Posts Tagged ‘elections’

On Irish Election Leaflets… and the Living and the Dead

February 24, 2016

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In recent times we have had a variety of postmen, who perhaps are not as well acquainted as our old postman with those who live in this rural community. I therefore often have to ‘play postwoman’ as I deliver the right post to the right houses! Just this week we have had numerous election leaflets delivered by the postal service… and then an isolated leaflet from one particular party was delivered this morning. I looked at the name and address and sorrowfully shook my head, for this person had sadly passed away some years ago. No, I wouldn’t be delivering this one as I would never be able to communicate with this person ever again… certainly not in this life anyway.

As coincidence would have it, I am presently reading in the Book of Ecclesiastes, a Book which I find unique in the Bible, much of it appearing to reveal man’s conclusions about the hopelessness and vanity of life. For example Chapter 3v19 states: “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminance above a beast: for all is vanity.” Now, those who know the Lord also know that there is much more to the existence of mankind and we cannot take this verse in isolation. Reading on in this chapter there is a question in verse 22… “Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?” Praise God the answers to such questions are to be found in the final two verses of Ecclesiastes. Containing ultimate wisdom, they bring this fascinating Book to a wise conclusion… “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Chapter 12v13&14)

The incident of the mistakenly delivered election leaflet and the Book of Ecclesiastes brought many thoughts to mind. First of all I was thinking that it had been a while since we’d had a visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I also know that they don’t like to ‘do their rounds’ while political parties are out canvassing at the same time. Here is a cult which very often does quote little portions of verses in isolation and one example is this… “the dead know not anything.” (Ecclesiastes 9v5). Unfortunately these isolated few words from a verse are taken to support their view on what happens to a soul after death.

I, however, feel that we must quote from verses 4,5&6: “For to him that is joined to all living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”

“For a living dog is better than a dead lion…” Imagine a situation where the person to whom the leaflet was addressed had been wealthy in the things of this world and also had been held in very high esteem by the local community – but where is this person now with regard to eternity? Surely there is more hope for the living poverty-stricken than the rich who have died in their sin? While there is life, there is hope – the joyous hope that souls still living in this the Day of Grace have the opportunity to get right with God.

Verses 5&6 of Ecclesiastes 9 tell us of the lot of those who have no hope beyond the grave – but Revelation 14v12&13 describe the inheritance of those who have loved and served the Lord: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

The “harvest of the world” is surely coming and “the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9v4) Precious souls are dying around us with no hope beyond the grave and so those who know the Lord must work for Him while it is yet day.

The following verses of Ecclesiastes I find good encouragement and exhortation for those servants who seek to serve the Master while it is day…

Ecclesiastes 9v10: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, no device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Surely our opportunity to serve Him by reaching souls is now – in this life?

Ecclesiastes 11v1: “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” This can apply to giving to the Lord’s work and it may also apply to the words that we write or speak for the Lord through the years of our lives; kind deeds, too, can speak to souls of the love of God for them and His desire to see them saved.

Ecclesiastes 11v4-6: “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” There are many hindrances thrown our way to prevent us from serving the Lord, but we must keep our eyes upon Him and not upon the dark clouds of potential trouble which we feel may thwart our efforts to do His will. “For if God be for us… who can be against us?”

Political parties may come and go and the philosophies of this world change with changing times but “the Word of the Lord endureth for ever” – and only what is accomplished for Him will last.

On the Forthcoming Children’s Referendum in Ireland – and Making an Informed Decision

November 7, 2012

I rarely comment on political matters; however the forthcoming referendum is something which I believe could have very deep repercussions for our society as a whole. Most political parties are urging people to vote ‘yes,’ with appeals on hoardings worded in such a way as to touch the heart of any concerned and caring parent…. “Vote yes,” they say, “to protect your children.”

I felt that the information booklet on the Children’s Referendum which was distributed to Irish households did not give individuals the comprehensive information they needed to make an informed choice and so, as an individual who sincerely wanted to do the right thing with my vote, I prayed about it and asked the Lord to show me what to do.

I then discovered that under the new legislation children can be brought out of the country for abortions – even if the child disagrees, while the state can decide to give birth control to children of any age, even if they are below the age of consent.

