Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

All These Things Shall Pass Away

April 12, 2014

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Just last night I was thinking about this world and remembering all the magnificent buildings and the beautiful scenery that I have had the privilege to see over the years. I thought also about mankind’s struggles for power, the wars, the ideologies and the many thousands of different religions that exist in our world today. All across the earth at this moment there are arguments going on in homes, in governments, politicians are scheming, men are planning robbery and while children are starving to death in war-torn regions, others are amassing riches…

Some days ago I walked through an antique store which was full to the brim with very expensive and unique pieces (none of which I could afford) – but all these things shall pass away. I see people with massive dwellings surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens; I hear of celebrities and their acclamation; I see men rise to powerful positions in the realm of the ‘church’ and politics – but all of this shall pass away.

In Psalm 103v15&16 I read: “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.”
Yes, the ideologies of mankind, his striving and his great material possessions will most certainly pass away. Our bodies in their present form shall also pass away. In fact everything that is tangible in our world shall pass away… but there is that, that shall never pass away…

Those unseen attributes, the beauty of the soul whose rest is in the Lord shall never pass away and the mercy of the Lord shall never pass away. “The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.” (Psalm 103v17)
“To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” (Psalm 103v18)
“The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever; the Lord shall rejoice in his works.” (Psalm 104v31)

And, praise God, the soul whose trust is in the Lamb shall reign for ever and ever.
“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22v5)

As each day draws to a close, with all its concerns and ups and downs, I now remind myself that “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6v34) and praise God, I am “a days march nearer home.”
I quote the final verse of my little poem “Though Towers and Kingdoms flee away”, which is based on Psalm 103v11-22)
The full poem can be seen here: https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/my-strong-tower/

May the Lord bless those who read, that they may find that rest in Him; the blessed rest that shall never pass away.

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.

© E. Burke

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A Bitterly Cold Day in the Workhouse and Thoughts on John Byrne

March 28, 2014

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Some weeks ago we attended the Prayer and Fellowship event at the Faith Mission Centre in Durrow, but before travelling home we spent an interesting time in the Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum, County Laois. Renovations are still being carried out here but I have to say that I found it a most comprehensive and fascinating guided tour, giving an insight into how life must have been for those who were unfortunate enough to have to live there at the time. It was so icy in that gloomy place, to the point that I could imagine very vividly indeed what it must have been like to be confined within its cold grey walls all those years ago. In the mid 19th century, Ireland, like the rest of the British Isles, was dotted all over with these workhouses which supposedly were a superior alternative to starvation on the outside.
In reality terrible hardship and disease awaited those who entered the workhouse. Standing in the infirmary, I looked for a moment at the bars on the windows and suddenly shivered when I thought about how whole families were brought so low. To be ill at all within a workhouse would almost certainly have meant death in those days.
The tour also took in a wide variety of antique agricultural implements from the time when the building was used as a co-operative from the 1920’s – a different era but still there were many hardships for people.
While we were given the tour and commentary about the building in its workhouse era, we had to climb some wooden steps to get to another level where I saw what I thought was a young boy lying on the floor. For a moment I stopped in shock but then realised that this was just a model, showing how the inmates would have gone to sleep on the hard floor at night, on a sack filled with oaten straw. Somehow I suspect that they got little sleep under those overcrowded, cold and uncomfortable conditions.
The Lord never intended that families be segregated like this and that children, especially, should live under such inhumane conditions. If life here offered no dignity, death offered even less. There were many deaths in this particular workhouse – and a communal grave into which bodies were emptied from a cart without ceremony. This great pit is still in evidence today; the person who gave us the tour told us that this grave was to be properly marked, in respect for those who had been buried here.
According to records, one poor soul (John Byrne) who was ‘retarded,’ soiled himself and was subsequently ‘washed’ in a nearby cold river as a punishment, with the result that he ended his days in the infirmary, having caught pneumonia. I can only imagine how he must have felt in those icy cold waters on a February day all those years ago.
In all, three eras are represented within the confines of the great grey buildings: the workhouse era of poverty and famine; the age of the co-operative society, and also the era when it was occupied by British soldiers (the ‘Black and Tans’) during Ireland’s war of independence. Graffiti is still in evidence on the walls from the time it was occupied by the latter.
As I followed our guide (we were his only customers that cold day) I thought about how much misery those cold grey walls had been witness to – and how many injustices had been perpetrated within this terrible place and the heartbreaking stories of the many souls who had lived here. I especially thought again about young John Byrne and how he had suffered so cruelly.
Even in this modern age life can be cruel – very often children and elderly people are the victims of neglect and abuse and other vulnerable sections of our own communities can be open to abuse too. In recent times I have encountered a lack of compassion for those who really need it; many people in this world are self-seeking and self-centred, caring little for the deep troubles of others.
Somehow the lovely hymn “Sing we the King Who is Coming to Reign” came to mind when all these thoughts were going through my mind.
As this world with all its turmoil draws to a conclusion, the people of God should not be surprised to find more and more opposition and hostility towards them especially. Society may have advanced in technological terms but the current state of the world we live in could be described in these words:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection….” (see: 2Timothy 3v1-5)
Jesus said: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 10v22)
And praise God injustice and cruelty shall be no more for…“Wrong shall be ended when Jesus is King!”
Sing we the King who is coming to reign;
Glory to Jesus the Lamb that was slain;
Life and salvation His empire shall bring,
Joy to the nations, when Jesus is King.

