Posts Tagged ‘elizabeth burke’

People the World Over Are Hearing the Gospel Message

May 29, 2020

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At this time of lockdown I have noted with interest the numerous services which are broadcast online. Of course all sorts of denominations and even cults “have come out of the woodwork” and we are seeing very strange sights these days. A Roman Catholic priest loads his water pistol and squirts “holy” water from afar, by way of social distancing, while another priest sets up his home-made confessional in a Dublin car park, despite the previous statement by their leader that people should confess their sins directly to God. Indeed the Bible says that it should never be otherwise! (“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” 1Timothy 2v5)
Some of the hierarchy in churches here in Ireland claim that “open churches are an essential service.” While it is good to have fellowship with those who worship “in spirit and in truth,” the fact is that the churches that clamour for re-opening are very often not an essential service. Buildings may be closed, organisations may be disrupted but the Church (the real Church) lives on because the real Church is that body of believers throughout this world, whose Head and One Foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ. Buildings may even be destroyed and organisations and denominations come to nothing but the real Church stands resolute until the end.
Sometimes I wonder whether what people are really missing is their round of social activities connected with their “church” or organisation; perhaps it is not the genuine fellowship that exists between believers that they are missing at all, because their church is a nominal Christian one and they, too, are nominal Christians.
While it is true that we have access to all sorts of dubious teaching and preaching these days, it is encouraging to know that there are now more genuine gospel messages going out around the world than ever before. It is good to hear encouraging, convicting and challenging sermons being preached during this period. People are hearing now and although the cults have gone online too, the truth speaks volumes and those who preach it should be encouraged to know that the little congregation they normally reach on a Sunday morning has increased to include souls the world over.
This has (and continues to be) a horribly tragic time for many because it is not all about Coronavirus; I have an elderly aunt (90) in hospital with another issue and no one can visit her which is terrible for everyone concerned. Mankind is collectively responsible for the situation we find ourselves in but still the Lord is using circumstances for the extension of His Kingdom this old world over. May He be glorified and souls come to know Him through it all. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24v14)

Thank You Lord

May 25, 2020

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This evening, for the first time since 11th March, no new deaths from Coronavirus have been recorded in Ireland. Now, I am aware that things could change with tomorrow’s statistics but this evening I felt emotional on reading this news, despite the fact that 59 more people have been diagnosed. You see, people are more than statistics; they possess immortal souls and each soul has an eternal destiny waiting for them beyond this scene of time. I continue to write on the theme of current events because we are presently living through very significant world history and I wish to record attitudes that I have discovered, which can perhaps be of interest in the future. “What future?” you might ask and you may have a point but the reality is that none of us know how long this old world will continue to exist.
Meanwhile, the Lord wants His people to serve Him and to be loving witnesses to those who are lost. I have found it heart-breaking to hear of so many deaths per head of the population in a small country such as Ireland (both north and south). Even more heart-breaking is the lack of knowledge of the simple gospel; that souls have gone out into eternity without knowing the Lord who loved them, died for them and rose again that they might live forever in His Presence. Generations of their ancestors, too, have gone out into eternity, many believing that they can be prayed for after death. Salvation, they believe, can be purchased for them by giving money to the church. “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)” (Psalm 49v6-8)
Those who name the Name of Jesus have a fearful responsibility in these times to reach out to neighbours, loved ones, friends and acquaintances in these days in which we live, but unfortunately we encounter instead much unhelpful preoccupation with conspiracy theories and debates on political issues, while revering certain political leaders. These things ought not to be in the lives of Christians. The Lord’s Kingdom was not of this world – and neither should ours be.
Encouraging letters with enclosed tracts and gifts, caring text messages, emails and phone calls can all be used positively to reach out in these times to those who need the Lord – and fellow Christians who are finding life difficult. Jesus said: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9v4)
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5v15&16)
It is distressing to hear of how many deaths have occurred throughout the world at this awful time. When I heard that a Christian I knew had died of Coronavirus I felt sad for his loved ones, that they could not be with their father at this time but I rejoice in the knowledge that he has gone to be with Jesus “which is far better.” But it is truly horrifying to know that many souls have died without an assurance of salvation. I have been reading recently some stories of the amazing 1859 Revival on this island. Surely prayer was never more needed in these days – and sincere prayer for a worldwide revival when souls would cry out upon the Name of the Lord for salvation, as they did during that great spiritual movement of over 160 years ago.

