Posts Tagged ‘ireland’

Neither Saint nor Sinner

April 18, 2019

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St. Peter’s old tin country Church of Ireland, beside a river and the picturesque area of Laragh in south Monaghan was probably originally built around the same era as a very old book I’ve been reading was published. Memories of walking down the steps here reminded me of a certain true little story. I was given “One Thousand Tales worth Telling” (well over 100 years old) as a gift and find its true, very short stories just fascinating as each one has an associated scripture text. In these days of ecumenism, secularism and apostasy, it is rare to hear the gospel preached from the pulpits of established churches but on occasions it has been – and a silence has fallen on the congregation when the spirit of the Lord is there. However, not everyone is pleased with such sermons, which tell individuals of their need for salvation…

I quote this simple little story, an example of one of these true “1,000 Tales Worth Telling…”

Neither Saint nor Sinner

“Coming down the steps from the kirk, a neighbour asked an old lady how she liked the sermon by the strange minister from a distance. “Indeed,” said she, “I didn’t like him a bit! He talked all morning to one class of folks called saints, and to another called sinners, and he hadn’t a word for a decent, respectable body like me.” How many like her are neither “lost and on the way to Hell” nor “saved and on the way to Heaven.” Yet each of us are either one or the other. (Joshua 24v15; John 3v36; Rev. 20v15 & 22v11). The great question to settle is… Which is it?”

Clearly the preacher in this instance used his opportunity to relay a message to both the saved and the lost. How often have we heard a gospel message for the unsaved – but nothing to encourage growth in the believer, or indeed vice versa! Also, how difficult it is to reach “the respectable” – the law-abiding church goer, who may even be a Sunday school teacher or indeed an established church “reverend.”

Praise God, He has given His children the power of prayer and faith, in the knowledge that the Lord’s convicting voice can speak to such people. We cannot make them see their need – but He can.

“He revealeth the deep and secret things; he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.” (Daniel 2v22)

We should never view “the respectable” as lost causes who will never see their need of a Saviour. Only the Lord knows the innermost thoughts of those people and will work to draw each one to Himself. As His ambassadors, we should never be afraid to be a witness to “respectable bodies” – and pray fervently for them also.

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8v26)

 

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Lurganearly Mission Hall, County Monaghan

March 28, 2019

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With all the current discussion and fierce debate regarding “Brexit,” I found a recent trip through Irish border areas very interesting. The narrow country roads I traversed that day meandered, sometimes north of the border and sometimes south. In fact I kept driving from one country into another without even realising it! Driving through areas which would previously have been seriously troubled, sadly I believe that today, in a sense, they still are; suspicion of strangers is still very much the order of the day in some places…

I remember a large family my parents used to visit when I was a child. This family lived on a farm close to the border and I can still see in my mind’s eye the old kitchen, with a table by a window where the sun shone in on the mother of the house who stood making bread. I have been told that the farmhouse now lies uninhabited. It is not unusual to find abandoned houses in rural areas of Ireland with all the bedding, old furniture and crockery still sitting there!

It is fascinating to realise that the Irish border is not easily defined. Some people’s land or farms straddle the border, while there are those who claim that some rooms of their houses are in the Republic of Ireland while others are in Northern Ireland. I sincerely hope that they’ll never require a passport to walk from their living room into their kitchen! It is many years ago now since we visited that family but as I reminisce on youthful days, I realise that spiritually speaking the need of mankind remains the same and the people of Ireland, whatever their political views, need to come to personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if they have not already done so.

Still nestling amongst the peaceful emerald drumlins of County Monaghan (which is south of the Irish border) are some non-denominational little mission halls and Lurganearly is one of these. Lurganearly is a small townland, lying just 10km (around 6.5 miles) south east of Castleblayney. There is good car parking space across from the little hall, which is ran by a Mr J. Smyth who lives halfway between Castleblayney and the hall. Every Sunday at 12noon a Sunday morning worship service is held here and I know that anyone desiring to go would be made most welcome.

Every Wednesday night there is a prayer meeting at 8pm and a Sunday evening service is held on the first Sunday of each month at 8pm. The visiting speaker at this first Sunday evening meeting normally also speaks at the morning service. Unlike many mission halls, this one continues to operate during the summer months, except on rare occasions for a very good reason. There are sometimes other special mid-week meetings arranged, with visiting speakers and organisations invited to the hall.

