Posts Tagged ‘london’

On Fasting, Misinterpretation of Scripture… and Dangerous Cults

November 7, 2016

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In recent years the forces of law and order in western society have been working hard to deal with scenarios that many had never even previously heard of. “Honour” crimes abound and young people flee from forced marriages which are seen as the norm in their native (mostly Islamic) countries. It is also not uncommon to have to bring justice for the victims of certain types of African ritual and religion. “A clash of civilizations” the authorities call it.

While we think that we’re living comfortably and mundanely in our ‘civilised’ little 21st century high-tech world, perhaps somewhere not too far away there is someone else who is trapped in slavery or a child who is being tortured for having an ‘evil spirit.’ It really is horrifying to think of the thousands of cults of one sort or another in this world and how confusion abounds.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14v12 & Proverbs 16v25)

These thoughts struck me just recently, as I discovered old photographs that I’d taken of the Thames River in London, in November five years ago. They reminded me of a book which I had read some years ago too… “The Boy in the River:” a shocking true story of the murder and sacrifice of a small child in the heart of London in 2001. I was horrified to discover how young children can be the sacrificial victims of certain systems of belief which operate in a very clandestine way. Unfortunately even pseudo “Christian” groups in certain African countries can believe that some very young children have “kindoki” (a kind of witchcraft or possession by an evil spirit) and as a result they are sent back to their native country to have it “dealt with.”

“Dealing with” the offending “spirit” can amount to exorcising the unfortunate child by starving him, since the pastor and his helpers (in their strange mix of traditional beliefs and so-called “Christianity”) misinterpret scripture.

In Matthew 17 we learn of a certain man who came to Jesus, to beseech Him for his son who was described as “a lunatic,” who often fell into the fire – or water.” (v15) The disciples had been unable to cure him and Jesus had rebuked them for this. However, he added… “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (v21) Here we see that the disciples needed to pray and fast in this instance… not the child. This is at variance with what happened in the case of one young boy in the book, who had been starved in order that an “evil spirit” be removed. Unfortunately, even very young children who aren’t aware of what is happening to them are treated in this way too and often it is the “church hierarchy” who have the so-called evil spirit – not the child.

In a world of widespread confusion, evil and pain, those who know the Lord can only pray for opportunities to serve Him in the places where He has led us to be. We live in a rapidly changing, uncertain world where suffering abounds – perhaps much closer to us than we even realise; the Lord would have us to be vigilant and prayerful as a result. I have discovered many ‘faith groups’ which have sprang up all over the place but Jesus said “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7v20)

Gardeners know how easily weeds spring up and anything taking seed in stony ground is especially easy to pluck up. Yet… “The Lord knoweth them that are His…” (2Timothy 2v19) We need to pray about the evil realities that exist in our communities… including human trafficking and individuals being blackmailed into working for very little or practically nothing. Most of all, we need to pray that souls will truly come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour in these last days when cults and false prophets are on the increase.

On This Day Two Hundred Years Ago…

April 27, 2016

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

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

“The wanderer no more will roam,

The lost one to the fold hath come,

The prodigal is welcomed home,

O Lamb of God, in Thee!”

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

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

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

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

“Though clothed in rags, by sin defiled,

The Father hath embraced His child;

And I am pardoned, reconciled,

O Lamb of God, in Thee!

It is the Father’s joy to bless,

His love provides for me a dress,

A robe of spotless righteousness,

O lamb of God in Thee!”

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

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

“Yea, in the fullness of His grace,

He puts me in the children’s place,

Where I shall gaze upon His face,

O Lamb of God, in Thee!

I cannot half His love express,

Yet, Lord, with joy my lips confess,

This blessed portion I possess,

O Lamb of God, in Thee!

And when I in Thy likeness shine,

The glory and the praise be Thine,

That everlasting joy is mine,

O Lamb of God in Thee!”

 

 

 

Embarking on our Journey to the Greek Island of Kos

July 24, 2012

I’ve never been a ‘morning person,’ particularly when the morning in question consists of frantic weighing of suitcases and sleepily wondering whether my husband and I had remembered everything – both for the journey ahead and for those we had left at home. It was a quiet, cool grey dawn as we drove along the motorway to the airport. ‘Yes,’ I thought, ‘it would be good to get a break from Ireland’s torrential rain for a while!’

For some reason I was selected for a random thorough check by airport security. “Oh, don’t worry,” laughed the lady who searched me, “this morning we’re just selecting every twentieth person.”

Later as the aircraft accelerated along the runway and rose shakily into the grey mist, I thought about what is termed in aviation as ‘the point of no return’ and I immediately thought of those words in Hebrews 9v27: “… it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement.”  Mankind, in this life alone, can make His peace with God. There is no chance to put things right either with our Creator or our fellowmen after death…

I thought about the ill-feeling which can develop between neighbours and even family members and remembered two men I had known in my life. They had stopped speaking to each other; I don’t recall much about the reason why now or whether they had ever been reconciled to each other before they had passed their respective ‘points of no return.’ I certainly hoped so. “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” (Col. 3v13&14)

Yet, it is a fact that only those who have come to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour can ‘put on charity,’ for we can only be forgiving in His strength.

