Posts Tagged ‘roman catholicism’

Further Horrific Disclosures of Abuses within Roman Catholicism

June 3, 2018

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If any other organization, political regime or dictator in this world had been guilty of the crimes perpetrated by Roman Catholicism, they would have been tried for war crimes, or had to stand before a court of law a long long time ago. Before the recent disclosure of the disgraceful “adoption” policy here in Ireland, I had coincidentally watched a video involving a young lady of Spanish origin who was trying to find her real parents. Thankfully her adoptive parents in South America (who had no idea that she had been stolen from her mother at birth) were loving and kind to her and she’d had a good life – but it could have been otherwise. In many cases mothers were told that their babies had died at birth but in actual fact these children had been stolen and sold by a criminal ring of nuns and doctors during the Franco dictatorship.

Here in Ireland unmarried mothers in “mother and baby homes” were often forced to sign documents at a time when they were feeling so vulnerable and weak against this cruel system. Subsequently there were falsified birth certificates in order that these children could be trafficked out of the country. In many cases mothers wanted to keep their babies but they were dissuaded from doing so by those who most likely made a profit out of the adoptions.

I have been horrified in the last while to hear of people, often now living in the U.S.A. who discovered that they had three or even four birth certificates! It has been revealed that not all of the children were fortunate enough to end up in good homes and some of the birth mothers who were victims of this evil system had to have psychiatric treatment in the years ahead because of the shock of having their babies stolen from them. Having had three children myself, I can only imagine how those mothers felt.

Child trafficking, slavery and false imprisonment of women, illegal and forced adoptions, falsification of documents and birth certificates, withholding of information to those who wanted to find loved ones, clerical abuse of children, hundreds of babies buried suspiciously in unmarked graves, the horrors of Magdalene laundries and industrial schools, deceit, fraud… the list goes on and on. How sad to see other mainline churches (which once had the truth) so backslidden into apostasy that they want to find “common ground” with this system of belief.

In light of all this abuse, it is ironic too that the hierarchy within Roman Catholicism still believe that they have the authority to order people to attend confession.

Yes, those who sin need to confess their sins – but not to any man upon this earth, whatever their assumed authority. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v9)

“But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.” (Hebrews 7v24-28)

No man upon this earth has the power to forgive sin but praise God “there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2v5&6) it is to Him that souls must come with their burden of sin.

As this latest controversy in our country continues to escalate in the weeks ahead, I am praying that people will have their eyes opened to this evil system of belief that they have put their trust in for many years. As the old saying goes “it’s an ill wind blows nobody good.” I pray that those who know the Lord would use these great opportunities to speak a word in season, so that souls would put their trust in that holy and undefiled High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, “who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of  the truth.” (1Timothy 2v4)

 

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On Ecumenism, Heresy – and the Difficulty in Finding True Fellowship

April 12, 2018

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We are not “mystery worshippers” but sometimes we attend various mainline denominations and small non-denominational fellowships in our area and much further afield. Unfortunately, the nearest churches where we feel that we can worship regularly with others of like mind in “spirit and in truth” are in fact a very long drive from where we live. However, as the Lord’s people know and I have said before “the church” is not a building or a denomination, but the members of the Body of Christ. The true Church consists of humble souls who have a genuine love in their hearts for each other and for the souls around them and they pray fervently for the salvation of loved ones and those they come into contact with. The members of the true Church today are scattered throughout this world; often they are poor in spirit, discouraged and suffer persecution at different levels. Certainly the evil one gives them a really hard time.

While the masses sweep onwards towards the shores of eternity on a tide of ecumenism or turn a blind eye to the obvious heresies in the “constitution” put together in whatever fellowship or church they attend, genuine Christians often feel like “a round peg trying to fit into a square hole.” Certainly, when I found myself in such a situation, I felt that there was no point in “trying to fit in” when this was not the Lord’s will for my life. I feel that I cannot overlook, or give credence, to ecumenical or other heresies for the sake of trying to be seen to be going somewhere on a regular basis. However, having said that, I am aware that many genuine Christians do attend certain denominations and although genuinely not happy with them, this is not their primary source of fellowship anyway and they feel that they can have some influence or witness to those they come in contact with there. The Lord is their Judge in this, although I feel that the bottom line is that the minister or pastor should (at the very least) be a Christian. Also, no genuine Christian can persist in taking part in the mass, for example, or in any denomination which finds this acceptable.

