Posts Tagged ‘ireland’

Further Horrific Disclosures of Abuses within Roman Catholicism

June 3, 2018

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If any other organization, political regime or dictator in this world had been guilty of the crimes perpetrated by Roman Catholicism, they would have been tried for war crimes, or had to stand before a court of law a long long time ago. Before the recent disclosure of the disgraceful “adoption” policy here in Ireland, I had coincidentally watched a video involving a young lady of Spanish origin who was trying to find her real parents. Thankfully her adoptive parents in South America (who had no idea that she had been stolen from her mother at birth) were loving and kind to her and she’d had a good life – but it could have been otherwise. In many cases mothers were told that their babies had died at birth but in actual fact these children had been stolen and sold by a criminal ring of nuns and doctors during the Franco dictatorship.

Here in Ireland unmarried mothers in “mother and baby homes” were often forced to sign documents at a time when they were feeling so vulnerable and weak against this cruel system. Subsequently there were falsified birth certificates in order that these children could be trafficked out of the country. In many cases mothers wanted to keep their babies but they were dissuaded from doing so by those who most likely made a profit out of the adoptions.

I have been horrified in the last while to hear of people, often now living in the U.S.A. who discovered that they had three or even four birth certificates! It has been revealed that not all of the children were fortunate enough to end up in good homes and some of the birth mothers who were victims of this evil system had to have psychiatric treatment in the years ahead because of the shock of having their babies stolen from them. Having had three children myself, I can only imagine how those mothers felt.

Child trafficking, slavery and false imprisonment of women, illegal and forced adoptions, falsification of documents and birth certificates, withholding of information to those who wanted to find loved ones, clerical abuse of children, hundreds of babies buried suspiciously in unmarked graves, the horrors of Magdalene laundries and industrial schools, deceit, fraud… the list goes on and on. How sad to see other mainline churches (which once had the truth) so backslidden into apostasy that they want to find “common ground” with this system of belief.

In light of all this abuse, it is ironic too that the hierarchy within Roman Catholicism still believe that they have the authority to order people to attend confession.

Yes, those who sin need to confess their sins – but not to any man upon this earth, whatever their assumed authority. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v9)

“But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.” (Hebrews 7v24-28)

No man upon this earth has the power to forgive sin but praise God “there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2v5&6) it is to Him that souls must come with their burden of sin.

As this latest controversy in our country continues to escalate in the weeks ahead, I am praying that people will have their eyes opened to this evil system of belief that they have put their trust in for many years. As the old saying goes “it’s an ill wind blows nobody good.” I pray that those who know the Lord would use these great opportunities to speak a word in season, so that souls would put their trust in that holy and undefiled High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, “who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of  the truth.” (1Timothy 2v4)

 

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The Pope’s Controversial Visit to Ireland in August 2018

April 20, 2018

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There is no doubt about it; the Ireland of 1979 was vastly different to the Ireland we know today. Between 29th September and 1st October, 1979 Pope John Paul II visited Ireland and by all accounts, received a rapturous welcome from citizens young and old. I remember half of my work colleagues in the office where I worked in Northern Ireland taking the day off to travel south of the border in order to get a glimpse of him. However, back then no one knew what the following decades would reveal in terms of shocking and horrific child abuse carried out by Roman Catholic Priests and nuns – and the historical abuse of women in “Magdalene Laundries.” We were to learn of mass graves at the back of institutions run by Roman Catholic orders, the abuse of little children in “industrial schools” and the fact that babies and young children were used for medical experiments. Many babies and young children were forcibly taken from their mothers and sold to those wanting to adopt in U.S.A. and a great number of mothers would never see their children again. I have heard heart-breaking stories of how mother and child had tried to find each other years later but sometimes it was just too late and one of them had passed away. The aura of secrecy and the withholding of records in the early days certainly didn’t help either.

Many people are justifiable very angry about this and many have understandably abandoned their affiliation to the Roman Catholic system. Unfortunately that spiritual void in their lives has often been replaced by secularism or paganism or some eastern philosophy or one of the many cults pervading society here. That being so, there are still quite a number of “mass goers,” especially amongst the older population and also many “a la carte Catholics” who will pay homage to the system at particular moments in their lives or in the lives of their families.

