Posts Tagged ‘ireland’

“Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem: They Shall Prosper That Love Thee” (Psalm 122v6)

May 12, 2021

Returning from a quiet walk down a country lane behind our home, I viewed the green fields and the blue sea on the far horizon and thought of my daughter far away in Tel Aviv and how much she loved this scenery. Later back home something made me look at my phone, which was on silent. Immediately I felt led to pick it up and saw that it was ringing. “Tel Aviv” flashed up on the screen. It was my daughter, distraught and telling me about the attacks on this city where she is currently living.

They are just two hours ahead of us and at that stage darkness had fallen there. Dusk turned into night here in Ireland and neither my husband nor I got much sleep last night as we were on the phone to her much of the time, with the horrific noise of rockets, sirens and a multitude of frightened voices in the background. Neither she nor her neighbours in the flat complex had managed to get to the shelter in time and they were sitting together on the stairwell; many children were there too.

I would never have imagined some years ago, that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would affect me personally but when someone you love is in danger, you pray night and day – and you pray with all your heart. “When it comes to the end times,” I remember an old preacher saying, “Keep your eyes upon Israel.” It’s a modern day news story which is as old as the hills. Today I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, in the knowledge that true and lasting peace can only come about when hearts have been consecrated to the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us. How we long for that glorious Day described in Revelation 21… “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Verses 2&3)

Yes, how I long for that day… and yet I pray for souls to be ready for it. As darkness falls once more tonight, I pray on for my daughter in that situation; the Lord knows that there are only so many nights we can go without proper sleep. As I look at terrible scenes of people in pain, people mourning and devastated by the death of loved ones, murder, mayhem, rioting and destruction, I know that some day it shall be no more. Oh that men and women would be ready for that Day when “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.” (Revelation 21v3)

Rioting This Weekend – We Should Be Careful With Whom We Align Ourselves

February 28, 2021

There were distressing scenes as anti-lockdown, anti-mask and anti-vaccination protesters attacked the police in Dublin this weekend. The wisest decisions weren’t always made (as regards not closing airports while at the same time enforcing a 5km limit) it’s true – but there can be no justification for the violence we viewed, with so many police officers injured. We are living in terrible days of civil unrest and rebellion against the forces of law and order; unfortunately people who would claim to be Christians are sharing viewpoints which are much the same as that of the rioters.

My recent readings in Romans 12&13 show me that “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12v18) In Romans 13 we are exhorted… “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Verse 1) Whatever our views, if they are not motivated by love for our neighbour, then those views have a dubious root. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13v10)

No one is being forced to take the vaccine and many have some very good personal reasons for not doing so (or perhaps they are hesitant until they see the long term effects) but no one has the right to stand in the way of others receiving it. Perhaps never in our lives have we ever seen so much mayhem, rioting and suffering on a global scale as we are seeing today – and tomorrow could be worse.

I love Romans 13v11… “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer that when we believed.”  How true! It is therefore imperative that we follow the Lord Jesus Christ closely in our daily walk, reaching as many souls as possible with His great love poured out at Calvary, in the knowledge that His will is for all souls to come to repentance and a knowledge of the truth.

Jesus said: “Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mark 13v35-37)

Paul’s exhortation in Romans 13v12-14 is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago… “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provisions for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

Spiritually speaking, as the days grow darker…“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Romans 14v19) Bright and glorious Day may dawn sooner than we think and certainly at an hour unknown to any of us when, in the words of the Lord… “every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14v11&12)

Dreaming of Lovely Holiday Destinations – but Heaven is More Beautiful than these…

January 16, 2021

I haven’t seen one of my daughters for quite a long time as she has been living and working in Israel. Not so long ago she forwarded me a beautiful video of the beach where she walked every day after work. The setting sun was reflected in the rippling sea and for a moment I felt like I was in a different world – a Covid free world!  The gentle tide slipping in over the clean sandy beach reminded me of happy days on other beaches – some far closer to home. It was a pleasant experience to be momentarily transported to another time and another place and to reminisce on the carefree days of childhood.