Thoughts on “Lockdown on the Ark”

May 22, 2020

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We have made quite a few animal friends in recent times, particularly “Jeffrey” the pheasant who now eats out of my daughter’s hand. Although confined to a 5km limit for exercise, at least we are able to take a walk outside our own back door and around the countryside that lies behind us, without meeting a soul. I really do appreciate this liberty when I think of others who live in cities; in high rise flats and confined living spaces, with perhaps not even a tiny balcony.
My thoughts recently turned to Noah and his family in the confined space of the ark. We are told that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6v8) As for the world in general… “all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” (Genesis 6v11) We learn of Noah’s obedience in building the ark and how rain (something previously unheard of) flooded the earth. Noah, we are told, “was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.”
He entered the ark with his wife, his three sons and their wives – and an awful lot of animals! Compared with that great ship “the Titanic,” it is said that the ark was considerably smaller. Many Biblical scholars say that the length of time they spent on the ark was at least one year – but however long it was, the situation must have demanded much patience and faith for the couples to get along with each other. I recently heard of an individual, who on being stopped by the police, said that he had driven hundreds of miles “to clear his head.” The individuals on the ark could not just decide to slam the door and head out for a walk to “clear their heads.”
For many people, being in a confined space with in-laws would take a toll on their mental health and in fact perhaps they would feel that it would be easier to get along with the animals… However, this extended family patiently and faithfully looked out for various changes until eventually Noah sent out that dove for the final time. We learn that it “returned not again unto him any more.” (Genesis 8v12)
The amazing miracle of how God preserved life to emerge from the ark after the flood struck me yet again as I read it. And if He can work this miracle upon the earth, to replenish it once more, He can work miracles in our own personal lives too.
Noah was promised that “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8v22)
Yes, this will be the case “while the earth remaineth,” but He also later promised that: “as it was in the days of No-e, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that No-e entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26&27)
Historically, the flood was the greatest judgement ever upon this earth, with its entire population destroyed apart from eight people and an assortment of two or seven of every kind of animal. And there may be future pandemics – but nothing will compare with the Final Judgement when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
As we emerge from the different stages of exiting lockdown, and this time of testing and of learning lessons about the things that really matter, I pray that spiritually speaking the dove of peace would go forth on lives; that souls who know the Lord would have grown in grace and patience and that others would earnestly seek the Living God who sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the Saviour of the world.
The “ark of salvation” is still ajar and the words of Jesus still resound to weary, sin-sick souls today… “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) Oh, that they would have the faith of Noah, who “being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Hebrews 11v7)