However, the following words of our Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister) have angered a considerable number of Irish taxpayers. He was making the statement that “while the visit by Pope Francis is not a State visit, it will be treated as such in terms of security measures and cost.” He went on the say: “It is ultimately taxpayers’ money but I believe the majority of taxpayers in the country would want us to meet these costs as it is an historic visit. The vast majority of people will welcome Pope Francis to our country.” Given that the cost of this visit will amount to at least 20 million Euro and Ireland has a health care crises, homelessness and uncompensated victims of abuse, well, I am not so sure if he is in touch with reality…

There will be widely differing reactions to the pope’s visit but the Christian should and must use it as an opportunity. There are expected to be around 3,000 journalists from around the world in Dublin at that time, for the “World Meeting of Families” (held from 22nd – 26th August) which is to coincide with the pope’s visit. (The pope is to arrive on 25th August.) The Taoiseach has also said that “families in all their shapes and forms should be celebrated” and that this will “be relayed to the Vatican.”

As I said, the Ireland of 1979 is vastly different to the one we know today… But the need is still the same. Men, women, boys and girls need to find the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour – something which cannot be achieved by infant baptism, confirmation, participating in the mass, confession to men or penance. Only “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1John 1v7) “The Church” is not a building or an organisation or a denomination but is made up of those souls who have repented and trusted in Him alone for salvation and who are “walking in the light as He is in the light.” If only mankind could see this!

It is all too easy for the Christian (those true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ) to despair when they look at the prevailing circumstances in society but we must look up, always keeping in mind that, in the words of an old hymn, “the sky is our goal – not the grave.”  But before we depart this life or the Lord comes to take us Home, there is work to be done, for it is not His will that any to perish. Yes, He can use those who have committed their lives to Him, however weak and helpless we may feel in the face of this rapidly deteriorating world where “spiritual wickedness in high places” abounds. May the small number of stalwarts who truly know Him, write, witness, speak, reach out in love, distribute tracts – and most of all pray for the salvation of souls before the Lord’s return.

The Mater Hospital, Dublin – and Thoughts on the Hymns of Mrs C.F. Alexander of Eccles Street

March 31, 2018

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Two members of my family have had occasion to spend many hours just recently at both the Mater and the Mater Private; both hospitals beside each other in Eccles Street, Dublin. One day, in the middle of all those lonely worrying hours spent pacing depressing hospital corridors, I took a breath of fresh air on the street outside and suddenly remembered something which lifted me spiritually. Wasn’t it in Eccles Street that one of Ireland’s best known hymn writers was born? Some say she was born at Ballykean House, Redcross, Co. Wicklow, but either way I believe that this lady had links to both these locations.

It is widely believed that Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander (nee Humphreys) was born to Major John and Mrs Humphreys at 25 Eccles Street, Dublin in early April 1818. In fact this year would be the 200th anniversary of her birth! Best known for the lovely hymns she wrote for children like “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and “There is a Green Hill Far Away,” Frances was a prolific writer who wrote verse from a very early age.

As I wondered on that busy troubled street with taxis blaring their horns and ambulance sirens drowning my ears, I passed asylum seekers from troubled parts of the world and homeless people sitting begging on the pavement and I saw a man with one leg wheeling himself swiftly forward…

Two hundred years have passed and the Eccles Street where Frances was born has changed entirely, so much so that 25 Eccles Street, the Humphreys’ old family home, would appear to no longer exist. From what I could see, there was a park there now; a little area of green with a few trees and birds gently singing in the middle of mankind’s mayhem. I remembered Frances’ well known carol “Once in Royal David’s City” and the little hymn about my loving Creator that she used to teach children about creation in her Sunday school…

 

“All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.

 

Each little flow’r that opens,

Each little bird that sings,

He made their glowing colours,

He made their tiny wings.”

 

And I remembered that the hands that designed the petals on the spring flowers and the glowing colours on the feathers of the tiny birds were pierced for me – and for you. How He cares for and loves us and our families – and every needy soul in that street where hearts are burdened with poverty, suffering and a load of care. I thank Him for His Presence and His uplifting Spirit as I walk in this world which is not my home. I thank Him for the memory of the old hymn writers and their faith in the risen Saviour; something which is portrayed in Mrs Alexander’s hymn for little children…

 

“There is a green hill far away,

Without a city wall,

Where the dear Lord was crucified,

Who died to save us all.”

 

He died that we might be forgiven,

He died to make us good,

That we might go at last to heaven,

Saved by His precious blood.”

