Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Feathers and Faith

February 27, 2019

IMG-20190222-WA0000

In recent times “feathers” have become very significant and meaningful in the life of someone close to me and also in my life. Feathers in the Bible are symbolic of the Lord’s covering, care and protection of His children. “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91v4)

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91v1) He has promised to “give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Psalm 91v11)

No matter how weak and powerless we feel under certain circumstances, the words of those who have put their trust in the Lord can echo that of the prophet Isaiah… “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40v28-31)

As the sometimes turbulent winds of life would seek to toss us to and fro, we find refuge in the shadow of His great wings. “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” (Psalm 17v8) We fly on the wings of faith till journey’s end; whether the breeze is calm and balmy or the storms batter us relentlessly, we must find refuge in Him. This little acrostic poem which I wrote in the past while portrays the walk of faith for those who hide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Feathers

Faith is the substance of things hoped for,

Evidence, praise God, of things not seen.

And when the day is far spent,

Turn I must to He who died for me;

His arms around me in the darkest hour,

Ever my Saviour, holding my hand as I tread

Rolling Jordan’s treacherous waves.

Silence, peace, then endless joy as I meet Him face to face.

Sunflowers Still Blooming in November!

November 3, 2018

DSC_0877

“Those sunflowers will never grow,” someone told my daughter when she planted them. “They’ve been planted too late and many storms are forecast. It’s just impossible.” But miraculously, not only did they come out in full bloom but they are still standing after several storms; they have survived and we are now into November. Strong trees have fallen but the row of sunflowers have stood resolute throughout fierce gales and dashing rain. Only one fell, which perhaps had not been properly rooted. There is a spiritual lesson there somewhere…

This little encouraging event is synonymous with another much more serious event that has been going on in our lives. If sunflowers can stand through three major storms, then anything is possible. Indeed, as the old Wesleyan hymn goes… “All things are possible to him, that can in Jesus name believe.” If, as this hymn describes, the Lord can so transform our lives, not only in the new birth experience but to the extent where sin shall not have dominion over us, (Romans 6v14), then “all things are possible to me.”

Every new day in our lives is a miracle in itself. As the days draw in and winter lies ahead, inevitably the sunflowers will die – but their seeds are being used for something really good and beneficial. I remember my father saying… “There is no telling what the Lord can do with a life that has been totally consecrated to Him.” In Romans 5v3-5 we are told: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

I prayed that the sunflowers would grow – because it would have a deeper meaning for me. Not only did they bloom but they grew tall and withstood the storms. Just as I stood, opened-mouthed with wonder at the sight of the sunflowers still in full bloom despite the elements, people are watching those who know the Lord; watching their reactions to the full blown storms of life. “How can they bear it?” they ask themselves. And they look for the answer – and we need to reach them with it.

Praise God…

“All things are possible to God;

To Christ the power of God in me;

Now shed Thy mighty Self abroad,

Let me no longer live, but Thee;

Give me this hour in Thee to prove

The sweet omnipotence of love.”

 

(Charles Wesley)

 

 

As Time Goes By We Look At Our Roots…

January 15, 2018

IMG-20151002-WA0001

We inherit so much from our forefathers; everything from physical characteristics and mannerisms – to the genes which have an influence on our physical and even mental health. I believe that as we grow older, most of us are fascinated by the lives of our forefathers and when parents pass away, it is comforting to see some resemblance of them in our children.

Above is a photograph of my paternal grandmother who was born in New York in 1892 but returned with her parents to their native Ireland some years later. When I look in the mirror I sometimes see my father and at other times, my mother looking back at me and I smile in the knowledge that they have gone to a far better place where inherited diseases of the human race are no more. It is interesting to know why I look a certain way but it’s also good to know that I may be susceptible to certain problems with age – such as the glaucoma which my father inherited. Hereditary problems are something which can be prepared for, managed or even prevented when we have knowledge of them.