The Danger of Spreading Wildfire

May 18, 2020

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In the last few months here in Ireland the weather has been unusually dry. Certainly here on the east coast there has been relatively little rain, although thankfully our fields are as green as ever. I had the unfortunate opportunity to see how “wildfire” can spread so quickly under these conditions in recent times, from just one match applied to a tiny piece of paper. The whole experience was pretty nerve-wrecking to say the least, but thankfully the fire was extinguished… or so we thought. “There is no smoke without fire,” it is said and sure enough I could see wisps of smoke rising from the location again. We had to deal with that fire once and for all by extinguishing the last glowing ember and thankfully this time it was put out once and for all!
Strangely, later I was struck by the coincidence of hearing someone in government talking about coronavirus as being “a fire in retreat.” This person went on to say: “We must quench its every spark and stamp out its every ember.” I started to think about this in relation to gossip and “hearsay.” As lockdown continues, unlike previous generations in the middle of pandemics, today’s generation has access to many means of communication and social media. I began to think… what spreads like wildfire more than gossip? I remember at school (years ago and before the internet) the teacher placing us in a circle of chairs. The first person whispered a phrase to the next and so on until it reached the last person and that phrase was unrecognisable by the time it had been passed on to the last person. I think they called the game “Chinese Whispers.”
Well, gossip is like that in many ways. It has been said that “the devil finds work for idle hands to do.” Unfortunately we have seen the results here of “idle hands,” as certain young people not in school and out on the street have smashed windows and set fire to old cars in scrap yards – but there is also the other element: those who, confined to their homes (and these include some older people) take to social media to spread news, which may not always be the truth. Sometimes this can result in serious bullying which can cause young people to take their own lives.
I have heard, in years past, many eyebrow-raising things said about many people but whether we feel that they have an element of truth or not, this should never be passed on. Often, when discernment is used, we know in our hearts when something is true and the Lord guides those who know Him in their prayerful response to certain situations.
Gossip in itself can be malicious and “spread like wildfire,” leaving a trail of devastation in its wake, destroying often the very lives of its victims. I hear innumerable people complaining that they are “bored” during the present crises. But the Christian life is never a boring one; there is always so much good to do in every situation and the Lord can use every situation we find ourselves in to His glory. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…” (Ecclesiastes 9v10)
A good motto for the Christian in these days is “be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12v21). Proverbs 16v28 tells us that “A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.” And “a talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” (Proverbs 11v13)
There are different ways to put out fires but certainly when starved of further fuel they will most certainly stop.
“There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (Proverbs 12v18&19)
These are days when we must “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1Peter 5v8)
But above all these are days for those who know the Lord to shine as lights, “that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2v15)

“Sacrifice the Weak…”

May 8, 2020

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I recently noticed this shocking statement emblazoned on a placard carried by someone who appeared to be protesting against lockdown. It was shocking in that it proclaimed the view that the “weak” are dispensable. Whether the person carrying it really held this view or whether he was trying to be cynical, I don’t know but I do feel that this is a view is held by some.
Another aspect to all of this is that “the weak” are often not who we assume them to be. For example, I viewed the photograph of a smiling little old lady of 103 who was sitting up in a chair after recovery from coronavirus, while at the same time I read the shocking news that a fit muscular young soldier in his thirties (with no underlying health conditions) had died from the virus. “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9v11)
The Lord is Sovereign, there is no doubt and there are just some things we will never understand this side of eternity. I have been shocked during this time by the level of ignorance, impatience and selfishness – even from those who would profess to be Christians. I have heard it preached that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2Timothy 1v7) How true! However, as a Christian this whole issue is not all about me and my personal fears; this is about obeying the law of the land I live in and about caring and consideration for others, in the knowledge that I could well be a carrier of the virus and pass it on to others who are not ready to meet the Lord. I have no wish to contribute to the spread of this disease. Surely this is a time for professing Christians to be an example to the world?
Yet another aspect is the financial one. Churches (including the Roman Catholic Church here in Ireland) feel that they are going to take a financial hit because no one will be putting money into the usual weekly church collection and fewer may bother with “online giving.” It has been suggested that they propose to approach the government to help them in this area – even though, in the case of the R.C. church they are already in debt to the victims of abuse over the years and the government is expected to take responsibility for this also. As for those who are true servants of the Lord, they should trust Him to provide under all circumstances.
There are others within the professing Christian community who crazily believe that coronavirus is “a hoax.” Well, at this point I have personally known people who have suffered from the virus and recovery took a long time for them. To declare something to be a “hoax “is also a grave insult to those who are feverishly working in frontline health services, for they see the suffering on a daily basis and many of them too have become seriously ill and even died of the virus.
There are still others who believe that the virus could never affect them. In the fallen world we live in, anyone can be afflicted with any disease at any time and indeed die of it. However, again the Lord is Sovereign and the lives of those who know Him are in His hands… “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5v45)
I doubt, somehow, that Job’s comforters would have had the same amount of patience that Job had, if they had been similarly afflicted. The Lord referred to righteous Job as “my servant Job.” It is a terrible thing in today’s society (even after the example of Job) that some professing Christians believe that fellow Christians who suffer affliction “must have done something to deserve” what has befallen them.
These days of “lockdown” have been eye-opening to say the least. I believe that there have been many revelations in the lives of many people, both about themselves and those they reside with.
On a personal note, because I have not been going anywhere, the Lord has shown me (as I take stock) the resources that I have been neglecting to share with others. When the time is right, He will open the way and direct my steps.
“Sacrifice the weak…” Well, the Lord has much to say about “the weak” – and oh how He needs them! We may feel physically weak because youth is a thing of the past, or because we have been unwell or weary, or because we feel ill-equipped as His servants, but the Lord needs “the weak” and the humble. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Corinthians 12v9&10)

