A Time to Pray

September 26, 2020

On this sunny autumn day, I took a walk down to an old familiar sycamore tree that I’ve always loved. Over the years I have often sat alone under this tree in this quiet place to pray. Today I prayed for my children and loved ones – both at home in Ireland and others far away. I prayed for one presently living and working in Israel who messaged me this week to say that she was unwell from the virus. Apart from serious health diagnoses in our own lives and in the lives of those who are close to us, this has been one of the most challenging times some of us have ever had to face….

I don’t leave it for a long time before looking once again at the Worldometer live statistics regarding the spread of Coronavirus. In some countries it would be appearing to be gathering worrying momentum, while in others it is a slight but steady rise – but few have eradicated it. The reason for not leaving it for a long time, from a personal point of view, is so that the shock won’t be too great. Also, as Christians we need to be aware and to take stock of situations in order to pray about them effectively. The Lord has allowed this situation to come about; mankind is the cause of its own downfall and unfortunately whether it is rain or plagues, they fall “on the just and the unjust.” I hear complaints about masks and lockdown but I hear no one talking about the judgement of God. And I hear of no organised prayer meetings (with the permitted number of people, adhering to present legislation) being held in respect of this serious worldwide situation.

In days gone by I remember whole days of prayer being held on specific serious issues but these days Christians are strangely not even speaking about it. Why is there so little prayer about a situation where people are not only dying from this virus – but because of it? The reality is that people are dying on waiting lists for other health issues concerning heart problems and cancer etc…. and the terrible reality is that many are not ready to meet the Lord.

To preach (as I’ve heard some do) that government legislation to curb the spread of this disease is “persecution” is ridiculous. Sadly, many who profess to be Christians have shown a very poor example at this time and indeed I believe that because of rebellion and unacceptance of the reality of a horrific situation which is affecting millions of souls, friction and disagreement have been stirred up by those who should know better. Surely they realise that some good things have happened because of lockdowns…. Less socialising in those places which displease the Lord, less access to drugs and less promiscuity.

Has the Lord put it in your heart to reach others by some means? This is a time to stay close to Him, to be aware and to seek His direction for the future when things will open up again. We need to work with situations and not fly in the face of something which has been allowed by God.

It has been said that “Coronavirus has not gone away because we have got tired of it.” There is a work for every child of God in even seemingly impossible situations – to write, to communicate, to encourage and to pray. How our loved ones, neighbours and acquaintances need our prayers! Life is precious and every moment the Lord gives us needs to be lived to His glory.

This is also a time to show example by complying with the advice given by health authorities. Just because something has not been made mandatory – doesn’t mean that we should disregard guidelines. I have never worn a mask because I am afraid of the virus, although who wants to get a virus? I wear a mask in situations where it is possible that I may unknowingly pass this on to a vulnerable person who may not survive it. How can I call myself a Christian and not care about the physical or spiritual welfare of my contacts? No one is immune from this virus or from spreading it. Those who name the Name of Christ should care about their fellow travellers in this life, whatever their profession of faith, which is why I don’t understand the reluctance of many to wear a mask to prevent spread of the disease. If you think that this is tantamount to “faith over fear,” then why bother with the flu vaccine and other health precautions?

Some day Coronavirus will be no more. Will we look back on this period of history (if the world continues for much longer) as a time when the shameful perpetuating of conspiracy theories has eaten up professing Christians – or will it be viewed as a time when something pure and new is born in the hearts of those whose desire is to be consecrated to the Lord, to be ever closer to Him and to reach others? “…the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Daniel 11v32)

This is a time to lift our hearts to the Lord and pray. Potentially there is much to be anxious about, when we think of what is going on in the lives of loved ones but the Bible tells us to “be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4v6)

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3)

“Sin Shall Not Have Dominion Over You”

September 17, 2020

I recently looked through my Dad’s old Bibles – and what a wealth of underlined verses and notes I found! An even older Bible belonging to him has the following inscription… “To Jack from Ella, Christmas 1950.” As a young couple who were just coming to know each other away back in those days, they were both saved that same year, having heard the gospel for the first time in a little countryside hall in Northern Ireland. Two years later in May 1952 they were married and indeed stayed happily married for nearly 60 years until Dad was called Home in 2011, Mum following him in 2014. They were a very close couple who shared many happy times with their four children and a sense of humour which I still miss today.

