Posts Tagged ‘bible’

Of Trees: A Bible Wordsearch distributed to Coincide with “National Tree Week” in Ireland

March 10, 2017

I have distributed a little leaflet (adopted from something I had written previously) this past week, using the above occasion to somehow awaken interest in spiritual matters. I believe that very few people read the Bible at all in some areas and, sadly, children are not brought up to know the characters of the Bible who were so familiar to me as a child. May the Lord bless these seasonal leaflets to those who read them!

001

ACACIA ALMOND  APPLE  ASH  ASHUR  BALM  BDELLIUM  BAY  BOX  BRANCH  LEAF  CEDAR  CHESTNUT  CINNAMON  CYPRESS  DATE  EBONY  ELM  FIG  FIR  FOREST  GRAFT HAZEL  JUNIPER  MULBERRY  NUTS  OAK  OLIVE  PALM  PINE  SYCAMORE.

One tree listed here is not in the grid. Which one is it? Who climbed into this tree and why did he do it?

There are numerous references to trees (and indeed different species of trees) mentioned in the Bible but perhaps some of the most spiritually significant are those trees which are mentioned in parables and in the first and last books of the Bible – Genesis and Revelation.

How sad that mankind ate of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” but how marvellous that God has sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to save ‘to the uttermost’ those who trust in His finished work upon the cross of Calvary.

Trees have existed since those early days of creation and if ancient trees could talk, what stories they would tell us! They have been used as weapons, turned into paper, regrettably carved into articles of worship; used to make an ark of ‘gopher wood’ and the ark of the covenant; in the day of the battle of David and Absalom “the wood devoured more people than the sword;” they are a source of paper for the printed word, and once so long ago a large piece of wood was carried to a place which is called in the Hebrew “Golgotha.”

The Lord Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose again that we might have right to the tree of life.

 

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they might have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates of the city.” (Rev. 22v14)

Only in His strength can we “do His commandments,” so that we may be likened to the “man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. And he shall be like a tree planted by the river of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1 – 3)

Our leaves shall never wither while we are walking in the perfect light of the Son.

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

 

The Adventures of a Bible – A True Story set in Dublin, by the Rev. J.H. Townsend, D.D.

March 31, 2012

This is the title of just one of the tracts which I recently obtained from “Way of Life”, Dungannon, copies of which are also available from “Good News for Ireland,” 5 Rathina, Newcastle-West, Co.Limerick.

Clearly written in a much earlier era, it struck a chord with me. Here is the amazing story of how one worn little Bible brought salvation to the lives it touched over a short space of time. My prayer is that this true story, by Rev. J. H. Townsend, will now touch even more lives…

On a dull January afternoon some years ago – the date of this occurrence is written down in an old notebook of mine – a young widow was sitting in her drawing room looking out of the window.

It was a fine house in a fashionable Dublin square; the room was handsomely furnished, everything indicated comfort, and even wealth, but the possessor looked unhappy.

Mrs. Blake was a Roman Catholic, fervent and conscientious in the practice of her creed, but of late her mind had been burdened with the thought of her sins. Religious practices, penance, and even prayers, brought her no relief; the burden could not be removed.

She had told her sorrows to her confessor, and at his bidding had taken up works of charity; but, although these things were an interest and for a while occupied her mind, the sense of her own sins lay heavy on her soul. Her confessor, a kindly and attractive young priest, gave her full absolution, but his words brought no comfort.

As she sat musing, there was a knock at the hall door, and before she had time to collect her thoughts a visitor was in the room. “What shall I do to rouse you and get that sad look off your face?”

“Ah, Father John, you are kind and you have done your best, but the burden of which I have told you lies heavy on my heart.”

“Listen to me,” said he; “I have made up my mind what you are to do. There’s a man coming to the Rotunda tomorrow who will make your sides ache with laughing, and you shall go to hear him.”

“Oh, Father John.”

“No – not a word! I won’t have any excuse – I enjoin it; go you will, and go you must.”

The young priest explained that a Society entertainer well-known at that period, was to appear before a fashionable audience, and that in his opinion this would be the best thing for her. No protest was of the slightest use; she could not disobey her spiritual advisor, who had even bought her a ticket for the performance, so the following afternoon saw Mrs. Blake at the appointed place, where large placards announced the entertainment which she had been ordered to attend.

