Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

In an Age of Celebrities… Humility is Rare

February 5, 2019

The world is currently full of celebrities… both major and minor, thanks to the internet and popular culture. Men and women naturally love the applause and accolade of their fellow human beings but this is a phenomenon which should have no place in the Christian realm.

When one sees a well-known leader in the “Christian” world being lauded and honoured by thousands and often millions of cheering crowds, there is surely something terribly wrong. How concerning is the knowledge that there are “evangelical Christian” preachers out there who have become bathed in fame and fortune over the years! People revere the man and are not looking to the Saviour. Their personality, their charisma, their very presence gets in the way of the love, goodness and humility of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, too, these seemingly great preachers can often be deceivers… “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers unto the false prophets.” (Luke 6v26)

One evening I had just returned home from a poetry reading event (where I had felt like “a fish out of water”) when I stopped in my tracks in amazement, at the words of the verse of a hymn floating out of the kitchen: “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”

“I will not boast in anything,

No gifts, no power, wisdom;

But I will boast in Jesus Christ,

His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer;

But this I know with all my heart –

His wounds have paid my ransom.”

It was as if this singing on the kitchen radio as I filled the kettle was just for me and my eyes filled with tears. I had earlier felt the ridicule of other writers but really I should never have expected to be accepted by the world…. I can only write for my Saviour; applause has no place in the life of the Christian; genuine and sincere encouragement from other Christians, perhaps – but not applause.

My participation at the open-air public event I had just attended was intended to reach others for “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…” (Romans 1v16) But the words which the Lord gives those who write for Him are very out of place in this world. They don’t fit well with men’s many other philosophies as I have discovered – and Christian poetry is incongruous in a world of intellectual snobbery. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness…” (1Cor. 1v17) and yet I pray for those present that they will remember something later and be drawn to know the Saviour who loves them.

There are many older hymns than the above which echo these sentiments too. “When I survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts is one of them…

“Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God:

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.”

Frances Ridley Havergal’s “Take my Life” is yet another…

“Take my silver and my gold;

Not a mite would I withhold;

Take my intellect, and use

Every power as Thou shalt choose.”

All that we do, say and write should surely be to His glory. In a world where the applause of men can be deafening, the standard for the Christian in this regard is to follow the Saviour’s example in all humility. “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23v12)

“…And the common people heard Him gladly.” (Mark 12v37) He owned nothing; “He had not where to lay His head” and when the streets were lined with palms, He rode on a donkey – not an amazing golden carriage drawn by great white horses or like in today’s world, where a “pastor” might have his private jet. Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18v36) – and neither should ours be.

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Galatians 6v14)

 

Does Anyone Know The Author Of This Poem: “The Holy Life?”

September 19, 2017

granspaintingforharold

I recently enjoyed a visit with Mr and Mrs Harold Irwin who are old friends of my parents, Jack and Ella Hutchinson, who are now with the Lord. I noticed while we chatted, that hanging on the wall there was a lovely poem surrounded by flowers in a frame which looked very like one of those my mother would have used for her paintings. As it turned out it was indeed given to the couple as a gift by my mother!

Entitled: “The Holy Life,” the words are rather faint now. I later discovered that my sister, who is good at calligraphy, had printed the poem for Mum but she was unable to remember its source. Upon further investigation I discovered that one source was “Gospel Banner” but the author still unknown.

If anyone knows the author of this poem, I would be delighted to hear from you! By all accounts there are at least two versions of this poem which is what happens, unfortunately, when words are without copyright. Seeing it there touched me and brought back lovely memories of the fellowship my parents once had with Mr and Mrs Irwin and other souls who would gather in to the little cottage prayer meeting in the beautiful countryside near Richhill in Northern Ireland. There, in the warmth of a real log fire, hearts were lifted to the Lord in prayer. How delighted my mother would be to know that, of all their possessions, this gift is still precious to Mr and Mrs Irwin. These are the words on my mother’s version of this lovely poem…

The Holy Life

There is a faith, unmixed with doubt,

A love all free from fear,

A walk with Jesus where is felt

His Presence always near;

There is a rest that God bestows,

Transcending pardon’s peace,

A lowly sweet simplicity,

Where inward conflicts cease.