Children can be taken from their parents and given over for adoption by mere virtue of the fact that they have fallen into poverty and children, far from having ‘rights,’ could, I believe, become pawns in some very sinister decisions about their future, including being forcibly adopted by some highly unsuitable couples.

I am happy to say that all of my children are now in their twenties… but what of their children, if they ever have any? Therefore I cannot be complacent, for what we do as individuals with our votes now, will collectively affect generations to come. I feel that those who claim to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour have a responsibility in these matters to be prayerfully informed – just as they have a responsibility, like the saints of Berea, to search the scriptures daily, to see whether the things they are told are correct. (Acts 17v11)

I find it surprising that many people appear to accept blindly every word that is uttered behind a pulpit, just as individuals accept words projected to them from a political hoarding and vote accordingly.

Thankfully in our society we can still read the Word of God, without fear of reprisal – and yet we may discover that if we quote from God’s Word and stand by it, many will be against us. This reminds me of Daniel who “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank…” (Daniel 1v8)

Those who claim to own the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour must ‘purpose’ in their hearts not to defile themselves by going along with popular opinion or the philosophy of the age. Our every word, action and opinion must be prayerfully considered in the light of God’s Word – whether it is simply casting our votes or forming opinions on something as crucial as the future welfare of little children or older children who have fallen into vulnerable circumstances in our society.

Lest we Forget!

November 13, 2011

The following is a short extract from the end of one of my stories in “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year.” The story entitled: Wars, Rumours of War, Three Hostages… and the Prayers of the Saints (Matt. 21v22 & Matt. 24v6-8) tells of how a young woman, Annetta Flanagan from the small village of Richhill in Northern Ireland was taken hostage by the Taliban back in 2004. Many Christians in the Richhill area prayed fervently and I thank the Lord that Annetta and her two colleagues were released unharmed some weeks later…

“The dawn of Tuesday 23rd November 2004, brought that release of Annetta and her colleagues – almost a month after they were taken hostage on Thursday 28th October. The details of the release were vague – probably because no one wanted to jeopardise those who could be involved in possible future hostage situations. One of their captors is believed to have been shot dead, but the three victims were safe and well. Only those involved in this traumatic event knew how it was for them, and are able to tell their story. But from the moment that I heard that breaking news, I wanted to tell a story – a story of the great power of our wonderful Saviour, for whom all things are possible, and I wanted that story to have a happy ending. I thank God that it did!

With tears in my eyes, I looked at all types of newspapers on display that week, depicting the smiling face of Annetta as she headed home to be re-united with loved ones. A headline in one Dublin newspaper announced: “Town rejoices as power of prayer brings Annetta home.” (Irish Independent, Wednesday 24th November 2004).  Even the secular world was acknowledging the power of prayer!

It is interesting to note that during their time in captivity, three Afghan women offered to take the place of the three hostages! What a noble gesture – and yet on hearing of this I was immediately struck by the words of Romans 5v7… “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” No doubt the Afghan ladies saw the injustice in threatening to kill people who were merely helping with democratic elections. However, who would offer his or her life for someone whom, in his or her view, was evil and even deserved death? Nevertheless we read… “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5v8) The righteous Son of God laid down His life for all (1Tim. 2v5&6) in the knowledge that nothing less than this enormous sacrifice could ever redeem the human race. 

Valiant soldiers through the ages gave their lives, so that democracy would overcome the tyrants of this world.  Annually we remember the dead of two World Wars, and the sacrifices that were made. How much more then, should we acknowledge and honour Jesus, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9v6) who gave His life for the billions of souls throughout the ages, to redeem them to Himself? I have no doubt that he has spoken to souls through this and other traumatic events, and that He will continue to speak to them in the days that lie ahead – so that they may trust Him for eternity, escaping a worse situation than they have been involved in, upon this earth. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55v8&9). A short time after the event, I wrote to a local newspaper wishing the released hostages a full recovery after their horrific ordeal. My letter concluded with the words of Ephesians 3v20&21, which I feel is an apt conclusion to a story that must give God the glory. Perhaps, too, it may have even more joyful implications than we would ever have dreamed possible… “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.”