I have often wondered how it would feel to have been adopted, without any knowledge of who my parents were. If we have no idea who our parents are (or who even one of our parents is) it can leave a great void in life but it can also be a problem from a health point of view. I feel that if I had been adopted, I would really want to know my parents and yet I also know (from the experiences of friends) that such a meeting could possibly be a fiasco, at best. We have all known of emotional reunions between mothers or fathers and their children which have been a great success. We see two people running in slow motion towards each other. They talk non-stop and catch up on all the lost years between them, finding so much in common – and then they become friends for life. Often, however, in reality this is not the case.

I recently read of a lady who had been brought up by her mother, a single parent. She was anxious to meet her father but her mother seemed reluctant for this to happen – possibly because she wanted to protect her daughter from the inevitable hurt she knew would ensue. Eventually this young lady met her father, who to her shock was a priest in the Roman Catholic Church – and to her hurt was very secretive about their meeting. The last thing he wanted on earth was for there to be knowledge of this daughter and so, although he met her, he really wanted nothing to do with her. There is, in fact, now an organisation/support group for the many children of R.C. priests who are in this hurtful situation in which they may have been supported financially – but not emotionally.

In the era in which we live, the traditional family unit is under attack and there are really complex situations going on where people have no idea who one or even both of their parents are. Researching a family tree, as time goes on, may well become an impossible feat for many people. I have heard, too, of other terrible situations where someone discovers to their horror that they are dating “a half brother or sister” that they had no knowledge of.

As I read and take notes through the Book of Genesis once more, I also see that it was always God’s will for the family to be defined as one husband, one wife – and their family. Despite modern day philosophy and also some cults claiming otherwise, it was never in God’s will for a husband to take concubines and more than one wife or for a family unit to consist of two “husbands” or two “wives.”

Because something is recorded as an historical event or common practice in the Old Testament did not make it right in God’s eyes. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2v24) Jesus also echoes these words in Matthew 19v5.  I recall feeling sorry for Hagar, as she was the unfortunate victim initially when Sarah and Abraham didn’t wait for the Lord’s timing. But God took care of Hagar and her son, when she felt that there was no hope for either of them. “And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.” (Genesis 21v19)

Isaac, the son of promise, is the distant earthly forefather of our Lord Jesus Christ – who, praise God, is the answer to all of mankind’s sin and problems. Society has evolved into something undesirable in His eyes, “just as in the days of Noah…”  Yet, in this the Day of Grace, He still stands with arms outstretched to the “whosever” that “shall call on the name of the Lord” and they “shall be delivered.” (Joel 2v32) He came to set us free from sin, death, hell and the snares of this life. He came that we would have life and have it more abundantly and His will is for us to know and love His Word which teaches us how to live.

In much of society it is now considered offensive to quote God’s Word with regard to the great moral dilemmas of our age but do we choose to be silent about the world’s wrongful philosophies or do we uphold the teachings of God’s Word? Like Moses, today’s people of the Lord are “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” (Hebrews 11v25&26) Like Moses, by faith we must forsake Egypt!

As I read my Bible these days, absorbing how it was from the early days of creation, to Noah and the flood and then on to Abraham and the generations after him, I feel the Lord saying to me continually that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19v26) Faith is the victory that overcomes the world! “For whosoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1John 5v4)

The faith of a multitude of Old Testament characters is portrayed in Hebrews 11 and it is faith that has made men and women triumph over adversity throughout the ages. Yes, there is no situation too impossible or too complicated for the Lord to deal with and put right. Whatever our background, our inherited problems or the complications of our family history or situation, there is nothing too hard for the Lord, if we but give Him our all and trust Him to save us to the uttermost.

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18v14) Praise God, those who put their trust in Him look… “for an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (1Peter 1v4) and “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11v10)

 

 

New Year… New Opportunities

January 4, 2018

IMG-20180101-WA0013

Sometimes I view each year of my life as a “chapter,” although I don’t believe that most books have that many chapters! As I look back on last year’s diary I see a big mixed bag full of experiences; some of them are challenging, others depressing and just a few are uplifting – but they all presented opportunities to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. If I thought for one moment that this life was all there was to my existence I would be most depressed and miserable. However, I praise Him that, as the years go by, the material things of this life mean less and less to me. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1Corinthians 15v19)

As I embark on another journey through the seasons, I also think of the spring, summer, autumn and winter of my own life. Every decade in our lives presents new challenges, particularly where health is concerned but as long as we are alive upon this earth, the Lord expects us to use the passing years to grow in Him, in the knowledge of His Word and in wisdom concerning the issues of this life.

