Posts Tagged ‘a biblical journey through the irish year’

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)

 

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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/

 

 

 

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

August 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Unknown Homeless Man Of Kalyves

August 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheltering in the Shadow of His Wings

July 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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