Was it not two elderly ladies (84 & 82), one of them blind, who prayed together in a humble cottage and brought revival to the Hebrides?

Because the “battle is the Lord’s” in the lives of servants who feel weak, He inevitably gets the glory because “the weak” are totally leaning on Him, dwelling in the shadow of His glory. Oh how the Lord needs the weak and the humble who desire to do His will!

For He hath chosen the weak,
And that which men despise,
To bring to naught the mighty,
To confound the great and wise!
© E. Burke

(Exodus 14v14; 1Sam. 17v47; 2Kings 18v24; 2Chron. 20v15;
Psalm 20v7; Isaiah 54v17; 1Cor. 1v27-3)

Reflections on the Hymn Writer: Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) who died in the 1918 Pandemic

April 24, 2020

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I had been feeling pretty wretched in the last few days and of course when we display a couple of symptoms of the current virus, we think “I hope not…!” However, thankfully, I do feel much better today. It is important to remember that all the usual flu type “bugs” and other health problems haven’t taken a holiday from potentially plaguing us just because this new nasty specimen is doing the rounds on a global scale. Having summoned a bit of energy to clear up some old books, I wearily opened one to discover these uplifting words. It can be sung to the same tune as that of “Safe in the Arms of Jesus:”

Safe in Jehovah’s keeping,
Led by His glorious arm,
God is Himself my Refuge,
A present help from harm.
Fear may at times distress me,
Griefs may my soul annoy;
God is my strength and portion,
God my exceeding joy.

Safe in Jehovah’s keeping,
Safe in temptation’s hour,
Safe in the midst of perils,
Kept by Almighty power.
Safe when the tempest rages,
Safe though the night be long;
Even when my sky is darkest
God is my strength and song.

Sure is Jehovah’s promise,
Nought can my soul assail;
Here is my soul’s sure anchor,
Entered within the veil.
Blest is His love eternal,
What can I want beside!
Safe through the Blood that cleanseth,
Safe in the Christ that died.