 

I returned to that hospital ward with a spring in my step, remembering that He is with me all the way… gently leading to Eternal Day. May you know the love of Jesus, the risen Saviour, in your heart today.

 

“Jesus calls us over the tumult

Of our life’s wild, restless sea;

Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,

Saying, “Christian, follow me!”

 

In our joys and in our sorrows,

Days of toil and hours of ease,

Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,

“Christian, love Me more than these.”

(C.F. Alexander 1818-1895)

The “Beast from the East,” Hospital A&E’s … and Strength in the Lord

March 18, 2018

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Ireland, with its temperate climate rarely gets much snow (if any) but the recent severe weather conditions, aptly named “the Beast from the East,” brought storm “Emma” and drifts of 7feet high -perhaps even more in many areas. Even the sea and waterfalls were frozen in some places! For a few days we didn’t venture out, as our local road had high hard-packed snow. All schools, colleges and places of work closed because of the arctic weather conditions. Directly after all of this I was confronted with another type of blizzard – frequent trips to different hospitals with two members of the family. It is at times like this that we really must cast our burdens upon the Lord!

I am very much reminded of an old phrase “the best laid schemes of mice and men,” which has its origin in a verse of Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse” poem written in 1785…

“The best laid schemes of mice and men,

Go often askew,

And leave us nothing

But grief and pain,

For promised joy!”

It is said that the poet was ploughing in the fields and accidentally destroyed a mouse’s nest, which the poor little creature had built for the winter. Robert Burns was so touched by this that his brother claimed that he composed the entire poem while still holding the plough. As I surveyed the fields around our home recently, I felt sorry for any creature trying to survive the blizzards and freezing temperatures and also acknowledged that, really, we cannot make any plans for the future that we can be certain of. The apparent security of the material things we surround ourselves with, like the little field mouse’s nest, can be obliterated in a split second. With all our modern technology, both the weather and many of the circumstances in our lives are beyond our control. We just have no idea what a day will bring forth!

If anyone had told me last year what lay ahead in these first few months of 2018, I would have sighed and said: “You’re not being serious… really?” But the Lord has given me strength and great encouragement in the midst of unpleasant situations.

“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)

He also deepens our faith and we live from moment to moment in His strength, with the assurance that when our lives belong to Him, He is in control – even through seemingly impossible situations. We “are not out of the woods” yet with regard to health issues but I rest in His unfailing love, remembering the little Bible that my father and mother gave me over 40 years ago. Perhaps she was thinking of the unknown future that night, when the Lord guided my mother to write this lovely verse in that Bible: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41v10) It seemed strange to me at the time, for I was young and had little to concern me, but the passing years have brought many reasons to rest on this unfailing promise.

Her now faded handwriting on the old Bible and the love with which she wrote the verse so long ago live on, spurring me on, challenging me, encouraging me to trust her Saviour and mine, in the knowledge that “…He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121v4)

There Is Nothing Covered That Shall Not Be Revealed (Luke 12v2) Thoughts on the Murdered, “the Disappeared” and DNA

February 14, 2018

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It was the following well known story in Genesis that recently led me to think about the above issues… Jacob sends his favourite son, Joseph, to find his brothers who are tending to the flocks. How resentful they are when they see that “coat of many colours” approaching them in the distance! Reuben, the eldest brother, thankfully stops them from murdering him but unfortunately seems unaware when they sell him instead (Gen. 37v29&30) We read how he was sold to some passing Ishmeelites and how they “killed a kid of the goats,” and dipped Joseph’s coat in its blood, so as to give their father the impression that Joseph had been devoured by some “evil beast.”

The story has a happy ending, thankfully, when Joseph is eventually promoted to a position of great authority in Egypt and is able to help his family when surrounding lands are ravaged by famine… and how wonderful that Jacob (or Israel as he is later named) has the joy of being reunited with his missing son and is with him for the last seventeen years of his life. (Genesis 47v28)

In Genesis 48v11, after Jacob meets Joseph’s sons we are reminded that God is able to do abundantly more than we ask or think! “And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.”

Still, he must have been heartbroken all those years ago when that coat was returned covered in blood. As a parent, I can completely understand how he must have felt and yet, in this case, all would be revealed and it really did turn out well in the end!

After reading this account in Genesis my train of thought immediately switched to terrible events in my own country and how the advent of DNA has been a major factor in the solving of crimes. In those days there may well have been some non- scientific method of telling the difference between human and animal blood but at the time Jacob sadly believed that the blood was Joseph’s.