Chorus
Come, let us sing praise to our King,
Jesus, our King, Jesus, our King;
This is our song, who to Jesus belong
Glory to Jesus, to Jesus our King.

Souls shall be saved from the burden of sin,
Doubts shall not darkness the witness within,
Hell hath no terror, and death hath no sting,
Love is victorious when Jesus is King.

All men shall dwell in His marvellous light,
Races long severed His love shall unite,
Justice and truth from His sceptre shall spring,
Wrong shall be ended, when Jesus is King.

Kingdom of Christ, for thy coming we pray;
Hasten, O Father, the dawn of the day,
When this new song Thy creation shall sing
Satan is vanquished, and Jesus is King!

C. Silvester Horne

Links to this hymn: http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/s/i/singking.htm

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The Terrible Legacy of the Magdalene Laundries

February 27, 2013

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In recent years one powerful tidal wave after another has lashed the institution of Roman Catholicism, particularly on the island of Ireland. Just recently I have read and listened to horrific stories of abuse within the Magdalene Laundries, institutions which were run by nuns and where women of all ages were incarcerated and used as slaves to wash linen for hotels and other businesses. Amazingly, the last of these institutions was closed down as recently as 1996. Unfortunately all of this happened with the co-operation of the government, the police and those in authority. A girl who escaped from these circumstances and who was caught by the police would ultimately be sent back to face even worse punishment and the horror that she had attempted to escape from. And it was horror; many of these women were abused, starved, assaulted, their heads shaved, their clothes confiscated and also beaten by those who were supposed to be “looking after them.”

Of course many were not women at all – girls as young as ten were brought to the laundries and others were born into the system. Many babies who were born there were taken from their mothers without their consent and given up for adoption. Also, the laundries were supposedly for unmarried mothers, but many were not in this situation. One woman told of how she was thrown into the laundry simply because of her family’s poverty, while another had been discovered out ‘too late at night’ by a passing priest who insisted that she needed to be ‘corrected’ by being incarcerated in the laundry.

Perhaps what is most sad is the fact that much of this happened with the co-operation of the families of the victims. Listening to their stories, I realised that some of the girls were the victims of abuse and yet they were punished for a crime of which they were the victims. This brings to mind many present day situations in countries where Shariah law is enforced and where young girls are still stoned to death, even though many are the victims in the situation.

All of this came to mind in my recent reading of St. John, chapter 8, where the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman, taken in adultery, unto Jesus. As usual the hierarchy of the church were tempting Him, “that they might accuse Him.” (Verse 6) “But Jesus stooped down, and with his fingers wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.” (Verse 6)

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (Verse 7)

All of these woman’s accusers, we learn, “went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” (Verse 9)

Jesus asked her: “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?”

She said: “No man, Lord.”

“And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (Verse 11)

Jesus forgave the woman, who was clearly not innocent in this situation – but He also gave her instructions for her future life and ultimate happiness – “Go and sin no more.”

And of course the other person in this adulterous situation was not innocent and her accusers were certainly not innocent, for they went out one by one, having been “convicted by their own conscience.” (Verse 9)

Many situations of cruelty and injustice have come to light in our society in recent years – and no one knows more about it than the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows about every heart that aches and every deep emotional scar and every dear soul who still wakens with nightmares from the events of a past life.

Directly after He spoke those words of forgiveness and instruction to the woman, Jesus again spoke to the Pharisees: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (Verse 12)

If those in authority in our society had truly followed the Lord Jesus and not the false teachings of men, they would have been led of His Spirit and by the light of His Word. (“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119v105). There would have been no cruel institutions, no abuse and no lack of love.

My prayer is that the people of Ireland and the people of our troubled world would turn to His Word, read it and seek His salvation. This salvation cannot be achieved by our own works, (Ephesians 2v8&9); by withdrawing from society and forbidding to marry (1Tim.4v1-3); through ordinances of the church or by putting our trust in anything other than the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4v12)

Jesus said: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11v28) Rest from sorrow-filled years, love for your fellowman – and eternal rest in His presence now and for evermore.

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Praise God – I’m Rich!