My father was never into “isms” but he saw a clear distinction between the “old life” and the “new life.” One of his underlined verses was the well-known… “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6v23) Today’s term “saved sinner” was not unheard of back then either but my father had no time for unscriptural terms.

Even before I trusted the Lord to save me when I was in my mid-twenties, I always somehow believed that there should be a clear distinction between the “saved” and the “sinner.” Years later I was shocked to hear a pastor say to his congregation… “We are all slaves to sin.” This phrase has no reference – because it does not exist in the Bible. Far from encouraging growth in the Christian, many who stand behind a pulpit today are dragging them down, spiritually speaking.

I find more underlined verses… “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5v19) This is not “self-righteousness” as someone tried to tell me once. “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1John3v7-10)

The message is clear… that habitual sin should not exist in the life of the believer. While it is not impossible for the Christian to sin, we learn here that it should be the exception to the rule – an alien disease to be dealt with by the Lord. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1Johm 2v1&2)

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6v16-18) These verses clearly dispense with the notion that those who have trusted the Lord to save them are doomed to be “slaves to sin.”

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6v6)

Praise God… “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (Romans 6v14&15)

Romans 7v23-25 should never be read in isolation. “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

We must read on to the next chapter…. For, praise God… “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. ” (Romans 8v1-4)

Dad had underlined all these verses. I found a little bookmark beside them… “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3Johnv4) I thank the Lord that He has set me free from the law of sin and death and for the privilege of reading my father’s Bible with these lovely underlined words, amongst others…

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8v13&14)

In these uncertain days how good to know Him and be known of Him – and to be ready for His return in His strength. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” And, another underlined section in his old Bible… “let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”(2Timothy 2v19)

Because I had been thinking about him and studying his old Bibles, I had a dream last night that I was with my father, talking to him. I wakened from that dream feeling sorrowful and tearful that he was gone and then I opened his Bible to see another underlined verse… “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 25v8) Those who “walk after the Spirit” can take comfort in the sure knowledge that “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1Thessalonians 4v17)

Criminal Activity on the Increase during the Pandemic… But “Praise God His Child shall see Him where the Living Waters Flow”

September 2, 2020

In the last while on this small island of Ireland, we have seen murders, civil unrest, serious assaults and a big increase in robberies. One would imagine that individuals would have become more God-fearing during a pandemic but they really don’t seem to care about the fact that their short existence on this earth could be cut even shorter at any moment by either their own departure into eternity or the Lord’s return.

There is a certain town in Ireland, the name of which when quoted makes me feel almost depressed. In a sense it reminds me of Nineveh, the city which Jonah was reluctant to go to. However, if the Lord told me to go to this town, well of course I would obey His calling – but He would have to give me the courage and strength! This is an area where they hijack the delivery trucks of certain major supermarkets who deliver to many vulnerable people during the pandemic. Not only do they hijack them – but they set them on fire. This is also an area where it is possible to get shot for absolutely no logical reason.

In my own quiet rural area, someone who lives within walking distance of us got out of his comparatively new vehicle to open the gates to his home, when the criminal who had been watching him jumped into that vehicle and drove it away at top speed. I feel uneasy when I think that someone may be watching our movements, to see when they can break in! To be honest, though, our “movements” are so irregular these days and we don’t have a “routine,” as such and if criminals broke in they would most likely just trip over something (as I confess to not being the tidiest person on earth)… which brings me to thoughts on “justice.”

In this crazy society we live in, a robber may be able to take you to court if he injures himself while trying to rob your property. Riotous, drunken behaviour and civil unrest have also emerged in some areas. During a pandemic there are drug addicts who are unable to access their usual “fix” and drug suppliers have taken advantage of the unfortunates who are hooked on certain substances, charging them extortionate amounts of money. The devil, indeed, is a hard task master.