There were very few people around thankfully and the reality is that it isn’t so warm over there just yet but the big reality is that Israel, which is a small but densely populated country, has been (and continues to be) badly afflicted by the virus, even though they have an excellent health service. I had just finished writing this when I got a message from my daughter to say that she must isolate for two weeks as a contact had tested positive and later there was another message to say that she too had tested positive (yet again) which concerned me greatly. I felt powerless (and I am powerless) to do anything about this as we are thousands of miles apart but praise God I can pray.

I later took a stroll down fields behind our home and in the distance could see on the horizon our own cold blue Irish Sea and even though it was bitterly cold, I heard the birds singing a “different” song – the song they sing when spring is on the way and I noticed too that the days are noticeably lengthening.

In the midst of all these gloomy January days, concern for loved ones (including cousins who are ill with the virus) and the shocking news that my own country’s growth rate of infection is currently the worst in Europe, it is so mentally uplifting and encouraging to meditate on life’s more pleasant days – and the possibility of happy times in the future.

I couldn’t help but think of a spiritual analogy here. As we journey through this life, how marvellous and what a relief to have the knowledge that (whatever we have to go through here) when we love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, there is not just the  possibility but there is the certainty of not just “pleasant” but gloriously joyful days ahead in His Presence forevermore. “…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)

I was recently overjoyed by the simple pleasure of being shown a tiny primrose which had somehow managed to push its way out of the hard cold earth. The promise of new life and growth had manifested itself from winter’s cold death and I felt optimistically a “touch of spring,” in the sure and certain knowledge that whatever happens, brighter days are ahead for those who love and know Him.

And most of all we want the promise of this great joy to be the portion of every living soul we come in contact with. “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2v21) (Joel 2v32)

….”for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8v10) “…Jesus beheld them and said unto them, with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19v26)

The Tiny Cottage in the Twilight

December 29, 2020

On a lonely country road in December 2020, I was distributing scripture calendars when I stopped by a detached tiny cottage with an old wrought iron gate. Making my way down the garden path in the cold twilight evening I was greeted by an elderly man in a mask. He reached out for the calendar and warmly invited me into his home but under present circumstances (concerning virus statistics in this region) it would have been the wrong thing to accept that invitation.

As I came away from that little homestead I felt a very strong sense of the Lord’s Presence and subsequently jotted down the following simple little poem which describes the experience. May the Lord enable me to reach this soul and others in these days in which we live – to His glory and for the extension of His Kingdom…

As I journeyed in the twilight zone

I found a cottage all alone

And as I walked t’wards the door,

Some birds of dusk flew swiftly o’er.

I quickly stepped with gift in hand,

When there I saw the old man stand,

Outside his lonely cottage place,

A mask around his worn out face.

“Is this for me?” I heard him say,

And felt light shine in the darkening day.

Yes, all for you, it’s all for free,

My Jesus died that all would see.

And as I took my leave of him,

I felt God’s Presence as light grew dim.

The night drew on and I could not stay,

But there’s a welcome there on a bright new day!

© E.Burke 2020

Knocking, Knocking, Who is There?

November 4, 2020

Because of several lockdowns it’s been quite a few months now since I travelled north to my old home environs. A few years ago I remember standing on a dull day at the old door of my great great grandfather’s house. Perhaps his father lived there too – I don’t know how far those who share my DNA go back in that place. It’s certainly a very old house anyway. My father’s grandfather grew up there and the latter’s brother lived there and then his son John. I remember visiting John and his wife (who were older than my parents) with my mother many times over the years. We never used that front door; rather we would gain access through an adjoining outhouse through which we walked into a long narrow scullery and then we would be warmly welcomed by John’s wife Maisie who always had a pot of tea ready for us.

I can still see the flickering flames of the fire in my “mind’s eye” and remember the banter and conversation. I don’t ever recall a television there in those days – just a big old radio in the corner. I can still feel the warmth of the atmosphere and the feeling of “belonging.”