There are occasions when I will attend certain events in mainline denominations though. I have been to many funerals and memorials where opportunities have arisen to be a faithful witness to the living (but spiritually dead) who are perhaps thinking on things eternal on such a solemn occasion. I can be present at a graveside, as a mark of respect to a life that is passed but not take part in any of the rituals that I disagree with and I can be a comfort to the bereaved and share how the Lord has touched my life – and how He can do the same for them.

The first question many professing Christians will often ask when they meet you at some event is “so where do you find fellowship in your area?” Perhaps some are genuinely curious, wondering about your situation and even caring for you – but others unfortunately become very judgemental; at times they become so harshly critical that you wonder whether they really are Christians at all. However, the Lord does give His people discernment and sometimes we discover that the person interrogating us on this issue, has really lost something in their walk with the Lord by meeting with those who are carried away by ecumenism or perhaps it is a case where they were never even saved in the first place.

Wikipedia tells me that: “Ecumenism refers to efforts by Christians of different “Church traditions” to develop closer relationships and better understandings.” The concept of ecumenism has been with us for a very long time and many (even so called “evangelicals”) have been drawn into it but one thing is evident: although many changes have taken place in Anglican/Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist and even amongst certain Baptist churches and others who would say they are evangelical – the Roman Catholic Church never changes. While others grovel and make concessions, Roman Catholicism sees itself as “the one true church,” despite its erroneous claims which contradict scripture.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2Corinthians 6v14-18)

From time to time we do visit certain denominations and then have a talk with people we meet there, not wishing to cause dissension, but with a desire to go as the Lord leads and to be a witness for Him. I hope to share my experiences about these and about different denominations in future blogs. The one thing we must keep in mind, though, is that Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18v20) Very often the best fellowship I have had is at some little non-denominational event or prayer meeting which has been arranged by the Lord’s people in a community hall, little mission hall or even a humble cottage. It is easy for the Lord’s people to be discouraged by the decline in “church circles” but there is work to be done before His return; none of us are exempt from the Great Commission and He will open our eyes about ways to reach souls in this needy world. As different members with varying gifts, He will bless our endeavours in that which He directs us to do for Him and He goes before us. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” (2Corinthians 5v11)

Dear Peggy O’Neill (Former Nun, Born 1921) Was Called Home on 10th March 2018

March 19, 2018

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Just recently I learned that the lovely lady, Peggy O’Neill that I had met in May 2017 had passed away, aged 97. My visit with her is described in my blog on May 13th, 2017, which can be read here:

https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/a-wonderful-meeting-with-peggy-oneill-who-found-the-truth-after-fifty-years-as-a-nun/

How glad I am to have met her in person and to have read and prayed with her!

I Praise the Lord for Peggy’s testimony of how she came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ at age 70, after 50 years of practising as a nun. Of her early life she says: “I used to light a candle before the statue of St. Therese of Lisieux, and then I knelt down and prayed to her. Later I went to the local convent school where many teachers were nuns. I grew up with the idea that nuns were very special people before God, and their kind of life was the highest calling for any woman.”

Eventually Peggy left home to begin her training with an order which was dedicated to education and Peggy then worked as a schoolteacher in England for many years. “Before and after school, there were long periods given to prayer and religious exercises, and mass every morning in the convent chapel,” she says in her tract.

To anyone looking on, it would appear an impossible situation, that someone so entrenched in Roman Catholicism would ever dream of questioning her beliefs – but Peggy did so when she saw her nephew with what she termed “an interest in the Bible!” Praise God, as time went on, in her own words she “realised that the Catholic Church had a false gospel – one that is the exact opposite of the gospel revealed in the Bible.”

Peggy says in her tract… “After 50 years of serving as a nun in the Catholic Church I came to this profound realisation, and put my whole faith and trust in the saving work of Christ. For me there is only One Saviour and One Mediator, The Lord Jesus Christ.”

I recall some of Peggy’s final words on her testimony tract… “I thank my Father who loved me so much that He sent His only beloved Son Jesus to save me. I thank my dear Redeemer who even now is interceding for me as my High Priest, and who will soon return to take me Home to Heaven where I will shine like the sun and praise Him for all eternity.”