April 1, 2011

Something happened to me one evening just recently; something which I find difficult to put into words, expect to say that I was suddenly overwhelmed by the Lord’s Presence and I came to see how rich I was in Him. Of course when most people see the word ‘rich’ in print, the spiritual never crosses their minds; they visualise property, gold, money or possessions. Yet this is what the Lord showed me that evening… the depths of the spiritual riches that are mine in Him!

Sometimes we are troubled on every side by those who can talk of nothing but the material, while at the same time numerous bills are being shoved through our letterboxes or our bank accounts are dwindling with one direct-debit after another. As a consequence, we may start to worry, growing irritable and pre-occupied – but this is not the Lord’s will for His children!

As we walk by faith each day, we must keep our eyes on the Lord and not on the stormy waves of this world’s monetary problems which threaten to overwhelm us.

In the early days of our marriage, when my husband was still a student and we managed to live on very little, someone gave me a little wooden plaque with these words… “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4v19) I believe that these needs apply to both the spiritual and the material, but at the same time I don’t agree with those whose philosophy supports the notion that ‘health, wealth and prosperity’ go ‘hand in hand’ with the Christian life.

In Philippians 4v19, we learn of those “whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things…”

All around me I see people who are so rich in the things of this world. Sadly they are totally taken up with material things and probably never give a thought to the serious matter of eternity. If my possessions consisted of nothing but the material – how poor I would be! Jesus warns us in Luke 12v15… “Take heed; and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

Just recently I was becoming quite concerned about people with whom I was in touch talking about money (or their lack of it) all the time. At the same time I could see that in reality these same people had much to be thankful for in the material sense – but sadly they were poverty stricken in the spiritual sense. In truth this life with all its material possessions will very soon pass away for each one of us. My prayer is that those of us who know the Lord would learn to “count our blessings” – both in the material and spiritual sense, while those who are still outside of grace would read the parable of the rich man in Luke 12v16-21 – and trust the Lord to save them, so that they would not lay up treasure for themselves – but be rich towards God. (Luke 12v21)

Getting back to my experience that evening – I felt so close to Lord after this; somehow He had given me a revelation of just how rich I am and I believe that there are even more riches to be possessed in Him. He has given me His wonderful Word to read; He is constantly there for me as my Guide in the onward march of life, He is my Confidant, my All – and most of all, He has given me the unspeakable riches of glory and everlasting life, which are mine through the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! 1Peter 1v3&4 describes it so well: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,” How can I not rejoice in such riches – and how can I not pray for them to be bestowed on every living soul with whom I come in contact?

Link to the hymn “Count your Blessings:” http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/c/o/u/countyou.htm

Homeless in the Bitter Cold of an Irish Winter

December 9, 2010

Last night I heard a pitiful “Meow” and glanced out to see the most beautiful ginger and white cat, his green eyes shining in the icy darkness. I left some food out for him and closed the door again, watching from the kitchen window to see that he licked the plate completely clean. This beautiful cat is wild, clearly homeless and ravenously hungry – still hungry after four plates of food.

At that point I started to think about homeless people. For such a small country, Ireland has more than its fair share of them and I was shocked to hear some news at the weekend about homeless people who are actually sleeping outdoors in this weather. Some of those who were interviewed said that they were afraid to stay in hostels which were run by charities because they have been attacked and their limited possessions stolen in such places. One young man said that his mother had thrown him out because of his drug addiction. How terrible!

How many needy souls there are in our own communities! There is a world of work for the Christian to do in this world; we can pray for the immediate needs of those around us but if we have the opportunity to help in a practical way we should do so. Homelessness may not be the fault of the victims of it and I don’t believe that it is God’s will for my fellow human beings to live under these circumstances. Drugs, alcohol and poverty abound – but His grace is greater. I remember hearing the story of a young woman from the Ukraine who was homeless in Northern Ireland. One night she suffered from severe frostbite and as a result had to have her lower legs amputated. The town where this happened was, I am told, full of Christians. Did anyone see her alone in a cold doorway, as they passed by? If only she had known; there was no need for this terrible thing to happen, because if she had even gone to the police, they would have made sure that she was properly accommodated. And if only those who are in need right now would realise that there is a God in heaven who cares deeply about their situation and wants to give them good living conditions and a life that is pleasing to Him.

“I wonder where that cat sleeps at night?” I asked my daughter. “I wish that we could tame him and give him a home.”

“In that old deserted farmhouse at the end of the lane I think,” she said.

If the Lord can provide for His creation in such a manner, it is surely His will that men, women, boys and girls for whom He sent His Son to die, would have all their basic needs met in this life – and above all that they would possess those spiritual gifts of joy and contentment which only the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, can impart to human hearts. Surely…“my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4v19) is His promise to those who come to Him by faith for all their needs, whether spiritual or material!