Certain politicians have said that continuing to keep pubs closed leads to “mental health issues” in those who generally spend time in such establishments. It has long been a known fact that Ireland is full of “functioning alcoholics” who would have led a better life if they had never had access to pubs – which have created mental health issues. Obtaining your alcohol from off licences is the obvious alternative but drinking at home can create even more problems…

All of this (and the threat of the onset of a virus in us or our loved ones’ lives) presents a bleak picture – but praise God He can set the prisoner free – free from his evil frame of mind, free from his addictions and glorious freedom to serve the One who died for them and ever lives for them.

At this time I have received through the post the wonderful testimony of someone who trusted the Lord to save him – and subsequently he miraculously never touched again the demon alcohol which had kept him enslaved for years. Praise God, He is able to deliver you from whatever it is that you feel that you cannot live without.

Whether you are a law-abiding citizen who has never behaved in a depraved manner or whether you have big problems either with addiction or criminal activity – the Lord is able to deliver you. Sometimes the church-going law-abiding citizen needs to see too, that they must be delivered from the notion that they can “work” their way to heaven.

“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)

With rising cases in this present pandemic and a world steeped in sin, the horizon looks black and uncertain but the Lord Jesus Christ longs to set the prisoner free; those who have been saved by His grace can rejoice in the knowledge that a glorious Day awaits them… “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2Peter 3v13)

As the days of this old world sweep swiftly onwards let those who know Him be also mindful of the words of 2Peter 3v14… “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” I wrote the little verse “Where the living waters flow” a long time ago…

Where the Living Waters Flow

Whatever ills befall us

As we dwell here below,

Praise God His child shall see Him,

Where the living waters flow!

© E. Burke

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Revelation 22v1)

Consideration for Others during this Present Pandemic

August 22, 2020

I was talking on the phone to an old friend of my father’s this week – a dear soul in his mid-nineties who has known and followed the Lord for many many years. They were only months apart in age and I know he misses Dad so much since he passed away in 2011.

Now, it is important to mention at this point that my Dad’s old friend is highly unusual for his age. If he has any health problems, he never speaks of them and he works very hard every day in his apple orchards. I meant to ask him, but as far as I know, he still climbs trees! However, he rarely ventures into towns or shops during the present crises – and he has some very serious and wise thoughts on the issue. Where he lives (across the border in Northern Ireland) numbers have started to rise again in this small region and the health service here has come under severe pressure, just as it has in the Republic of Ireland.

He and his wife have their shopping delivered to them by nearby family members and if they do have to venture out on some business they wear masks and have been doing so long before this was made mandatory. You see, although this man has a firm assurance of salvation and walks by faith each day – he fears God and has a healthy respect for the well-being of others: both spiritually and physically. He also sees the necessity in obeying the law of his country and of being an example to fellow citizens.

He and others like him would, I feel, be horrified by the attitude of some professing Christians who have been heard to say: “I don’t care if I get the virus… I’m ‘under the blood’ and ready for heaven…” Those same people if they do succumb to the virus, may well place an extra burden on the health service by taking up a hospital bed. And what if they pass it on to others who “are not saved and ready for heaven?” Do they really care for souls? With an attitude like that would they not need to take stock of their own spiritual standing?

There is the other issue involving the fact that whatever your views on this virus, it has meant that people with cancer, people with heart problems and people on waiting lists for treatment for other serious and painful issues have been put at risk by delays – and this is fact.

Others have been heard to say “Christians don’t get it…” Seriously? I already know Christians who have succumbed to this virus. Christians, like everyone else, are subject to all the diseases and pestilences which unfortunately permeate this world. As my father’s friend said… “there is nothing in the Word to say otherwise.”

Ireland is the last little outpost geographically before America and unfortunately some strange thinking on the virus from there has also seeped into society here. “It’s not real…” Well, the Irish Times have documented a very sensitive account of all the individuals who have died with the virus here – photographs of each precious soul and a short account of their lives, which can also be viewed online. I felt emotional as I scrolled down the photographs and the real lives of these individuals gone out into eternity, their lives ended so tragically. Age is irrelevant; funerals and celebration of lives is important in Ireland and tragically many families have been denied the comforting presence of extended family and friends at this time.