This year (2019) it will be 63 years ago since Stanley Conn (see previous blog https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/the-testimony-of-stanley-conn-1928-2007/ ) put his trust in the risen Saviour in this very place and I thank the Lord for the existence still, of such places of worship where there are no denominational barriers. In the sparsely populated rural areas of Ireland and indeed in the towns and cities, I pray that souls will still repent and listen humbly to that “still small voice” which continues to whisper in this the Day of Grace… not only in places of worship but in city streets, villages, country lanes, mountains and valleys.

Political regimes and leaders may come and go, terrifying events will surely happen and this old world is changing fast “but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever” (1Peter 1v25) and “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13v8)

Praise God for the text on Lurganearly’s wall which may even speak to weary travellers on that narrow country road… “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16v31)

 

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Are You Sleeping on the Cliff Edge?

March 6, 2019

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In September 2018 I was saddened to hear of deaths associated with Storm Ali which was raging through Ireland at the time. One lady, a Swiss tourist, died tragically when the caravan she was sleeping in was swept over a cliff in County Galway, in the west of Ireland. To go to sleep to the sound of the waves on the beach below is a pleasant experience but clearly this lady had no idea that her caravan was going to be swept over that cliff and ripped apart during the night.

On hearing of this my mind travelled back to another story and another time. This story is set in a warm summer day in the east of the country, in July 1861. Two policemen who were on patrol in an area of County Wicklow happened to see a young man sleeping on the very edge of a dangerous cliff. They knew that they must proceed with caution in order to save him from the danger he was in and so quietly approached the sleeping youth. However, he wakened with a start and struggling against “his attackers,” he almost landed all three of them over the cliff! Thankfully their firm grip on the boy was successful and they were able to pull him to safety. It seems that he had been looking after some cattle in a field and had fallen asleep, rolling away towards the cliff as he did so. Of course he afterwards apologised to the police officers for resisting their attempts to save his life, on discovering the danger that he had been in! Thankfully this true story set in 19th Century Ireland had a happy ending for all concerned.

There is a spiritual lesson to be learned from “sleeping on the cliff edge.” There are at least 100 references in the Bible as to the brevity of our lives and in a sense all our fragile lives are fairly close to this “cliff edge.” “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.” (Psalm 144v4)

Surely each day lived is a step closer to that cliff, over which lies the abyss of eternity – and whatever that will hold for each one of us as individuals.

The Bible tells us of two destinations for the souls of mankind after this life; each as far removed from the other as it is possible to be. One is unthinkably horrific beyond any suffering we have known upon this earth, while the other is joy beyond anything we will ever experience here.

But it is not God’s will that “any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2Peter 3v9)

Jesus said: “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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3v16&17)

Like the boy who fought the police officers in his drowsy and confused state, are you fighting conviction in your own heart today? In order to be rescued we must realise and admit that we are in danger and need to be saved – and let the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us, do the rest. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)

Someday we will reach the “cliff edge,” whether that will herald the Lord’s return – or the end of our own lives upon this earth. If you have not already done so, it is His will that you admit your sinful state (For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3v23)

By faith let Him rescue you; cease struggling and let Him drag you away from the imminent danger of that “cliff edge,” for it is not His will that you are lost in that terrible abyss. Why not trust in the great sacrifice that He has paid for you and in His redeeming love for you this day, in the knowledge that tomorrow could be too late? He who loves you will carefully rescue you and guide you safely in future years, as you walk with Him in “newness of life” – into His gift of joyful eternal life.

“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)

 

When My Father and My Mother Forsake Me, Then the Lord Will Take Me Up (Psalm 27v10)

January 16, 2019

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Just recently I have been reading about the experience of a lady who had been adopted and in later life had a yearning to find her biological parents. I believe that most people have this natural curiosity to discover who their birth parents are; she also had some health issues and wanted to know whether these were hereditary. This led to an initial contact with grandparents, who were delighted to hear from her – and later also with two brothers who were also initially glad to know about her. She discovered from her grandparents that her own parents later had married – which seemed wonderful and the best possible scenario. She now felt that she could contact her real mother and father who would be as welcoming as the rest of the family and be overjoyed to meet their only daughter.

