Posts Tagged ‘elizabeth burke’

Beyond Cruel – The Evil World of the Illegal Drugs Trade in Ireland

January 23, 2020

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As this is currently a very serious issue in Ireland, I am also giving the following out in tract form…
Recent times have exposed the extent to which people will go to perpetuate this evil in our society. Young people (and older people too) have been tortured and murdered and it would appear that these evil dealers control entire swaths of Irish society. Those who try to throw light on the situation or organise meetings with advice on how to keep their children from drugs, are violently threatened and targeted. Drug dealers want teenagers and very young children dependant on this vile but very lucrative source of income.
The homeless and the vulnerable in society are easy targets for these people and the awful reality is that often drug dealers can never be reimbursed. An individual may indeed want to “go clean,” settle the debt with the dealer who is chasing them and make a new life for themselves, by gaining experience in some field and working in this area where their talents lie – but drug dealers will pursue, constantly looking for more and more money over and beyond what he is “entitled” to.
Even rural areas are targeted; it has been said that this evil trade is plied at every crossroads in Ireland. In one large town I know well, random shootings and arson attacks can occur at any time of the day or night and innocent people going about their business have unfortunately fallen foul of this and become victims too. Rival gangs who vie for trade have shot each other fatally and this “gang warfare” has spilled out into Spanish resorts in recent years, with rich dealers living in luxurious places beyond Ireland. “Unexplained wealth” is certainly a phenomenon in our society.
Sadly this disease is not confined solely to those from a “disadvantaged background,” as some professional people have been said to have (or have had) a “drug problem.” Week after week we hear of it all, so what can be done about this deadly evil that has spread throughout our society?
How horrific it is to make your money out of the misery of others – and what a hard task master the devil is! You, the reader, may be involved in some way in all of this – or indeed, thankfully, you may not. But whatever your standing in society, the Bible tells us that there is one thing you can be certain of: “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14v12)
One of the most beautiful feelings in the world is to waken up in the morning with a clear conscience and in the glorious knowledge that you are not “hooked on” anything. Praise God… He can give us a clear conscience! “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36)
The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) We may in no way be associated with the drugs trade but whoever we are in this world, we need a Saviour and only the blood of Jesus, the precious Son of God, who gave Himself a ransom for all, is able to atone for sin when, by faith, we confess our sins to Him, asking Him to forgive us and to come into our lives to make us “new creatures.” “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Corinthians 5v17)
With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19v26) Sin, like many deadly physical diseases, comes in many guises, not all of which are readily recognisable as being dangerous. As a police officer once told me: “there is no such thing as a harmless drug.” While law enforcement are often successful with regard to drug seizures – they have no control over the hearts and minds of either the pusher or the addict. But praise God, there are those who truly know Him and have committed their lives to Him; who pray fervently that this evil may be eradicated and that souls would live out their lives in healthy freedom, to the glory of their Creator and Saviour. Yes, these things are possible and many can testify to having been delivered!
Whoever you are, whether a “pillar of society,” a very worried parent, a seemingly hopeless addict or someone steeped in deepest sin as a dealer – you need to trust the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul. “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)
Remember, He loves you personally and cared enough for you to give His very life for you, that you may have abundant life now – and eternal life in His Presence forevermore. Yes, we live in dark days when evil abounds and the most horrific deeds are being perpetrated but praise God there is a way out… through faith in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for all. (“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John2v2)
Perhaps you would like to pray these (or similar) words right now in the quietness of your own heart… “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to die for me. I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I need your forgiveness. Please come into my life and make me a new person. Assist me, in your strength, to tell others of my experience and to live according to your words, as contained in the Bible. Open my eyes to the great truths within it, and help me to find fellowship with others who share this experience.”
My prayer is that you will find the peace that passes all understanding in these days of increasing spiritual darkness, for the Lord has promised that He will return to take those who know Him, Home to be with Him, while those who have not trusted Him will face a lost eternity. In the serious knowledge that this could be at any time, I pray that you will trust Him to save you now, if you have not already done so, for “behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)
Jesus promises those who trust Him: “My 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)