The Rotunda, as every Dublin person knows, has more than one public room under its roof; there is the great Round Room, the Pillar Room, and one or two more; there are, moreover, different entrances. Now, as it happened, Mrs. Blake had made a mistake as to the hour of the performance, and instead of the crowd which she would have seen had she come at the right time, she noticed a little string of persons entering the building; following them she found herself in one of the smaller halls and sat down.

It seemed odd that no one had asked her for a ticket, but she concluded that this would be rectified later on. There was no time for much thought, as almost immediately a gentleman came upon the platform and gave out a hymn. Then it flashed on her that she had made some dreadful mistake – she must be in the wrong room, and, worst of all, this must be some Protestant meeting into which she had unfortunately found her way. Mrs. Blake was shy and sensitive; to go out of the place in the sight of all assembled was to her an impossibility. What should she do? She determined to slip out at the close of the hymn, for by doing so her action would be less likely to attract notice.

This she tried to do, but in her anxiety to be quick she knocked down her umbrella violently, and the noise which it made was so great that many turned round to see the cause. Poor Mrs. Blake, terrified at what she had done, sank into a chair and almost wished that she could fall through the floor.

Now there was a deep silence, and then one voice, that of the man on the platform, was heard in prayer. She could not help listening, as she had never heard anything like this before; it was so unlike the “Hail Marys” and other prayers in her books of devotion. The man was so reverent, but he seemed so happy as he prayed! This struck her as most extraordinary.

The prayer ended and the speaker announced that he would read a passage of Scripture on the “Forgiveness of Sin.” The very subject of all others in the world that she longed to hear about! Come what may – let Father John say what he liked or do what he chose – she must listen to this.

The first eighteen verses of the tenth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews was read, and the speaker in a simple way expounded the teaching until it became as clear as daylight. The One Sacrifice once offered; the free and full forgiveness granted to those who ask for it in His Name; this, illustrated by several other passages in the New Testament, formed the subject of the discourse.

As the thirsty ground drinks in the summer rain, so did this poor soul receive these wonderful truths. She had never heard them before, but now they flowed into her inmost being and she longed to hear more.

The speaker ceased, and after another prayer the meeting broke up.

Mrs Blake felt that this was the opportunity of her life, so, summoning her courage, she went to the edge of the platform and asked the gentleman whose words he had been reading.

Surprised at such a question he came down, and was at once plied with so many enquiries that he offered to write down references for her to study at home. When, however, he learnt that the lady had never possessed a Bible, his interest was keenly aroused. “I will lend you mine,” he said; “read the marked passages in the pages I have turned down, but let me have it back in a few days; it is the most precious thing I have.”

Mrs. Blake thanked him warmly, and hastened home with joy in her heart and a new light in her eye; how different a being from the disconsolate creature who a couple of hours previously had found her way to the Rotunda!

For the next few days everything was forgotten but her new treasure; she read and re-read the marked passages and many others too. The Light shone into her understanding; the burden long weighing upon her conscience rolled away into the Open Grave, and the peace of God filled her heart and mind.

Now the time had come for the Bible to be returned. Once more she was deep in her new study and so engrossed in thought as not to notice a ring at the hall door. Someone entered her sitting room and her confessor stood before her. He noticed two things: an embarrassment in her manner, and at the same time a restful calm in her eyes, to which he was a stranger.

“What has happened to you?” asked the visitor. “I haven’t heard how you liked the entertainment, and as I didn’t see you at Mass last Sunday I thought you might be ill.”

Taken aback by the suddenness of the whole thing, Mrs. Blake lost her self-possession. She had intended to keep the matter a secret for a time at least, but now she was off her guard, and with the simplicity of a child she told the whole story – the mistake of the room, the attempt to go, the words spoken, the book lent, and, last of all, the joy and peace that filled her heart. With downcast eyes she spoke, but when she glanced up, her spirit froze with terror at the look of the man before her.

It was black with rage! Never before had she seen such fury depicted on a face.

“Give me that book!” he said hoarsely.

“It isn’t mine” she cried, vainly attempting to stop him.

“Give it to me,” was the reply, “or your soul will be damned eternally; that heretic has nearly got you into hell, and neither he nor you shall ever read that book again.”

Seizing it as he spoke, he thrust it into his pocket and, giving her a fearful look strode out of the room.