Sadly this was not to be… they rejected her and wanted no contact whatsoever. Even her grandparents could not understand their attitude but both they and her brothers appeared to be strongly influenced by the reaction of the parents and in time made it clear that they had no wish for any further contact. The mother who had adopted her, loved her and raised her had also recently died, which distressed her terribly. Apart from her loving adoptive mother’s death, she said that this “second rejection,” as she saw it, was devastating for her.

Such stories are not unusual. This one is not set in my country but I have recently heard of many other similar stories here in Ireland where mothers have no wish to ever see or be in contact with the child that they gave birth to. On the other hand, there are many more stories of joyful reunions; these were often situations where mothers did not want to give up their children but were forced to do so by the prevailing power of the Roman Catholic system at the time. Such mothers were heartbroken when their babies were snatched away to be trafficked for adoption, with R.C. organisations being paid for the adoption. Indeed, many mothers searched for years for their children, some sadly dying, without ever having met them.

Nevertheless there are other stories which have come to my attention recently and these, although truly heart breaking from an initial glance, are surrounded by great hope, faith, blessing and victory. These are the stories of people, who having come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, are totally abandoned by family, friends and loved ones. But these souls look to the Lord for their every breath – He is more than life itself to them. They continue to love and pray for those who have rejected them even though in some instances their lives are in danger, if for example, they have left a system of belief such as Islam.

Jesus said: “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19v29) Of course, this must be read in context. The Lord never expected anyone to abandon their children, or indeed a husband or wife if they are already married but often those who are called into certain service for Him, are led to remain unmarried and without children and so they forsake that way of life for Him. And as regards material property, we of course hand this to the Lord, for Him to use as He sees fit.  There is also a sense in which, when we are wholly following the Lord, our lives being guided in the way that He would have us go, that we will be forsaken of everything that the world holds dear and unfortunately we may also be forsaken by once good friends, loved ones or even spouses and older children.

“Can a mother forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” (Isaiah 49v15)

What is your situation today? Do you feel that you have been denied by the very people who are responsible for your existence in this world? Well, there is Someone who loved you enough to die for you, even before you were ever born. Why not confess your sins (for we all have sinned) to the Lord Jesus Christ alone and put your trust in Him as Lord and Saviour? Believe me, you will find the greatest Friend for now and for eternity. He knows you, He loves you and your happiness and well-being in this life and the next… is His goal. “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49v16)

Do you feel abandoned today, or ridiculed because you have chosen to follow the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour? Or could it be that you even feel in danger because you no longer want to be a part of something which you know is wrong? There is nothing in your life that the Lord Jesus Christ is not aware of – whoever you are or wherever you are. Remember that your times are in His hands and He will take care of every detail of your life, if you have committed it into His care.

Perhaps, on the other hand, you have had a loving family upbringing but still you may not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. Life, even for those of us who have a good start in it, can be stormy to say the least. Why would you want to face those storms alone, without the power of the One who loved you and gave Himself for you? With this Captain at the helm – you can be certain of victory!

Always remember that He will reward you “an hundredfold” and you shall “inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19v29) in the Presence of Someone who loved you so much that He gave His life for you, when you trust in Him as Lord and Saviour.

Whether you have forsaken material possessions for His sake, or whether those you love have forsaken you, there is indeed “a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18v24)

May the Lord bless you and meet you at the point of your need.

 

Sunflowers Still Blooming in November!

November 3, 2018

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“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)

 

 

To Rise above the Storm… is to Find that Perfect Peace

September 20, 2018

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A few days ago I left someone to the airport, where she was to fly off to Northern Italy to start a new job. Her flight had been changed at the last minute to an earlier day, which was perhaps just as well as the very next day a fierce storm blew up here in Ireland, causing mayhem and cancelled flights. And I have been going through another type of storm in my life, which involved being a support to someone else for long hours in an oncology unit….

On the morning of the storm I looked out to see a fallen tree near the entrance to our home. Traffic on the little country road can be heavy enough sometimes and drivers daunted by the tree in their path, kept reversing into our driveway and turning around to take an alternative route. Just one storm can cost lives, devastation to property, high tides and flooding in coastal and river regions – as well as anxiety in general.

This simple little verse was given to me by the Lord as I thought on storms and seafarers out on our nearby coastline…

The storms of life are vicious,

The tide of life is high,

But Jesus is my Refuge;

My Light beyond the sky.