Later in London’s Gatwick Airport we had some hours to wait before our flight to Kos and I heard a lady’s voice over the intercom: “Ladies and gentlemen, you are invited to a service of Christian worship in the south terminal, starting at…”

“Well now,” said my husband, “wouldn’t that be a good way to pass some time, since we have quite a while before the gates open for our next flight? After that we can have lunch.”

I agreed with him and we made our way down to this ‘service of Christian worship.’

We were disappointed, however, with the outcome. As I expected there were very few people there but that wasn’t the disappointing part, “for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them…” (Matt. 18v20)

The service was held in a communal worship centre which is also used by other denominations and religious sects. Amongst those who attended were some enthusiastic young people who had come to witness with Christian literature to those who were attending the London Olympics and I did find this encouraging. However, I felt that the lady who spoke at this service was an advocate of ecumenism and I also felt uncomfortable with the other religious symbols on display there, for… “what communion hath light with darkness?” (2Cor. 6v14)

Later I purchased something in one of the airport shops and the assistant put my purchase into a ‘London News Company’ bag. I looked with interest at this bag which depicted the London skyline, complete with all sorts of religious symbols, including the mosque. For some reason the tune of “Rule Britannia” came into my head, with the words… “Britons never never never shall be slaves…”

‘Slaves,’ I thought, ‘but many are slaves now… slaves to the concept of political correctness.’

Our flight to Kos was smooth and the hours passed quickly – but not uneventfully! I thank the Lord for those opportunities He gives us to reach our fellow passengers within the confines of aircrafts, or ships, or trains – and on the journey of life itself.

Later as our taxi driver, in the heat of the dark night, sped along strange new roads which consisted of hairpin bends overlooking dangerous cliffs, I dreamed of home so far away now. Our driver accepted my ‘John 3v16’ Greek bookmark with a smile, as he helped us out with our cases.

A moment later a friendly face greeted us at our accommodation. “Welcome home!” he said kindly, as he shook our hands warmly. Yes, this would be ‘home’ for a couple of weeks and I prayed that warm night, as I fell asleep to the tune of a thousand crickets… ‘thank you Lord for your goodness, for safety, for your mercy and for the opportunities that you will give us in this place…”

Who Will Reach the Nations? The Great Commission Needs Clean Vessels!

August 6, 2010

Leaving the green fields of Ireland, we headed out over the Irish Sea, eventually landing in London Gatwick. The air was warm as I clambered down the steps to the runway; London had been having a heat wave in recent weeks but it wouldn’t be as hot as our destination all the same. I thought of all the places that I was to visit in the time ahead; a world of cultures lay before me and dozens of opportunities to share the gospel with others, but I needed courage and wisdom.

From the men in the typical English pubs to the Greeks who sat outside the tavernas swinging their ‘worry’ beads; from the smooth streets and roads of the British Isles to the unsurfaced roads of Albania, I would gain many impressions; yet most of all I was to be burdened by the fresh realisation that millions of souls needed to be saved.

Christian… awake! Life is but a short breath when compared with eternity. There is no time to waste on the negative issues which vie for our attention upon this earth. The Saviour needs our every breath and gift to be used for His service. Believe me, I feel convicted by my own words when I say this. As every second brings us a little closer to the end of our own lives, time is at a premium and so we must work while it is day for “the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9v4)

The taxi drivers, the guesthouse owner, the coach driver, the cleaners, that waitress in the restaurant, the person sitting beside me on the plane, the woman or man who gives us directions on the street… the  list is endless. We must reach out to those we meet daily, with the resources that the Lord gives us, whether in spoken or written words, or in deeds of love and kindness. My very manner must portray that I am “not my own” and that “I have been bought with a price.” (1Cor. 6v19&20)

Christian – we are “the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5v13-16)

The world hurtles on down the broad road towards the terrible cliff of eternity. Will you not say a word for the Saviour today? Souls on the broad road that leads to destruction are spiritually hungry and dying. And the activities of the ‘broad road’ must have no part in the lives of those who claim to be Christians. We must love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds and we must love our neighbours as ourselves. (Matthew 22v37-40)

Remember the words of Jesus: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad.” (Matthew 12v30) Are you and I ‘gatherers’ or ‘scatterers’ today?  We cannot be both. Either we are active in the Lord’s service and living in accordance with His Word – or we are in serious danger.

When Jesus said: “Be ye ready also, for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not,” (Luke 12v40) He was speaking to His followers.