There are many “firsts” in Genesis; from very creation itself, with the first man, the first woman, the first sin – and the first murder. Sadly our world has been the scene of perhaps billions of murders since Cain murdered Abel. Today, in my own small country murder is very common, including those tit-for-tat shootings between drug-dealing gangland factions. And there are still numerous missing people, presumed dead at this stage. I know of many young people who have disappeared all over Ireland, apparently without trace; books have been written profiling them all and the circumstances surrounding their disappearances. How heart-breaking for their loved ones and parents!

In the case of Joseph’s disappearance, all was revealed after famine struck and the brothers travelled for “corn in Egypt.” The Lord had protected Joseph from evil and worked all things together for good for everyone concerned. In the days in which we live, however, there are few happy endings where the disappeared are concerned. To discover the victim of a murder is horrendous enough but when someone has no idea where their loved one is after many years, is heart wrenching in itself. They cannot mourn properly and there is always that small glimmer of hope, which some have to the very end of their lives.

But “there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed!” In this life, crimes may be hidden from the forces of law and order – but the Lord knows exactly who is responsible for the disappearance of that young woman in Tullamore or the little boy who disappeared while walking back to his Dublin school in 1986, or that little girl who disappeared while on holidays in Portugal, or Ireland’s youngest and (longest) missing person, little Mary Boyle, who disappeared on March 18th 1977 and whose case is currently being investigated once more. And He also knows about who is responsible for “the disappeared” in the realm of Ireland’s political conflict.

I am so thankful that someday justice will be done when Jesus returns. “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” (Ecclesiastes 3v17) A murderer may correctly believe that no one else on earth knows – but the Lord sees and knows everything in this world.  Meanwhile, in this the Day of Grace, whether your crime is great or small, there is forgiveness with God, if not with men.

In the case of Joseph and his family there was forgiveness with God and men. Eventually his brothers saw how the Lord had blessed Joseph and forgiveness was the order of the day between everyone concerned. “And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.” (Genesis 50v17) The Lord had given Joseph a love in his heart for his brothers, despite their treatment of him and so he forgave them and they also were reconciled to him and could see God’s hand in it all. He said to them: “Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” (Genesis 50v21)

The Lord knows our hearts like no one else can ever do and His desire is for mankind to confess and admit their sinful state before Him and then to repent of it and let Him cleanse them from all unrighteousness.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v9)

In Ireland there is no death penalty, the last person being executed here in 1954 – but many regions of the world still uphold the death penalty which is seen as a deterrent. Certainly, the manner of our death is something that anyone would naturally fear and the innocent have been wrongly hanged in the past. But Jesus said: “… 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)

Praise God, there is a remedy for sin in this dark world “because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.” (1John 2v8)

The Lord Jesus said: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12v46)

But time is running out, in this the Day of Grace and decision. I pray that, in these spiritually black and sinful days, men would see that “true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1v9) That Light that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and so many others who loved Him – saw, by faith.

Words of Love, Hope and Comfort, Especially For You

January 29, 2018

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This is a simple little tract that I wrote just this week, with elderly folk in mind. I used a ‘14’ font, however, as many readers in this age-group may have failing eyesight and I didn’t use any terminology which would confuse the reader. I wish to dedicate it to Evelyn Taylor, a lady who passed away just last Thursday, having almost reached her 90th birthday. Evelyn, like me, loved the King James Version of the Bible and she also loved to sing the Psalms set to music; Psalms 23, 40 and 121 were sung at her funeral. Evelyn’s brother John was married to a member of the Mitchell family whom my parents used to visit many years ago. I have lovely memories of us all being invited back to the Mitchell’s large old farmhouse, after a meeting in Camagh Mission Hall in south Armagh. There, Mrs Mitchell would have a long table set for us, with a delicious supper!

I have great respect for folks who were born in Evelyn’s era as I associate them with better times in the spiritual realm. An even older friend, the evangelist John Dickson, from Banbridge has left this scene of time some years ago now, but I can always remember him indicating that quite a few elderly people in the nursing homes he visited had asked Jesus into their hearts. I believe that just because people are in the twilight of their lives, doesn’t mean that they are past being able to change spiritually. Even after a lifetime of being steeped in Roman Catholicism, I believe that “with God all things are possible,” where reaching the elderly (or indeed anyone) is concerned.