There is a service God inspired,

A zeal that tireless grows,

Where self is crucified with Christ

And joy unceasing flows.

There is a being ‘right with God,’

That yields to His commands,

Unswerving true fidelity,

A loyalty that stands.

There is a meekness free from pride,

That feels no anger rise,

At slights, or hate or ridicule,

But counts the cross a prize.

There is a patience that endures,

Without a fret or care,

But joyful sings ‘His will be done,

My Lord’s sweet grace I share’.

There is a purity of heart,

A cleanness of desire

Wrought by the Holy Comforter,

With sanctifying fire.

There is a glory that awaits

Each blood-washed soul on high,

When Christ returns to take His Bride;

With Him beyond the sky.

Beyond the Night

December 31, 2016

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Recently I discovered this poem which I had written when much younger. Tonight (the night before New Year’s ‘Eve) I just happen to be sitting alone – but certainly not ‘forlorn’! However, I can recall the night on which I wrote these words (which are based on the portions of scripture shown) and I can still remember very well how I felt at the time. Praise God, like the Psalms, the Christian’s poetry may sometimes start on a downcast mode but it will conclude on a note of victory and confidence – ultimately in the Person of our Redeemer; our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Our brief lives are indeed as “a shadow that passeth away” (Psalm 144v4) but we are promised that “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)

Beyond The Night

(Psalm 90v9; Psalm 144v4; Daniel 12v3)

The old year dies, the new is born,

As I sit alone on this night, forlorn.

My eyes look up from the words of old:

“We spend our years as a tale that is told,

Man is like to vanity, his day

As a shadow that passeth away.”

Beyond my shadow at the window pane,

A tender snowflake dies to rain,

While a golden ember upon the grate,

Falls and dulls to darkest slate.

I recall the beauty of evening sun

Splash blood-red on the bleak horizon,

But always the darkness would spread,

And glowing embers are too soon dead.

But I look above, and beyond the night,

And see at last that wondrous sight,

For the gentle moon is surely there,

Bearing light to the darkest lair.

The fields lie quietly now, and all my house asleep,

But I know, oh how I know that a billion tiny jewels

Lie beyond the darkness deep,

And far far away lies precious perfect light

Triumphant on the darkest night.

Oh let us ne’er be held in bond

By clouds of darkest night,

But let us look above and beyond –

To the Son, our Redeemer and Light.

For was it not this King of Love

Who cast the stars in space?

And did He not die and rise above

For all of Adam’s fallen race?

For moon and stars will fail some night,

And all this world be gone,

But we shall shine as the stars forever,

If we love Him at the Dawn.

©Elizabeth Burke

 

Today I Found a Poem From Long Ago… On “Thoughts in Castledillon”

January 30, 2016

castledillon

Having had a particularly wretched ‘flu’ in recent times, I was unable to go beyond these four walls and so, on slow recovery, took the opportunity to sort through some old documents and other personal items which have been lying for a long time. I discovered a diary (dated 1972) but that is a little story for another day. There were also some letters, including a very encouraging one from my Dad to my husband and me, complete with wonderful Bible references… and then I spotted it: a poem that I had written a very long time ago. Strangely I had forgotten all about it, this little poem which was chosen for inclusion in an anthology produced by Northern Ireland Libraries nearly forty years ago.

I have always appreciated and been touched by God’s creation… and then one wonderful evening I came to know Him as my Lord and Saviour. On the theme, once more, of the deity of Jesus, I love these verses: “God who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Hebrews 1v1-3)

In this little poem I refer to Castledillon, a (now derelict) large mansion overlooking a lovely lake. In my youth I spent many happy days and evenings there, admiring the Lord’s creation – and in time being overwhelmed by the wonder that He had sent His only Son to die for me, so undeserving of His mercy. Praise God He is still my Refuge and my Confidante to this very day….