On the Distribution of Scripture Calendars

January 13, 2020

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The New Year brought a few revelations to me as I distributed some calendars around very rural areas whenever I could get an opportunity. There are little areas in the depths of the Irish countryside which appear to have been forgotten by time and there are tiny cottages at the end of overgrown garden pathways which I’m not sure were inhabited at all… but for the dogs. Their wagging tails revealed how glad they were to see a visitor and it came to mind that some elderly (or indeed younger) person could have died alone in any of these dwellings and not been discovered for days – or even weeks. Every little homestead had a story to tell, I’m certain, and souls the need of a saviour.
Most people who distribute any type of Christian literature rarely visit rural areas. It’s much easier to go from door to door in urban areas and much more ground can be covered but I feel that the Lord places each one of us in certain districts and gives us a burden for a reason. As Christians we have opportunities in our own areas because of their close proximity; also in the areas which the Lord gives us opportunities to travel to and the contacts we have (however limited) in the spheres in which we circulate.
I ponder the lives of those who live in each rural residence. A few are clearly affluent but very often cold to the gospel; others (both rich and poor) are caught up in the wrong system of belief and many are deeply unhappy, while others, although polite, have simply no interest. The “season of goodwill” has left an aura of dissatisfaction and depression. The lonely are lonelier still as the tinsel is pulled down for another year and the beer bottles await recycling. There is an atmosphere of gloom in places, as wrought iron gates remain heavily padlocked and savage dogs of the not-so-friendly type leap and growl at potential callers – thankfully behind spiked railings surrounding the property.
One morning I remember a cold breeze blowing up from the sea to the east as I endeavoured to find the letter box of an old house where no one answered the door, although I could hear a radio or television on inside. However, people are afraid of being broken into and robbed which is why they often leave these on to give the impression that the house is occupied.
Letterboxes, I have discovered, are as diverse as their owners! Some are very small and old; envelopes were tiny in the days of total “snail mail.” And then there are the “furry” types of letterbox which people have to prevent draughts. A long time ago I can recall my hand getting stuck in one of these, while in the hallway a growling dog snapped at the fingers. I prayed that the Lord would get them out – and He did! It seems amusing now but at the time I was terrified.
He also helps us not to feel discouraged, when it is so easy to do so. We learn not to look at circumstances as they appear – but to the Lord who sees the heart and unseen response when no one is around. I have heard someone say that every word of scripture goes forth like a registered letter. It has been delivered – and someone somewhere will be convicted, encouraged, challenged or have had their thoughts and opinions provoked. Not one word will return unto the Lord void. (Isaiah 55v11)
Souls need the Saviour as they launch out into a new day, a new year and indeed a new decade. Only He knows what lies ahead for them. If only they would seek the Pilot who will guide them safely Home, instead of a system which tells them to put their trust in works and ritual for their salvation. I am very sensitive to atmospheres around these rural areas and feel that loneliness and isolation is certainly a problem. I pray that the “Friend that sticketh closer than a brother” would reach down and touch hearts.
In the biting January wind I think of the wind “that bloweth where it listeth” (John 3v8) in my little verse “Born Again…” Who knows what will be the outcome?

“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.” (Ecclesiastes 11v6)
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3v8)

There is a wind that no one knows
From whence it comes or where it blows,
But when it touches souls of men,
The Spirit whispers… “Born Again.”

