Posts Tagged ‘a biblical journey through the irish year’

Some Trust in Chariots, and Some in Horses…

July 11, 2018

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On a recent visit to the historical site at Oldbridge of the Battle of the Boyne (July 1690), I was thinking very much about the spiritual analogy of a distressing situation we find ourselves in at the present time. When the Christian or one of his loved ones is faced with a serious health diagnosis, they will naturally get in touch with as many people as possible to pray about this situation. Very often, however, we find that in reality the people we feel that we can trust to pray for us are relatively few in number.

I am a slow learner but the Lord is teaching me much about human nature as I go through the deeply disturbing traumas that life can bring. Here are a couple of the reactions I’ve encountered as I’ve asked people to pray for a number of situations (not just the current one) over the years…

“Oh well, you’ve got to die sometime, haven’t you?”

“Oh dear… imagine that now. I wonder why God gave this person this disease…” (There must have been sin in his life).

“I’ll pray… but if it’s God’s will for them to go, you’ll just have to accept that.” (This person proceeded to make it clear that they were in a big hurry and had to go right at that moment. I smiled about this later and I understood that they were under pressure but really felt that their words could have been a little more sensitive…)

Indeed I am fully prepared to accept God’s will in any matter, for I know that He will carry me through all sorts of situations before someday I go to be with Him. However, if anyone approaches us with a request for prayer on something that is troubling them deeply, first of all we should leave this person in no doubt that we love them and really care about them and will pray sincerely about every aspect of whatever has been troubling them.

Unfortunately, even amongst professing Christians there are the “Job’s comforters.” I have found that those who have the greatest compassion of all are very often souls who have suffered much in their own lives. They listen, they are quiet, they are kind – and they care. And you know that they will pray fervently for you because they have matured in the Lord and they walk closely with Him.

“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.” (2Corinthians 1v3&4)

Ultimately it is to Him, that His followers must turn in their distress. We pray for surgeons to have skill and for doctors and oncologists to have the knowledge and expertise to use the best and most appropriate treatments but we do not put our trust in them – or indeed in medicine. We follow along with prescribed treatments as the Lord leads but we can never, never put our trust in men. Yes, we can ask understanding souls who walk closely with the Lord for prayer but above all He must be our primary source of comfort and counsel in all our tribulation, in the knowledge that all good things come from Him.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright. Save, Lord: let the King hear us when we call.” (Psalm 20v7-9)

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…”Underneath are the Everlasting Arms”

June 16, 2018

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Here is the verse that the Lord whispered in my ear one morning when I was feeling really despondent and shell-shocked after a recent revelation… “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.” (Deuteronomy 33v27)

Not only did He whisper these words in my ear and I felt His strong Presence at that very moment but He went on to confirm those words many more times!

Shortly after that a praying friend sent me an email saying… “Elizabeth, the word that came to me today after praying was “underneath are the Everlasting Arms.” Lord bless you…”

Around this time I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, when I wanted to read something from the Lord’s Word but had no Bible with me. Then I opened my phone for a “verse for the day” but found instead an email, again about “Mighty Arms!” This was from a person who knew nothing about me or my situation; someone who writes blogs about old hymns – again beautiful words, based on Deuteronomy 33v27…

“Pressing my tear stained cheek to his own,

Hushing my grief with his sweet gentle tone;

Touching my heart with his healing balms,

Holding me still in His mighty arms.”