Thoughts in Castledillon

You – who sit behind the desk,

With doubts and worries and frowns grotesque;

Come with me to a different world,

Where a new philosophy lies unfurled.

 

Let me take you by the hand,

And lead you through the winter land;

Past an ivy-covered wall

And down a path where chestnuts fall.

 

We’ll walk until we reach a road,

Where once the Lord of the Manor strode

To his lonely mansion beyond the trees,

That are bared to sculptures by winter’s breeze.

 

Come with me to the shimmering lake,

And let that inner peace awake,

Watch the fire of the setting sun,

Glowing amber on the bleak horizon.

 

Across the silken waters of twilight,

We’ll see a swan in purest white,

Or hear a water-hen flapping wings,

Or a bird of dusk, as it sweetly sings.

 

We’ll watch each precious leaf to fall

Upon the lake that mirrors all:

The ancient trees, the setting sun,

And the gentle moon when day is done.

 

Now let your silver tears be lost,

Amongst the grass of glistening frost.

Come, talk to the One who created all –

Come let your burdens slip –

And fall.

© Elizabeth Burke

 

Balbriggan Library Event – A Seasonal Reading

December 6, 2014

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On Wednesday, 10th December next, Lord willing, I hope to participate in a ‘seasonal event,’ reading short stories and poems which I have written over the years. This short time (lasting just one hour – from 3.30-4.30pm) will also include a power point display of inspirational and seasonal photographs. I also hope to bring my books and bookmarks along to the event.

Balbriggan, once a fishing village, is now one of north County Dublin’s heavily populated towns, with many nationalities occupying its recently built housing estates.

However, as I’ve commented previously, even though more than 20,000 people of numerous nationalities now live there, relatively few people attend such events. To any Christian reading this I would say – even though numbers will most likely be small, please pray that those who attend will be blessed and met at the point of their individual needs.

Current Link to this event:

http://www.fingalcoco.ie/events/event/default.aspx?guidStr=6783871e-6a7c-e411-9c55-0050569b0000

 

My Strong Tower…

May 17, 2012

Sometimes the pressures and weary ways of this life can become almost too great a burden and then perhaps we try to unwind by taking a peaceful walk in familiar surroundings. Old familiar scenes are comforting but it must be remembered that even these will some day pass away.

On a recent solitary walk, I looked towards an old tower in a distant field which I can see from my bedroom window. Strong, beautiful and of historical significance, it has overlooked the changing seasons of the countryside for many years. If it could talk, it would tell me of horse drawn ploughs and carriages, weary souls drawn from the hiring fairs and ladies in crinoline dresses with parasols. Throughout the years it stands; an unchanging familiar landmark, reminding me of a faithful, unchangeable friend. Nevertheless one day after that Great Harvest (Rev. 14), even this tower will be no more (Rev.21v1). Yet Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us, is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13v8) Jesus, my unchangeable, faithful Friend throughout the changing seasons of this life… “thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.”  (Psalm 61v3). “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16v11)

 I wrote “Though Towers and Kingdoms Flee Away” quite a number of years ago…

Though Towers and Kingdoms flee away…

(Psalm 103v11-22)

 

There is a tower beyond my furrowed little hills,

That stands through winter’s stormy ills,

And purest snow, or heat of summer sun,

‘Gainst fiery sky when day is done,

Or mellow hues of morning light,

A gentle silhouette against the night.

 

And that day shall surely come to pass,

When this my tower shall be as grass,

And the flower of grass that withereth away,

And the flesh of man that doth decay,

And the glory of man that shall be no more –

A passing shadow through life’s final door.

 

But the soul whose trust is in the Lamb,

Whose blood was freely shed, its healing balm

A gift of love for all who ever were, or will

Be born into this world of sin and ill –

That soul shall stand though towers and kingdoms flee away,

Yea, that soul shall have eternal joy beyond life’s little day.

 

© Elizabeth Burke

 

Who stole my Father’s Gate?