Marvel not if the World hates you

December 31, 2019

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I sincerely believe that as Christians, we experience much antagonism when we are being active in the Lord’s service and as the years go by we will naturally feel increasingly like an “alien” in this world. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” (1John3v13) We are not to be shocked by personal vicious attacks upon us – by virtue of the very simple fact that we are on the Lord’s side.
In this world there is no middle ground; we cannot “straddle” the narrow and the broad road. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve,” (Joshua 24v15) Either we are on the Lord’s side or we are not – and when we are on the Lord’s side we can be assured that we will feel like “fish out of water” in this world and the world will most definitely hate us.
Jesus said: “I have given them thy word; and the world hateth them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17v14) I have been guilty recently of “marvelling,” when really I shouldn’t be at all surprised. I honestly feel that many unregenerate people aren’t even aware of this antagonism within them or the fact that they serve an evil master – and that master hates those who serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
Marvelling and feeling shocked and hurt are human reactions, of course, but we must go in the strength of the Lord and continue to love those souls who are outside of Him and for whom He died. The deep wounds we sustain can be prevented from “festering” when we rest in Him, in the knowledge that He too was hated. He knows all about it and there is nothing in our lives that He is not aware of. How He cares deeply for us and looks with compassion upon us as we tread this earth, as strangers and sojourners.
Let us be encouraged, as we march on by faith to “a better country, that is, an heavenly.” (Hebrews 11v16) “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11v8-10)
Like Abraham, we may not know what the journey ahead consists of but we know that we look for “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2Peter 3v13) We set our sights on that place while on this brief journey which is sometimes fraught with trouble and we can leave our positive mark for time and eternity, in His strength. How amazing to someday meet the prophets and the apostles of old, as well as precious loved ones who have gone before us… but infinitely more marvellous will be to meet the Lord Jesus Christ who died for us and made it all possible. It will be worth it all!

A Quiz and Thoughts for the Season Tract

December 18, 2019

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The following may seem a little simplistic to those who know their Bibles but I have discovered that in my own society very few people read the Bible – or have ever read it. I feel led to use the occasion in outreach, with little thought-provoking tracts like the following. I have also been distributing scenic scripture calendars in our local area and beyond, in the knowledge that people blindly follow what is taught from the pulpit of whatever church they go to on seasonal occasions, never opening their own Bibles. Praise God for the liberty to read His Word; I pray that many would look beyond the traditions of man and would seek for the truth and turn to Him in these days.

1. Where was Jesus born: Jerusalem, Bethlehem or Nazareth?
2. On which of these dates was He born: 6th January, 25th December, 12th April? Or do we know at all?
3. Was Mary immaculately conceived? Yes/No
4. How many wise men were there: 3, 7/ we don’t know.
5. How many shepherds were there: 5, 7, 12/ we don’t know.
6. Did Jesus have brothers and sisters: Yes/No.
7. After the birth of Jesus, Herod later killed all the young children of two years and under that were in the region of Bethlehem. True/False
8. Which country was Joseph warned in a dream to flee to after the birth of Jesus: Greece, Italy or Egypt?

I have been thinking recently about seasonal assumptions and how, sadly, very few people ever read the Bible for themselves. Jesus told us that it was essential to read this most important of all books for ourselves.
He said… “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5v39)
The Bible speaks of the people of Berea who are described in Acts 17v11 as being “more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
The Berean people wisely checked whether what they were being told was true. They didn’t readily accept the word of man, no matter how seemingly learned, or even spiritual, without checking it against God’s word to see “whether those things were so.”
Really understanding and knowing God’s Word has little to do with education, but rather in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of our lives. When we truly know Him as Saviour, then the Bible becomes alive and wonderful; His letter to us throughout life, instructing, guiding, convicting and comforting us through life’s most difficult hours. When we know Him and believe His Word, we can say with the Psalmist… “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48v14)
But how do we find this relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus said… “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3v3)
This “new birth” does not occur when we are baptised as babies – or even adults, or when we join a church. We must firstly recognise that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) We must also realise that we cannot save ourselves by our good works… “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)
In Hebrews we learn that no man on this earth can take away or forgive sin. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” (Hebrews 10v11)
But of Jesus the Bible tells us… “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10v12)
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2)
If you have not already done so, turn this day to the only Person who can save you – the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who gave His life for you, that you might have fulfilling life in Him – both now and forever in His Presence.
You may pray simple words of acceptance… “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 into 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.”
When I trusted in Jesus as my Saviour many years ago, the Bible truly came alive for me and as the years go by it has been my companion and Guide throughout life’s journey, while the Lord’s comforting Presence is ever with me in all situations I have to face. Personally, I found it better to start in the New Testament, in Matthew’s Gospel.
I discovered that we are not saved by good works – but unto good works. Now you will be “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2v10)
My prayer is that you too will experience this wonderful assurance of sins forgiven and a Home in Heaven forevermore, before it is too late.
“… behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)
May the Lord bless you, as you search His Word and trust Him to reveal His great truths to your heart.
“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.” (John 3v16)
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37)
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9v27&28)
“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.” (Revelation 3v20)