Then again I opened up my Bible one morning and the words of Deuteronomy 33v27 were again staring me in the face… “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.” (Deuteronomy 33v27)

We decided one evening this week to travel to a Christian “tent mission” which was some distance away across the border in Northern Ireland but which I felt would be good, to take our minds off this present situation. We were around two minutes late for this and as we made our way into the tent I was aware that crowds of people were singing out heartily to the tune of the opening hymn and with tears filling my eyes I could scarcely believe the words…

“Lean…ing, Lean…ing,

Safe and secure from all alarms;

Lean…ing, Lean…ing,

Leaning on the everlasting arms…”

This morning very early I couldn’t sleep and made my way up to the kitchen where I lifted a random verse from the little “Bread of Life” box on the windowsill. I closed my tearful eyes upon reading the first part of the verse…

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.” (Deuteronomy 33v27)

Well, by now the message has been relayed to me! He gives those who know Him a peace which this world cannot fathom. His arms attack and ward off the enemy, His arms protect, His arms hug closely, His arms guide, His arms shield from danger, and His arms enclose us and shelter us from the storms of life. His loving arms surround us and hold us tightly to His loving heart. I wrote this little verse this morning…

Knowing not the future,

I know that He knows best,

And within His Loving Arms,

My aching heart finds rest.

Praise God, the arm of flesh will fail those who put their trust in it… “but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” (2Chronicles 32v8)

 

Further Horrific Disclosures of Abuses within Roman Catholicism

June 3, 2018

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If any other organization, political regime or dictator in this world had been guilty of the crimes perpetrated by Roman Catholicism, they would have been tried for war crimes, or had to stand before a court of law a long long time ago. Before the recent disclosure of the disgraceful “adoption” policy here in Ireland, I had coincidentally watched a video involving a young lady of Spanish origin who was trying to find her real parents. Thankfully her adoptive parents in South America (who had no idea that she had been stolen from her mother at birth) were loving and kind to her and she’d had a good life – but it could have been otherwise. In many cases mothers were told that their babies had died at birth but in actual fact these children had been stolen and sold by a criminal ring of nuns and doctors during the Franco dictatorship.

Here in Ireland unmarried mothers in “mother and baby homes” were often forced to sign documents at a time when they were feeling so vulnerable and weak against this cruel system. Subsequently there were falsified birth certificates in order that these children could be trafficked out of the country. In many cases mothers wanted to keep their babies but they were dissuaded from doing so by those who most likely made a profit out of the adoptions.

I have been horrified in the last while to hear of people, often now living in the U.S.A. who discovered that they had three or even four birth certificates! It has been revealed that not all of the children were fortunate enough to end up in good homes and some of the birth mothers who were victims of this evil system had to have psychiatric treatment in the years ahead because of the shock of having their babies stolen from them. Having had three children myself, I can only imagine how those mothers felt.

Child trafficking, slavery and false imprisonment of women, illegal and forced adoptions, falsification of documents and birth certificates, withholding of information to those who wanted to find loved ones, clerical abuse of children, hundreds of babies buried suspiciously in unmarked graves, the horrors of Magdalene laundries and industrial schools, deceit, fraud… the list goes on and on. How sad to see other mainline churches (which once had the truth) so backslidden into apostasy that they want to find “common ground” with this system of belief.

In light of all this abuse, it is ironic too that the hierarchy within Roman Catholicism still believe that they have the authority to order people to attend confession.

Yes, those who sin need to confess their sins – but not to any man upon this earth, whatever their assumed authority. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v9)

“But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.” (Hebrews 7v24-28)

No man upon this earth has the power to forgive sin but praise God “there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2v5&6) it is to Him that souls must come with their burden of sin.

As this latest controversy in our country continues to escalate in the weeks ahead, I am praying that people will have their eyes opened to this evil system of belief that they have put their trust in for many years. As the old saying goes “it’s an ill wind blows nobody good.” I pray that those who know the Lord would use these great opportunities to speak a word in season, so that souls would put their trust in that holy and undefiled High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, “who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of  the truth.” (1Timothy 2v4)

 

“And I Saw the Dead, Small and Great, Stand Before God…”

May 19, 2018

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Today I was remembering a beautiful summer’s day in July 1981; as an employee of an office in Northern Ireland I was given the day off work for the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Having little interest in weddings I took the opportunity to get out in the sunshine for a cycle around the lovely leafy lanes where I lived back then. I remember glancing into our sitting room as I ventured out the door and I have a fond memory of my mother sitting there, looking mesmerised by all the pomp and ceremony as she watched the event. As I thought about today’s royal wedding, I also thought about how those intervening 37 years had flown. Tragically Diana was to die in a car accident in 1997. So many terrible circumstances, so much human drama over the years…