The lady sat as if paralyzed – she heard the hall door shut, and something in her heart seemed to shut also and to leave her alone in terror. That awful look searched her through and through; only those who have been born and brought up in the Church of Rome know the nameless horror which their idea of the power of the priesthood can inspire. Then too she thought of the gentleman who had lent her his Bible; his address was in it, but she could not remember it and knew not where to write. This was very grievous, but oh! that look – it was branded on her memory.

Days passed slowly by, but her visitor, once so welcome, now so dreaded, did not return. Courage began to creep back, and at last, after a fortnight or more had elapsed, Mrs. Blake determined to venture upon a visit to him. She must make one more effort, if not too late, to get the book restored to its rightful owner.

Father John lived at some distance from Mrs. Blake’s residence, and his house adjoined a convent to which he was confessor. The door was opened by a nun, who visibly startled at the sight of Mrs. Blake and, upon being asked if the priest was at home, her eyes seemed to blaze for a moment, but immediately her face became rigid and her manner cold as she said, “Yes, Father John is at home – he is in this room; will you not come in and see him?” As she spoke she half led, half pushed, the lady into the room opening off the hall; but as the visitor entered she uttered a piercing shriek, for oh! – horrors of horrors! – there was an open coffin, and in it the lifeless form of her confessor.

Before she could recover from the shock, the nun glided up to her and hissed into her ear these words: “He died cursing you; you gave him a Bible, and he told me to tell you that he cursed you – cursed you with his last breath; now go!” And before she well knew what had happened, Mrs Blake was in the street with the door shut behind her.

Several weeks elapsed. The breath of spring had passed over the earth, waking leaves and flowers to life and loveliness. One evening Mrs. Blake was sitting alone preparing over the events of the past three or four months. The joy of pardon was in her heart, she had bought a Bible for herself, and had read it daily. The old errors in which she had been brought up had been one by one renounced, but there was a sorrow which could not be effaced. How sad, how ineffably sad, the brief illness and sudden death of the young priest! His last look! His last words! That terrible message!

Why should she have been so blest, brought into the haven of peace, filled with heavenly joy, and he – why should not the same words have brought him a like message? It was too awful, and was one of the mysteries which could never be explained. “Why,” she said to herself, “should a God of love do this?”

At that moment the servant ushered into the room a lady who was closely veiled and who stood for a moment irresolute. Before Mrs. Blake could speak, the other said, “You do not know me in this dress, but you will soon recognise me.” With these words she lifted her veil and revealed the face of the nun who had delivered the message of cursing as they stood by the open coffin.

Mrs. Blake started back, not knowing what might happen next, but her visitor calmed her fears, adding, “May I sit down and tell you something?” Having been invited to do so she went on – “I have two things to tell you, and I must be very brief for I am in great haste. First, please, please forgive me for that awful lie of mine; I have asked God’s forgiveness, but I beg also for yours. Father John died blessing you with all his heart. The day before his death he charged me to tell you that he too had found forgiveness for his sin by that book, and that throughout Eternity he would bless you for having brought him to the knowledge of his Saviour. Now, will you forgive me?”

“I will indeed, from the bottom of my heart,” gasped the astonished lady; “but why did you say what you did?”

“Because I hated you. I loved him, and hated you for having sent him to hell as I believed. Now listen. I felt the strongest desire to read what he had read, and after his funeral I could not resist looking into the book for myself; I was fascinated and read more and more, and I too have found pardon and peace in my Saviour. I have been studying the Bible for weeks, and now here it is” – producing it as she spoke, “I have escaped the convent this evening and will cross to England tonight, but I felt that I must come here and return this Bible, and to tell you that all my life I too shall bless you for having through it taught me how to get forgiveness for my sins. Good-bye! God bless you! We shall meet in heaven.”

A brief farewell and she had passed out of the house and was gone.

Was it, after all, only a dream? A little worn Bible lay on the table before her. It was no dream, but a glorious reality. That little book – without a living voice to expound its teaching in two of these cases – had brought three precious souls out of darkness into light.

Imagine the feelings of the owner when it was restored to him with this wonderful record! And yet what says the One who sent it on its mission?