I love the glorious sunsets in the west of Ireland, where Peggy’s life began. As the sun has now set on Peggy’s earthly life, I praise and thank the Lord for saving her. Today as you may look in despair at a seemingly unresponsive loved one, remind yourself that with God all things are possible. Keep sharing with them, loving them and praying for them, for He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance! (2Peter3v9)

Five Hundred Years Later… “Evangelicals” are Apologising for the Reformation!

December 12, 2017

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Here in Ireland, while there have been a few events to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and some encouraging articles written about it, other attitudes to this notable anniversary are just unbelievable. It is understandable when the Reformation is maligned by Roman Catholic hierarchy, of course, but when I hear an “Evangelical” refer to it as “the mother of all church splits;” and another saying that “fractures caused by the Reformation must be healed,” I am shocked – but somehow not surprised. We are living in days when many are embarrassed by the Reformation – even those who profess to be Christians.

I believe it is true to say that Roman Catholicism assimilates itself into the original (often Pagan) religions and cultures of many countries… but while it takes on many faces, Roman Catholicism never changes. Some “Evangelicals” are now moving in the direction of ecumenism and many are falling away as they start to see the Roman Catholic Church as “another Christian denomination.”

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2Thessalonians 2v3&4)

Jesus said: “Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” (Matthew 23v9) Who else but the pope on this earth, is referred to as “Holy Father?”

Pope Innocent III said: “The pope holdeth place on earth, not simply of a man but of the true God.”

Pope Nicholas 1 said: “I am in all and above all, so that God himself and I, the vicar of God, hath both one consistory… and I am able to do almost all that God can do. I then, being above all… seem by this reason to be above all gods.”

Pope Julius II was addressed by a papal council: “Take care that we lose not that salvation, that life and breath which thou hast given us… for thou art shepherd, thou art physician, thou art governor, thou art husbandman…” Thou, finally, art another god on earth.”

When he was a cardinal Pope Pius X declared: “The pope is not simply the representative of Jesus Christ. On the contrary he IS Jesus Christ Himself, under the veil of the flesh. Does the pope speak? It is Jesus Christ who is speaking. Hence when anyone speaks of the pope, it is not necessary to examine – but to obey.”

Pope Boniface VIII said: “We declare, say, define and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

As recently as 1984 Pope John Paul 11 was quoted as saying: “Don’t go to God for forgiveness of sins… come to me.”

Even more recently the portrait of Pope Benedict XV1 was named: “The Truth, the Way, and the Life,” a portrait of His Holiness Pope Benedict XV1. But Jesus said of Himself: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14v6)

There are many other reformers that I could quote on this issue, including John Wesley who said: “The pope is that antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition that exalteth himself in the church…”

Coincidentally, just this week I finished my reading and study to the end of the New Testament again and have commenced once more in Genesis. I was, as always struck by those verses in Revelation 18v4&5… “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”

I believe that we are living in days when ecumenism could pave the way for a “one world system of belief;” there has even been a “common-ground-with-Islam-policy” which has been in place since Vatican II. It is interesting to watch as events unfold in our swiftly changing world but more crucial than ever for those who profess Christ to walk closely with their Saviour. We hear words and phrases like “interfaith dialogue, common belief system, living our faith together, shared values/heritage, ecumenical dialogue, theological common ground…” The list goes on and certainly I can think of a few things that systems of belief like Roman Catholicism and Islam have in common but there is one certain truth… Light cannot have fellowship with darkness! The Lord’s people should not give credence to (or try to find common ground with) belief systems which are not based on God’s Word, the Bible.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of god with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2Corinthians 6v14-16)

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2Corinthians 6v17&18)

An Overview of Denominations and Heresies in Ireland

November 30, 2017

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I recently counted the number of different churches in a small village I know well in Northern Ireland. (By the way, this is a predominantly Protestant village and while a few Roman Catholic people might live here, there is no Roman Catholic Church in the village itself.) There are the usual mainline denominations: Church of Ireland, Methodist and quite a large Presbyterian Church. Then there is a small Evangelical Presbyterian Church, an Elim Pentecostal Church and a Quaker Meeting House. Now, these are the six churches I know of; there could well be other groups who meet in private homes and other locations… and I believe there is also a Brethren Gospel Hall situated in the outlying countryside.