To say “it’s not real” is an outrageous insult to both those who have suffered and their loved ones and also the medical staff who work long hours under terrible circumstances with masks which they must always wear leaving marks on their faces. To die alone and gasping for your last breath in an intensive care unit has been the reality for many. “This is a bad bad time,” said my father’s old friend. People would need to be careful and care for others.”

When I go out on our unlit country road at dusk for a walk I wear a fluorescent jacket so that traffic will see me and not knock me down. This has nothing to do with my “lack of faith.” In the same way, I don’t stand close to a cliff edge to take a “selfie,” or drive without seat belt on. The Lord has given us freewill and intelligence to make wise decisions for our own good and the well-being of others.

My daughter who is young, has gone through so much in the last couple of years in terms of cancer treatment and unfortunately one of the hospitals where she has appointments was the worst one in the city in regards to Covid 19. Given this situation, the floor of a large shopping centre has been converted into a place for oncology patients to have appointments. The vast majority of people wandering into this shopping centre were not aware that a floor had been taken up for this reason and were just going in to browse the shops. My daughter got out of the car with her mask on, as all patients are required to wear masks – but at that time masks had not been made mandatory in shopping areas. She was already apprehensive about the appointment itself, but imagine her horror when a man who had just got out of his car nearby, coughed deliberately into her face!

She naturally felt disillusioned and depressed after this incident. People go through so much to stay alive in a world where there is such disrespect for the situations people are in but how the Lord knows and understands this better than any of us. We are walking in the same alien territory as He did over two thousand years ago.

“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13v14)

Yes, this is (and has been) “a bad bad time” as Dad’s old friend said. While I am not saying that wearing a mask is the ultimate deterrent against the virus, evidence has shown that it does help; we have been instructed to do so under certain conditions by governing authorities and the Bible tells us to keep the law. (1Peter 2v13-17)

People, it would appear are “afraid of what they will look like in a mask.” Christians, especially, should not be in possession of such pride. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5v15-17)

All Things Are Yours

August 5, 2020

In recent times our attention has been drawn to “right of way” issues in the vicinity of our home. After having a discussion with someone who advised us that it would be “in our own interests to register our right of way legally with a solicitor,” I turned my attention to the lighter subject of “Jeffrey the pheasant.”

Jeffrey has a “right of way” to just about everywhere. He walks all over our little field and through the many fields beyond, which are owned by different people. As far as he’s concerned “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24v1) and since he is the Lord’s creation, he is free to walk everywhere too. Hopefully, though he won’t venture to the fields of the glen where certain hunters would be only too happy to shoot him…

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I think that I’m entitled to strut around everywhere or have the audacity to think that I own anything. In fact we own nothing in this physical world; rather we are guardians of that which the Lord has given us for as long as we live upon this earth.

Just as Jeffrey the pheasant doesn’t need legalities to walk or to spread his wings and fly where he wishes, in the spiritual realm, the people of God do not need legalities to share the Word or preach the gospel – they only need the Lord’s leading and approval. Many years at Bible College do not always lead to a closeness with the Lord or to more of an ability to preach the Word. Some of the best sermons I have ever heard were preached by humble men who did not wear “a round collar” or who were known as “Reverend.” In fact, I believe that it is inherently wrong for those who minister the gospel to be known as “Reverend,” although even Christians will use the title when referring to someone. The word “Reverend” was never used in the Bible to describe anyone except the Lord… “Holy and Reverend is His Name.” (Psalm 111v9)

Paul was simply known as “Paul,” “Timothy” as “Timothy” etc. Unlike most people nowadays who have had a good education, the disciples, we are told, were “unlearned men” (Acts 4v13) but they loved, knew and followed the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal Saviour. Forsaking all, they followed Him fervently.