I remember this great feeling of happiness, freedom and exhilaration I experienced as I cycled that day. It was truly a beautiful day – a perfect day. A month previously I had returned from a trip to Israel and upon my return I had met someone special who was later to become my husband. On that day, as I cycled I would only have regarded us as friends – nothing more. Taking in the beauty of the countryside, I felt happy in the knowledge that I had come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ just 3 years previously in August 1978.

This meant more to me than fame, fortune or any of the trappings of this life. I was not a princess in a golden carriage – just a very ordinary healthy girl alone on a bicycle. Back then I didn’t even own a car but I had something wonderful that money could never buy. In the eyes of the world I was nobody – and still am. The ups and downs of my obscure little life will never hit the headlines of the tabloids (thankfully!) and my name will most likely never go down with the great in the annals of history but I thank my Saviour that because of what He has done for me, it is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

The old memories of years past returned to me today. My own wedding in 1985, our 33 years together until now, our three children, family get-togethers, my very ordinary life… yet extraordinarily happy even in the low times, when I recall how my Lord has been my guiding Light in every new situation.

Today I had the opportunity to see just some of the wedding and watched as celebrities, well-known actors and actresses; musicians, sports people and members of the royal family filled the church where the couple were married. Then I remembered the words of Revelation 20v12… “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

Some day the great and the small will stand before the Judge of all mankind. We cannot approach Him with our achievements in this life and our fame and fortune are nothing to Him, for He is no respecter of persons. “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass…” (1Peter 1v24) There remains but one question for all who stand before Him… “What did you do with the Lord Jesus Christ who loved you and died for you?”

Men and women walk this earth but for a short time and their seemingly great achievements, their knowledge and their beauty will fade away and die. When all is said and done, only their souls live on – but where? The famous people, the Lords and ladies, the kings and the queens, the princes and the princesses and the presidents will face judgement… but Jesus died for them too, if only they could grasp this most wonderful knowledge and accept Him as Saviour and make Him Lord of their lives. Let those of us who know Him reach out in love to the “great” of this world too. He can make even this possible!

“For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9v25&26)

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16v26)

 

An Amazing Discovery and Encouragement from the Lord!

April 29, 2018

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One afternoon recently when I thought the long winter would drag on forever and the spring flowers never emerge, I found myself sitting outdoors enjoying the pleasant sunshine. I was reading one of W. A. Weir’s little booklets from 1973, “Gleams of Glory.” One of the stories was about the conversion of Wade Thompson, who once lived in Clonskeagh Castle, County Dublin. As a rich young man, he was also addicted to gambling and spent much time in the casinos of Monte Carlo and elsewhere in Europe. But the conviction of God came upon him one day after one of his gambling episodes; he later met his mother who was also in Europe and they travelled home together – but he was very distressed. As the story goes “the fear of God and the fear of judgement had fallen on him.”

One of Wade’s uncles, an earnest evangelical and gospel preacher, was rector of a parish at the foot of the Dublin Mountains and it was to him that Wade hurried to for help. The story goes that “the next day (a Sunday) was one of summer beauty. While he waited for the usual morning service to begin in the church, he took a book from the library, and seating himself beside a haystack, began to read. The book was called “Grace and Truth” written by Dr W. P. Mackay. As he read, the light poured into his soul. He saw the Lord Jesus bearing his sins in His own body on the cross. He learned that there was an infinite and perfect sacrifice and atonement made for his sins. The price had been paid, and a full pardon offered. He believed the Word of God that nothing of human effort was needed to add to what Christ had finished on the cross. God had accepted the sacrifice, and therefore accepted him. Wade ran into the vestry crying: “Uncle Robert, I am saved – the Lord Jesus Christ has saved me by His death – oh. I am free and happy!” On that great Sunday for both the rector and his nephew, they both rejoiced together. Both continued to live lives of unceasing service for Christ, leading many others to repentance and joy in Him.