Compare this with a village that I also know very well in the Republic of Ireland. This village, although with a population around the same size as its Northern counterpart, contains one church… the Roman Catholic Church. Again, there may be small house groups that I am unaware of, although if there are – they don’t publicize their existence. Of the population in this village in the Irish Republic, I would say that many people would be nominal Roman Catholics. By “nominal” I mean that they would have been baptised in the R.C. church as babies, had their “first communions and confirmations,” and perhaps got married in the church. (However, a sizeable proportion of the population don’t get married at all these days, preferring to cohabit, while a few may opt for civil ceremonies). These “nominal” Catholics (and I believe that a huge chunk of the population in the Republic of Ireland as a whole are nominal Catholics) adhere to all the church’s traditional ceremonies but they rarely, if ever, attend mass, unless on special occasions and funerals. They are referred to by some as “`A La cart Catholics,” choosing to stick with ceremonial traditions and rites but ignoring the beliefs which would interfere with their lifestyle. Very often because of underlying fear and superstition, they will ensure that their children are baptised and have had their first communions and confirmations but really, if they were honest, many have absolutely no interest in spiritual matters.

As I look at these two villages (let us call them “A,” the Protestant village and “B,” the Roman Catholic village) I see in both of them much of this “a la carte” or “pick and choose” mentality. Having said that, I am aware that there are many genuine Christians (those who have been born again of the Spirit of God) residing in “A” and although these individuals may attend a variety of denominations on a Sunday morning, theirs is a daily walk of faith with the Lord and the denomination itself means very little to them. Others in “A” are church going people and they may even be friendly, pleasant and honest people but they have never been truly born again and are relying on their good works to take them to heaven.

However, I know “B” very well; the population has been growing there over the past few years, as more and more people travel out of Dublin city for affordable housing. I see “B” as a challenge but I know that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19v26) It is true that there are the unsaved in “A” who are every bit as needy as those in “B” but somehow the presence of even a few Christians in a village gives it an entirely different atmosphere….

I feel a terrible darkness in “B” – a spiritually heavy darkness which is almost overwhelming and depressing but again… “with God all things are possible.”

While just a few genuine Christians plan to reach the lost in such villages, the devil, of course, is always waiting in the wings with other false systems of belief. The usual Jehovah’s Witnesses make their way around the houses periodically, taking advantage of most people’s lack of knowledge of scripture. But the spiritually parched ground here is also a breeding ground for other lesser-known falsehoods…

False prophets are making their rounds throughout the world and even small localities may be no exception. People are often mesmerised by the sensational and supernatural; these “prophets” claim to possess healing gifts and the answers to a multitude of problems.

In a world of ill health, depression, stress and physical and spiritual poverty, people will flock to them for hope and a warm “feeling” from someone they think cares about them personally, without realising that repentance and trust in Jesus is simply the answer to our every need.

The island of Ireland is currently full of denominations of one sort or another – but the number of people who truly know Him and who daily walk the narrow way with the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour are, I believe, dwindling. Yes, people love the sensational – and the modern. Worshipping “in spirit and in truth” has somehow become rare in this age, with the discarding of traditional hymns and the confusion of an assortment of modern versions of the Bible. Yet, in the midst of all this confusion, this spiritual darkness, these heresies and this craving for sensationalism, the Lord still speaks to those who will hear His “still small voice.” And, in this the Day of Grace, He can still use those who truly know Him as Saviour. Spiritually speaking, these days would appear to be discouraging days to live in but we must remember His words: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor. 12v9)

The battle is the Lord’s – not ours! (1Samuel 17v47) But the Lord also instructs His people that “Light cannot have fellowship with darkness.” (2Cor. 6v14) “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2Cor. 6v17) I feel that the bottom line for the Christian is that he cannot worship properly in a church where he has not the full assurance that the Pastor, minister or person in charge is, at the very least, a Christian!

The Lord gives us discernment when we lean on Him and He can use just one or two people in the midst of all this darkness if these, His people, are obedient to His will and pliable in His hands.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places…” (Ephesians 6v12)

Thank you William Tyndale!