I decided to research the author of these words… and I found his testimony. Born in Mountjoy Square in Dublin in 1841, Robert Anderson, was quite an ambitious young man who later attended Trinity College in the city. When one of his sisters trusted the Lord to save her at a revival meeting, Robert, convicted of his own need, attended a meeting one evening but (like many young students) he had his own ideas about what a person must do to find peace with God. Interestingly, the preacher offered to walk part of the way home with him.
The year was 1860, in early October, and I can imagine the scene as he and the preacher walked together through the streets of Dublin having that discussion after the meeting. On research I read that “John Hall (the preacher) stopped at one point, and faced the young man as they stood upon the pavement, and repeated with great solemnity his message and appeal: I tell you as a minister of Christ, and in His Name that there is Life for you here and now if you accept Him. Will you accept Christ or will you reject Him? After a pause – how long I know not – I exclaimed, in God’s Name I will accept Christ. Not another word passed between us, but after another pause he wrung my hand and left me. And I turned homeward with the peace of God filling my heart.”
Between his studies at Trinity College, Robert went on preaching tours in those revival years, in counties throughout Ireland. He addressed meetings in the west of Ireland, in Mayo and Sligo, in the south in Cork and in towns of the north, including Armagh, Newry, Rostrevor and Banbridge.
On his 22nd birthday Robert Anderson was called to the Irish Bar in 1863 and in time became the Assistant Commissioner of the London Metropolitan police from 1888 to 1901. Wikipedia tells me that he was an intelligence officer with Scotland Yard, a theologian and a writer and that he presided over the investigation into the horrific crimes of “Jack the Ripper,” whose identity has never been exposed. He became “Sir Robert Anderson K.C.B., L.L.D.”
In 1918 the Spanish flu pandemic raged throughout the world, affecting 500 million people (or one third of the world’s population). The number of deaths amounted to at least 50 million worldwide, with about 675,000 of these in the U.S.A. Unlike today’s pandemic, mortality was high in those younger than 5 years old and in otherwise healthy individuals of all ages. As for Sir Robert, I read in the old book that “after an attack of influenza, he in measure recovered, sat working till 10.30 am, retired to rest, and at 11am quietly passed into the presence of his Master whom he loved on November 15th, 1918.”
At the end of the day, despite Sir Robert’s achievements in the things of this world, it is the words of this hymn written over 100 years ago that touched me as I felt weak and weary last night – and it is his own simple testimony to God’s saving grace that gladdens my heart. I pray that multitudes would not die from today’s pandemic without hearing and being deeply touched by those simple words… “Will you accept Christ or will you reject Him?”
There is indeed “Life for you here and now if you accept Him.” It is unthinkable to reach the cliff of eternity without having made Him the Lord and Saviour of our lives and in these uncertain days it is good to be certain of one thing – that we are ready to meet the Lord Jesus Christ, who has said… “him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) and whose last recorded words are… “Surely I come quickly.” (Revelation 22v20)

Tract: How To Have “The Peace That Passes All Understanding” During Lockdown

April 15, 2020

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God is our Refuge
“God is our Refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;” (Psalm 46v1&2)
In a time of great anxiety to whom can we turn? This terrible disease (Coronavirus) is spreading to many countries throughout the whole world. While we may take the advice of those in authority, we can put our trust in no man upon this earth, whatever position he holds. Psalm 47v7 tells us that “God is the King of all the earth…” He created us and this world. He knows each one of us individually. In Luke 12v7 we are told that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” He loves you and cares about you, so why not turn to Him today and tell Him about your cares and worries? He truly wants to shoulder your burdens and to be your Friend.
No Greater Love than this
I read the story of an elderly man who died after offering his ventilator to a younger person. Indeed this was a loving thing to do. But then I read another story about the Creator of all. John 1v10&11 tells us that “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own and his own received him not.” We must also consider that whatever good we do, cannot in itself get us to heaven. The Bible tells us: “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.” (Ephesians 2v8&9) Only a life begun in faith can produce the good works which are acceptable in His sight.
Also, those on this earth who give their lives may be revered, but Jesus was mocked and humiliated. In Romans 5v6-8 we read: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God gave His only Son, Jesus, for us that we may be assured of a Home in heaven. Nothing can compare with the sacrifice that the Lord Jesus Christ made when He left the splendour and glories of heaven to take on human flesh and to die for a world of lost sinners.
No Respecter of Persons
This horrible virus is no respecter of persons. It affects people of all positions and all walks of life; rich and poor, priests and clergymen, criminals, those high in political positions, royalty, paupers, the famous and the unknown. So it is with sin… every man, woman and child ever born into this world was born in sin. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3v23) 1John 1v8 tells us that “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Confession of Sin
To whom should we confess our sins? I have heard a person in authority over many churches in this world say that since we cannot confess our sins to a priest during this time of “lockdown,” we should then go directly to God to confess them. This surely should always be the case, lockdown or not. We are told in 1Timothy 2v5&6 that “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” No man on this earth has the power to forgive us our sins. We must go directly to God, in the name of Jesus, to confess our sins and to be forgiven of them… “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v9)
His welcoming arms are ever open for all
In some countries you will get no treatment unless you are in possession of health insurance but unfortunately there are people in those countries who just cannot afford this. And so we have an unfair system, where the rich can survive and the poor die because they have no access to the necessary funds. In contrast, the loving arms of Jesus are open to all: rich and poor, great and small, because the Bible tells us that His sacrifice avails for all of mankind – not just some of them. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2)