“I can’t get out to church with this Covid thing,” a disabled person told me, “but I watch this great man on a Sunday morning television service. Thousands go to his church!” So many in this era look to “great men” but I have found that the “greatest men” are the most humble, unassuming people you could ever meet. Theirs is not usually the “thousands and thousands” – theirs is the “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them…” (Matthew 18v20)

The humble are a rare species these days. Formerly I would have found them in many a tin-roofed mission hall on some remote country road or the room of a small community centre – not in a massive ornate cathedral or great mega church. Unseen, often not that well known, they go as the Lord leads but they are free… free to share their testimonies and free to share the gospel with lost souls for whom the Lord has given them a love in their hearts.

“By what authority doest thou these things? Or who is he that gave thee this authority?” the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus. (Luke 20v2) It is no different nowadays as regards how many people view those that they think should preach or have any ministry to the lost. Nowadays some will think nothing of His followers who have not been “ordained.” Sadly these days even supposedly Evangelical Christian conventions will ask no one to speak there unless they are a “Reverend.”

If I approached Jeffrey and said… “Excuse me. You’ve no right to walk here. You’ve no right of way.” He would just look at me with his head to one side and his beak open, wondering what I was saying in my human voice. The Lord has given him the power to walk and fly for however long his little life lasts – and He has given His people the truth of the precious Word of God and many differing gifts to reach out with it in life’s short day. Certainly, in this era there are opportunities online to reach the entire world with testimonies of how the Lord has saved us by His grace.

We only need the authority, approval and leading of the Lord Jesus Christ to reach souls – to think otherwise is foolishness. There are churches which say that nothing should be done in the way of outreach unless it is with the approval of the minister or “board” but we are all subject to the Lord – and His is final authority in all matters. I hear so much about “great men” these days but at the end of the day they are but mere men, regardless of their education or powers of eloquence and at the end of the day “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Have we reached out as the Lord has commanded every one of His subjects to do – or have we hidden our lights under a bushel? (Matthew 5v15)

“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, ye shall abide in him.” (1John 2v27)

“Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (1Corinthians 3v21-23)

Countries Where Christians Could Face Immediate Arrest

July 25, 2020

Did you ever have a dream that you knew was very significant and you tried to remember that dream next day and just couldn’t? Perhaps later in the day something triggers your memory and it floods back to you – that dream or nightmare! I was reminded of this experience recently in my daily reading where I have reached the Book of Daniel, Chapter 2. Here we see that Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and next morning he couldn’t remember what it was but unreasonably he expected his sorcerers and magicians to not only interpret the dream – but to know what the dream was!

Praise God, Daniel steps in and this fervently praying man of faith has the dream revealed to him “in a night vision” by the living God whom he serves (Verse 19) When Daniel reveals this to him, Nebuchadnezzar then affirms… “Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.” (Verse 47)

Nowadays some people would only have to hear such words and immediately jump to the conclusion that the king had become a servant of Daniel’s God but this is certainly not the case; Nebuchadnezzar has many humbling lessons to learn before yet another dream becomes reality in his life and he ultimately lifts his eyes up to heaven and in his own words… “I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation.” (Daniel 4v34) It took a long time before the king recognised that “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” (Daniel 4v32) In the end, praise God, Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself and worshipped and honoured the “Lord of kings.”

Directly after the revelation and interpretation of that dream, back in Chapter 2, the King promoted Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego but in the very next chapter he builds a huge “image of gold” – something which must be worshipped or face the consequences of “a burning fiery furnace.” (Chapter 3v6) Clearly the king at this point has forgotten his previous words concerning Daniel’s living God and “Lord of kings.”

I recently learned of two men who had visited North Korea – where bowing to statues and also the carefully preserved bodies of previous leaders of the regime is the ‘norm.’ No one can visit this country independently but these two, although accompanied by state guides, carried hidden cameras with the intent of getting some “secret footage” about how life really is for the “man on the street.” In order to do so, they did everything in their power to prevent being singled out or noticed, which meant perhaps forgoing some principles as regards the expected “bowing deeply” to statues of members of the Kim dynasty. Even many nominal Christians are uncomfortable with such a gesture but a real Christian would baulk at the very idea.

