Posts Tagged ‘france’

On This Day Two Hundred Years Ago…

April 27, 2016

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A little girl named Mary Jane Deck was born to John Deck (a postmaster in Bury St. Edmunds) and his wife. (The Deck’s ancestors were Huguenots who had previously fled France because of persecution.) I was unable to find out her first name but it has been recorded that this little girl’s mother, Mrs Deck, was “a praying woman.” Here was a lady who held the spiritual welfare of her children in higher esteem than anything else in life and here was a lady who had the marvellous joy of seeing all of her eight children led to the Lord and their lives consecrated in His service.

Within that family, the eldest son, James George Deck (1807-1884) was a well-known hymn writer, while his much younger sister Mary Jane (1816-1878) was writing poems and hymns from a very early age. Today, 27th April 2016, on the two-hundredth anniversary of her birth I think of how this little girl was inspired to write so many beautiful poems and hymns in her life – words which would be blessing to others long after her passing.  Her hymn, “The wanderer no more will roam” is one of those lovely compositions…

“The wanderer no more will roam,

The lost one to the fold hath come,

The prodigal is welcomed home,

O Lamb of God, in Thee!”

This is just the first verse of this seven-versed hymn, expressing the experience of the prodigal returning to the Father from ‘a far country.’

Indeed, sin has the potential to lead to a ‘far country,’ in the spiritual sense. How many have had the experience of wasting their “substance with riotous living” (Luke 15v13). Poverty stricken, they feel that they are unworthy even to return to the Father. They are in a ‘far country’ because they have distanced themselves from Him – but He (unlike many an earthly father) is still there for as long as this Day of Grace remains, waiting with outstretched arms; even when the prodigal makes those first tentative steps towards the Father, He has great love for him, running with compassion towards him and as the lovely Bible story tells us “he fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Verse 20)

I love the words of Verse 24: “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” These words can also apply to backsliders (and indeed others who have never trusted the Lord at any time) who come to the Father down through the ages. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2v1) Praise God, the spiritually dead can be made alive… “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2v13)

As I read the words of Mary Jane (married name “Walker”), I can see clearly that spiritual parallel she sketches, with regard to the prodigal son…

“Though clothed in rags, by sin defiled,

The Father hath embraced His child;

And I am pardoned, reconciled,

O Lamb of God, in Thee!

It is the Father’s joy to bless,

His love provides for me a dress,

A robe of spotless righteousness,

O lamb of God in Thee!”

Two hundred years ago today the life of a future hymn writer began, when Mary Jane was born into an already big family! But today I think of her mother, Mrs Deck and how she fervently prayed for her eight children. It is possible that her name is not recorded anywhere, except perhaps in some genealogy records which are only of interest to those who are her descendants. But by all accounts she was one of many loving mothers through the ages who have had a tremendous burden for the salvation of their children. Not one of the Deck children was born a Christian and who knows truly what their lives consisted of prior to the time when each one in turn came to be “pardoned, reconciled, O Lamb of God, in Thee.”

From reading the background to the Deck family history, I believe that both parents of Mary Jane prayed fervently for their children and praise God – they saw the fruit of those prayers. How wonderful to meet these dear souls in heaven and share how you read their story two hundred years later! Oh that the final words of Mary Jane Walker’s hymn would be ours – and those of our loved ones…

“Yea, in the fullness of His grace,

He puts me in the children’s place,

Where I shall gaze upon His face,

O Lamb of God, in Thee!

I cannot half His love express,

Yet, Lord, with joy my lips confess,

This blessed portion I possess,

O Lamb of God, in Thee!

And when I in Thy likeness shine,

The glory and the praise be Thine,

That everlasting joy is mine,

O Lamb of God in Thee!”

 

 

 

How safe is Your Holiday or Business Destination this Summer?

June 29, 2015

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As recent terror attacks in three continents continue to send shock waves around the world, many people are now wondering whether to cancel their summer holiday – particularly if it happens to be in Tunisia. Horrific scenes have emerged in the last few days; of tourists, including young children running for their lives on a Tunisian beach; of rising casualties in a Shia mosque in Kuwait and of an explosion in a chemical plant near Lyon where a man beheaded his boss…

Elsewhere many areas of the world are in complete turmoil. Refugees and migrants fleeing war, poverty and persecution are floating in the open seas in rubber dinghies and little wooden boats which were never meant to hold the number of people that have been packed unto them. We see images of men, women and children being washed ashore on Greek islands – where the locals are barely able to provide for the needs of their own families.