Answers to quiz:
1. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2v1)
2. The birth date of Jesus is not recorded in the Bible.
3. It is not recorded anywhere in the Bible that Mary was immaculately conceived. Jesus was born of a virgin (Mary) (Matthew 1v18-25) and He is the only Person ever to be born and live without sin. (2Corinthians 5v21; Hebrews 4v15; 1Peter 1v19; 1Peter 2v22; 1John 3v5)
4. We are not told how many wise men there were. It is assumed there were three because they gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2v11) but we don’t know for sure.
5. The account of the shepherds is recorded in Luke 2v8-20 but we are not told how many there were.
6. Yes… We may read of Jesus’ brothers and sisters in Mark 6v3 and Matthew 13v55&56. Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus (Matthew 1v23) but Matthew 1v25 indicates that this did not continue to be the case after the birth of Jesus.
7. True… This account may be read in Matthew 2v16-18.
8. Egypt. (Matthew 2v13-15)

“Like the Falling of a Leaf”

December 1, 2019

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By now most of the leaves have fallen and as I stroll along the country lane behind our home I watch the different scenarios in which leaves fall. Depending on the weather, some are blown swiftly far away in high winds, while others quietly flutter to the ground even when there is no breeze. As I gaze over the countryside, in the distance I can see the blue horizon of the cold sea, but nearer still are the ploughed fields which only a few months ago were full of golden barley. It seems like only yesterday that towering bales of gold were all over that field. How methods of farming have changed! These days massive equipment is taken into the field to complete the harvest. No longer do we “bind sheaves” by hand.
These reflections on swiftly passing seasons with “falling leaves” and “binding of sheaves” reminds me of William J. Kirkpatrick’s hymn “Life at Best is Very Brief.” Born in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1838 and later living in U.S.A., this hymn writer made a significant contribution to hymnody. Amongst these are “A Wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord;” “Away in a Manger,” “I am not skilled to understand,” “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,” “Redeemed” etc. But it is “Life at Best is Very Brief” which has been in my thoughts recently. A convicting hymn, it speaks of “being in time.” Whether we are in the spring, summer, autumn or winter of our lives, life has taught me with some very hard lessons that we have no idea what lies “around the corner.” I thank the Lord that I trusted Him all those years ago and He has been my constant and loving companion through it all. As I watch individuals who are going through stormy episodes in life, I long for them too, to have that “peace which passeth all understanding.” That peace is available to all who repent of their sins and put their trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.
I have seen a great tree with glorious leaves one sunny day, reduced to a stark silhouette against a gloomy sky the next… and so it is with life. We must be in time! Perhaps William Kirkpatrick’s lovely old hymn says it best…

Life at best is very brief,
Like the falling of a leaf,
Like the binding of a sheaf,
Be in time!
Fleeting days are telling fast
That the die will soon be cast,
And the fatal line be passed, –
Be in time!

Be in time…….be in time……
While the voice of Jesus calls you,
Be in time!
If in sin you longer wait,
You may find no open gate,
And your cry be just too late,
Be in time!