Those who know the Lord and serve Him can never bow to any statue – even if it means having to face a “burning fiery furnace.” There are many political/religious regimes in the world where Christians face horrendous persecution and there are countries where even the possession of a Bible is an offence punishable by death.

I realise, as a Christian, that there are countries which I would never visit – unless, of course, the Lord called me into such dangerous territory to serve Him. Here, in western civilization, the Bible is often taken for granted and our very freedom to worship is often taken for granted too but I feel that there are days ahead in even the most “civilised” of regimes when persecution will be the lot of those who follow the God of Daniel and who take a stand on the controversial issues of our day.

We must pray for and support persecuted brothers and sisters of those lands where tyranny reigns supreme – lands where the citizens waken each morning to poverty and another gruelling day in the face of severe brainwashing and sheer terror, with many of them even imprisoned for their faith.

But praise God… political and religious ideologies, personality cults and worship of so called “great leaders” and false prophets may come and go throughout the history of this world but the God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego endures forever. Some day the statues of the “Kim dynasty” will fall, all worldwide objects of worship will fall, the proud will be abased and those who exalt themselves or their political or religious ideology above the Creator of Heaven and Earth will be brought to nothing.

“And at the end of days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:” (Daniel 4v34)

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2v10&11)

“Be Still and Know…” Does Anyone Know the Author of this Poem?

July 18, 2020

“A series of unfortunate events” is, I know a book title, but I felt that it sort of applied to a series of things going on in my life just recently! Did you ever feel that someone had a little effigy of you and was sticking pins into it?  Not to be paranoid, but I really believe that when we seek to serve the Lord, there will be opposition from evil sources. While I believe that God is in control, I have no doubt that there are people out there praying for the demise of His people. Nevertheless … “who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1Peter 3v13)

One of this series of “things” happened just yesterday. To be honest this one is less significant than others but it felt like “the final straw which broke the camel’s back.” My daughter spotted it first… the water dripping through the ceiling unto the hall carpet. I prayed that the entire ceiling wouldn’t cave in under the pressure of so much water escaping from the big tank in the attic – and thankfully it didn’t! We have no mains water supply where we live and as a result depend on our own well, the maintenance of which is hard work. On this occasion the acidic water had corroded a joint in the tank…

I will not go into the horrible details of what exactly ensued; to cut a long story short, some plaster was falling from the ceiling and we had no water supply until this evening. No one realises how much they use this basic commodity, water, until it isn’t available – for washing, flushing, showering, drinking, dishes and cooking… but preferably not  soaking carpets.

This one incident has been just one in a series which somehow compounded my feelings of disillusionment. This morning when we were still in the middle of chaos, I was searching for something else, when I found and randomly opened a book in which I had recorded a poem (author unknown) which my lovely mother had read to me once. Not for the first time, was the Lord comforting me through beautiful words that I had found at an opportune moment. I sat down for a rest and read it with a tear in my eye…

Be Still and Know

Believe in God and trust in me,

Where you now tread, I too have trod –

I know your griefs – I have a part,

I know the anguish of your heart.

Did I not walk the toilsome road,

A wanderer, without abode?

Did I not stand in Pilate’s Hall,

Though innocent, hear judgment fall?

Did I not hang on yonder tree

At Golgotha, to die for thee?

Did I not break the bars away,

On that first Resurrection Day?

Ah, yes, my friend, I’ve journeyed far,

To break the night of death’s cold bar –

‘Twas all for you I paid the price,

For you, I made the sacrifice.

In Me, you’ll find your source of power

To gird you in this trying hour –

Let not your heart then troubled be,

Believe in God, and trust in Me.

Where you now tread, I too have trod,

Be still, and know that I am God.

Later, the Lord also spoke to me through these words… “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5v3-5)

May His Name be praised!

Don’t Be Too Quick To Hurry Back To Some Old Ways

June 30, 2020

Having heard the following quote just recently, I thought how true! “In the rush to hurry back to ‘normal,’ it’s worth considering which parts of ‘normal’ are worth keeping.” In the last few months most of our lives have changed, some more than others but I use that old saying yet again: “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.”