Now here is my amazing discovery… the book “Grace and Truth” that Wade Thompson had read that Sunday morning was by W. P. Mackay (1839-1885) – who features in my blog of 16th April: “The Pawned Bible – a True Story Set in Glasgow, Scotland.” (Dr W.P. Mackay had pawned his mother’s Bible and later it returned to him, when a dying patient asked for it to be sent to him.)

Putting the booklet aside on that sunny afternoon, my thoughts travelled back to W. P. Mackay’s mother in Scotland. Here was a lady who prayed fervently for her son. She gave him the Bible in good faith, never dreaming that it would be pawned but later returned to her wayward son by way of a dying patient who had already trusted the Lord. Not only was W. P. Mackay marvellously saved – but he went on to preach the gospel and to write many hymns and books, including “Grace and Truth” – which in turn spoke to a young Irishman, Wade Thompson – who was not only saved from a life of sin and gambling but was mightily used of the Lord.

I read that “Wade Thompson, once a gambler, but transformed by the grace of God, was followed in the heavenly pathway by his family of sons and daughters, who took the same glorious message of salvation to India, China, Persia and other lands.”

Mrs Mackay’s prayers for her son had far reaching effects – perhaps she never knew about them while she lived on this earth – but she knows now! Praise God, He is able to do abundantly more than we ask or think, when we pray fervently for the salvation of friends, acquaintances and loved ones!

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3v20&21)

The Pope’s Controversial Visit to Ireland in August 2018

April 20, 2018

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There is no doubt about it; the Ireland of 1979 was vastly different to the Ireland we know today. Between 29th September and 1st October, 1979 Pope John Paul II visited Ireland and by all accounts, received a rapturous welcome from citizens young and old. I remember half of my work colleagues in the office where I worked in Northern Ireland taking the day off to travel south of the border in order to get a glimpse of him. However, back then no one knew what the following decades would reveal in terms of shocking and horrific child abuse carried out by Roman Catholic Priests and nuns – and the historical abuse of women in “Magdalene Laundries.” We were to learn of mass graves at the back of institutions run by Roman Catholic orders, the abuse of little children in “industrial schools” and the fact that babies and young children were used for medical experiments. Many babies and young children were forcibly taken from their mothers and sold to those wanting to adopt in U.S.A. and a great number of mothers would never see their children again. I have heard heart-breaking stories of how mother and child had tried to find each other years later but sometimes it was just too late and one of them had passed away. The aura of secrecy and the withholding of records in the early days certainly didn’t help either.

Many people are justifiable very angry about this and many have understandably abandoned their affiliation to the Roman Catholic system. Unfortunately that spiritual void in their lives has often been replaced by secularism or paganism or some eastern philosophy or one of the many cults pervading society here. That being so, there are still quite a number of “mass goers,” especially amongst the older population and also many “a la carte Catholics” who will pay homage to the system at particular moments in their lives or in the lives of their families.

However, the following words of our Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister) have angered a considerable number of Irish taxpayers. He was making the statement that “while the visit by Pope Francis is not a State visit, it will be treated as such in terms of security measures and cost.” He went on the say: “It is ultimately taxpayers’ money but I believe the majority of taxpayers in the country would want us to meet these costs as it is an historic visit. The vast majority of people will welcome Pope Francis to our country.” Given that the cost of this visit will amount to at least 20 million Euro and Ireland has a health care crises, homelessness and uncompensated victims of abuse, well, I am not so sure if he is in touch with reality…

There will be widely differing reactions to the pope’s visit but the Christian should and must use it as an opportunity. There are expected to be around 3,000 journalists from around the world in Dublin at that time, for the “World Meeting of Families” (held from 22nd – 26th August) which is to coincide with the pope’s visit. (The pope is to arrive on 25th August.) The Taoiseach has also said that “families in all their shapes and forms should be celebrated” and that this will “be relayed to the Vatican.”