It is well known that aircraft prefer life in the stratosphere, which means less turbulence. I have previously been on flights which hit severe turbulence and the pilot would announce: “Don’t worry about it people. I’m just going to rise higher above the storm… it’s more peaceful up there.”

In the spiritual realm, I must let my Pilot “ride the storm.” He will carry us higher to realms where we are dependent on nothing but His unfailing love and grace. There is an optimum and cost effective altitude for an aircraft to travel through but always they will “rise above the turbulence.” Lower down (and we see this especially when we drop down to land in Ireland!) we encounter the depressing grey clouds and the worst of the weather that everyone walking below is subject to. Gloomily surveying conditions here below, “we look at the things which are seen” – but 2 Corinthians 4v18 exhorts us to look “at the things which are not seen”… “for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Of course only the pilot can bring us higher and raise us above the battering – we are not in control of that aircraft. And only our Pilot in the heavenly realm can elevate us above the gloomy conditions which would threaten to batter us here below. So let the Pilot ride your storm – He has seen it all before and let Him, by faith, elevate you to ethereal places that the world knows nothing about. To rise above the storm is to find the peace that passes all understanding. Whatever turmoil fills your life, be assured that some bright day all will be well, when the Lord Jesus Christ is the Pilot of your life’s journey.

I rest in God my Saviour and I trust that He is in control, praise His Name….

Come Out Of Her My People!

August 24, 2018

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“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18v4&5) Many attribute the words in this chapter to the Church of Rome and certainly, in the spiritual sense the Roman Catholic system would appear to “fit the bill” as today’s Babylon.

I have recently heard that the representatives of mainline Protestant churches in Northern Ireland have been invited to this weekend’s reception for Pope Francis in the Republic of Ireland – and I have also heard that they hope to be there. I feel, sadly, that all the world is running after Rome…

The Presbyterian moderator is quoted as saying: “As a church we recognised that this Papal visit would bring great joy to our Roman Catholic neighbours and friends, and it was something we wanted to welcome. I am pleased that our church has been able to accept the invitation to the reception and I am looking forward to it. Should there be an opportunity to meet Pope Francis I would very much welcome that in the context of building good relations.”

There are numerous people out there, however, who were baptised into this Roman Catholic system and those people will not welcome his visit because of the abuse that they or their loved ones were subjected to by paedophile priests or nuns who used women as slaves and often trafficked babies illegally out of the country. These people are still hurt, angry and traumatised by events which may have occurred long ago in their lives –but these events were to impact their formative years and as a result, affect those lives and relationships into adulthood.

And how can you “build good relations” with a system of belief that is idolatrous in essence? This system of belief fabricates doctrines such as the perpetual virginity of the Virgin Mary, the assumption of the Virgin Mary, the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, Purgatory, praying for the dead, transubstantiation etc etc., none of which can be verified by scripture.

If a Christian was asked to meet the Pope, he or she could only do so with the purpose of being a witness to him. The Lord would give them the necessary courage to tell him that he was a lost sinner in need of salvation. Anyone who gives credence to the notion that the pope is a fellow Christian, is, I am afraid, as lost as he is.

“And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” (Revelation 18v24) The hierarchy of Roman Catholicism authorised the slaughter of the Waldensians, the cruel Spanish Inquisition; the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of French Huguenots in 1572, the burning at the stake of Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer and the martyrdom of multitudes of other men, women and even children all across the world. This system of belief has made little of the Word of God, turning instead to someone who claims infallibility in regard to his every decree.

Men and women died for the truth of these precious scriptures which I hold in my hands. Article 31 of the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of Ireland and the Anglican Church states: “The offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.”

Why, then, do the clergy of these churches join with a man (blasphemously referred to as “the Holy Father”) to celebrate the mass? While millions upon millions are spent on security for his visit, it has been said that homeless people and beggars (who are seen as an embarrassment on Dublin’s streets) will be moved if necessary. Meanwhile the Pope with all his entourage of security will enter with pomp and ceremony. What a far cry that is from the entrance of the beloved Lord Jesus Christ to Jerusalem on a humble donkey and what love He had in His heart for the “common” people!

They cried: “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (John 12v13) Praise God for “David’s Son and David’s Lord!” …”And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9v6)

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4v12)

While men revere another man, honouring this man of sin, they turn their backs on the “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19v16) “Come out of her, my people…” But sadly many, although they occupy places in pulpits are not His people, yet still He stands with open arms to receive all who come to Him the humble way, repenting and trusting in Him alone for salvation.