To Delay in Taking Precautions against the Spread of a Pandemic is to Dice with Death
…And to delay in accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour leaves us in grave spiritual danger. The Bible tells us: “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)
We Hear a Lot About “Isolation” These Days.
Spiritually speaking, we must isolate from what is evil – we must repent and trust the Lord to protect us. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3v19)
If we make Him the Captain of our lives, though evil and distressing times may come, we will be victorious in the end, for some day we must leave this scene of time and whatever happens us, we can be assured of a Home in Heaven. The Bible tells us of Heaven… “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Corinthians 2v9) Jesus indeed left the splendours of heaven, so that you and I could join Him there when we leave this scene of time. Are you full of care today because of the terrible things that are happening globally and perhaps also in your own life? Remember the words of 1 Peter 5v7… “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” He loves you and wants to carry you through the rest of your life, whatever it holds for you. The Bible tells us that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8v1)
This world is full of turmoil at the present time
But Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace give I unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14v27)
My prayer is that you would accept Him as Lord and Saviour of your life and follow Him day by day. May the Lord direct your steps and may you experience His love and richest blessings upon your life, from this time forth and forevermore.
© Elizabeth Burke 2020

A Great Moon Rose Over the Sea Last Night

April 9, 2020

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We went out for a walk last night at dusk and not one car passed us on the quiet road… strange times indeed. I posted two letters into the tiny ancient post box – one to my youngest daughter who is isolated in a flat in a town and one to an elderly aunt who lives alone across the border in Northern Ireland. Only the sweetly singing blackbirds and the swishing sound of circling bats in the still night air broke the eerie silence; we met not one soul as we walked in the twilight hour. Afterwards we took a walk in the country lane which leads to a cul-de-sac and a derelict farmhouse. Its former occupants from long ago would not have travelled very far and would have written old fashioned letters and posted them by snail mail, like I did tonight. There is something tangible and meaningful about a letter…
I see evidence in the old garden of the derelict house of fruit growing: gooseberries, redcurrants, blackberries and apples. They would have made their own jam, baked their own bread and lived a simple life – as I am in these days of Covid 19. With one delivery of groceries every week I am rediscovering my love of home baking and the simple life. And I am reminiscing, writing, communicating and witnessing to others… A CD of an ex-R.C. priest’s testimony to someone suffering from macular degeneration and tracts to others.
I loved this walk tonight, as we turned to head home. As we left the old farmhouse, we looked towards the east and we saw it… the blood red moon rising out of the Irish Sea. We stood silently in awe, watching, as it grew bigger and bigger, vibrant, glowing redder and redder on the horizon. Suddenly struck by the beauty of the moment I wanted to seize it and keep it forever – this beauty that my loving Creator had placed there, although we had no photographic equipment with us to do it justice! “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” (Genesis 1v16)
And I am also reminded of the words of Joel 2v30-32… “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”
Lord help me never to take for granted the beauty and wonder of thy creation and most wonderful of all… thy goodness, mercy and love that endureth forever, in sending thy Son to die for me – and for all mankind. I praise thee that He arose triumphantly; His victory endless over sin and death and hell. “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou has received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord might dwell among them.” (Psalm 68v18)
May the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ be praised for ever and ever. Oh that many would repent and trust in His Great Sacrifice for them in these trying and uncertain times.

Reflections on the Differing Attitudes to Coronavirus, Lockdown and Social Distancing