Christian – awake to danger today. Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25v14-30. Some would try to tell us that ‘we are all unprofitable servants,’ but the Bible draws a clear distinction between the two. It is true that some may be more profitable than others but the fact remains that the unprofitable servant is cast into outer darkness. (Verse 30)

Last week as we flew over many countries of Europe, I thought about both this eternal outer darkness and about the mansions of Heaven, far away in time and space. Looking down I saw at times vast tracts of land, ships far out to sea, sparkling rivers, or great roads winding like snakes, mountains, villages, towns and cities. Tiny dwelling places belonging to souls for whom my Lord has died, lay faintly visible through the great clouds. But who will reach the nations?

Christian – you are unique and the Lord has specific work for you to do today. He needs you – but He can only use clean vessels! It is only by faith that we can walk the narrow road and let the Lord accomplish His will in our lives. Today, if you have not already done so – consecrate your life to Him. Give Him your all and trust Him to sanctify you for His service.

Finally, “let us not be weary in well doing;” for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Gal. 6v9); never forgetting the reward of the profitable servant… “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12v3)

Reflections on the Life of Thomas Kelly – “Ireland’s Most Prolific Hymn Writer” (Born July 13th 1769 – Died May 14th 1855)

July 10, 2010

 

As we read through the gospels which are dedicated to the wonderful life of Jesus here on earth, it is interesting to note that “the common people heard him gladly.” (Mark 12v37) On the other hand the scribes and Pharisees were constantly “laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.” (Luke 11v54) When He healed on the Sabbath day, or when He taught in the synagogue, immediately they were His accusers. “By what authority doest thou these things? Or who is he that gave thee this authority?” they asked. (Luke 20v2) In Mark 15v1 we read that it was the chief priests and scribes who “bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.”

Today, as then, we have our scribes, Pharisees and lawyers – and today, as then, they “love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats at synagogues (or churches) And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” (Matthew 23v6&7) Jesus said: “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are as graves which appear not and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.” (Luke 11v44)

Of course it was the same in Thomas Kelly’s day. Thomas Kelly was the only son of a judge, Thomas Kelly of Kellyville, Co. Laois – which was then known as ‘Queen’s County.’ His father wanted Thomas to follow in his footsteps, which he did for a time, for he graduated from Trinity College Dublin and moved to London to further his career. It was there that he came under conviction of sin and subsequently put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

After this life-changing experience he left his original choice of career to return to Ireland, where he was ordained a minister in the established church. However, because his heart was in the right place, Thomas could not but preach the truth in all its fullness, which in turn made him unpopular with the hierarchy of the church. In those days he suffered immense persecution from his superiors in the church but it was perhaps the opposition from his own family which hurt him the most.

Eventually, having been cast out from the church and barred from all ‘consecrated buildings,’ he found his place amongst the ordinary people, relentless in his preaching of the gospel to hungry souls. Those were days of both spiritual and physical hunger, with the result that Thomas was greatly loved by the poor of Ireland, especially during the potato famine of the 1840’s.

And so, we can see that just as many of the common people heard Jesus gladly, very often they will hear His followers gladly. Those who come to know the Saviour may find that their greatest enemies are those of their own households, while the hierarchy that they once held in esteem within the established churches are not so sympathetic to the simple message of the gospel either.

But Jesus loved those scribes and Pharisees! Although He could see their faults and hypocrisies, He loved them enough to die for them and some of them were even won by Him. Nicodemus, a man of the Pharisees, (St. John 3) could see clearly that “no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (Verse2) And Nicodemus came to love Jesus, for we read how he came to take care of His body after the crucifixion, along with Joseph of Arimathaea. (John 19v39) Therefore if we are followers of Christ, let us in the words of 1John 3v18… “not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

In Hebrews 11v24-26, we read: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” Moses could have chosen to remain in the Egyptian royal family – but what of his eternal welfare? If Thomas Kelly had remained within the established church, diluting his sermons to please the hierarchy and if he had put his family before God, surely we would have been denied the rich legacy of his hymns today? Such lovely compositions clearly stemmed from Thomas’s own personal sufferings. Above all, if Jesus had called on the angels to deliver Him from the cross, what hope would there be for humanity today?

In Romans 8v18 we read: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Today, I believe that Thomas Kelly is rejoicing in glory with many brothers and sisters in Christ who “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt…” If you have never fully trusted the Saviour for salvation, remember that the pleasures of sin are indeed but “for a season.” Just as Moses “by faith forsook Egypt,” you can by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, forsake sin. John the Baptist said: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of world.” (John 1v29) He came, not to give us a licence to sin, but to take away our sin. “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1John 3v7) Whatever our spiritual standing – He knows us better than we know ourselves. Why not come to Him today, just as you are, and in the quietness of your heart trust Him to meet you at the point of your need?

Remember the words of Mark 8v36&37: “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?”

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1Pet.1v7)  Praise His Name.

Link to Thomas Kelly’s hymns: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/s/t/stricken.htm

© Elizabeth Burke 2007