But I long to see my Saviour first of all.”

Link to this hymn: https://youtu.be/CMFM-lpzCC0

 

 

Remembering Manchester Today – and Terrorism then

May 23, 2017

Today I have been thinking of and praying for the victims of this horrific terrorist attack last night, most of them so very very young. As a mother my heart goes out to any parent who has lost a child and, indeed, numerous others who are comforting seriously injured loved ones in hospital, as well as the adult victims involved. This whole horrific incident doesn’t even bear thinking about, given that the perpetrator waited until the concert was over in order to create maximum loss of life and injury.

From a personal point of view, I have very pleasant memories of Manchester, a city I often visited to do courses connected with my work in Northern Ireland years ago. Often I would have brought my Mum along for the trip, as she enjoyed exploring the city during the day while I was on the course. She especially loved a walk around the Arndale Centre, which is Manchester’s big shopping centre. Today that shopping centre was evacuated just hours after the other atrocity, as police dealt with what they described as ‘an incident.’

Manchester is no stranger to terrorism. In June 1996 the Arndale Centre and many other buildings were destroyed, as the IRA detonated a powerful bomb (the largest since World War 2) in the centre of the city. Miraculously, although more than two hundred people were injured – there were no fatalities in this attack. However, damage incurred was in the region of around 700 million. (More in today’s currency.)

I remember the sound of bombs in my youth – and one bomb in particular. I was around twenty at the time and working in an office in a small town in Northern Ireland, when a man ran inside the door and gave us a choice: either lie on the floor or run out of the building down the street. “There’s a bomb in the post office across the road,” he told us. I chose to do the latter and when I reached the bottom of the street with a much older colleague, I can still recall the hollow sickening thud and a sensation which made me feel like my entire head was going to burst open. With shaking hands and a terrified look my colleague took out a packet of cigarettes and offered me one. “No thanks,” I said. Although I wasn’t a Christian at that time, I was determined that no terrorist was ever going to make me feel that I had to start smoking to calm my nerves.

Modes of communication have certainly changed since then. Today “Twitter” alerts people very quickly as to what is happening. Back then I had no mobile phone to call my parents and reassure them that I was safe, when an “incident” occurred. However, I was fortunate to find one of those old telephone kiosks which thankfully hadn’t been vandalised.

Yes indeed… there have been amazing leaps in modes of communication and technology over the last decades – but sadly the hearts of men who have not been touched by the Saviour’s love are as cold, cruel and evil today as they were then, whatever their ideology. Today international terrorism (which has its roots in Islamic fundamentalism) is at the forefront of discussion where terrorism is concerned. A tidal wave of evil is sweeping across the world, with sporadic attacks on ordinary people.

We are living in dangerous days – too dangerous to neglect the value of your soul. To those who know Him, we must follow His example and work, “for the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9v4) And to those outside of the Lord’s grace, although you may certainly be no terrorist, you need to acknowledge your need of salvation, repent and place your lives under the shadow and safety of His wings. No one is guaranteed a pleasant release from this life – but the Lord Jesus Christ has promised: “him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.  (Hebrews 7v25)

I pray (and will continue to do so) for the heartbroken and suffering this day – and I pray that they will know His comforting Presence in their lives – the Lord’s strong Presence, like warm arms, that I felt all those years ago, when I was feeling lonely one night in a hotel in Manchester, shortly after the Lord saved me by His grace…

 

Church of Ireland Archbishop’s Controversial Participation at the “Beatification” of Jesuit Priest, John Sullivan (1861-1933)

May 16, 2017

On Saturday, 13th May last the first beatification ceremony ever on Irish soil took place and I was dismayed (but not surprised) to learn that the Church of Ireland Archbishop officiated alongside the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin at this ceremony.

The candidate for beatification, John Sullivan, born on 8th May 1861 at 41 Eccles Street in Dublin was one of five children born to Sir Edward Sullivan (a member of the Church of Ireland and later Lord Chancellor of Ireland) and Elizabeth Bailey, a Roman Catholic from a prominent land-owning household in Passage West.  It is reported that he was raised in the Church of Ireland but later converted to Catholicism in 1896, aged 35.

Much that is positive has been recorded about this man, as indeed it has about other notable men and women down through history – but the eternal destination of their souls is something over which only Almighty God has control. God’s Word tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3v23) so how can mortal man have some sort of role in the “promotion” of a soul which has departed this life?

In this, the year of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, it is very disturbing to see how ecumenism has eaten into the fabric of many mainline denominations, which would once have stood firmly for the great truths of God’s Word, the Holy Bible; truths for which men and women suffered and died at the stake.

I have previously written about beatification in my blog: “Why Beatification is Blasphemous & Contrary to Scripture,” on 2nd May, 2011 and now it is with sadness that I learn of this very recent event.  As I have previously said:

“There is absolutely no scriptural foundation for the notion that men (whatever position they have been elected to) have the power to decide the destiny of a soul who has passed into eternity. Hebrews 9v27 tells me that “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…” Who judges us? Surely only God has the power to decide my spiritual standing, or yours – or that of any pope who has ever walked this earth? According to the Roman Catholic Church, “beatification is the last step on the road to sainthood.” How contrary to scripture this is, for whenever I read of ‘saints’ in the New Testament, they are indeed living followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example Paul writes to the living not to the dead in Ephesians 1v1… “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus,” and “to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:” (Philippians 1v1.) The saints then (and today!) are ordinary men and women who have come by faith to a living relationship with the Lord.

The fact is… only saints can enter heaven! In Jude 14 we read that Enoch prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.”

John 1v12&13 tells me that … “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Saints are therefore born by the will of God and not by the will of men – and although their bodies die, they live on in the spirit and are elevated to heaven; not by the will of man, but by God the Creator, Saviour and indwelling Holy Spirit of all who come to Him in repentance and faith in His finished work for them at Calvary.

My prayer is that souls would come to see the “spiritual wickedness in high places” and these “doctrines of devils” that are prevalent in such ceremonies as beatification. The Bible tells me that the “love of money is the root of all evil” and I am inclined to think that prayers for the dead, relics, beatification and great ceremonies in the Vatican and other locations bring in much needed finance at times like this.

May my Lord and Saviour speak to those souls who are sincerely searching for truth and questioning the validity of such practices, beliefs and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church. Oh that they would see clearly the simplicity and wonder of this truth… that sainthood is totally God’s will for each one of us and that this has been made possible for us here and now in this life – by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ… “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins…” (Colossians 1v14