“My word shall not return unto Me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Reader, what has your Bible done for you?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”  (John 3v16&17)

Why I do not rejoice at the Death of Osama Bin Laden

May 11, 2011

For me the name ‘Osama Bin Laden’ is synonymous with horrific terrorism and an ideology which I fail to understand, but to be honest my first reaction on hearing of his death early last week was one of dismay. I immediately thought… ‘another soul for whom Jesus died has gone out into eternity…’ and… ‘I hope that there are no reprisals…’ Of course I am appalled by the September 11th atrocity (and many others) which have wiped out thousands of people, left others with horrendous injuries, including psychological disorders, and still others sentenced to a life of mourning for loved ones. Yet whenever I look at the face of Osama Bin Laden in newspapers or elsewhere, I see the face of a human being, not a caricature. I have never looked at his face with hatred because the Lord has given me a heart of love for all human beings.

Born on 10th March 1957 Osama Bin Laden, like you and me, was a little baby once who sat on his mother’s knee… but his upbringing was tragic in an extreme form of Wahabism in which it is normal to lead a polygamous life; his father had 22 wives and 54 children. Most of all, I see a man for whom the manner of his life and death could have been otherwise…

Most people remember where they were when the first news filtered through on the horrific events of September 11th 2001. I was driving along on a busy road listening to my car radio. If I had been (like Osama Bin Laden) a native of Saudi Arabia – this would have been out of the question as women are not permitted to drive there. I would have been anonymous, veiled, my marriage arranged and my life ordered by others in this patriarchal society.

Another feature of Wahabism, I discovered in a book in recent years by Osama’s ex-sister-in-law, who described an incident in which Osama refused to let one of his wives feed her baby who was screaming with hunger. I often wonder was Osama Bin Laden ever presented with the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; that which brings freedom from sin and every heavy chain that the devil would try to burden us with in this life, including Wahabism’s strict rules for observing Ramadan?

But who can bring the gospel to Osama’s birthplace; that spiritually dark nation of Saudi Arabia? There are some who do, I believe, but to say that this is difficult is a euphemism. Officially no one is even permitted to bring a Bible within its borders and to proselytise is against the law and punishable by death. This is not a nation which Christians should go to, unless they are strongly led to do so by the Lord. But I pray (and I exhort others to pray) for those who must be undercover as they seek to spread the gospel in Saudi Arabia and other nations with a strict Islamic code. Pray for their safety and for the salvation of more and more souls with whom they come in contact – and pray that the Lord will prepare hearts and open them to hunger for the truth.

Osama Bin Laden was just one man but unfortunately the ideology which he sowed throughout the world has already taken root in minds everywhere. But no, as a Christian I cannot rejoice or celebrate the death of any human being, whatever they have been guilty of, for God exhorts us to take “no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” (Ezekiel 33v11 & Ezekiel 18v23 & 32) Rather, I soberly pray for those in the frontline of spreading the gospel in lands like Saudi Arabia, for if Osama had been reached as a young boy, was there not a strong possibility that the world may have been spared such tragedy – and such a legacy as this?

The Rewards for the Christian Writer – Remembering a Cold November Day in Düsseldorf

November 18, 2010

I have poignant memories of the moment I held my first book in my hands. “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year” wasn’t just something that I had dreamed up or concocted from many little true experiences. No, I can honestly say that the Lord guided my every word, including apt quotes from the Bible. I write because He has commanded me to do so and my prayer is that He might always have the glory and that souls may touched, encouraged and challenged by the words He has given me.

As a writer and distributor of Christian literature, I have had enormous joy in the process. I feel enriched – certainly not materially, but spiritually. The whole process is an onerous task which involves much more than writing but it is immensely rewarding to receive letters from individuals who have been comforted and encouraged in some way. Also, I have had so many adventures in the process of selling and distributing my books – enough to fill another book!

Yes, it was an encouragement to know that branches of well known bookstores like Waterstones and Easons, as well as other secular and Christian book outlets would stock my books, but even more encouraging are those seemingly small incidents when I know that the Lord is using them to reach individuals. I have made a list of all these ‘small’ incidents, for I know that they are of great significance in His eyes. Here is one…

In the late autumn of 2008 my husband and I were in Düsseldorf in Germany. I decided to use the occasion to donate a copy of my first book to the English section of the International Library of Düsseldorf, as I feel that libraries are a great way for Christians to spread the Word. But somehow, our short visit did not allow a visit the library and before I knew it, we were sitting in a taxi headed for the airport and our return flight. As I glanced wistfully at the book on my lap and proceeded to put it carefully into my hand luggage, I had this strange feeling that it was meant for someone…

It was a bitterly cold November day, as we crossed the Rhine where ducks and autumn leaves were floating in the icy waters. Later we boarded the plane which would bring us back to Dublin and I thought no more about the book. There weren’t so many passengers; I vaguely noticed a lady sitting directly across the aisle from us, her head in her hands. Then as the plane accelerated along the runway I noticed that this lady was sobbing in despair. Her whole body was shaking as she cried – something that made me want to comfort her. But… shouldn’t I mind my own business? After all, this was a stranger and perhaps she wouldn’t take kindly to me asking her what the matter was.