Fairest flowers soon decay,
Youth and beauty pass away,
Oh, you have not long to stay,-
Be in time!
While the Spirit bids you come,
Sinner, do not longer roam,
Lest you seal your hopeless doom,-
Be in time!

Time is gliding swiftly by,
Death and judgement drawing nigh,
To the arms of Jesus fly,-
Be in time!
Oh, I pray you, count the cost,
‘Ere the fatal line be crossed,
And your soul in hell be lost!-
Be in time!

Sinner, heed the warning voice,
Make the Lord your final choice,
Then all heaven will rejoice,-
Be in time!
Come from darkness into light,
Come, let Jesus make you right,
Come, and start for heaven to-night,
Be in time!

God is no Respecter of Persons

November 21, 2019

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“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1Timothy 6v7) I have been reflecting on present controversies surrounding powerful and rich individuals in Britain and the U.S.A. Unfortunately there are people in this world who think that they are so rich and powerful that they are immune from prosecution – and indeed such individuals in the past often have evaded the forces of law and order which apply to ordinary people. I say “ordinary people” and yet no man is entitled to special favouritism in the eyes of the “blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” (1Timothy 6v14)
In this incredibly evil world vulnerable young people and children have been abused and exploited by powerful politicians, those in authority and in positions of trust and by the higher echelons of society. More and more stories of abuse have emerged in recent years; probation officers, charity workers, those in the entertainment industry, sports celebrities, politicians, priests, nuns and even judges have been shown to be guilty and this is a worldwide phenomenon and not confined to any one country or society.
Jesus said: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” (Matthew 18v6&7)
And so, just as we come into this world, we go out of it, in the certain knowledge that we face judgement whatever our life has consisted of. We cannot go to the Lord with our riches and offer Him a bribe and no one can “bail us out” – and we cannot point to all the good deeds we have done, in the hope that these will “tip the scales” in favour of a sure eternal outcome. Favours can be granted in this world and prison sentences can be reduced for the rich and powerful but eventually both the prince and the pauper must face “the Judge of judges” and “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18v25)
“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 forever:)” (Psalm 49v6-8)
We are not entitled to a lawyer when we stand before the “Judge of judges” and no excuse is good enough for Him. We stand before Him, devoid of fame, earthly power, fortune, talent, beauty, charm and popularity. But He knows you by name and He loves you. He loved you enough to die for you – and He wants nothing but your heart, and your love for Him, His Word and His will for your life.
His will for you, whoever you are and whatever you have done in this life, is that you would repent of your sins (whether few or many) and commit your life to Him, if you have not already done so. When we stand before Him, the Great Question will be whether we know Him as the Great Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous – or as the Judge who will commit us to unthinkable, eternal suffering. Which will it be? Praise God, there is hope for “the vilest offender” this side of eternity. His will is that you would sing with the redeemed…
“Oh perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God:
The vilest offender who truly believes
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He hath taught us,
great things he hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son:
But purer and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.”
(F.J. Crosby)