October 28, 2011

I recently wrote a little article for a local newspaper after the disappearance of a gate which my father, the late Mr. Jack Hutchinson, had fitted to the entrance of the back lane of his farm. These gates bring back memories for me of peaceful country walks and of happy days of my closely knit family throughout the seasons. I am saddened that the gates are gone as I associate them with my father who died only a few months ago. One has been taken away by my brother, in case it is stolen too and the other… who knows where it is? The theft of the gate is only a minor one in a number of other more distressing recent events in my life. But the photograph of the gates and the poetry which they inspired me to write will live on… hopefully to touch hearts for a long time to come. Below is the poem that I wrote almost eight years ago for a baby niece’s christening, inserting a photograph of the gates…

Today, a precious baby girl,

I watch your tiny life unfurl,

Knowing not the future path of years,

You sit with smiles, and sometimes tears

At the gateway of life.

I trust you will blossom and grow,

As lovely days shall come and go –

Each joyous occasion a treasured milestone

On a path that belongs to you alone.

There may be a mountain to ascend

And often a spiralling bend,

And crossroads too – a difficult decision –

For not all roads are signed with vision.

And some may carry a heavy toll,

As the journey of life shall onward roll.

But I know a narrow little road

Where the cares of life you may unload.

Branching off from busy highways,

It leads so far from this world’s byways.

There you may rest in green pastures,

And be restored by still waters –

For its toll has once for all been paid

By one, Jesus, who died in your stead.

So, I will pray for you little niece

That you may choose this road of peace,

And take the hand of a Shepherd Friend,

Who will guide your life to journey’s end,

Until you meet that crystal river,

And dwell in the light of His presence

Forever.

 

 

Primroses, New Life – and Showers of Blessing!

March 23, 2011

My favourite wild flower of spring is the primrose. Its delicate fragrance and colour is a joy to experience, tastefully decorating the ditches and hedgerows in this part of Europe. I love those verses in Song of Solomon 2v11&12… “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;” These lovely words fill me with optimism, although it must be said that Solomon had never experienced an Irish winter, which often lasts longer than we would wish!

When we entrust our lives into the Creator of all life, we inherit something special – a deep appreciation of the beauty of His creation. Although tainted by man, we can still experience something of its wonder and beauty when we visit some unspoilt countryside. How glorious is spring; that newness of life, which is not just a renewal, but new vibrant and budding life – a victory over death!  Just as spring emerges from the pessimistic gloom of winter, our lives can emerge from a spiritual death, as cold as winter itself – when we repent of our sin, asking Jesus to forgive us and take control. I once wrote the following, a simple acrostic verse that children may appreciate, which expresses my love of the flower and my joy in God’s creation and in the knowledge of sins forgiven through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Primroses in the Gloaming

(2Cor. 5v17)

Perfume so fragrant at the dawn of spring

Rose to meet me one twilight evening.

I hummed a tune as I strode along,

My heart as content as a bird in song.

Red was the sunset through clouds of the west,

Over the trees flapped the last crow to nest,

Silently, gently, I picked one pale flower…

Enraptured my soul after the shower!

 

Elizabeth Burke

 

Man Dies on His 107th Birthday! On Longevity and the Christian Life

March 17, 2011

When I heard that Jacob Marshall, an elderly man I knew who lived close to my old homeplace in Northern Ireland died recently on his 107th birthday, I started to think about the fact that longevity is very often synonymous with leading a Christian life.

Of course this is not always the case but I have noticed that those who have truly committed their lives to the Lord and follow in His paths very often do live longer. There are many reasons why this may be so – not least the fact that committed Christians live healthier lives. They regard their bodies as the “Temple of the Holy Ghost” (1Cor. 3v16) which means that they don’t drink themselves to oblivion, they don’t do drugs and they don’t smoke. With regard to food intake, this verse is practised in their daily lives… “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Cor. 10v31). 