With an ever aging population, nursing homes are very crowded throughout Ireland and so this is a great mission field in itself. I pray that the Lord will use this little (modified to A5) booklet for His glory…

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As the years go by we often reminisce on how things were when we were younger than we are today. We may recall walking, cycling and perhaps even running, our hearts full of the joy of youth’s spring.

These days we experience many pains and aches and we certainly aren’t as mobile as we once were! Life can sometimes be a struggle and we are weary of having to take medication with the dawn of each new day.

Still, each new day is also a gift to us from Someone who loves us more than anyone in this world ever will. He understands our weariness, our pain and our frustration at not being able to perform the tasks that we once did. He understands that we may feel depressed and alone in the face of it all and that we may fear what the future holds for us.

The wonderful thing is this: we may not know what the future holds for us but this Person who loves us more than anyone does know!

He knows everything about us and He knows exactly how you are feeling at this very moment!

The Bible says: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4v15)

So who is this “great High Priest?” The Bible speaks of Him in Hebrews 7v19&20: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Mel-chis-ed-ec.”

The Lord Jesus Christ is the One who loves and understands you more than anyone in this world ever can – and it is to Him that we must look in our hour of need – whatever that need is.

Jesus understands our pain, loneliness and isolation because in His life as a man upon this earth, He experienced all of this – and much more. The Bible also tells us that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and men. No other person who ever lived upon this earth can save us or speak to God on our behalf.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2v5&6)

This Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, lived as a perfect sinless man upon this earth and then He gave His life for the whole world. “And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2)

Jesus says: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28) You may still experience pain but He will find a way for you… just trust in Him today. He wants you to confess the sins of the past to Him alone, to repent and to place your future into His hands. He wants to be your Saviour, your Guide, your Friend and your Counsellor.

He knows you and He loves you deeply; His will is that you spend all of eternity with Him in Heaven, where pain and suffering are no more. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Rev. 21v4) Jesus said: “…him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37)

 

“The Love of Money is the Root of all Evil”

June 26, 2017

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“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1Timothy 6v10)

Other versions such as the NIV translate this as: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” or “the root of all kinds of evil.” However, I stand by the King James Version and its translation. Ultimately, this verse makes it clear that all evil, although it may not be immediately apparent, can be traced back to this evil root: mankind’s love of money. Today my Bible study brought to mind the specific evil of idolatry…

I have been reading of Paul’s fascinating journeys in territory which would be highly dangerous to travel through in today’s world. Nevertheless, in those days before the advent of Islam, there was the “great goddess Diana whom all the world worshipped” (Acts 19) and who “brought no small gain unto the craftsmen,” (V24). Back then anyone who preached the gospel would have been in danger, just as Paul was. The reason for this was obvious: great profits were to be made from the sale of silver shrines of “Diana” and no craftsman likes to see his livelihood in peril! In fact today, as then, the love of money in itself can be a source of idolatry.

“Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone in Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.” (Acts 19v26&27)

It is interesting to make the comparison with idolatry then and Roman Catholicism today. I see that the Pope wishes to visit Ireland next year (2018) and I believe that there are many reasons for this, not least a report that there is great disillusionment here with the Roman Catholic Church, with numbers of people leaving it faster than ever before. But superstition still abounds. Take for example the village of Ballinspittle in Cork where “the moving statues” phenomenon has brought in tourism and prospered small businesses since 1985 when so called “moving statues of the Virgin Mary” were first observed. Imagine what the “fall of Roman Catholicism” would mean for just one small village – and if it happened all across the world what it would mean for the Vatican in financial terms!

Silversmiths like Demetrius in Acts 19v24, statue- makers and those travelling with “relics” of saints would be at a financial loss, while locations all over the world from Medjugorje in Bosnia to Tapao in Vietnam would lose out on tourism, if crowds no longer travelled to see places where there was supposed to be “apparitions” of the Virgin Mary etc. Shrines and statues as objects of worship would be no more, if many turned to the living God as in Paul’s day, when “mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19v20)

“Sirs,” said Demetrius the silversmith to his colleagues in business, “ye know that by this craft we have made our wealth.” Demetrius, as with all who think only on the affairs of this world, clearly had no concept of this truth: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8v36&37)

Later we read of another “Demetrius” in 3John 1v12 and this Demetrius was a disciple. I would like to think that this Demetrius was the same one, this time, converted – but unfortunately there is no evidence for this either way. Eternity will reveal many things and perhaps, too, many pleasant surprises…

There is nothing more precious in this world than the value of your soul; perhaps it needs attention today, whatever your standing in society, or your church or denomination. It may not be well with your wealth or even, worryingly, with your health – but is it “well with your soul?”

