Posts Tagged ‘love’

A Major Mark of a Cult – Lack of Love

April 23, 2014

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I have been told that the above is the current headquarters of the Palmarian Church in Dublin, just one of numerous cults which are active in Ireland today. There are now many thousands of harmful systems of belief scattered throughout our world – and I do believe that these numbers may well be growing by the day!

As well as being dangerous from an eternal perspective, these are harmful in the sense that they have far-reaching consequences, leading to break-ups within families. There are also hurtful attitudes towards those individuals who feel that, although they have been brought up with certain beliefs or to worship in a certain way, they don’t feel the inclination to follow in their parents’ footsteps.

Someone who is truly born again of the Spirit of God will love their children unconditionally, in the realisation that to try to force someone to believe something in the spiritual realm, is about as crazy an exercise as trying to force a bird to sing, or a flower to open.

Surely we should pray for our children and always be there for them until our dying day?

I met a girl once who had been ‘disfellowshipped’ by a Jehovah Witness community which had previously been a big part of her life. At a time when she had had a cancer diagnosis and a broken marriage simultaneously, she really did need someone to care for her and pray for her but she was totally abandoned by those she trusted because she did not adhere to some of their rules.

Other groups of which I have recently been reading as well as ‘the Palmarians,’ are the Cooneyites/2×2’s, the Church of Scientology, the Exclusive Brethren and the Mormons. To leave is to be, at best, ostracized but for some who turn their backs on the religion which they have been born into can horrifyingly mean certain death. This is a reality in many countries where Islam is in control.

Jesus said: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13v35)

This love for one another, when it is born of God, transcends culture, dominations and even doctrinal differences.

Personally speaking, I experience that affinity and warmth with those who have shared my basic experience of coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.

There is a bond between those who truly know the Lord, regardless of which church they attend – or there should be. Sadly, I have met people who would say they are Christians and yet these same people refuse to speak to someone who has stopped attending their ‘fellowship,’ for whatever reason.

And of course, the true Christian will show his or her love and concern for every soul they come in contact with – whatever their affiliation (or lack of) in the spiritual realm.

Study the reaction of the members of any dubious religious organization… how do they behave towards someone who no longer worships with them or leaves them completely?

I have attended a church and known individuals to have left – but I still love and pray (not in a patronizing way) for those people today and if I happen to meet them walking in the street, we can have a warm conversation.

They may have been quite right to move on or perhaps it was the wrong move to make – but I am not their judge.

Perhaps some of the saddest stories I have read recently relate to those who have lost families and loved ones as a result of leaving a cult; the heartache that this causes does not bear thinking about.

Surely only those who have come to trust and lean on the Lord Jesus Christ can know of the following experience… “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3v17-19)

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1Cor. 13v13)

 

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Love – The Greatest Gift

February 14, 2012

On 14th February many countries in the western world celebrate ‘Valentine’s Day,’ but this week I have taken the opportunity to distribute colourful handcrafted bookmarks to my local library, bearing verses about ‘the greatest love of all.’ Here are some of them…

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1Cor. 13v13)

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1John 4v10)

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” (Proverbs 10v12)

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love, but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. (Proverbs 17v9)

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” (1Cor. 13 v4)

“For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that ye should love one another.” (1John 3v11)

Perhaps the most well known verse telling of God’s love for the world is John 3v16: “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.”

The love of God is surely second to none and the greatest gift that His followers can possess is to love Him in return and, as a result of this, to be filled with His love for others.

God, whose infinite love for us excels all loves, must be our first love; for “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10v38).  When we put Him first in our lives, then He will put a love in our hearts for even the unlovely and those who revile us. He truly wants to be our closest Friend, above all others and we can trust Him with our deepest, most painful secrets. “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” we learn in Proverbs 18v24. He wants, above all, to break the power of sin in our lives, so that we might not be “conformed to this world: … but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  (Romans 12v2).

There are many religions in our world, but how many of these portray the depths of love that is revealed in God’s love for the world, when He gave His only Son Jesus to be its Saviour? For example, the Koran tells us that: “God is great,” while the Bible tells us that “God is love.”

“Greater love hath no man than this,” said Jesus, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15v13). Why not trust this Friend, whose love excels all loves?  If you do so, He will want to shed His love abroad in your heart: “that perfect love which casteth out fear.” (1 John 4v18). “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1Cor. 13v12&13).

There is no greater gift than love,

Pure, undefiled, sent from above…

So ask thy Saviour to impart,

His gift of love to fill thy heart.

© Elizabeth Burke

Suicide: A Worrying Trend in Ireland

December 31, 2011

It was a depressing foggy winter’s evening as I glanced at my watch, wondering why my husband was so late home from work. Some time later I discovered to my dismay that his train had been delayed because of a fatality on the railway line and it appeared that this was no accident. Unfortunately this has not been an isolated incident over the years and now, as the festive season comes to an end and we enter a new year, I have been reflecting on the statistics which will be released for 2011. A recent report has found that men under the age of 35 accounted for 40% of all suicides, 527 people died by suicide in the Republic of Ireland in 2010 and Northern Irish suicides have risen by a staggering 64% in the last decade. But, horrific statistics aside, I feel dismay at the thought of the mental anguish that each individual soul must be suffering to commit such an act.