On a personal level, my husband is to participate in a conference in the Greek island of Zakynthos next month but Greece, we fear, is on the brink of a humanitarian crises. School teachers in Athens have complained that young children are under-nourished and some are even fainting because they have not eaten in a couple of days. In the countryside at least, people it appears are able to grow fruit and vegetables, keep hens for eggs and goats to milk and make goat’s cheese from. However, I have to admit that I am a little apprehensive about our proposed trip to this lovely green island which the Venetians once named “the flower of the east.”

It was here, on this third largest of the Ionian Islands that dozens of terrified Afghan and Iraqi Kurdish refugees washed in to shore just recently, because they were unable to make it to the coasts of Italy. So what awaits any traveller this summer, having reached their destination – financial chaos, refugees on the beach – or worse still… a gunman on the beach?

Yes, it appears that even Greece is on the map of “tourist area hotspots with terror threat level” issued by the foreign office. On the red alert “high threat” list are France, Spain, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Turkey – and now Tunisia of course. Italy, Greece and Morocco are classified under “general threat,” while Portugal, Croatia and Bulgaria are listed under “underlying threat”.

“Oh, just stay at home,” some sigh… “Let’s face it, the world is just not safe out there anymore!”

‘But is it even safe at home?’ I ask myself. If someone had asked an 82 year-old British grandmother ‘did she think she would ever be beheaded in her own back garden?’ I’m sure that she would never have dreamt of such a horror – but this happened not so very long ago.

In an uncertain world, we brace ourselves for tomorrow’s news… but there is a happy band of people in this world who can claim these lovely words and apply them to any situation that they find ourselves in… “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; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Se-lah.” (Psalm 46v1-3)

Can you claim to feel a genuine peace when you hear these words? Whether it is financial unrest, wars, rumours of war, persecution; violence in the forces of nature, sickness or even death – if the Lord has control of all of your life, you have nothing to fear – either here or in the world to come. Of course pain, bereavement, anguish, or having to face up to our own death is horrendously hard to bear but thank God for the Lord Jesus Christ who loves us and wants to be our Burden-Bearer. He said: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)

But He also said: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10v28)

And so, in an uncertain world, it is essential to be certain of this one thing – that the Lord Jesus Christ reigns supreme in your life.

If it is that you fear an uncertain eternity, it is not His will that you continue to live in this unhappy state. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5v8)

The Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died for your sins because he loved you and wants you to have an assurance of sins forgiven in this life – and a deep peace in your heart that you will spend eternity in heaven with Him. All He asks is that you repent and put your trust in Him today. Remember – tomorrow may be too late… for all our tomorrows on this earth are becoming increasingly uncertain. There is nothing comparable to the joy of feeling His Presence with you as you face into each new day. Oh that you would be one of that happy band who can honestly say…“For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48v14)

May the Lord bless these words to whoever reads them.

Happy New Year?

January 8, 2015

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I certainly hope so! A Happy New Year is what I sincerely wish for everyone who reads this… but who knows? The Bible says: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow: for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27v1) Indeed, knowing how it is with the terrible unrest in this world, we brace ourselves in the knowledge that just about any evil can be perpetrated.

Today I have been hearing about the recent Paris shootings from my daughter who works a short distance from the area where they took place. How my heart goes out to the loved ones and friends of those who were murdered, some of whom were police officers. Yes, who knows “what a day may bring forth?”

Shortly before Christmas my dear Mum passed away on 13th December. I was just starting to come to terms with this terrible loss when suddenly we received the news that my husband’s Dad, of whom I was very fond, had also passed away. My children have witnessed the funerals of two of their grandparents – one on 16th December and the other just eight days later, on Christmas Eve… And this past year I have also had to face up to other negative news concerning my health, having had a third operation.

I often wondered how on earth I could ever cope with the loss of my mother – but I have! How can this be so and how can I have lived through such a traumatic time over these last few weeks, with whole nights spent without sleep? The answer is… I could not possibly have coped if I had not been leaning on the Lord and His great power to carry me through.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46v1

He has helped me to cope physically and He has helped me to remain calm when faced by some very distressing circumstances.