John and his wife Maisie (a hospitable lady with a sense of humour) had four children – three daughters and a son; tragically this only son died at nineteen when his motorbike crashed. His parents were devastated. In the intervening years John and Maisie died and their daughters (who later married) also died – the youngest only very recently. The house now lies empty – a phenomenon which is very common in Ireland. You don’t travel far into the countryside before you find a derelict or abandoned home, sometimes even containing old photographs of the people who once lived there.

That day, a few years ago, my daughter and I entered the old living room and I could almost hear Maisie’s voice calling to us: “Come in and have a cup of tea girls.” My daughter remarked on how strange it all was – this home that once was filled with conversation and life and hospitality lies silent and deserted, yet still containing tiny bits of memorabilia from another era. The love, the laughter, the daily dramas, the arguments, the debates, the tragedy and the tears of many years echoed only in my memories and daydreams. I stood sadly, reminiscing on those old times.

If I knocked that old door on this cold November day, no one would answer with the shout – “come on in!” that I remember so well. They have all left this scene of time and the years have rendered that old house which was once a home – cold and derelict. Life, with all its perplexities is so transient.

This brings to mind the old hymn “Oh God our Help in Ages Past:”

A thousand ages in Thy sight

Are like an evening gone;

Short as the watch that ends the night

Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;

They fly forgotten, as a dream

Dies at the opening day.

Recently I found another hymn, based on an old poem written by Harriet Beecher Stowe: “Knocking, Knocking, Who is there?” It reminded me very much of the old ivy-covered door of John and Maisie’s house…

Knocking, Knocking! Who is there?

Waiting, Waiting, Oh so fair!

‘Tis a Pilgrim, strange and kingly,

Never such was seen before;

Ah! My soul, for such a wonder,

Wilt thou not undo the door?

Knocking, knocking; still He’s there;

Waiting, waiting, wondrous fair;

But the door is hard to open,

For the weeds and ivy-vine,

With their dark and clinging tendrils,

Ever round the hinges twine.

Knocking, knocking – what! Still there?

Waiting, waiting, grand and fair;

Yes, the piercèd hand still knocketh,

And beneath the crownèd hair

Beam the patient eyes, so tender,

Of thy Saviour waiting there.

It brings a tear to my eye to remember that piercèd hand knocking on my door. Praise God, I opened that door by faith and that fairest One, the One who loves above all others, He lives within my heart. Has He been knocking on your door for many years? Remember – if you had been the only one, those hands would still have been pierced for you, for He loves you and wants to save you. Jesus said: “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3v20)

One day the patient eyes of the Saviour will look upon you as your Judge. Don’t make the behaviour of others (who would call themselves Christians) an excuse for not opening the door. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only One we can depend upon and look to as an inspiration on how to lead our lives. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11v29&30)

As He knocks, realise that it is possible for Him to remove the tangled vines and weeds/ the sins of many years, in order that He may gain entrance. He will forgive and indeed forget the confessed sins of a lifetime. (Hebrews 8v12) He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Peter 3v9) Trust Him now today, “thy Saviour waiting there,” for one day the knocking will cease. Like that family, we all go to our “long Home” (Ecclesiastes 12v5). But when His Presence is ever felt in our hearts, that “long Home” is in heaven with this Saviour who loved us and gave Himself for us, that we may escape the awfulness of a lost eternity.

Missing that Boat by Five Minutes… Changed a Multitude of Lives!

October 4, 2020

I discovered the following encouraging little story recently in W.A. Weir’s old booklet: “There is Mercy.” What brought this particular story to mind is that a lovely racehorse has come to live in a field beside us and horses in Ireland often run in Punchestown in Dublin, although racing has been interrupted by a virus this year! I was interested to note that Punchestown is mentioned in this true old story which is set in Ireland in 1877…

“The Punchestown Races were over. Crowds were returning home from the famous Irish Derby by train and cross-channel boat. The year was 1877. Mr. Vincent, a retired gentleman, hurried to Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) Harbour, but arrived five minutes too late to catch the boat. Just five minutes… but great and unforeseen things happened as a result. The more closely we examine life and its destiny, the more solemn and mysterious it becomes, until we see the hand of God planning and overruling.