“…When I am weak – then am I strong.” (2Corinthians 12v10) Looking back on the events of the year that is passed, I remember feeling the Lord’s Presence more in the company of one elderly soul in a nursing home, than in any other situation. And I know for certain that the sincere prayer from the lips of this soul spoke so strongly to me and to those around me. In fact I came away from this person with tears in my eyes, feeling such warmth, encouragement and the love of my Saviour surround me.

You may be comparatively young now, but if someday you feel the seasons of your life ebb away, never think that you are now no use to the Lord as you sit there incapacitated. As His child, despite your physical weakness, you are spiritually strong for He shines through you! Your life and witness for the Lord can go from strength to strength as you rest in His Presence, being a wise and essential witness to those you come in contact with, in the glorious knowledge that your heavenly Home is but a breath away.

I thank Him for the valleys, for the hills – and for the mountains, as I face uncertain days through the new and unknown path that lies before me. And I rest in His promises of old… “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15v57)

I praise Him for His goodness to me in days past and as I face unknown challenges in the year ahead, I thank Him that “with God all things are possible!” (Matthew 19v26)

Monday 28th August, 1978 – The Miracle of Saving Grace

August 28, 2017

DSCF8068

This morning I wakened to a beautiful memory – the memory of what took place in my life thirty-nine years ago this very day. Like today it was a Bank Holiday Monday in the U.K. and like today I was feeling a little weary – but my weariness back then was because I had made a long journey the previous day and I was under a great deal of conviction. My little bit of weariness today is because I am thirty-nine years older and I didn’t sleep so well last night! And yet today I feel well and I am optimistic about the future, for I have placed all my tomorrows into His Hands.

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1Cor. 15v19)

On the evening of Monday, 28th August 1978 a light shone into my soul, for it was on that decisive evening that I came to know my Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save my soul.  As I say in my testimony, ‘I asked Him to carry me from darkness into His light’…. and how bright is that light!

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Cor. 4v6)

“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31v3)

“The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” (Psalm 34v22)

Lord, thank you for sustaining me through worries about my children, through the trauma of serious health issues, through bereavement on the death of loved ones… You have been my constant Companion, Confidant, Counsellor and ever Faithful Friend at times when no one else upon the face of this earth could ever understand. My tears of joy or of pain, or my broken heart – You have understood it all. In the darkness of the night I searched for you and I found you and you comforted me. In good times you rejoiced with me.

“The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” (Psalm 34v17-19)

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34v4)

Help me, my Lord, to “measure my days” and never to waste time. Each day, each hour, each minute must count for Thee and each word and action should glorify my Lord and Saviour. As I embark upon the fortieth year in my walk with Thee, lead me in the way that I should take. Lord, I own nothing in this world – all I have and all I am is thine, to use for thy glory and for the extension of thy Kingdom. Lord, teach me to “apply my heart unto wisdom.” Still you are my loving Teacher for even after the deepest work you do in our hearts, we never cease to grow in our walk with You.

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from you own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90v12)

Lord, I praise you for all that is past – and I trust you for all that is to come. “I will love Thee O Lord, my strength.” (Psalm 18v1)

“My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” (Psalm 31v15)

Today I want to thank you my Lord, that through all the rolling years, you have led me by the hand. Through weary ways and golden days, your loving arms have surrounded me in all the changing scenes of life – and I believe that they will continue to do so, gently guiding and teaching me – until some glorious day beyond the clouds… I will meet you face to face. Oh “what a Day that will be… when my Jesus I shall see and I look upon His face – the One who saved me by His grace!”