Reach out to the Living – While it is Day

November 9, 2019

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The recent funeral of a well-known radio and television presenter here in Ireland brought to mind thoughts of being faithful to people while they are still alive. I recall sending something (a tract and a letter I believe) to this person many years ago. When we are faithful witnesses to people, this is something which we will never regret, even if there is either no response or a negative response from the person in question. The Lord loved and died for all and who knows how He will use the little morsels we scatter to His glory? The following is a short modified extract from my book “Singing on the Journey Home….”
I recall years ago befriending a lady whose mother was very ill. One day, towards the end of her mother’s life, I called to see my friend but prior to this I had been praying much for her mother and my desire was to speak with her. After a few moments, in answer to my prayer, she took me upstairs to see her. She was not really old by today’s standards; around seventy I think. The atmosphere was a little strained, but when I look back on that day, I know for sure that the Lord was with me and that He did speak to that lady. I was also sure that she had met another Christian at some time, and that she knew something of the scriptures for she finished some verses of the Bible that I had started to quote. I can recall a certain special moment during this exchange when there was complete silence and the lady looked at me perceptively. It was one of those looks that I shall never forget. I wanted to be gentle, to be led of the Lord, in all that I said to her – yet I felt so inadequate for the task. Still I felt that the Lord was opening her heart, speaking to her in that still small voice – the only voice that can truly penetrate the hearts of men and women.
It was the memory of the journey home from that visit that I shall never forget. I had felt emotional on leaving that home and as I drove away I felt the presence of God very strongly. Then, just as I was about half way home, that presence intensified, so much so that I almost had to stop the car. I tried not to let the tears blind me as I drove along. For the remainder of that day I went about my household duties, continuing to feel the Lord’s strong and loving reassurance in my heart.
A short time later that lady passed away and I went to the graveside as a mark of respect. It was a big funeral. Everyone seemed to know each other but I knew no one there, with the exception of my friend and a couple of others. I shook hands with my friend, who was naturally distraught and then I withdrew a distance from the many people who thronged the graveside. Somehow I was feeling very much a stranger in the midst of it all, particularly with the proceedings that followed.
The ceremony was very elaborate – if it was possible for a ceremony to get someone into heaven, then that one certainly would have. I watched as the young Roman Catholic Priest who was conducting the proceedings suddenly broke into song, in Latin. He sang with all his might and then uttered such eloquent prayers for the deceased. The coffin was one of the best that money could buy, as was the headstone. The intentions and the prayers were sincere but I knew that none of this could make any difference to the most important issue of all – the eternal destination of the deceased.
Walking away from that scene, I realised that I could never know for sure in this life whether this lady had trusted the Lord, but He knew and now it remained for me to pray for my friend and her family, that they too would find the loving Saviour who is our only real comfort in grief and loss. I also knew that the Lord had not brought me into contact with this family for nothing and that His Word, which I had quoted to a dying soul, would not “return unto Him void.”
How lovely it is to tell others of the Saviour who has come “to seek and to save that which was lost.” Like the dying thief on the cross who was only a short time from eternity, they too may find the Saviour before they leave this scene of time. My prayer for the elderly souls that I have felt led to visit (and the younger souls that I have felt led to speak to) is that the light of the Saviour would penetrate the souls of those in their twilight years – and the souls of the younger too, who could also be standing by ‘the very cliff edge of eternity.’ Surely He is but a prayer away… and even though we may be in perfect health, are we not all “dying and perishing” spiritually before we are touched by the Saviour?

 

The Saving and Keeping Power – the Testimony of Inspector Brian Martin (1955-1983)