There was nothing else for Mr. Vincent, having missed the boat, but to stay the night in Dublin. He was at a loose end, and not knowing how to spend the evening, he went for a walk. His attention was caught by the names over a theatre: “D.L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey,” and he wondered what kind of company this would be. Going inside he was amazed to find the place crowded, and on the platform a man was singing. He had a wonderful voice, and the words were new and absolutely inescapable:

There were ninety and nine that safely lay

In the shelter of the fold;

But one was out on the hills away,

Far off from the gates of gold;

Away on the mountains wild and bare,

Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

When the hymn was over, he sat down and heard D.L. Moody preach, and strange to say, instead of going home the next day, Mr. Vincent stayed on day and after day. Finally one evening he made the great decision to come as a sinner to the Saviour Who died for him. All that the world had offered was useless in face of his need in eternity. As Mr. Moody knelt beside him, he simply said: “Mr. Vincent, do you believe Jesus Christ died for your sins?”

“I do,” he replied. “Then thank Him,” said Moody. He gave thanks with all his heart, and left that room a transformed man. His conversion led in turn to the conversion of his friend Edward Studd, whose changed life caused a sensation amongst his old friends and neighbours. Not long afterwards his son, Charles T. Studd, the famous cricketer (1860 – 1931) was converted, and was called to be a missionary in China, and later in India and Africa. His work and influence has reached many lands.”

These amazing events can all be traced back to one man missing a boat by five minutes. How wonderful to know that God had planned it all!

In these days of a world pandemic, few are travelling very far but next time you miss a train, boat or plane, remember that the Lord most likely has a reason for this. Just over a hundred years earlier in 1773, William Cowper wrote…

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea

And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never failing skill

He treasures up His bright designs

And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace;

Behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err

And scan His work in vain;

God is His own interpreter,

And He will make it plain.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11v33)  You, the reader may find in Him a Faithful Guide too, by simply repenting, trusting in Him as your Saviour and placing your life into His hands. May you know the peace that passes all understanding and your steps safely directed to be with the Lord Jesus Christ who paid the ultimate price that we might have an assurance of sins forgiven and a Home in Heaven.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3v16)

Twilight Memories

March 21, 2020

Today being World Poetry Day and tomorrow, Sunday 22nd March, being Mother’s Day in many countries including Ireland, I am in a reflective mood. I will miss my mother tomorrow because she has gone Home to be with the Lord – and I will miss at least one of my daughters who is abroad in Northern Italy. I will also miss having contact with other loved ones on account of this present Coronavirus situation and the need for “social distancing.” My memories float back, at this time, to the days of my childhood and how I would run out into the fields to gather primroses for my Mum. “Elizabeth always brings me the first primrose,” she would say and I smile at that memory. Life was simpler then, those days were not as commercialised as they are now – and we had never known “a worldwide pandemic.”
Yet, though all may change, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever,” open and always ready to listen to our every anguished prayer. For those of you who love and miss loved ones – who may be distant in more ways than one, I dedicate “Twilight Memories” to you.

Twilight Memories
Whispering leaves and a blackbird’s song
Warm my heart as I stroll along;
Thrush and swallow, blue tit and wren,
Wagtail and warbler, a lark in the glen.

The farmyard lies as silent as stone,
Weeds in the walls, the garden o’ergrown.
Clouds drift by in a timeless sky,
As I dream and ponder on days gone by.

Soon the darkness will cloak the land
And birds refrain from their chorus grand.
Another day over, the dark night begun;
The moon drifts through clouds instead of the sun.

I remember a farmyard one time;
An old house painted with whitewash and lime.
Children’s voices at play in the twilight hour,
The grass smelling sweet from a summer shower.

I smile at the memory as I walk in the lane,
But my thoughts wander back to a time of pain.
Tomorrow may come and tomorrow may go,
But oh how our lives have changed ever so!

Lord, touch those I pray for with infinite love,
That they would know thy joy from above.
Darkness has fallen; in the silence I weep,
But my Lord never slumbers and nor doth He sleep.