As I said, the Ireland of 1979 is vastly different to the one we know today… But the need is still the same. Men, women, boys and girls need to find the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour – something which cannot be achieved by infant baptism, confirmation, participating in the mass, confession to men or penance. Only “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1John 1v7) “The Church” is not a building or an organisation or a denomination but is made up of those souls who have repented and trusted in Him alone for salvation and who are “walking in the light as He is in the light.” If only mankind could see this!

It is all too easy for the Christian (those true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ) to despair when they look at the prevailing circumstances in society but we must look up, always keeping in mind that, in the words of an old hymn, “the sky is our goal – not the grave.”  But before we depart this life or the Lord comes to take us Home, there is work to be done, for it is not His will that any to perish. Yes, He can use those who have committed their lives to Him, however weak and helpless we may feel in the face of this rapidly deteriorating world where “spiritual wickedness in high places” abounds. May the small number of stalwarts who truly know Him, write, witness, speak, reach out in love, distribute tracts – and most of all pray for the salvation of souls before the Lord’s return.

The Pawned Bible – a True Story Set in Glasgow, Scotland

April 16, 2018

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It is lovely in this era to still get an old-fashioned hand-written letter from someone. I occasionally get correspondence like this from people that I have never even met – people who are a wonderful encouragement to me! There is a retired lady, a widow, who writes to me, sometimes enclosing little tracts. I felt led to share the following true story in tract form which I have just received from her in the post…

William Patton MacKay left his home in Scotland to attend college at the age of 17. His mother gave him a Bible, writing her name, his name, and a verse of Scripture on the fly leaf. He graduated with high honours and became the head of a large hospital. He also became the head of a club of infidels where they practiced everything that was licentious and vile. He was open in his ridicule of God and the Bible. Two of his chief pleasures in life were confronting critical medical cases and drinking.

One day the ambulance brought in a man who had been horribly crushed. On his face, however, was a look of calm and peace so pronounced that it amazed Dr. MacKay, who was accustomed to seeing people suffer. With a smile the patient asked what the verdict was.

“Oh, I guess we will pull you through and fix you up.” replied the doctor.

“No, Doctor, I don’t want any guess,” said the man. “I want to know if it is life or death. Just lay me down easy anywhere, Doctor, I am ready. I am saved and am not afraid to die.” With a radiant face he continued, “I know I am going to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6v37), and I have come and accepted Him as my personal Saviour. But I want the truth. Just what is my condition?”

The doctor replied: “You have at the most three hours to live.” The doctor was touched, and thinking there might be relatives to notify asked, “Is there anything you would like to have us do for you?”

Thanking him, the injured man replied: “In one of my pockets is a two weeks’ pay cheque. If you can get it, I wish you would send it at once to my landlady, and ask her to send me the Book.”

“What book?” inquired the doctor. “Oh, just the Book,” the man answered. “She will know.”

Dr. MacKay arranged for the man’s request to be cared for, and then started on his rounds through the hospital. These words kept ringing through his ears: “I am ready, Doctor. Just lay me down easy, anywhere, Doctor, I am ready.”

Dr. MacKay had never been known to inquire about a patient from any personal interest, but for the first time in his life he wanted to know how this one was getting along. He returned to the ward where the man had been placed, and seeing the nurse whom he had assigned to the case, inquired as to his condition.

“He died just a few minutes ago,” the nurse informed him.

“Did the Book get here?” asked the doctor.

“Yes it arrived shortly before he died,” the nurse answered.

“What was it? asked Dr. MacKay, “his bank-book?”

“No, it wasn’t his bank-book,” replied the nurse. “It is still there, though, If you care to look at it. He died with it under his pillow.”