April 3, 2020

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Since the outset of the global spread of Coronavirus, I have found the various attitudes to all of this very interesting. With regard to the closure of places of worship some Evangelical churches in certain countries have said: “Our doors remain open” (even though their government has advised otherwise.) In contrast, one Evangelical church said… “Given the latest medical advice and Government recommendations (Romans 13v1-5), we believe that the most loving (1Peter 1v22, Matthew 22v39), wise, and biblical thing for us to do is to cancel all upcoming gatherings. They went on to say that they had been reluctant to make this decision, but “each passing day only makes it clearer that this is the right thing to do.”
Then I heard a Jewish person quote from Isaiah 26v20… “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”
There are differing attitudes to “lockdown” from governments as well. The president of Belarus apparently dismisses the risk of Coronavirus spreading and has encouraged citizens to “drink vodka and visit saunas.” In Panama people are separated by gender, with men and women only being allowed to leave their homes for two hours at a time and on different days. Sweden has a relaxed attitude, with schools for under 16’s still open, despite the high number of confirmed cases. Austria is one of the few European countries where the wearing of face masks is obligatory in public; in contrast to this, in Turkmenistan the word “Coronavirus” is banned, while people talking about the virus or wearing masks could face arrest.
While some advocate draconian “lockdown” actions and others refuse to acknowledge its very existence, Coronavirus nonetheless is a reality. I have a family member who has a compromised immune system because of cancer treatment; to me it is awful to think that if such a person were to wear a mask in other countries where they are banned – they would be arrested. (Having said that, I am thankful that we live in an isolated rural area where we don’t need masks!)
I believe what disturbs me most in all of this is that people (even professing Christians) can be surprisingly self-centred about it all. Sadly they don’t see that this is not all about “them” and they would do well to understand the depth of the words of Jesus in Luke 6v31: “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” I have seen people wearing masks long before this outbreak but they have been doing so for a very good reason…. There are people with low immunity, because of either cancer treatment or the fact that they have an autoimmune disease but many are sadly ignorant of such situations. It has been a lesson to me in recent years, that I should never look at any person or situation and assume anything. Often only the Lord knows exactly what is going on in that person’s life.
I honestly believe that all across the world right now the Lord is reaching into hearts and homes to draw souls to Himself through this worldwide phenomenon. People are frightened, people are talking about the “end of the world” and thinking on things eternal (and I’ve heard them); people are convicted of their sin. The Lord is working in millions of situations the world over: speaking to the unsaved and endeavouring to draw those who know Him into a closer walk with Him – but of course they must respond… And I believe that He is also preventing worse scenarios in our world…
Most likely nobody alive today will have ever remembered a similar global situation or will have ever experienced anything like it in their lives. There is, I believe, “a bigger picture” in all of this. The Christian walks by faith each day, each step of the way – not knowing what lies ahead but trusting the Lord in every decision they make and being guided in every attitude they should take. While at present we cannot be physically close to many we have a burden for, we can communicate with them in other ways and we can pray for them.
With material things (apart from medicine and basic foodstuffs) so much out of reach in these days, may this be a time to show prayerful compassion, empathy and love to others and of seeking and reflection on the things that matter, the things of eternity… “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1v21)

Today (24th March, 2020) is the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Hymn Writer Fanny Crosby (1820 – 1915)