Morning, noon and night our whispered anxious prayers,

Rose in silent anguish to the throne of He who cares.

Oh blessed Lord, we thank thee now, for thou hast said: “Believe…

For if ye are my servants… ye shall indeed receive!”

Should Christians be Involved in Politics – or Even Vote?

March 9, 2011

After the recent general election and establishment of a new government in Ireland, I was thinking of those who don’t (or cannot) vote for one reason or another. However, few people realise that there is a substantial percentage of the population whose religious convictions prevent them from voting because of these words of Jesus: “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18v36) Yet I am also reminded of His words in Luke 20v25: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.”

As I go about my business every day, I am very much aware that (like it or not) I actually live and participate in this world; a world where I buy and sell (for the moment) and a world of political leaders who make decisions which affect the nature of our lives as human beings. Could I, for example, as a Christian, stand by and take no part in a referendum which would introduce ethnic cleansing? If I had lived during the era of Hitler’s regime, would I not, as a Christian, have had strong views on this man’s murderous attitude to the Jews, God’s ancient chosen people – and to other minority groups whom he abhorred?

Yes, as an individual I feel morally bound to use my vote but to be honest I find myself voting to keep certain candidates out, as opposed to putting people into government.

Unfortunately in Ireland there are political parties which have been (and very possibly still are) associated with terrorist organisations. Therefore, how can I, as a Christian, stand back and not use the tiny influence that I have in my vote to stop such political parties gaining power in my country? In Proverbs 28v5 I read: “Evil men understand not judgement: but they that seek the Lord understand all things.” Therefore I feel that as a Christian the Lord would have me to use my vote prayerfully at both election and referendum times. However… should a Christian be a politician?

One good example of a Christian politician in history is William Wilberforce. This young man came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in 1784, having been influenced by a book “The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul” by William Doddridge who was a leading non-conformist in the early 18th century. It was the influence of William Wilberforce in politics which lead to the abolition of the slave trade but he also advocated many other changes in society which were based on Christian principles.

Having quoted this example of a Christian politician in history, however, I also believe that there are relatively few Christians involved in politics in today’s world, something which is evidenced by the introduction of evil laws and legislation which are contrary to scripture.

In answer to the question: “can a Christian be a politician?” I believe that the answer is ‘yes’ but only, of course, if the Lord definitely guides the individual to do so. He or she would need to be strong in their relationship with the Saviour and to be in no doubt as to their calling into this field for it is a difficult sphere in which to take a stand. Many snares are out there and the Christian must “dare to be a Daniel – and dare to make it known!” It must be remembered that neither politics nor any other issue in this life must get in the way of our relationship with the Lord. He must come first in our lives above all else and we must never be tempted to compromise our position because of popular or majority support for something which is contrary to God’s laws. Jesus said: “He that is not with me is against me;” (Matthew 12v30)

There can be no ‘sitting on the fence’ and no ‘grey areas’ when voting on any issue.

With this in mind it is interesting to note that William Wilberforce was an independent Member of Parliament. For obvious reasons, it is perhaps not a good idea for Christians to be involved in ‘Party Politics’ – unless the Party concerned has a manifesto which is based solely on Biblical principles.

As someone who was born in the middle of the 20th century I have watched, with interest, the political events of this world unfold. Totalitarian regimes and the many faces of communism have come and gone. Proverbs 1v14 warns of those who beg… “cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse;” and Proverbs 28v15 warns of wicked rulers… “As a roaring lion, and a raging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.”

Proverbs 27v24 declares… “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” And so, this world will some day come to an end – along with all earthly kingdoms and political ideologies. But there is a King who is coming to reign and “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end…” (Isaiah 9v6&7) He is “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19v16) and His glorious Kingdom “is not of this world.” Therefore let us who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour serve Him with a pure heart in this life, whatever our standing in the communities in which we live. We must take a stand on the controversial issues of our day, for if we claim to own Jesus as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” then we are the “salt of the earth” – but “if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matthew 5v13)

Link to the hymn: “Sing we the King who is coming to reign:” http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/s/i/singking.htm