Dr. MacKay went to the bedside, reached under the sheet and drew a Bible from under the pillow. As he did so the Bible opened and the pages turned over to the flyleaf. There in his mother’s handwriting was Dr. Mackay’s name, his mother’s name and a verse of Scripture. It was the very Bible given to him by his mother when he left home to attend college. Long ago in a drunken spree, he had pawned it to obtain more liquor.

Dr. Mackay slipped the Book under his coat and rushed upstairs to his private office. He asked God to have mercy upon him and in repentance accepted Christ as his Saviour. He was heard; “his blind eyes opened on a sweet new world.” The old things had passed away, and he realized he was a new creation in Christ Jesus. (2Corinthians 5v17)

Dr. Mackay, the physician, became Dr. Mackay the preacher; and as a preacher of the Gospel, he turned many to the Lord.

Just as God had His eye on that Bible and on W.P. Mackay and had determined that they should meet again, so he has his eye on you, dear reader. ‘The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’ Hebrews 4v12

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I would also like to add that Dr. W.P. MacKay (1839-1885) became a renowned hymn writer. Some of his hymns include “Memories of Earth,” “We take the Guilty Sinner’s Name” and “Worthy is the Lamb!” “Revive us Again” is the one which is best known today. This amazing story gives us such hope, for the same Lord who answered W.P. MacKay’s mother’s prayers for her son is at work in answered prayer to our own situations today!

 

On Ecumenism, Heresy – and the Difficulty in Finding True Fellowship

April 12, 2018

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We are not “mystery worshippers” but sometimes we attend various mainline denominations and small non-denominational fellowships in our area and much further afield. Unfortunately, the nearest churches where we feel that we can worship regularly with others of like mind in “spirit and in truth” are in fact a very long drive from where we live. However, as the Lord’s people know and I have said before “the church” is not a building or a denomination, but the members of the Body of Christ. The true Church consists of humble souls who have a genuine love in their hearts for each other and for the souls around them and they pray fervently for the salvation of loved ones and those they come into contact with. The members of the true Church today are scattered throughout this world; often they are poor in spirit, discouraged and suffer persecution at different levels. Certainly the evil one gives them a really hard time.

While the masses sweep onwards towards the shores of eternity on a tide of ecumenism or turn a blind eye to the obvious heresies in the “constitution” put together in whatever fellowship or church they attend, genuine Christians often feel like “a round peg trying to fit into a square hole.” Certainly, when I found myself in such a situation, I felt that there was no point in “trying to fit in” when this was not the Lord’s will for my life. I feel that I cannot overlook, or give credence, to ecumenical or other heresies for the sake of trying to be seen to be going somewhere on a regular basis. However, having said that, I am aware that many genuine Christians do attend certain denominations and although genuinely not happy with them, this is not their primary source of fellowship anyway and they feel that they can have some influence or witness to those they come in contact with there. The Lord is their Judge in this, although I feel that the bottom line is that the minister or pastor should (at the very least) be a Christian. Also, no genuine Christian can persist in taking part in the mass, for example, or in any denomination which finds this acceptable.

There are occasions when I will attend certain events in mainline denominations though. I have been to many funerals and memorials where opportunities have arisen to be a faithful witness to the living (but spiritually dead) who are perhaps thinking on things eternal on such a solemn occasion. I can be present at a graveside, as a mark of respect to a life that is passed but not take part in any of the rituals that I disagree with and I can be a comfort to the bereaved and share how the Lord has touched my life – and how He can do the same for them.

The first question many professing Christians will often ask when they meet you at some event is “so where do you find fellowship in your area?” Perhaps some are genuinely curious, wondering about your situation and even caring for you – but others unfortunately become very judgemental; at times they become so harshly critical that you wonder whether they really are Christians at all. However, the Lord does give His people discernment and sometimes we discover that the person interrogating us on this issue, has really lost something in their walk with the Lord by meeting with those who are carried away by ecumenism or perhaps it is a case where they were never even saved in the first place.