October 27, 2019

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Inside an old book one day, I found the following little testimony tract written by John Brian Martin, a young police inspector, prior to his death in the Northern Ireland troubles. Having visited Banbridge just recently, I discovered on research that this was the town in which Brian lived with his wife and two young children prior to his death. He was murdered just before his 28th birthday, along with other young officers who were attending a lecture in the Ulster Polytechnic in Jordanstown; these sadly died later. Reading this information made me aware of the brevity of life and how we must be ready to meet the Lord. The following was written in the introduction…
JOHN BRIAN MARTIN, a Police Inspector in the Royal Ulster Constabulary died as the result of a terrorist bomb at the Ulster Polytechnic whilst attending as a student on 4th November 1983. Prior to his death he committed to print his testimony of the “Saving and Keeping Power” in his life which is told as follows…
“The Lord brought me into the world on the 4th December 1955 and the earliest recollection I have is when I was very small and my father getting down on his knees with me at night before I went to bed and reciting the Lord’s Prayer to me until I was able to say it as well. I was the eldest in a family of three, having two younger sisters. I was not raised in a Christian home but in “a church home,” if I could use that phrase. It was seen to that I was taken to Sunday school and church every Sunday and was even encouraged to do scripture exams. Then, when I was 11 years old, my father died. This had a profound effect on me at the time, as I was the eldest in the family. To my mother’s credit, she saw to it that I still attended Sunday school, church and the Youth Club.
At 18 I joined the Police and it was while training at Enniskillen that I first came into contact with the Christian Police Association, as they distributed a copy of the New Testament to each recruit. Back then I had more concern for the things of the world than my own soul; cars and having a good time were all I was concerned about.
I was by no means a drunkard but drink to me then seemed to be the “in thing” socially as it appeared to have some sort of status attached to it. I continued in this vein of life and then got married. Just before I got married my wife became a Christian. She told me at the time and I can remember thinking distastefully about her decision. Now I can see that this was part of God’s plan for me. I went to church as regularly as possible, was a choir member, a committee member and even went along with my wife to the mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting. I had the outward appearance of being a Christian but still I knew I had not made the commitment that was required.
I went to various missions and gospel halls with my wife and at the beginning of 1980 I knew the Lord was talking to me. I was confused and restless and feeling extremely agitated. My wife and her mother, both committed Christians, I knew were praying for my salvation. I knew within myself what I had to do but pride in myself was keeping me from doing so.
Finally, on 18th May, 1981, after attending a gospel service in Rathfriland the previous evening, I committed my life to the Lord. I went to see my own minister that day, seeking for salvation, counsel and guidance. I felt very humbled in this but the Lord gave me courage to do it. I spent a gratifying time with my minister that morning and after making a simple prayer with him and commitment, I felt all the unrest and unease begin to lessen. We both spent a time of fellowship together and when I went to work that evening I told a colleague (who I knew was a committed Christian) of my experience, which helped me in my stand. At that moment I was at peace within myself and had an assurance which I never had before. I wondered how I might tell some of my non-Christian friends. This was made easy for me with the Lord’s help. I can say in all honesty that to lead a Christian life, especially in the Police Force, is not an easy one. It is a battlefield all the way, but although not an easy life, it is a blessed life. If you dear friend, are holding back from commitment to the Lord because of your own pride, as was my case, I would say to you, act now before it is too late. In Genesis 6v3 it says that the Lord’s Spirit shall not always strive with man. This indeed is a sobering thought. If you feel that the Lord is talking to you and you are under conviction, I would urge you to act; the Christian life, as I have found every day, brings a new challenge, a new experience and new friends.”
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A short time after writing this, and only two years after committing his life to the Lord, this young man lost his life on this earth because of the forces of evil in those days. But praise God “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” (1Thessaonians 4v14).
I pray that someone somewhere will still be touched by his story, for the Lord loves you and it is not His will that you should go out into a lost eternity – whatever part you played in Ireland’s conflict, or indeed whoever, or wherever you are in this world…

Was Paul “the Chief of Sinners?”