But as she continued to cry, I knew that I had to say something and it was at that point that the Lord revealed to me who the book was meant for. After a while I quietly made my way across the aisle and sat beside her. I cannot remember my precise words to her, but I wanted so much to be guided of the Lord in my choice of words. She seemed a little embarrassed at first but after a while this German lady dried her tears and accepted the book with thanks. I didn’t ask her why she had been crying but she told me. “My mother has just died,” she said. She had flown back to Düsseldorf for the funeral and now she was making her way back to Ireland.

After wishing her well and telling her that I would pray for her, I moved over to sit beside my husband again, with tears in my own eyes now. A small incident perhaps, but “His eye seeth every precious thing.” (Job 28v10) I have no doubt about that and I have no doubt that the Lord continued to speak to this lady – and still does today. The written word can go anywhere in the world, touching a million hearts in the process but it must be based on the greatest literature ever given to mankind – “the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1Peter 1v23) Yes, the words of mankind will some day pass away but I thank God, the Divine Author, for His inspired Word which will never pass away. May His Name be praised!

A Tale of Two Visits…A True Story

September 29, 2010

It was the very last evening in September and dusk was descending as I knocked on the front door of the little cottage. Although I knocked several times and also on the back door, no one seemed to hear me. I knew that the lady within was very elderly and her hearing had grown dull over the years. Also, she was totally engrossed in a television programme, for I could hear it and I could see the flickering screen through the net curtains. It was a pity because I had so much to give her; apples to eat and cook and I had some encouraging good news. How I wanted her to hear me knocking!

The wind shivered through the dry leaves as I stood alone, waiting. Tomorrow would be October, reminding me of those words in Jeremiah 8v20… “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Maybe if I waited for a while or for a very long time someone would hear me and open the door, for I knew that there was someone else there – probably her son. On the other hand it could be too late, for darkness descends quickly in autumn and it was quite possible that although they heard me now, they would not answer a stranger’s knock at this time. I felt as though I had been standing for a very long time indeed and yet I did not want to give up. Inside the cottage, the muffled voices and flickering screen were unremitting, even though my knocking had grown louder and louder.

To force my way in would be unthinkable, contrary to every law and although I prayed that they would open the door, there was no response. Maybe tomorrow – but tomorrow they could be gone. As the night drew on, I knew that I must leave for I could not stand all night, persistently knocking, since the people within either did not hear me, or did not want my presence. Even if they heard me and switched off what was pre-occupying their minds – would they answer the knock?  “How dare someone call at this time,” they would say. “It’s too late. Let’s close down the blinds, draw the curtains and go to sleep for darkness is descending – they’ll go away eventually.”  Total darkness did descend upon that dwelling and then, after knocking for the last time, I sadly made my way back to the car. Just then I remembered the faces of a family that I had known some years ago, and who had been on my mind recently. “I’ll call with them instead,” I whispered to myself.

Meandering narrow lonely lanes eventually brought me to their door. Their home was unusual; a converted old mill overlooking a beautiful valley where otters and foxes run by a river. ‘No street lights here,’ I thought, and glancing up at the night sky, I could clearly see ‘the plough.’ No sooner had I rang the bell, than I could hear footsteps running down the wooden staircase to the entrance. I was instantly welcomed up to the living quarters, where a warm fire glowed in the corner.  I was beckoned to sit down, make myself at home, and soon a pot of tea was before us, and we sipped as we recalled old times. How the children had grown since I last saw them! It was good to be in touch with old acquaintances.