They are also not as likely to suffer from depression; a factor which is said to actually shorten an individual’s lifespan – even if they don’t resort to suicide. They have a reason to live – and an assurance in death; they have that unspeakable joy which only their Saviour can impart and they are generally happier and healthier in their minds too, for they “are persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able” to separate them “from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8v38&39)

When we live as peacefully as we can with our fellowmen (Romans 12v18); bearing no grudges, in the knowledge that God is the Final Judge Who some day will see to it that justice is done, it is surely better for our own well-being in the long run. Jesus’ example to us of “rendering not evil for evil” (1Thess. 5v15) is a healthy one for our physical and emotional well-being.

Of course Christians can (and do) sometimes die when they are quite young and Jesus was a prime example of this. All across the world at this moment are those followers of the Lord Jesus who are being persecuted for their faith, flung into prison, starved and tortured; such treatment very often leads to early death. And of course, Christians too live in a world which is polluted by disease of one sort or another and nuclear fall-out which results in cancer, while accidents of all types are universal.

Still, God is sovereign and when we repent, committing our lives to Him, we can rest assured that He will give us the grace to live our lives out to His glory whether they are short and sweet – or exceptionally long, like Jacob Marshall’s – or Methuselah’s!

I will close with a verse of a poem which my maternal grandfather often recited to my mother when she was a child…

“Be good sweet maid, and let who will be clever;

Do noble deeds, not dream them all day long,

And so make life, death, and that vast Forever

One grand sweet song.”

 

The above is one of the many variations of a verse from Charles Kingsley’s poem, “A Farewell.” Surely this is God’s will for the remainder of my life, whatever it consists of… that I will allow Him to work in and through me, to sanctify me to the end that my life, death, and ‘that vast Forever’ are ‘one grand sweet song?’

November’s Doom and Gloom and Ireland’s Economic Disasters – but “Look Up!”

November 25, 2010

November can be a bleak month when lengthening shadows cast a gloom on the cold earth and autumn’s gold is facing certain death. I took a walk today away from the things that threaten to burden me – and to be alone with the Lord. Usually nature ‘lifts me’ but today it didn’t. The trees are almost skeletal now and yesterday I had discovered a young pigeon which had been shot and seriously injured. It sat alone, shaking in the cold hard furrows of the field; I knew that it was so seriously injured, that there was nothing I could do for it and so I left it there, wishing that somehow it would recover. ‘Why does mankind feel the need to kill everything?’ I had asked myself. Today I learned that the pigeon had been cruelly killed and I thought about the wonderful truth that God is aware of even a sparrow falling to the ground. (Matthew 10v29) As I listened to more news on the radio about economic doom and gloom here in Ireland, I also thought about what an ugly world we live in, with corruption at every level. Surely the weak and the vulnerable are cruelly exploited? In the middle of the recent gloom I received a call from someone, telling me that their neighbour had attempted suicide…

Then tonight I saw a great beautiful amber moon rise above the dark shadowy fields and I reminded myself that the sun is always up there too – even on the darkest, most depressing days of winter! With this in mind I suddenly remembered a little poem that I had written some years ago now, based on my own feelings of despondency at the time Furthermore, I also remembered my recent reading in Genesis… “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1v4)

That “God divided the light from the darkness” is truly significant and a recurring theme throughout scripture. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1John 1v5) Thank God for “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1v9-13) Praise God for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power to lift us out of any situation to new heights of joy in Him! If our happiness is solely dependant upon the material things of this life – we will be so miserable. Yes, it is possible to feel despondent on occasions but for those who know the Lord (and I tell myself this too) our eyes should look above and beyond the darkest night, for we have a sure light “that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2Peter 1v19)

 

Look Up! 

When you are despondent

Do not dwell upon the loss,

Look ever unto Jesus

And cling to the cross.

When all around

Seems bleak as darkest night –

Look beyond the clouds

For that Eternal Light.

This world’s pain and glory

Will soon pass away,

From the black of midnight 

To the dawn of Heaven’s Day,

And though you are oppressed

By sin on every side,

Look upon that face of Love,

For His grace will provide.

 

                                                                                                                 Elizabeth Burke