Posts Tagged ‘a biblical journey through the irish year’

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

December 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of god with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2Corinthians 6v14-16)

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2Corinthians 6v17&18)

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An Overview of Denominations and Heresies in Ireland

November 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uncle George’s Testimony… Kept in Another Day!

November 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you William Tyndale!

October 31, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Signs and Wonders: “False Christs and False Prophets”

October 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Signs and Wonders:” “Miracles” of Healing

September 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 19, 2017

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

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

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

The Holy Life

There is a faith, unmixed with doubt,

A love all free from fear,

A walk with Jesus where is felt

His Presence always near;

There is a rest that God bestows,

Transcending pardon’s peace,

A lowly sweet simplicity,

Where inward conflicts cease.

There is a service God inspired,

A zeal that tireless grows,

Where self is crucified with Christ

And joy unceasing flows.

There is a being ‘right with God,’

That yields to His commands,

Unswerving true fidelity,

A loyalty that stands.

There is a meekness free from pride,

That feels no anger rise,

At slights, or hate or ridicule,

But counts the cross a prize.

There is a patience that endures,

Without a fret or care,

But joyful sings ‘His will be done,

My Lord’s sweet grace I share’.

There is a purity of heart,

A cleanness of desire

Wrought by the Holy Comforter,

With sanctifying fire.

There is a glory that awaits

Each blood-washed soul on high,

When Christ returns to take His Bride;

With Him beyond the sky.

“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)

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/