As Paul travelled, contending with dangerous “crowd mentality,” vicious opposition, beatings, persecution, imprisonment – and eventually death (although we are not told the manner of his death), he said: “neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy…” Acts 20v24. When his fellow believers feared for his safety, they “besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.” (Acts 21v12) But Paul answered: “What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (V.13)

The proposed visit of the Pope next year should be viewed by those who have been born again as an opportunity. There may be many protests from ex-Catholics who are angry about child abuse and other issues, while pious clergy, church dignitaries and ordinary people will line the streets but this is an opportunity for tract distribution and outreach as the Lord leads, so that eyes would be opened, just as Paul’s were, after acknowledging blindness on the Damascus Road. If the Lord can work in the life of Paul, transforming him from being a persecutor of the church – to someone who was an outstanding apostle, He can perform this same miracle in many lives.

Oh that the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ Saviour today would be able to say with the apostle Paul: “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men” (Acts 20v26)

The believer must aspire to nothing less than these words of Paul (for whom material possessions and riches meant nothing)…. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Philippians 3v8)

My Recent Visits to Five Castles and Thoughts on a “Fortress for the Soul”

June 10, 2017

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In the last couple of months, I have had occasion to visit five old Irish castles, for one reason or another and it never ceases to fascinate me how these fortifications are still standing at all after hundreds of years! By the way, there is little difference between fortresses and castles, since both are “fortifications,” although castles may have been more comfortable to live in!

At the end of April we stayed close to Ballybunion Castle by the Atlantic Ocean in County Kerry when we visited that lovely lady, the ex-nun, Peggy O’Neill. Built around the dawn of the 1500’s, if Ballybunion Castle could talk it would tell us of ancient battles, sieges and power struggles over the centuries. On the way home we stopped to take a photograph of Desmond Castle by the pretty village of Adare with its thatched cottages in County Limerick. Beautifully reflected in the River Maigue, this castle (see the second one above) was built in the early part of the 1300’s and again was witness to turbulent struggles for hundreds of years.

A week later I had to travel over to Trim Castle with a delivery of my first book – “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year,” for Trim Visitor Centre. Trim Castle is impressively large and medieval (12th century), standing by the River Boyne in the historical town of Trim in County Meath. Some days later I had a call from my aunt who (although approaching 88!) loves to travel and takes a great interest in history. “I’ll meet you at Tullynally Castle in County Westmeath, as I hope to travel there with the Historical Society,” she said. Unlike the others this castle is not at all in ruins and is actually still lived in, being a home to the Pakenham family for over 350 years. I took a photograph of it (above) with gathering clouds in the evening.

Soon after this we had a family reunion and picnic in the grounds of the more recent lovely Ardgillan Castle (built in 1738) which overlooks the Irish Sea in north County Dublin. Like Tullynally Castle, this one is not in ruins and is currently used for events at all times of the year. Older castles were often built by rivers or the sea and always strategically so as to afford protection from the enemy. Moats and drawbridges were a common sight at medieval castles and when the enemy would come to invade; the drawbridge would be taken up to bar their entry.

Castles are mentioned throughout the Bible; we read in 2Chronicles 17v12 “And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.” Castles were a sign of power and enormous wealth; to attack a castle one would have needed to be accompanied by a very great army indeed! In these dangerous days of random terrorist attacks I have been thinking of that verse in Isaiah 59vv19: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.”

The only hope for safety in our times is in our Fortress, the Holy One of Israel… the One of whom David said: “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. We may not have the equivalent riches of the great lords and kings of old – but our riches are not of this world and while the fortresses of olden days will someday fall to ruins and eventually scattered ancient stones, our Fortress is an Everlasting One which cannot ever be moved. Our armour is a spiritual one and the Force that defends us has already won the battle. We already have the victory – if we have put our trust in His finished work at Calvary! Our riches in Him are beyond compare.

Who knows what future events will occur in our times, with regard to the current enemies of civilised society? Today the enemy is not as obvious as in days of old; he doesn’t wear the uniform of an invading army and he walks our streets with thoughts in his head that no one knows… When he attacks, it is without warning and sometimes there is no place to hide our physical bodies.