Wikipedia tells me that: “Ecumenism refers to efforts by Christians of different “Church traditions” to develop closer relationships and better understandings.” The concept of ecumenism has been with us for a very long time and many (even so called “evangelicals”) have been drawn into it but one thing is evident: although many changes have taken place in Anglican/Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist and even amongst certain Baptist churches and others who would say they are evangelical – the Roman Catholic Church never changes. While others grovel and make concessions, Roman Catholicism sees itself as “the one true church,” despite its erroneous claims which contradict scripture.

“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. 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 6v14-18)

From time to time we do visit certain denominations and then have a talk with people we meet there, not wishing to cause dissension, but with a desire to go as the Lord leads and to be a witness for Him. I hope to share my experiences about these and about different denominations in future blogs. The one thing we must keep in mind, though, is that Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18v20) Very often the best fellowship I have had is at some little non-denominational event or prayer meeting which has been arranged by the Lord’s people in a community hall, little mission hall or even a humble cottage. It is easy for the Lord’s people to be discouraged by the decline in “church circles” but there is work to be done before His return; none of us are exempt from the Great Commission and He will open our eyes about ways to reach souls in this needy world. As different members with varying gifts, He will bless our endeavours in that which He directs us to do for Him and He goes before us. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” (2Corinthians 5v11)

The Mater Hospital, Dublin – and Thoughts on the Hymns of Mrs C.F. Alexander of Eccles Street

March 31, 2018

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Two members of my family have had occasion to spend many hours just recently at both the Mater and the Mater Private; both hospitals beside each other in Eccles Street, Dublin. One day, in the middle of all those lonely worrying hours spent pacing depressing hospital corridors, I took a breath of fresh air on the street outside and suddenly remembered something which lifted me spiritually. Wasn’t it in Eccles Street that one of Ireland’s best known hymn writers was born? Some say she was born at Ballykean House, Redcross, Co. Wicklow, but either way I believe that this lady had links to both these locations.

It is widely believed that Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander (nee Humphreys) was born to Major John and Mrs Humphreys at 25 Eccles Street, Dublin in early April 1818. In fact this year would be the 200th anniversary of her birth! Best known for the lovely hymns she wrote for children like “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and “There is a Green Hill Far Away,” Frances was a prolific writer who wrote verse from a very early age.

As I wondered on that busy troubled street with taxis blaring their horns and ambulance sirens drowning my ears, I passed asylum seekers from troubled parts of the world and homeless people sitting begging on the pavement and I saw a man with one leg wheeling himself swiftly forward…

Two hundred years have passed and the Eccles Street where Frances was born has changed entirely, so much so that 25 Eccles Street, the Humphreys’ old family home, would appear to no longer exist. From what I could see, there was a park there now; a little area of green with a few trees and birds gently singing in the middle of mankind’s mayhem. I remembered Frances’ well known carol “Once in Royal David’s City” and the little hymn about my loving Creator that she used to teach children about creation in her Sunday school…

 

“All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.

 

Each little flow’r that opens,

Each little bird that sings,

He made their glowing colours,

He made their tiny wings.”

 

And I remembered that the hands that designed the petals on the spring flowers and the glowing colours on the feathers of the tiny birds were pierced for me – and for you. How He cares for and loves us and our families – and every needy soul in that street where hearts are burdened with poverty, suffering and a load of care. I thank Him for His Presence and His uplifting Spirit as I walk in this world which is not my home. I thank Him for the memory of the old hymn writers and their faith in the risen Saviour; something which is portrayed in Mrs Alexander’s hymn for little children…

 

“There is a green hill far away,

Without a city wall,

Where the dear Lord was crucified,

Who died to save us all.”

 

He died that we might be forgiven,

He died to make us good,

That we might go at last to heaven,

Saved by His precious blood.”

 

I returned to that hospital ward with a spring in my step, remembering that He is with me all the way… gently leading to Eternal Day. May you know the love of Jesus, the risen Saviour, in your heart today.