In the lovely words of Timothy… “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2Timothy 1v12)

“I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me He hath made known,

Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love redeemed me for His own –

But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able

To keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”

 

Link to my testimony: https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/my-testimony/

 

 

 

The Agnostic and the Oranges – a True Story

May 31, 2015

gld1

In recent days my daughter has been planting many different types of fruit: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, tayberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, redcurrants… the list is quite long – and she hopes to plant apples in the autumn. Of course, for the most part, it will be next year before we see these fruit emerge – Lord willing! Many types of other fruit, though, would have a difficult (if not impossible) time growing in our Irish climate… oranges for example. I was thinking of all these different types of lovely fruit (and oranges in particular) when I remembered a true story I had read just recently in one of William A. Weir’s booklets: “Peace Perfect Peace.” (Dr. F.B. Meyer was a famous preacher at the time.) The following true story relates an elderly lady’s faith, an answer to prayer – and an astonished agnostic…

Dr. F. B. Meyer was once crossing the Atlantic. The captain asked him to preach in the saloon on Sunday morning. He spoke on “answered prayer” and gave a number of illustrations. An agnostic was present and someone said to him, “What do you think of Meyer’s sermon?”

“Oh,” he said, “I don’t believe a word of it.”

Dr. Meyer was speaking that afternoon to the passengers in the steerage (second-class) end of the ship. The agnostic picked up two oranges, put them in his pocket and walked over to the meeting.

As he threaded his way in and out amongst the steerage folk, he came across an old lady with silvery hair, her eyes closed in sleep, her head back and her hands open on her lap. He took the two oranges out of his pocket and placed them in her hands, and went on to the meeting. When he came back the old lady was eating one of the oranges. He said to her: “You seem to be enjoying your orange!”

“Yes,” she said, “my Father is very good.”

“Your what? Your father cannot be living.”

“Oh,” she said, “He is very much alive.” He asked what she meant.

“Well,” she replied, “I have been seasick for five days. This morning I longed for an orange. I knew there were some in the saloon, but I wondered how we could get them in the steerage. As I sat here I asked the Lord to send me an orange. I suppose I must have fallen off to sleep, and would you believe it, sir, when I opened my eyes, He had not only sent me one, but He sent me two!”

“Why,” he said, “is that true?”

“Absolutely true,” she said.

The bottom fell out of his agnosticism on the spot. The whole circumstances passed human explanation. God does answer prayer, and He sometimes uses infidels to carry the answer…

 

 

Easter Book Launch of Novel: “Ricky the Runaway”

March 19, 2015

ricky the runaway front_small

Lord willing I hope to launch my fourth book “Ricky the Runaway,” which centres on the adventures of a twelve-year-old boy who runs away from home because of a well-known problem in our society: bullying at school.  The introduction to the novel reads…

“Set in the early twenty-first century, this is a story of how fervent prayer can create the winds of change in lives, blowing them safely to rest in that harbour which is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Each short chapter leaves the reader in suspense as the story moves from one situation to another, exposing many problems which are well known in our world: bullying, the exploitation of migrant workers, parents who are not listening to their children and children who have become a danger to society because of neglect and lack of love, guidance and discipline.

Ricky runs from one danger to another, revealing how ‘running away’ from situations at home, work or school is rarely the answer to our pressing problems. Meanwhile, not one person in his family is left untouched by the power of prayer in the lives of ageing distant grandparents who have become estranged from the family. Even anonymous souls, like a nurse in a hospital corridor, are affected by what is happening in the lives of the family. Written against an Easter background, “Ricky the Runaway” is about finding “that which was lost” and discovering love, forgiveness and lives made new by the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The venue for the launch, which will take place between 3.15pm and around 5.15pm on Monday 30th March, will be Richhill Recreation Centre, in the large committee room. (Disabled access) Parents, children and all interested parties are welcome to drop in anytime (and for as long as they wish) between those hours. Simultaneously I hope to have an Easter bookmark-making craft for anyone interested. (All materials free) Light refreshments are available for all – as well as small Easter eggs for the children while stocks last!