I have also been thinking on Biblical examples of the Lord’s servants who went though low times in their lives. David clearly reveals this in many of his psalms and Job is a prime example of someone who has gone through so much that he feels despair for a time – but praise God for His goodness to these two men and His love for all mankind today!

Ultimately David and Job triumphed over their respective situations, because their hope was in the Holy One of Israel. In the words of Job: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:” (Job 19v25&26)

Job faced more tragedy in a short space of time than most people could physically face over a lifetime. While most of his ‘comforters’ became his accusers, God loved Job; he was victorious in the end – and today is rejoicing eternally with his Saviour.

Yes, God loved Job, He loved David and He loves you and I – whatever giant despair threatens to overwhelm us. Surely love is the answer? Bereavement, loss, being diagnosed with a serious illness and many other issues can all contribute to an individual’s depressive feelings but when we know that we are truly loved and cared for, it can change our whole perspective on life.

Today, whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever your problems are, you can be certain of this one fact… God loves you! Although you may feel that no one on this earth loves you – you can be sure of God’s love for you. “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)

Jesus said: “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.” (1John 14v27)

These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ to all who have repented of their sins and who have put their trust in Him.

Yes, it may be good to talk to a professional counsellor when one is feeling low, but surely the best Counsellor of all is He who loved you enough to give His very life for you? At this moment, if you do not know Him as Saviour, I would urge you to trust in Him for salvation. Your prayer can be a simple one, in your own words… “Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for all sins I have ever committed. Please come into my life and take over my problems – I entrust them all into your care.”

If, however, you do know Jesus as Saviour today and like Job, you are facing some deep waters – ask the Lord to turn this testing time into something positive and wonderful. Whatever happens, be assured of this… “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13v14) Remember too, if you are a Christian to reach out prayerfully in His love to souls around you, for who knows what turmoil your neighbour or that fellow traveller who stands beside you daily on the railway platform is going through…

The Greatest Gift of All – A True Story

December 24, 2010

My Aunt Frances adored her children. There were five of them altogether – four girls like ‘steps of stairs,’ and finally a boy, all born in the 1940’s and 1950’s. She encouraged them educationally and when it came to the Christmas season, she ensured that each one wakened up on Christmas morning to a beautiful gift. This was quite an achievement, given that post-war times were hard and money was scarce in most households.

In those days she lived in a small town house, and I know (from experience) that under such circumstances it can be difficult to find extra storage space for those gifts we want to surprise our loved ones with on Christmas morning! Anyway, one particular year she bought many lovely gifts for her children, including a little iron and ironing board for one of the girls, but where would she hide them? At the time my parents, siblings and I lived in an old country house (where my aunt had lived previously) and although lacking in many modern conveniences, we had a little bit more space to hide the Christmas gifts and so my parents agreed to keep them for my aunt until Christmas Eve. As a child I loved Christmas, but somehow I recall that Christmas Eve was a busy, often stressful time – especially for women.

That year (as was the tradition for many years) it had previously been agreed that my parents would drive over to my aunt’s house with my cousins’ presents on Christmas Eve. When it came to the evening in question they did go over to visit her, but with all the activities and conversation – they completely forgot the real reason for their visit. They didn’t even think about those toys until they were back at home, preparing to go to bed and heard a knock at the door…

There standing in the cold December night was Aunt Frances with her bicycle, having cycled the entire distance from the town to our country house! In those days most people didn’t have a telephone in their homes (never mind a mobile ‘phone) and so, the only way she could get those essential gifts was to cycle out to us. That night my father packed my aunt’s bicycle into the car boot with the toys and drove her home, and then, in the quietness of the night while the children slept, she carefully laid out the surprises for the morning.

I was touched by this true story of a mother’s love for her children after hearing it from my own mother just recently, for I could also see some spiritual parallels. The miles that she cycled may not seem much nowadays for modern day cyclists who possess high-powered mountain and racing bicycles, but I am certain that my aunt possessed neither. Also, in her youth she had had an accident in which her legs had been badly injured, so that cycling may possibly have caused her some discomfort. What trouble she went to, for the sake of the happiness of her children!  In the Bible, a mother’s love is referred to in Isaiah 49v15, because it is normally one of the most unselfish and self-sacrificing of all the relationships between human beings. “Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”

Therefore we learn that it is possible for even a mother to be lacking in love, but God’s love for us transcends all loves. In 1John 4v8, we learn that “God is love,” and in Romans 5v8 we are told: “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” At this time of year gifts (large and small) are on our minds, but surely the Greatest Gift of All is that which God gave to us at Calvary? “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)

If my cousins had refused those beautiful gifts on Christmas morning, how heartbroken my aunt would have been; having gone to so much trouble over them. Jesus, the perfect Son of God having humbled himself to die on a cross has paid the ultimate price for our sins at Calvary. Today He still stands with outstretched arms, offering His gift of salvation to “whosoever will come.” All He desires is that we acknowledge our sin, repent of it and ask Him to come into our lives, so that He can make us “new creatures.” (2Cor. 5v17) Will you trust Him today? It is a decision you will never regret – for I have proved it in my own life! Remember tomorrow may be too late, for no one knows what tomorrow holds, and some day soon He will return to receive “His own.” (Matthew 24v44). Oh that you would be ready for His return and that you would know the joy of His presence in your life today!

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6v23) “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.” (Eph.2v8&9)