Coming away from that home, I at once could see the spiritual parallel of the night’s proceedings. Jesus stands knocking at the door of each heart, for He wants to fill all our hearts with His presence and He has such good things to give us! “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3v20) Jesus, who died for your sins and for mine desperately wants to gain entrance into every life in this world, but often individuals are so pre-occupied with the things of the world that they cannot hear that spiritual knock at their heart’s door. Although He may continue to knock for a very long time indeed, the time will come when that knocking will cease if there is no response. “My spirit shall not always strive with man…” (Genesis 6v3) Furthermore, tomorrow (or today) our lives as individuals could end, or Jesus may return before this. Are you ready to face Him as Judge? To miss out on His offer of salvation would be disastrous, resulting in an eternity more awful than anything we could ever imagine. But praise God, there is no need for this to happen, for if you are reading this right now and want to get right with Him – He has opened the way.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Pet. 3v9) Are you concerned about your eternal welfare? Do you still hear that knocking at your heart’s door? If so, switch off from the world’s distractions just now, and listen to what He wants you to know… “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10v10/11) “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14v6) “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8v12)

I have described my visit to two homes – one door was closed, and those within were (I am sure) unaware of my presence, but having visited that second home, I knew that I must put these thoughts into words. Whatever your problems, heartaches or spiritual standing in life He knows it all. There is no one too sinful to come to the Saviour…. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I shall in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) And there is no one so “good” that they don’t need salvation… “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) Only He can forgive us, because only He has never sinned. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v8&9) He can wash away that sin, that guilt – and He can keep us clean. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1John 1v7)

Why not trust Him today, right now, wherever you are? You may have reached an age where you feel that you cannot change – but remember that eternity lies before you and “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14v12). I was alone when I trusted Him, and my prayer was a simple one, asking that He forgive me, and carry me from darkness into His light. You too may pray in your own sincere words of repentance, or something along the following lines…

Heavenly Father, I come to you now, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His precious blood for me at Calvary. Please come in to my heart today, forgiving me for all the wrong I have ever done. Cleanse me, and help me to live victoriously each future day in your presence. Open to me the great truths contained in your Word, the Bible, and help me to find fellowship with those who share my experience.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 24&25)

© Elizabeth Burke 2007

On Pennies, Paupers – and the Pope’s Recent Visit to Glasgow

September 23, 2010

I had occasion to travel over to Glasgow in Scotland recently, to visit my daughter who will be spending a year in that city. When I discovered that my visit there was to coincide with that of the Pope’s, I immediately thought of a certain tract that I have in my possession… “This is my Story – a Personal Testimony by converted priest Henry Gregory Adams,” has been printed in tract form and used extensively in Ireland but now I felt led to bring a quantity to Scotland. This tract is taken from one of the shorter testimonies in a book of ex-priests testimonies: “Far from Rome, Near to God – the testimony of 50 converted Catholic priests.”

I feel that the change in my original plan, which would have meant flying over the previous week, was no accident, because a week later I found myself on a plane where my fellow passengers included some young nuns. The young man who sat nearest to me during the flight refused a tract and then my attention was drawn to the young nuns and somehow, one in particular. She smiled and thanked me for the tract as I made my way down the aisle to disembark at Prestwick Airport. I pray with all my heart that somehow the message of salvation would dawn on the souls of these young women.

My witness for the Lord, for the couple of days that I stayed in Glasgow was to continue in this manner. I didn’t somehow feel led to stand on the street giving out tracts, as the quantity that I had was limited anyway, but wherever possible I gave them to those I came in contact with. The airline pilot, the taxi driver, the owner of the B&B where I stayed, shopkeepers and many people on the street who kindly gave me directions all accepted one. I even left one in a Roman Catholic Church.

One incident stands out from all the rest, concerning my tract distribution. It was my last morning, bright and breezy with a warm sun glinting on some fallen leaves and I was dragging my case around to my daughter’s accommodation to spend the last day with her, when a young woman came out of a side road and smilingly said “hello, isn’t that a lovely morning?” I had been praying just then that the Lord would show me who to give that last morning’s tracts to and I felt that this young woman should get one. However, she walked briskly on, overtaking me and I felt that I really could not shout after her. “Lord,” I prayed as I vainly tried to walk faster, “please help me to reach her.” Then something unexpected happened. I saw her hesitate and stare down at the footpath, after which she bent down to pick something up. Waiting for me, she turned to me with it in her hand and cheerfully said: “Here take this. It’ll bring me good luck, if you do.” She held a copper coin out to me, a two pence piece, not worth much these days – although most people appreciate every penny in a recession! “Thank you,” I said, “but you keep it. After all it was you who found it.”

“Oh no,” she said, “if you don’t take it, I won’t have good luck.” Not wanting to make an issue of the ‘good luck’ theory, I saw my opportunity, accepted the coin and said: “Will you then, take this from me?” I held out the tract and she happily accepted it. After thanking me, she resumed her fast walk in the morning sunshine. The Lord had answered my little prayer in an instant in this city where there is often hostility towards the gospel!