Normally retailing at £6.99, the book will be on special offer of £5 at the launch.

The dedication reads:

“This novel is dedicated to the memory of my beloved parents, Jack Hutchinson (1926-2011) and Ella Hutchinson (1929-2014) of Woodview, near Armagh in Northern Ireland. As parents and grandparents in a million, their gifts of love and encouragement to me are still so real, reaching even beyond the bounds of this life. I feel in my heart that they would have been overjoyed with the knowledge that young people, for whom they had a special affinity, would have been reached in this special way with the love of their Master.”

Acknowledgment: I wish to thank my daughter, Sarah, for her wonderful artwork on the covers of “Ricky the Runaway.”

May the Lord bless the proceedings on Monday 30th March next. I look forward very much, to meeting old friends – and greeting new ones!

ricky the runaway back_small

Testimony of a Dying Catholic Girl

March 10, 2014

2877

3020

“Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…

but with the precious blood of Christ.”

(1Peter 1: 18-19)

 The following tract was recently sent to me by a friend and I have felt led to distribute it locally. It would appear to have been written in a much earlier era but is as relevant today as ever.  In reading it, I also thought on these words with regard to the issue of purgatory: “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

 “Mother,” said a dying girl, “It is hard to die and leave this life.”

“Yes, my dear, and I would gladly give my life for yours, but you have seen the priest, and you have confessed and received absolution and you need not fear.”

“Tis true,” said the dying girl, “I confessed all the sins I could think of, and the priest gave me absolution. But with all that, I shall soon be in purgatory, and you know, dear mother, that you are so very poor that you cannot have masses said for my soul.”

The unhappy mother felt the truth of her words and said: “Yes, my dear child, I am very poor but I’ll work day and night and earn money to get your soul out of purgatory. Do you think your mother could rest until she knew you were delivered from purgatorial pains?”

“Mother, I so often think of my cousin Catherine. She was so happy before she died and she never confessed to a priest nor received absolution, and she did not believe in purgatory, yet she believed she was going straight to heaven.”

“Catherine was a heretic, my child; she was not in the true church. It is better for you to be troubled than to die in error like she did.”

“I often think of the beautiful words she said when she was dying; they were like this Mother:

“When I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death I will fear no evil for Thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

“Tell me, Mother, what did she mean? I have no rod or staff, and oh! I have nothing that comforts me, and I can only think of the flames that await me in purgatory.”

“My dear child, don’t think about it: disease is weakening your spirit. Leave all that to the priest. Try and rest, and don’t think of your cousin Catherine any more.”

“I will try for your sake dear Mother, not to think about it, but I can’t help thinking how much better it would be if we could go straight to heaven when we die, and not go to purgatory at all.”

“People like us do not go straight to heaven. We must follow the way the priest has taught us.”

“But, Mother that way is so difficult, and it frightens me to think that suppose I were there and they could not get me out.”

“Hush my dear child, for if the priest heard all you say, he would surely ask for so many masses that I could never get money enough to have them all said. But here comes your brother; he will talk to you while I go to my work.”

The brother had come some distance to see the dear sister he so much loved. He perceived there was no hope and sitting beside her, he said, “Sister, what were mother and you saying about Cousin Catherine?”

“I was saying how glad I would be if I was as happy as she was. She had not confessed to the priest or received absolution. She said that it was not necessary and that she had no fear.”

“Dear sister, it was because she loved God and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. She had no reason to fear. Jesus Himself spoke to her soul and comforted her by the assurance of His love and of forgiveness of her sins. What need had she of a priest to assure her of all this?”

“What, brother! Are you also a heretic?”

“Sister, do not alarm yourself. I do not deny the truth. I have read the Word of God for myself and I found it so full of love for poor sinners that it has become more precious to me than all the world.”

“Have you then a Bible? How did you procure it? Did you ask the priest for it? Does he know that you have it?”

“No, no! I assure you, I did not ask him for it. I met a Bible reader, and I thought I would like a Bible for myself and I asked for one, and the good man gave it to me and I read it and saw how sinners could be saved. I have found pardon and am happy.”