But there is a sure place to hide for the soul of mankind. There is a refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us and if we have repented and are trusting in Him with all our hearts, “walking in the light as he is in the light,” He is our sure refuge for time and eternity… a rich and Everlasting Fortress for the soul. His will is that all should put their trust in Him today, for He loves you and paid the ultimate price to make you His own.

“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)

LINK TO HYMN: “A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD” (BY MARTIN LUTHER: 1483 – 1546):

That Word above all earthly powers,

No thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Thru Him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also –

The body they may kill:

God’s truth abideth still:

His Kingdom is forever!

 

Church of Ireland Archbishop’s Controversial Participation at the “Beatification” of Jesuit Priest, John Sullivan (1861-1933)

May 16, 2017

On Saturday, 13th May last the first beatification ceremony ever on Irish soil took place and I was dismayed (but not surprised) to learn that the Church of Ireland Archbishop officiated alongside the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin at this ceremony.

The candidate for beatification, John Sullivan, born on 8th May 1861 at 41 Eccles Street in Dublin was one of five children born to Sir Edward Sullivan (a member of the Church of Ireland and later Lord Chancellor of Ireland) and Elizabeth Bailey, a Roman Catholic from a prominent land-owning household in Passage West.  It is reported that he was raised in the Church of Ireland but later converted to Catholicism in 1896, aged 35.

Much that is positive has been recorded about this man, as indeed it has about other notable men and women down through history – but the eternal destination of their souls is something over which only Almighty God has control. God’s Word tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3v23) so how can mortal man have some sort of role in the “promotion” of a soul which has departed this life?

In this, the year of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, it is very disturbing to see how ecumenism has eaten into the fabric of many mainline denominations, which would once have stood firmly for the great truths of God’s Word, the Holy Bible; truths for which men and women suffered and died at the stake.

I have previously written about beatification in my blog: “Why Beatification is Blasphemous & Contrary to Scripture,” on 2nd May, 2011 and now it is with sadness that I learn of this very recent event.  As I have previously said:

“There is absolutely no scriptural foundation for the notion that men (whatever position they have been elected to) have the power to decide the destiny of a soul who has passed into eternity. Hebrews 9v27 tells me that “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…” Who judges us? Surely only God has the power to decide my spiritual standing, or yours – or that of any pope who has ever walked this earth? According to the Roman Catholic Church, “beatification is the last step on the road to sainthood.” How contrary to scripture this is, for whenever I read of ‘saints’ in the New Testament, they are indeed living followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example Paul writes to the living not to the dead in Ephesians 1v1… “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus,” and “to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:” (Philippians 1v1.) The saints then (and today!) are ordinary men and women who have come by faith to a living relationship with the Lord.

The fact is… only saints can enter heaven! In Jude 14 we read that Enoch prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.”

John 1v12&13 tells me that … “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Saints are therefore born by the will of God and not by the will of men – and although their bodies die, they live on in the spirit and are elevated to heaven; not by the will of man, but by God the Creator, Saviour and indwelling Holy Spirit of all who come to Him in repentance and faith in His finished work for them at Calvary.

My prayer is that souls would come to see the “spiritual wickedness in high places” and these “doctrines of devils” that are prevalent in such ceremonies as beatification. The Bible tells me that the “love of money is the root of all evil” and I am inclined to think that prayers for the dead, relics, beatification and great ceremonies in the Vatican and other locations bring in much needed finance at times like this.

May my Lord and Saviour speak to those souls who are sincerely searching for truth and questioning the validity of such practices, beliefs and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church. Oh that they would see clearly the simplicity and wonder of this truth… that sainthood is totally God’s will for each one of us and that this has been made possible for us here and now in this life – by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ… “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins…” (Colossians 1v14

A Wonderful Meeting with Peggy O’Neill Who Found The Truth, After Fifty Years As A Nun!

May 13, 2017

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On the May Bank Holiday weekend last my husband and I embarked on a four hour journey to the south west of Ireland. What a journey that was – but how rewarding the outcome! Years ago I had read this lady’s testimony in tract form and also her story is one of twenty in a book called: “The Truth Set us Free: Twenty Former Nuns Tell Their Stories,” by Richard Bennett & Mary Hertel.” Somehow I had always wanted to meet Peggy… This desire intensified when an acquaintance asked me did I know anything about her or her whereabouts now. This person told me that Peggy was in the process of writing to the Pope and cardinals at the time (she had met her in 2013) and that behind her home were all the verses of the fruits of the Spirit… painted on planks.