The previous evening I had been thoughtful after watching a televised account of the Pope’s visit to Glasgow. I remembered words referring to Jesus that had very recently been part of my daily reading: “who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords;” (1Tim. 6v15) In the Bible the term “Holy Father” (John 17v11) is only used to address Almighty God. All men (including every Pope who ever lived) “have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3v23) Why then, do men revere an unregenerate man like themselves? He is a man who has been elected by other men to the position known to men as ‘pontiff,’ but like all men he needs to come the humble way, by admitting his need of a Saviour.

What would happen if the Pope discovered that he was in error? Somehow I sincerely believe that he would be in a very dangerous position. Yes, his life would definitely be in danger but… “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Matt. 16v26) On my first day in Glasgow, my daughter and I had visited a museum which displayed some artist’s impressions of the paupers of the time. Many well-known characters in Victorian Glasgow relied heavily on the mercy and generosity of passers-by, who would take pity on the fact that they were blind or crippled and so had to beg for a living. ‘It would be better to be a pauper upon this earth and know the Saviour,’ I thought, ‘than the most acclaimed person in the world who has never found the truth of salvation.’ All the applause; all the worldwide fame, riches or accolade of a lifetime can never make up for the eternal loss of my soul – or yours.

Praise God for the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ – the ultimate and final sacrifice for the ransom of all the souls of mankind. How, then, “shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Heb. 2v3) and “what shall a man give in exchange for his soul…?” (Matt. 16v26)

“I Have a Friend!” The Testimony of George Cooper

May 22, 2010

The Testimony of George Cooper, Late, of Balbriggan, County Dublin. Born Monday 23rd May, 1910 – Died Monday 9th November, 2009 in his 100th year 

On this, the eve of what would have been my old friend’s 100th birthday, I remember his testimony which he related to me some years ago. I had the privilege of giving the following out in tract form on the day of George’s funeral and later to his neighbours in Balbriggan…

One day many years ago a barefoot little boy in Dublin city was sent down Townsend Street for groceries. Turning a corner, he suddenly stopped in his tracks, terrified at the sight of a line of policemen before him.  In his own words he says: “I turned and ran as fast as I could home.” The year was 1916. Later he can recall his father pushing a mattress against a bedroom window, in case of stray bullets. Such were just some of George Cooper’s many early fascinating memories, during those turbulent and defining moments in our Irish history.

In the late 1980’s my husband and I were living in Balbriggan, in that area of north County Dublin known as “Fingal.” Balbriggan, then a little harbour town has mushroomed in population in recent years, as people migrate further from the city for affordable housing. This is where we bought our very first home, and this is where, too, my own memories of George begin.

One fine day I went from door to door giving out free copies of a Christian magazine, “Lifeline.” As I walked pushing my first baby daughter in the pram, I felt very much a stranger, an outsider in this small town. Then something caught my eye… “Mizpah.” ‘A strange name for a house,’ I thought. ‘Could it be that a Christian lives here?’ I walked up the little garden path between well kept gardens, rang the doorbell – and an elderly man opened the door. Somehow there was a twinkle in George’s eyes that lifted my spirits on that day! His wife also came out to greet me, and I can recall her lovely kind face and hospitality, but I could see that she looked so unwell. Sadly I was never to see her again, for she died with cancer a short time later. Somehow, though, that day shall always stand out in my mind, for in this town of very few believers, I felt as though I had discovered a ‘well in a desert.’

Some time after that brief encounter and after his wife passed away, George appeared at our Christian fellowship one Sunday morning. Although devastated and lonely after the death of his wife, George maintained that ‘he had a Friend!’ Throughout all those years George’s faith never waned through personal illness and all the ups and downs of life. One dark November evening, I called to see my old friend (then in his 97th year) and George told me the story of how he found this “Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18v24) 

There are not so many people living in Ireland today who can remember when it was part of the British Empire – but George could! Born in Buckingham Place, (not Palace!) in Dublin on 23rd May 1910, he had vivid memories of the G.P.O. in flames after the 1916 rising, and of the narrow escapes sustained by him and his family in those dangerous days. Prior to this George can recall singing: “We are little Britons…” in National School! It was seven years after the ‘Easter Rising,’ in the year 1923, that George at the tender age of thirteen made a decision which would ensure that his future years of life would be fruitful and healthy ones.