© Elizabeth Burke
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” (Psalm 121)
“The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalm 34v15… also 17)

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

January 23, 2020

As this is currently a very serious issue in Ireland, I am also giving the following out in tract form…
Recent times have exposed the extent to which people will go to perpetuate this evil in our society. Young people (and older people too) have been tortured and murdered and it would appear that these evil dealers control entire swaths of Irish society. Those who try to throw light on the situation or organise meetings with advice on how to keep their children from drugs, are violently threatened and targeted. Drug dealers want teenagers and very young children dependant on this vile but very lucrative source of income.
The homeless and the vulnerable in society are easy targets for these people and the awful reality is that often drug dealers can never be reimbursed. An individual may indeed want to “go clean,” settle the debt with the dealer who is chasing them and make a new life for themselves, by gaining experience in some field and working in this area where their talents lie – but drug dealers will pursue, constantly looking for more and more money over and beyond what he is “entitled” to.
Even rural areas are targeted; it has been said that this evil trade is plied at every crossroads in Ireland. In one large town I know well, random shootings and arson attacks can occur at any time of the day or night and innocent people going about their business have unfortunately fallen foul of this and become victims too. Rival gangs who vie for trade have shot each other fatally and this “gang warfare” has spilled out into Spanish resorts in recent years, with rich dealers living in luxurious places beyond Ireland. “Unexplained wealth” is certainly a phenomenon in our society.
Sadly this disease is not confined solely to those from a “disadvantaged background,” as some professional people have been said to have (or have had) a “drug problem.” Week after week we hear of it all, so what can be done about this deadly evil that has spread throughout our society?
How horrific it is to make your money out of the misery of others – and what a hard task master the devil is! You, the reader, may be involved in some way in all of this – or indeed, thankfully, you may not. But whatever your standing in society, the Bible tells us that there is one thing you can be certain of: “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14v12)
One of the most beautiful feelings in the world is to waken up in the morning with a clear conscience and in the glorious knowledge that you are not “hooked on” anything. Praise God… He can give us a clear conscience! “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36)
The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) We may in no way be associated with the drugs trade but whoever we are in this world, we need a Saviour and only the blood of Jesus, the precious Son of God, who gave Himself a ransom for all, is able to atone for sin when, by faith, we confess our sins to Him, asking Him to forgive us and to come into our lives to make us “new creatures.” “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Corinthians 5v17)
With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19v26) Sin, like many deadly physical diseases, comes in many guises, not all of which are readily recognisable as being dangerous. As a police officer once told me: “there is no such thing as a harmless drug.” While law enforcement are often successful with regard to drug seizures – they have no control over the hearts and minds of either the pusher or the addict. But praise God, there are those who truly know Him and have committed their lives to Him; who pray fervently that this evil may be eradicated and that souls would live out their lives in healthy freedom, to the glory of their Creator and Saviour. Yes, these things are possible and many can testify to having been delivered!
Whoever you are, whether a “pillar of society,” a very worried parent, a seemingly hopeless addict or someone steeped in deepest sin as a dealer – you need to trust the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2v8&9)
Remember, He loves you personally and cared enough for you to give His very life for you, that you may have abundant life now – and eternal life in His Presence forevermore. Yes, we live in dark days when evil abounds and the most horrific deeds are being perpetrated but praise God there is a way out… through faith in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for all. (“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John2v2)
Perhaps you would like to pray these (or similar) words right now in the quietness of your own heart… “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to die for me. I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I need your forgiveness. Please come into my life and make me a new person. Assist me, in your strength, to tell others of my experience and to live according to your words, as contained in the Bible. Open my eyes to the great truths within it, and help me to find fellowship with others who share this experience.”
My prayer is that you will find the peace that passes all understanding in these days of increasing spiritual darkness, for the Lord has promised that He will return to take those who know Him, Home to be with Him, while those who have not trusted Him will face a lost eternity. In the serious knowledge that this could be at any time, I pray that you will trust Him to save you now, if you have not already done so, for “behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)
Jesus promises those who trust Him: “My peace I leave with you, my peace give I unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14v27)

On the Distribution of Scripture Calendars

January 13, 2020

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

“In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” (Ecclesiastes 11v6)
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3v8)

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

Neither Saint nor Sinner

April 18, 2019

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)