Having approached all the people I thought might have known and ‘drawn a blank’, I eventually contacted members of a local Christian Fellowship in the area who were able to tell me. This was before Christmas last year and at the time I was dismayed to hear that Peggy was critically ill. I prayed very much for her then, still with this great desire in my heart to meet her. I later learned that Peggy had recovered from that illness. My prayers (and I am certain, the prayers of others) had been answered!

Well, on the afternoon of Saturday 29th April after a long drive, more prayers were answered when I had the great joy of meeting Peggy for the first time ever! She is now 96, bedridden for the most part and in a nursing home but there is an amazing brightness about her which clearly comes from knowing the Lord – this dear elderly lady is truly unique. Her face lit up when I showed her my big Bible and she hugged her testimony tract, which I know is so precious to her. Although missing her right eye from a fall some years ago and although frail with all the pains and aches that accompany someone who is not far from 100, she is so content with a beautiful, peaceful spirit – something which only those who know the Lord’s Presence in their lives can truly experience.

Here is a very short summary of her testimony – which can be viewed online in several locations by googling “The Testimony of Peggy O’Neill.”  Peggy was born in 1921, in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry, one of a large family who were raised Catholic. At school she notes that she was “well grounded in Catholic doctrine” and that in her local convent school many of her teachers were nuns. Having viewed life as a nun as “being the highest calling for any woman,” she later took her vows and maintains that “during my fifty years as a nun, regardless of the inevitable ups and downs of life, I was very happy. Happy to believe that I was following what I then thought was my God-given vocation. The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience I had made were meant to be perpetual and final.”

Then in 1989, her nephew (Tom) came home from England with what she terms “an interest in the Bible.” “He also said that he had left the Catholic Church.” Greatly concerned about this, Peggy decided to investigate for herself and discovered, to her shock, that “not only were there additions, but also some Catholic doctrines even contradicted the Bible.”

She states in her testimony: “Today there are thousands of false religions in the world and every religion, including Catholicism, has devised a different gospel. A church stands or falls by the Gospel it preaches, and at the age of 70 I had no option but to leave the church, which for so long I had greatly trusted.” She goes on to say: “for me there is only One Saviour and One Mediator, The Lord Jesus Christ.” Peggy states that after 50 years of serving as a nun (from ages 20-70) in the Catholic Church “I came to this profound realisation, and put my whole faith and trust in the saving work of Christ.”

That weekend my husband and I stayed in the town of Ballybunion, the place where Peggy’s life had begun in 1921. From our room we had a lovely view of the sparkling waves of the Atlantic Ocean as they washed in on the Blue Flag beach and on the last evening, as we walked along the shore, watching the last rays of the setting sun on the sea, I thought on the goodness of our Heavenly Father and Creator – and on my loving, lovely friend Peggy, who says in her tract: “I thank my Father who loved me so much that He sent His only beloved Son Jesus to save me. I thank Him my dear Redeemer who even now is interceding for me as my High Priest, and who will soon return to take me home to Heaven where I will shine like the sun and praise Him for all eternity.”

Over those three days we had the joy of visiting Peggy each day: on our way to Ballybunion, on Sunday afternoon – and by the Monday morning she had grown accustomed to our visits and was so overjoyed to see us. I felt a great closeness between us and the Lord’s Presence with us as we read and prayed with her. She has a pleasant view of some trees blowing in the wind by her little room in the nursing home. I remarked on this and on the beauty of the sunny countryside outside, to which she smilingly nodded in agreement. “But,” I said quietly, Heaven will be even better than this – and, of course we won’t have all our present human ailments…”

Heaven will be even more amazingly beautiful than the most stunning scenes of nature in this world. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Corinthians 2v9) And this is the Lord’s will for each person in the universe, if they would only but trust Him! (“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1John 2v2)

I praise the Lord that this lovely lady has, as she says “abandoned all other means and mediators and put her faith in Christ alone;” I pray that the Lord will assist me to share her story with loved ones, friends, neighbours and, yes, even with those I meet quite by chance. As I gave Peggy, my dear sister in the Lord, a hug before we left, I knew that this is what she would want, to the glory of our Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.