“Oh! My brother, why did you not come sooner to tell me this? But tell me, brother, quick, is there anything in the Bible about purgatory?”

I have searched from beginning to end of the Book and I could not find one single word about purgatory; the priest knows it is not there, and that is the reason he will not let us read it. I assure you, dear sister, there is but one thing that will make you as happy as Catherine.”

“What is it, brother?” I would give all the world to be sure that my sins are forgiven.”

“It is this,” said the brother as he drew from his pocket the Bible which had been the means of bringing salvation to his soul; and he read:

John 3:16, “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.”

And again he read 1Tim 1:15:

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

And Chapter 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”

He also read: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.”

“Those are beautiful words,” said the dying girl, but how can I know they are for me?”

“But sister, you do not believe I would deceive you?”

“Oh no, dear brother, you were always kind to me.”

“Then will you not have confidence in Jesus who died for you? Listen to what he says to all who, like you, are burdened with their sins and need pardon: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11v28)

“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37)

“Could you think for one moment that Jesus would have suffered half the chastisement and leave us to suffer the other half? That is the teaching of the priest, but not the Word of God. To those who believe in Jesus, death has no terror. O, my sister, look to Jesus, the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. When you leave this world, you will go straight to Him.”

The brother ceased speaking, but blessed and happy were the moments spent with the dying sister, who but a few minutes before was the victim of ignorance and superstition. But blessed be God, the Holy Spirit penetrated the soul of the dying girl and helped her to see by faith, Christ, the Lamb of God, who died to save her.

“Oh, brother now I understand it all, I too, am happy. Jesus has forgiven me my sins and given me peace and joy. Glory to His Name.”

And in that blessed assurance, after a few days of suffering, she left this world to be forever with the Lord in Heaven.

 Joyful News Publications

The Bungalow, Foremass, Lisnaskea, BT92 5FH

3023

“Absent from the Body – Present with the Lord” (2Cor. 5v8)

February 24, 2011

A few days before the end of 2010 my father took a severe stroke. What a shock that was and how my loved ones have rallied around for the seven weeks (to the very day) that he died! How much we shall miss him – especially my mother; yet I have that assurance in my heart that Dad is with His Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. On Saturday 19th February as Dad’s body made its last journey down the tree- lined avenue from his home, it was a beautiful day. New baby shoots were pushing their way up through the soil – the promise of another spring of growth and of the warmth of the sun, after winter’s dark cold sorrow. Yes, I cry as I write this, in the knowledge that I shall never see that dear face, or hear his voice on this earth again but I have such joy in serving my father’s risen Saviour who has given me that ‘peace which passes all understanding.’ Now I must go, in His strength, to proclaim His love for all mankind, for I am aware, more than ever of the brevity of life and of the need for souls to be ready for His coming again. I felt privileged to do the reading from 1Thessalonians 4v13-18 at Dad’s funeral service. With trembling hands I opened at this reading which commences with the words… “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”  

After the long journeys made to his bedside these past seven weeks, I had been feeling drained and yet the Lord gave me the strength to climb the steps to the lectern, to do this reading. Hundreds of faces stared up – something which would leave me quivering under normal circumstances, as I am a naturally shy person, but I was doing this for the Lord – and His servant, my Dad. Afterwards my three daughters hugged me and I was greeted with the words: “Grandad would have been so proud of you.”

The two hymns which rang out that day were: “My Jesus I love thee, I know thou art mine” by W.R. Featherston and “Jesus the Name high over all” by Charles Wesley. I love the final verse of “My Jesus I love thee…”

“In mansions of glory and endless delight

I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright

I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow

If ever I loved thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.”

And I love the final verse of “Jesus the Name high over all…”

“Happy, if with my final breath

I might but gasp His name,

Preach Him to all, and cry in death,

‘Behold, behold the Lamb!”