On the evening in question he was attending the Tuesday ‘boys and girls night’ in the Merrion Hall, Dublin. That night Hudson Pope (the renowned preacher and hymn-writer) spoke on the text:  “…him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) Little George, overcome with conviction, sought the Saviour and came forward in that meeting, and so began his long and faithful walk with the Lord. Although a thirteen-year old has had little opportunity to commit major sins, especially in that era, George had reached that age of understanding where he realised that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3v23) and therefore all need a Saviour. “I clearly remember after the meeting,” he said, “finding a few pence in my pocket. I bought my mother an apple with it on the way home.” George believed that this small gesture in itself spoke to his mother and showed her that some wonderful change had been wrought in her young son’s life.

At a very young age George started work, only retiring at the age of seventy-two! Spiritually, there were to be many testing times over the years. As a young apprentice in the printing trade, George was asked by a foreman to go across the road and ‘put bets on for him.’ He obeyed his boss just once, but after George’s witness to him on such matters, the foreman never ever asked George again! Clearly “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5v29) George worked his way up from being a ‘reader’s boy’ to the post of supervisor in Smurfits, a well known firm in Dublin. Throughout all the changing scenes of time, including those lean times of the Second World War, George’s Friend was always there for him, to protect, guide and comfort. He, his wife, their daughter and two sons regularly attended all the Sunday services in Dublin’s Merrion Hall. In those days Christians always carried Bibles to church, and in later years George’s Bible remained closer to his side than ever, as he sat in his little living room surrounded by family photographs and happy memories.

Until recently, although confined mostly to his own home, he was still very independent. As well as his own personal Bible study, he wrote letters of encouragement, ensured that copies of the “Daily Bread” were distributed in Mountjoy Prison, gave financial support to many worthy causes and last (but not least) he told those with whom he had daily contact, of the Source of his strength and the love of his Saviour who was his “Guide, even unto death” (Psalm 48v14)

Sometimes in my busy daily life, when I got a chance to ‘stop the world and get off for a while,’ I would call with George. As I sat in that little living room, talking to him while some quiet classical music or hymns played in the background, I felt that I had left the loud fast world of the 21st century, and gone back in time to a more elegant, relaxed era. Then, in those later days, surrounded by the memorabilia of more than a century, he sat smiling at me with the same lovely twinkle in his eyes that I remembered when I first met him nearly twenty years ago. Although frail in recent years, and suffering from diabetes, there was a joy in his face which came from walking with the Saviour for well over eighty years. “You know,” he told me, as I was about to leave one day, “I spoke to someone recently, and I believe that she has trusted the Lord.”

“How wonderful!” I exclaimed, and I thought… ‘George Cooper, still reaching souls in his little ‘vineyard’ as he approaches the century mark!’ His body, frail on that day, and his hand shaking, he smiled as he pointed upwards to where Jesus, his Friend throughout his long life’s journey, was preparing a place for him.

Dear friends and loved ones who mourn his loss, George loved these verses from the Bible…

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (1Thess. 4v13&14)

 “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12v40)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3v16&17)

“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). 

George also loved (and often quoted) this verse, because it spoke to his young heart all those years ago… “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37)

To all who read:  George’s faithful Friend throughout his long life wants to be your friend today… and forever! “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)

 My prayer is that you will repent and put your trust in George’s never-failing, lifelong Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered and died that each one of us might go to Heaven. May the Lord bless you and guide you, as you ponder these things.

A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year

February 4, 2010

“A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year, with True Stories, Reflections & Photographs”

ISBN: 978-0-9557155-0-1 Published 2007 Retail Price: £6.99 (Sterling) or €7.99(Euro)

“What does the Bible have to say about ‘Lent,’ the Trinity, forgiveness, depression, illness, affluence, education, the occult, Heaven, Hell, death, prayer… the need for salvation?  These true experiences, woven into the Irish/British seasons, but internationally relevant, are told in twenty-four simple chapters and show us that the infallible Word of God is a faithful Guidebook for every issue that affects us in life.”

The above is a full colour autobiographical/devotional taking the reader on a journey through the seasons of the year. There are twenty-four chapters in all, each one containing a true story. At the close of each chapter is a full colour photograph of a scene or object lesson, based on the story told. Also included are two original paintings by my mother and daughter.