This extremely “ill wind” undoubtedly has been (and continues to be) horrific for thousands of people, resulting in often life-changing illnesses and at worst death. For others it has meant financial ruin and for some anything from mild – to mountains of inconvenience… but everybody has been affected in some way.

On the plus side, I would say that less rushing around has meant that some blood pressure measurements have probably come down and we feel more peaceful and relaxed. It is also possible to “make do.” For example we haven’t been able to rush out to buy new gardening gloves; we just darn the old ones. And (believe it or not) you can often make a better job of some DIY project than you realised. Today’s left-overs can contribute to tomorrow’s healthy meal and in the process of “clearing up” I’ve been finding old books and resources for outreach which I had mislaid in the past. It can come as a surprise to discover that there are many things we can live without…

However, as lockdown is gradually eased off, we’ve been witnessing scenes of long queues for miles to get to fast food outlets in towns which have recently re-opened. Queues of people at department stores, with little regard for others have shown how people are so fast to return thoughtlessly to old materialistic ways. While some people have young children who grow out of clothes quickly in a few months, others need to ask themselves is it a necessity that I stand for hours (risking my health and sanity) in a “self-distancing” queue to get something I could really do without?

“Is my journey really necessary?” is a question I have asked myself. Although we live in the countryside, it is in the flight path for many destinations as well as being not so far from the airport, with the result that in the past few months the skies have been clear and quiet which makes a lovely change. No longer did Jeffrey the pheasant flap his wings in despair at low flying aircraft coming in to land. Now, though, I am seeing the start of the return to all of that!

While I’ll admit that I’ve always loved to travel, I have long felt as a Christian that all my journeys should have the Lord’s approval and when the opportunity to travel does present itself, I should use each journey to reach others with His love.

“Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile;” (Mark 6v31) By the time “lockdown” came I had been needing a rest, having gone through a hectic couple of years being in hospitals and later oncology and radiotherapy units with a loved one. For others “lockdown” may have meant a break from some very worrying situation in work, which hopefully with some thought and a clear head could be resolved.

For many of us, perhaps some lessons learned at this time will mean that life will never be quite the same ever again. This may have been a time when people have physically fought each other over the last product on a store shelf, while marriages have sadly broken up and calls to women’s refuge centres went up, but this has also been a time when many have been awakened to a fresh realisation of the foolishness of human behaviour and the brevity of life.

The Lord wants those who know Him to place value on that which cannot be seen and to grow closer to Him and in their love for others and concern for souls. For those who have never trusted Him, He wants them to see the danger of “going it alone” in the brief hazardous journey of life which leads to a lost eternity. In reality, no one knows for sure what the autumn or winter holds for us, in terms of this virus returning with a vengeance; therefore how good it is to be ready spiritually in these uncertain days…

Jesus said:

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

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11v28-30)

Pray For Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones and Those Alone In Hospitals at This Time

June 26, 2020

I have a friend whose husband has gone Home to be with the Lord in recent days and my heart goes out to her and others who were unable to have all the close support that they greatly needed during these months of government restrictions.

Whether or not deaths during this period have been connected with Covid-19 makes no difference, since loved ones of the deceased are deprived of that traditional time of mourning with a funeral to celebrate the life of the deceased, as well as the support of friends. Although there have been improvements in the last while as regards numbers attending funerals, remaining travel and other restrictions mean that nothing is normal in this regard. Friends who would otherwise have been a support may be prevented from doing so because of circumstances in their own lives and the fact that they are living with someone who has low immunity. You long to give that friend a hug but because of concerns and restrictions, you know that you cannot. But you can pray – and that prayer from the heart is heard by the Lord.

People alone in hospitals need prayer too; I think of all those who have been missing visits from friends and loved ones. Hospitals can be lonely and scary places at the best of times but it is good to know that there is “a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18v24). My thoughts are with the elderly, too, who reside in nursing homes, many of whom have been unable to see loved ones for a long time.