I fear for others, on the fringes: professing Christians who are slowly being deceived into inviting people to preach in their churches; these people identify with dubious and sinister organisations, which in turn identify themselves with Roman Catholicism. Spiritually speaking, white is morphing into light grey – which will slowly morph into black. We are living in evil and deceptive days.

This is a difficult time for true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; we are told that the conflict will be greater in the end days but we must stand firm upon the Rock of Ages, whatever befalls us. As the days draw closer to His return, when the dead shall stand before God to be judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Revelation 20v12), I pray for a revival in our land and I pray that somehow the events of this weekend would have the effect of turning people to the true Holy Father, who with love gave His only Son for the sins of the whole world ONCE FOR ALL… something that no other person or repeated sacrificial offering upon this earth could ever do.

 

“Life is a Journey…. Destination Unknown”

July 29, 2018

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These words, in block capitals and emblazoned on a man’s t-shirt, hit me between the eyes as I emerged from revolving hospital doors into the bright sunshine. People in dressing gowns puffed desperately on cigarette butts as they leaned wearily against poles on my route to the car park. A man sitting on a wheelchair with amputated legs stared through me, his eyes empty and sorrowful, as if this life had left him in a state of permanent shock, which perhaps indeed it had….

Earlier inside, a lady with a tumour on the side of her head sat waiting for the countdown… soon her number would be called to have a blood test. Tired pale patients sat on endless rows of chairs, staring at the floor or reading newspapers, or with their eyes glued to their iPhones; such is everyday life in a public hospital in Ireland. I had seen many come out of consultant’s rooms, tears filling their eyes. In other parts of the hospital revealing scans were taking place, suffering bodies lay in pain and sometimes a priest could be seen hurrying along down a corridor….

As I started up the car, I whispered… “Why, why do I find myself in this terrible place?” This place where the police are called to frequently, especially to the A & E Department, when someone addicted to something loses their cool. Hospitals are not pleasant places – but this one less so than most.

Then I feel regret for having such a thought as this and I thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart for all He has done for me and for loved ones.

I thank Him for the health and strength that He has given me, despite the fact that I am “not getting any younger” as the saying goes. I thank Him that He left the realms of glory to come down to this suffering sinful world. I thank Him for His love for all and how He wants nothing more than that ill, burdened and heartbroken souls repent, trust and rest in Him for all their tomorrows.

Life is a Journey… but the destination is not unknown for those who give their lives to Him and put their trust in Him for whatever life brings their way. I drive home from the polluted city to my humble home in the lovely countryside where our sleeping cats purr happily beside bright flowers in the garden and the wind blows softly through the leafy trees. Thank you Lord for leaving your Home, your beautiful and glorious Home in glory to come to such a world as this – and not only to come, but to die for all that they might find that peace that passes all understanding – that peace and tranquillity that transcends life’s darkest moments, in the knowledge that someday they might live in that beautiful Home with You, free from the sorrow and pain of this life.

If life was smooth, carefree and I never had to look on, or experience, suffering, I would be of little use in this old world.  As I gaze at the flowers, the second verse of Isaac Watt’s hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” comes to mind as I think on these things…

“Must I be carried to the skies

On flow’ry beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize,

And sailed through bloody seas?”

 

Yes Lord, if you have a purpose in my visits to places of suffering and if you want me to speak to some soul or souls, I will go in Thy strength. Thank you Lord for contacts already made and someone still in contact.

And thank you, Lord, for the heritage of beautiful hymns left to us by souls who walked closely with you down through the centuries. One such soul was Isaac Watts (1674-1748) who gave his heart to the Lord at the tender age of fifteen. This forerunner of English hymn-writers left a truly wonderful legacy of over six hundred hymns, many of which still encourage heavy hearts today… “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; Alas, and did my Saviour Bleed?; Jesus shall reign, wher’er the sun; Not all the Blood of Beasts on Jewish Altars Slain; Our God, our help in ages past…” I quote the last verse and the chorus of “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” which speaks to my heart at this time in my life…

 

“Since I must fight if I would reign,

Increase my courage Lord!

I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain

Supported by Thy Word.

 

In the Name, the precious Name

Of Him who died for me,

Thro’ grace I’ll win the promised crown,

Whate’er my cross may be.”

 

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)

 

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.