Outside the church another sea of faces greeted me; some I had not seen since childhood and scarcely knew now. Hands shook mine, old acquaintances embraced me and a world of people from another era of my life floated around. It was almost surreal; I walked as if in a dream with my loved ones behind the funeral cortège, down the village street where I had walked as a child from school. Later at the ‘Orchard cemetery,’ in a lovely rural setting just outside the village of Richhill, my husband and daughters were a comfort as the interment took place. As the coffin was lowered into the grave, the sun suddenly came out in full force, shining strongly and triumphantly through the clouds and I felt embraced by its kindly warmth. How I felt the Lord’s strong Presence and reassurance with me at that moment!

That night my eldest daughter had a dream; she wakened and said to me: “Mum, Grandad is alright. I dreamed that he hugged me and told me not to cry. In the dream he was tall, strong and healthy… and so happy. But when he hugged me, it was as if there was something separating us… ”

“Yes love,” I said, “he is alright. I know that.”

And yes, there is something separating us – the last enemy which is death. Perhaps I will face it some day – and maybe not, but this I know…

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4v16-18)

My prayer is that all who read would trust in the precious Name of my Dad’s Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation!

Link to these hymns: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/m/j/e/mjesusil.htm

http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/j/n/a/jnamhigh.htm

Reaching out with Christian Literature in Balbriggan, North County Dublin

October 24, 2010

I remember seeing this small town for the first time back in the early 1980’s when it was little more than a village with a few extra housing estates under construction. I don’t know what the population was back then, but according to the census in 2006, it had reached 15,559. Today it is estimated that more than 20,000 people live there, many of whom are of African and East European origin. Last week, armed with Christian literature and a burden for souls, I apprehensively set out to reach one estate in particular. It was a cold, dark evening as I rang the first doorbell. No one was in! I found this to be the pattern at quite a few houses, although perhaps people were reluctant to come to the door after dark – especially when they had to climb down a couple of flights of stairs, as this particular estate had narrow three-storey town houses. On these occasions, I pushed a tract into the letterbox. After a time I came to a house which was completely decked out for Halloween – although Halloween at that point was nearly three weeks away! I felt suddenly an evil presence and also very despondent and alone in my endeavours. Here I was trailing around houses where the vast majority of people probably just didn’t want to know. Recent disclosures about the clerical abuse of children in Ireland have resulted in anger, cynicism, apathy – and a reverting to old Pagan ways. Many feel justifiably hurt and furious about the horrific abuse that took place over the decades, but sometimes they look at anyone whom they would view as ‘religious’ with this same cynicism. Despite this, the human soul has a need to worship and some are turning to systems of belief other than Roman Catholicism.

This is where other cults sometimes step in. A Bible study set up by a group in this town is mysteriously unforthcoming about who is running it; I have reason to suspect that these may be ‘Cooneyites.’ My conviction is that any system of belief which has its roots in ‘salvation by works’ as opposed to faith must be termed ‘a cult.’

I thank God for His gifts of freedom and faith – something that is missing from erroneous systems of belief. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36) I do not have to ask permission from anyone before I embark on telling others of the wonders of His love for mankind. He sent His Son to die that people in Balbriggan, in Dublin; in every country, city, town, village, hamlet and tiny homestead in the world might have life – and life that is more abundant. And so those of us who know Him as Saviour must keep our lights burning as we witness to others until the Lord calls or comes to take us Home.

Above is a photograph of Balbriggan lighthouse which reminds me of that hymn: “Let the Lower Lights be burning!” The story behind this hymn by Philip Bliss is that many lives were lost on a ship, all because the man who was supposed to light the lower lights along the shore, failed in his duties. In this allegory, the lighthouse is that Great Light of the gospel, through the Word – while Christians are ‘the lesser lights along the shore.’

Let us never fail to serve Him on the darkest, most depressing nights; in spite of the prevailing cold winds of apathy, cynicism and the threat of ‘spiritual wickedness in high places.’ May the Lord empower all who do so with a clean heart, a bright light, courage – and a love for the souls of this world for whom He died.    

Link to this hymn: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/l/llowerlb.htm