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

I met an acquaintance (a Christian) locally one day while shopping and I told her about Mum.

“Oh, but your mother knew the Lord didn’t she?” she said cheerfully.

“Yes, but I miss her so much…”

“Oh, Elizabeth…” she said warmly, “she’s gone just a little while before you. You’ll see her again!”

“Yes, yes… you’re right of course. That’s true…”

Somehow those cheerful words put a spring in my step and I continued on my way, much encouraged on that dark December day after her funeral. Yes, in just a little while I will see her again. Recently, too, I also remembered Mum’s words to me… “Don’t worry about me love… if I’m not here some day, you’ll know where I am…”

What a glorious wonder… to see the face of our Redeemer, our Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Meanwhile I will go in His strength, sowing the seed, distributing her testimonies – and that of my Dad who passed away just three years ago.

And I am ready to reach others in whatever way the Lord will direct me, until the Lord’s return – or His home call to me. Who knows, indeed, what a day may bring forth (never mind a year) in this uncertain and dangerous world we live in?

To those who know Him… “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalm 46v11)

What a wonderful Saviour, Redeemer, Comforter, Confidant and Friend to have as we launch into the year ahead – whether its waters are troubled or smooth.

Whoever you are, yes, I do wish you have a happy year ahead but who knows? And even when everything is going our way, without the Saviour life is really meaningless. Furthermore none of us are immune from unhappy events in this world, whatever our profession of faith… but His grace is greater!

If you have never done so – trust Him now to forgive you your sins and to shoulder your burdens and heartaches – and He will deal with them all, for He died that you might have life and have it more abundantly and then, even when the low times come knocking at your door, He will carry you through and you can claim these words for your own…

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8v38&39)

 

 

For God So Loved the People of France, that He gave His only Begotten Son…

December 3, 2014

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“Car Dieu a tant aimé le monde qu’il a donné son Fils unique, afin que quiconque croit en lui ne périsse point, mais qu’il ait la vie éternelle.” (John 3v16)

As my daughter has been in France for a while now, I have been studying with interest the current state of religion in this country. When travelling I like to take the opportunity to distribute my handcrafted “John 3v16” bookmarks, as well as tracts in the language of the country, where possible. Wikopedia informs me that “France is a country where freedom of religion and freedom of thought are guaranteed by virtue of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The Republic is based on the principle of laïcité (or “freedom of conscience”) enforced by the 1880s Jules Ferry laws and the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State. Roman Catholicism, the religion of the majority of French people, is no longer the state religion that it was before the 1789 Revolution and throughout the various, non-republican regimes of the 19th century (the Restoration, the July Monarchy and the Second French Empire).”

To the visitor France would appear to be a most secular country these days but although Roman Catholicism is the religion of the nominal Christian majority, Islam is fast catching up, with converts to Islam said to number as many as 200,000, while most of the immigrant population in France are Muslim. By 2011 there were 2000 mosques in France; today the number is steadily growing and it is reported that Muslims in France have the highest percentage in the population when compared with all other European countries.

In Marseilles, where my daughter lived for some time, nearly half of the population are now Muslim immigrants and unfortunately violence, riots and other serious crime have taken their toll here, just as recent riots and car burnings in Paris have created similar chaos.

There are many other religions and cults in France, with Jehovah’s Witnesses being high on the list of the main small religious minorities. However, as is the case in many countries throughout the world, sound Evangelical Christian fellowships and churches are sadly few and far between.

Today the residents of France (whether immigrant or native) desperately need to know the Lord as Saviour. It is reported that 80% of French people have never owned or even seen a Bible

Please pray for the people of France, that country where Huguenots took their stand all those years ago. In what is known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, during the period of 24th August – 3rd October 1572, Roman Catholics killed thousands of Huguenots in Paris, while many massacres took place in other towns and cities such as Bordeaux, Bourges, Lyon, Rouen and Toulouse. Many Huguenots escaped to the British Isles, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Dutch Republic, South Africa and North America and today their descendants can trace their roots back to those early days in France.

For Christians visiting the country it is good to have in your possession some Christian literature or tracts in the French language. The message to the French people as to the rest of the world is clear:

“Ils dirent: crois au Seigneur Jėsus-Christ; et tu seras sauvé, toi et la maison.” (Acts 16v31)

(“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”)

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