 

“Jesus calls us over the tumult

Of our life’s wild, restless sea;

Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,

Saying, “Christian, follow me!”

 

In our joys and in our sorrows,

Days of toil and hours of ease,

Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,

“Christian, love Me more than these.”

(C.F. Alexander 1818-1895)

Speaking at the Ladies Meeting in Kilkeel, County Down – in the Strength of My Redeemer

March 27, 2018

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Many months ago last year, a lady who works in the Faith Mission Bookshop in the lovely coastal town of Kilkeel in Northern Ireland kindly contacted me with regard to speaking about my books at her church. When asked how many ladies normally attend this meeting, she told me that there would be around 100… To be honest, I felt a little nervous at the prospect as (like Moses) I always felt somewhat lacking when it comes to addressing a number of people! In truth I am more a ‘one-to-one’ type of person who is more comfortable writing quietly about experiences which have helped me grow closer to the Lord.

Anyway, I needn’t have worried as I felt the Lord very much with me that evening. The meeting occurred in the midst of other situations in my life and by the time it came around, I felt somehow that it held no concerns for me compared to everything else that was going on! My daughter and I travelled via Newry and then around the lovely Mourne coastline to Warrenpoint and on to Kilkeel.

This area is featured (both in words and photographs) in “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” and also in my second book “Singing on the Journey Home: True Stories with Favourite Hymns & Photographs.” The idea for the title came from nostalgic early childhood memories of my parents singing hymns on our journeys home from trips to the seaside; the book was written in 2008 to commemorate 30 years since I trusted the Lord to save me. Now, 10 years later, that anniversary will be 40 years on August 28th of this year… and for this I can never thank Him or praise Him enough for keeping me and blessing me through all the weary ways and golden days of life! Linked with each of the 30 autobiographical stories is an appropriate traditional hymn and the interesting short history behind why it was written.

As well as sharing my experiences in writing these books, I read some poetry written over the years and shared my testimony. I felt my Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ very present with me, helping me and blessing me with every word spoken. On the previous evening I had been feeling so weary after the events of the past weeks that I had felt like cancelling my attendance at this meeting as my husband was due to go into hospital on our return, but the Lord was my strength throughout. It was good to have been there and it was an encouragement to me in many ways. I would also hope that the Lord used my presence to bless and help at least one person there too.

There are many spiritual analogies to be drawn from the scenes we see and capture on camera throughout our lives and I was able to display these on a slideshow. Everything from our recent snow storms, local scenery, derelict houses, a lighthouse and the sea; my travels in the Greek islands and other places – and the old farmhouse surrounded by green fields where my life began, were used as a background to the poetry and Biblical parallels quoted.

It was darkest night by the time we had started on our “journey home” but praise the Lord, my heart was singing on that journey and will continue to sing even when my voice fails me – until that day when He calls, or returns to take me to my Heavenly Home. How could I not sing of or speak for my blessed Redeemer – who has given me the victory over sin and death and hell? I am reminded of the second true story from “Singing on the Journey Home” which linked with the hymn “I will sing of my Redeemer,” by P.P. Bliss ((1838-1876)

On December 29th 1876 Philip P. Bliss and his wife were killed in America’s worst train disaster up to that point in history. Ninety-two people lost their lives and most of the others were seriously injured. Initially Philip had escaped with his life, having been flung out of the carriage. However, when he climbed back into that terrible inferno to save his wife, he died with her. Amongst the luggage of the young couple which had been rescued from the flaming carriage after that horrific crash, were the words of Philip’s latest hymn: “I will sing of My Redeemer,” a hymn which was sung by my Mum and Dad many years ago on their journeys. I am always reminded of those days every time we take a trip to the lovely Mourne coastal route where Kilkeel is situated! As a shy teenager still outside of grace I would never have thought that someday my Redeemer would be with me as I spoke of these experiences and gave my testimony at a meeting there…

Link to this hymn: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/305