October 15, 2019

The following well known verse is often used to make a doctrinal point… “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1Timothy 1v15) It never ceases to amaze me how this verse is constantly used to make an excuse for habitual sin in the lives of many who would call themselves Christians. Note the words “of who I am chief.” Paul is speaking in the present tense here and if he was speaking of himself he was referring to his (then) present state. Therefore was he “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope…” (1Timothy 1v1) saying “I am the chief of sinners?”
How could Paul (the regenerate servant of the Lord Jesus Christ) be “the chief of sinners?” We need to look at the first few words of this verse… “This is a faithful saying…” The phrase “faithful (or true) saying” is used five times in the New Testament: 1Timothy 1v15; 1Timothy 3v1; 1Timothy 4v8&9; 2Timothy 2v11-13; Titus 3v4-8; in each instance it is “a true saying” – a proverb, which is “worthy of all acceptation.”
This saying was never meant to apply to Paul as an individual at that point in time. However, unfortunately it suits many to believe that “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ” was the “chief of sinners,” so that they can preach “a sinning religion.” There are two types of people in this world: saints and sinners. I am aware that there are also “seekers” and of course not everyone has sunk into the same depths of evil – but the unsaved charity worker, like his drug dealing neighbour, is lost until he comes to that place of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Nowhere in the Bible do we read of “saved sinners” and yet this is a term which I have often heard used in evangelical circles. Amazingly I have also heard of someone who preached that “a little bit of sin keeps us humble.” The Bible makes it clear that “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1John 2v1) Note that it is not when we sin, indicating that sin should be something alien in the Christian’s life. Another phrase which I have heard quoted is “we sin in thought, word and deed every day;” this too is a man-made phrase and unscriptural.
I remember the words of someone speaking at a children’s meeting held years ago in a back garden… “We are all so sinful…” I cannot recall her exact words but she made it clear that she regarded herself as being as sinful as those she was addressing. One little girl who looked confused, asked… “But what’s the point then?” I believe that what she meant was: “What’s the point of me asking Jesus into my heart, if He’s not going to make me a new person?” That little girl is now a young woman whom I haven’t seen in many years and I don’t know where she stands spiritually. Child workers and Sunday school teachers bear such a fearful responsibility.
What Paul was effectively saying was… if I had been the only one, the Lord would still have died for me. “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:” (2Corinthians 5v14)
If we read on in 2Corinthians 5, we see that “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (Verse 17) When Paul was blinded by the light of the Lord on the Damascus Road, his subsequent experience changed him dramatically. Although Christians were fearful of him at first, it soon became evident to them that Saul the persecutor had become Paul the saint; miraculously he had become a sincere and fervent follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In his own words… “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life.” (Romans 6v21-23)
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2Corinthians 5v21)
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2Corinthians 6v18)
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4v22-24)
Surely only a hypocrite could utter such words if he was indeed “the chief of sinners.” And we know that Paul was not a hypocrite.

“Wells without Water” – A Career in “the Church”

October 2, 2019

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Over the years I have on occasions met clergy from various denominations. For some reason I have recently been thinking about these encounters and how, sadly, it was clear that many of these people had no spiritual light whatsoever. They generally do what is expected of them: have an acceptable sermon put together for Sunday mornings, visit hospitals, the bereaved and elderly parishioners and conduct weddings and funeral services, amongst other duties.
Sadly, though, they have not had the experience of being truly born again of the Spirit of God and while what they do may seem commendable, it is in most cases their “job” – not a real calling from the Lord.
Of course they have differing personalities and many are charming, friendly and pleasantly spoken. But unfortunately I have also encountered in these days something very disturbing in some – a type of cynicism, with no effort whatsoever being made to disguise it.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7v15) Yet often I feel that some don’t even make the effort to don “sheep’s clothing,” since many in their congregation seem completely blind to the real wolf staring them in the face anyway. I have even heard of ministers jokingly admit that they have “difficulty believing in some of the miracles in the Bible.”
This cynicism, this lack of sincerity, this flippancy is all too common in some circles, while horrifically there are lost souls going out into eternity every second in this world – souls who have sat under the “ministry” of the spiritually blind, whose voices echo meaningless platitudes from the pulpits of great churches and cathedrals the world over.
The Lord loved and died for everyone, including the robed hierarchy of great churches but unless they too, repent and come the humble way to the foot of the cross for forgiveness, the words of 2Peter 2v17 apply to them… “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.”
There are ministers in so called “evangelical” circles too, who unfortunately are what Paul describes as “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” (2Corinthians 11v13)
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2Corinthians 11v14&15) We are living in incredible days when discernment is a great requirement in the life of Christians. Surely… “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7v16) “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1Peter 5v8)
Thank God there is hope for even the hardest, most cynical deceiver, for the Lord is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3v9) If we have knowledge of such “blind, leaders of the blind” we must pray for them that their eyes would be opened to the truth and we must pray for the people of these congregations in dead churches too that they would be drawn to the Saviour who loved them and gave Himself for them. But those who truly know Him in these days must take a stand for the truth and “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1Peter 3v15)… even to the most seasoned, cynical, educated, eloquent and senior member of the religious hierarchy.