There are others who have been so lonely and fearful during all these months, especially in the isolated rural communities that exist here in Ireland. In many a country home at the end of a winding lane, a solitary elderly person longs to hear another human voice, other than on their radio or television. This has been a period when, legally speaking, we cannot reach out except by telephone, letter, email or social media but many elderly people here have no internet access.

I pray for souls everywhere, that the Lord will reach into bereaved hearts, lonely homes and hospitals and touch souls. May those who know Him feel an even greater sense of His Presence – and may He speak to those who do not with “that still small voice” of conviction. My prayer, as restrictions are gradually eased, is that we would know revival in these times and that something wonderful in the spiritual realm would emerge from the ashes of a time which has been heart-breaking for many.

The Human Race needs Salvation

June 18, 2020

I write yet another tract connected with the continuing pandemic which is still escalating in some parts of the world. Historically significant in the future, I feel that the Lord will speak to people through recorded events.

I am sure that we have all been aware of some graphic scenes and situations happening in the last few months because of the whole Covid-19 situation. In fact at times it has felt scary (and still does) to witness how people behave under certain circumstances. Some shoppers have literally been tearing the hair out of each other for the last packet of something on the supermarket shelf. And I have read more than one news report of how people infected with the disease have spit in people’s faces, including medics who had been trying to help them….

Horrific images have emerged of elderly people’s homes abandoned and eerily deserted in some countries, with people lying dead and other helpless living souls left unattended, soiled and unfed… who would have thought that such nightmarish things could happen in 2020?

People in some areas have had total disregard for the vulnerable, with their brawling street parties and drunken ways; civil disobedience and robberies have been rampant, while others who would profess to be Christians refuse to comply with advice to stop the spread of the disease. I have been really very shocked by the attitudes of people whom I thought would have known better.

We ask ourselves has civilisation gone backwards; are we on the cusp of barbarism?

And then I see the good images… an elderly man (100) does laps around his garden on his walking frame to raise large amounts of money for the health service, while many in health services the world over, work tirelessly for the good of others and their communities.

I am so  relieved and glad to see those good images and yet I know that, spiritually speaking, only a life begun in faith can produce the good works which are acceptable in the Lord’s eyes because without faith “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64v6) before Him and “without faith it is impossible to please Him…” Hebrews 11v6)

A life begun (and continuing in) faith produces the fruit of good works that are acceptable in His sight. We do not earn salvation by working for it, for the Great Price has been paid by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. But a life begun in faith must produce good works for “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2v26)

As the Lord looks down upon this earth He sees all sorts of scenarios and all sorts of characters but broadly speaking they can be divided into two: the righteous and the unrighteous.

My daily reading is presently in Ezekiel. Some days ago I was reading in Ezekiel 18, a chapter where we see the equity of God’s judgement. Here we learn that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18v20) In this world we have those who have trusted the Lord in the past but are now dangerously backslidden and there are those who have turned from their sins and “lived,” spiritually speaking. We learn in this chapter that a righteous man who turns from his righteousness and is unrepentant, shall not “live” spiritually speaking, while someone in the depths of sin who repents of his ways shall “live.” (Ezekiel 18v21&22)

“Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? Are not your ways unequal?” (Ezekiel 18v25)

Who are we? Were we once Christians who then grew cold in our first love for the Lord… and as a result for souls for whom He died? Are we law-abiding, even church attending people, yet seeking to get into heaven by our own means and by our own good works, without having coming humbly and repentant to the foot of the cross? Are we people who have our own agenda, looking after ourselves materially, but not caring for the things of God and eternity and perhaps don’t even believe in it? Or have we truly been born again of the Spirit of God and seek to follow Him day by day?

In this chapter we learn not only of the equity of God’s judgement – but also of His mercy, in its conclusion. “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18v31)

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezekiel 18v32)

It is not the Lord’s will that any perish (2Peter 3v9), His atonement is unlimited (1John 2v2) and He loves you today, whatever your life has consisted of in the past, or is today. Therefore, today, before it is too late, call upon Him and turn to Him with a repentant heart and He will abundantly pardon. In these frightening and often shocking days, there is only one safe place to be – and that is right with God.

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55v6&7)

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)