March 24, 2020

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On this 200th anniversary of the birth of the blind hymn writer Frances Jane Van Alstyne (Fanny Crosby) I am reminded of a story in my book “Singing on the Journey Home.” This story “My Saviour, My Guide” is linked with Fanny Crosby’s hymn “All the Way my Saviour Leads Me.” Thinking very much on this prolific hymn writer and on this particular hymn today, I quote the little story here, showing how indeed my Lord has “led me all the way… “
“One cool autumn evening in the year 1980, I sat in my bedroom flicking through the pages of a Christian magazine, when something caught my eye. “A Month’s overland to Israel… May 1981. Just £299 all inclusive! Book now for a place on this exciting tour.” I was still in my twenties then; a young Christian who had come to know the Lord just two years previously. Thoughtfully I put the magazine down and then went out for a twilight walk in the little back lane behind our home. I thought about this trip as I walked. Having given up all my old haunts on becoming a Christian, I did feel isolated on occasions. This would be a good way of meeting other young Christians and somehow I felt that it was of the Lord that I should go.
May 1981 saw me standing in London, meeting others from all over the world who had decided to go on this trip. Some had travelled in twos and threes but I was alone and knew no one. We were to travel by boat to Holland; then on to Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia (as it was then) and Greece. From there we were to sail to Cyprus and finally to Israel, where we would stay for some time. I found it one of the most (if not the most) fascinating of all the trips I had ever made. The heavy rain in Holland, turning to snow in Germany and Austria, prevented us from stopping to camp in these countries, so that we reached Yugoslavia all the sooner. There, in pre-war Yugoslavia a warm sun greeted us. This may have been the 1980’s but I was amazed by the sight of oxen pulling old ploughs across the fields. The peasant people working in the fields made me feel that I had gone back on a “time machine” to the turn of the century, and I sat in awe of the endless beautiful forests and glorious mountainous scenery that lined the route taken by our coach. By the time we reached Greece, the sun was exceedingly warm and we were able to ‘take a dip’ in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea. The tour leader had arranged sleeping facilities for everyone, so that it was necessary to separate into threes – but who would I share with?
As it happened there were two girls from the Republic of Ireland sitting directly in front of me on the bus. “Will you share with us?” they asked me. “Of course!” I responded. (Until then I had felt a little bit lonely, even amongst all those people.) Perhaps it was this simple gesture on their part that would lead to events that changed my life forever…
On return to Ireland, one of the girls (Trish) invited me to stay at her home in Dublin for the weekend, an invitation which I readily accepted. On the journey by car from the railway station to her home in Clontarf, she pointed out a young man cycling with two little boys in her neighbourhood. “That’s Martin,” she commented, “he’s like a father to those little brothers of his. I expect he’ll be around later for a cup of tea. I was telling him about our trip to Israel and that the girl in the photographs with me was coming to stay for the weekend.”
Martin did come around later and some time later again I told him the story of how I became a Christian. Over the months that lay ahead we were to become very good friends indeed, as I visited Trish on a number of occasions and eventually he met my family across the border and I met his in Dublin. However, I was concerned as a Christian about where this relationship was leading; Martin described himself as an agnostic although he came along to church with me on Sundays.
One Sunday, just a few weeks after the anniversary of our first meeting, Martin came to church with my family and me as usual. The date (11th July 1982) is one which holds a special place in our hearts. I certainly was not aware that the Lord had used the sermon: “who then is able to stand before me?” (Job 41v10) to make an impression on him. I can recall that it was a lovely hot summer’s day and that after our return from church, dinner was ready but Martin was missing. After a while I discovered him in an upstairs room, in tears. I was overjoyed when he told me that he had found the Lord. “I can see it! He affirmed, as he stood later in our old kitchen.
How marvellous that the Lord had answered my oft repeated prayer that I would have the joy of seeing Martin saved. Now there would no longer be that ‘unequal yoke’ between us. (2Cor. 6v14) We were now one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3v26-29)… “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Eph. 1v7). Martin began to read the scriptures methodically. The Book of Hebrews was certainly a revelation to him… “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10v17&18)
Nearly three decades later, I still reflect on my little walk alone at dusk in our back lane, and how I decided to go to Israel and how, by a series of events, the Lord worked out His will in my life – and in the life of my husband, Martin. What a loving Shepherd, and what a perfect Guide to have on all of life’s journey! In the words of Psalm 48v14: “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” Frances Jane Van Alstyne (Fanny Crosby) the prolific hymn writer, may have been physically blind from just six weeks old, but how spiritually sighted she became! Her lovely hymn “All the way my Saviour leads me” I sing, when I think back on how Jesus led me all the way…”
(Above is a scan of an old photograph of the little back lane where I once walked alone with my thoughts.)
In these uncertain days when the days look so bleak and the news so terrible, the Saviour is with His children, ever leading them on and leading them Homewards… “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” And I also believe that He will touch hearts through this current world pandemic….
All the Way My Saviour Leads Me
All the way my Saviour leads me:
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who thro’ life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here, by faith, in Him to dwell!
For I know whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Saviour leads me;
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for ev’ry trial,
Feeds me with the Living Bread.
Tho’ my weary steps should falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.
All the way my Saviour leads me:
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promis’d
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This, my song through endless ages –
Jesus led me all the way.
Frances Jane Van Alystyne
(1820-1915)