October 31, 2017

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Recently, as I took another of my reflective walks in the fields behind our home, I viewed in the distance a beautiful scene. Against the blue horizon of the sea two tractors were ploughing a field, while behind them was a great company of seagulls following them like a white cloud. My thoughts wondered back to a time when tractors didn’t exist and that ploughed field reminded me of the words of Tyndale… “I defy the pope and all his laws; if God spare my life, I shall cause the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the scripture than thou dost.” These justifiably angry words were spoken to a priest of the Roman Catholic Church – an institution which desired that the “common people” should be kept in darkness. I say “justifiably” because the priest in question had made a statement tantamount to the opinion that we are “better to go without God’s laws than the pope’s!”

Of course, when people are kept in darkness and ignorance, evil men retain their power – and ultimately their riches and standing in society. Today, as then, it is still the desire of the hierarchy in Roman Catholic circles to keep people from studying the scriptures and thereby coming to a realisation of the truth that this system of belief is contradicted by the Word of God.

In those volatile days it was illegal in England to translate any part of the Bible into English. In Norwich a young man, having been found with a mere piece of paper with the Lord’s Prayer in his native language, was burned alive. In this dangerous climate and having faced fierce opposition to his proposed translation of the New Testament into English, William Tyndale fled to Germany where it was possible to print his translation.

William Tyndale (1494-1536) was a learned Oxford scholar who had mastered eight languages – but more than this he had clearly found the Lord as Saviour and had a passion for the scriptures. I can only imagine how it must have felt for him, after the terrible opposition, to hold that first bound edition of the New Testament in his hand. Printing was a laborious task in those days and previously he was only nearing the end of St. Matthew’s gospel when the print shop was raided by those in opposition to Martin Luther at the time. However, he and a colleague escaped with their precious manuscripts up the Rhine to Worms where he lived life as a fugitive. Copies of his New Testament were eventually smuggled down the Rhine to the English and Scottish seaports where they were hungrily received by Christians. A great number of his New Testaments, however, were apprehended at one point and destroyed in a bonfire outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

It was in Worms (a centre of rabbinic learning) that Tyndale learned Hebrew and started his translation of the Old Testament into English. King Henry VIII at one point decided that Tyndale, it appeared, was a man of influence, who would be better to live under his jurisdiction… and therefore his control. He sent someone to look for Tyndale but he was angered by Tyndale’s response to him on personal matters and this never transpired. Eventually, having been betrayed by a “friend,” William ended up in a cold dark dungeon, in an old castle in Leuven where he suffered much persecution from Roman Catholic priests who tried to get him to confess to his “heresy.”

However, the jailer and his daughter in this place respected William Tyndale and were impressed by this scholar who could converse with them in their native Flemish language. They grew fond of him, listened to his witness and were wonderfully converted as a result, a story which is recounted in the Foxes Book of Martyrs.

In October 1536 William Tyndale was taken from the dungeon, strangled first and then set alight in a public burning. With his last breath he offered up a prayer – not for himself, but for that of his own country and that the “King’s eyes would be opened.” That prayer (unknown to William) had already been answered, for King Henry VIII had approved of a new English Bible by Miles Coverdale, Tyndale’s friend. Little did the king realise that Coverdale’s Bible was nearly 70% of Tyndale’s work. Later, in 1604 James 1 approved a new translation of the Bible into English. What a wonderful answer to Tyndale’s prayer before his martyrdom… for his work became the basis of 90% of our beloved King James Version!

By his courage and obedience to the last, William Tyndale had started a fire which would flame and spread in his native England and further afield. I thank William Tyndale for his legacy to us all: the scripture in English, written with a clarity which even common people like me (and the men who plough the fields!) can readily understand. And we can understand it with a depth (which has nothing to do with education) when we have made the Master of William Tyndale – our Master.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119v105) “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119v11)

I am beyond grateful for this great volume that I hold in my hands – I have grown to love it more and more through the ups and downs of life, as I walk by faith each step of the way.

How marvellous, having first met our Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, when we get to heaven, to meet loved ones and then souls like William Tyndale and others who forged the way, in His strength, to put the Bible into our hands. Let us never forget that the English Bible was made with blood!

“The Love of Money is the Root of all Evil”

June 26, 2017

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“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1Timothy 6v10)

Other versions such as the NIV translate this as: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” or “the root of all kinds of evil.” However, I stand by the King James Version and its translation. Ultimately, this verse makes it clear that all evil, although it may not be immediately apparent, can be traced back to this evil root: mankind’s love of money. Today my Bible study brought to mind the specific evil of idolatry…

I have been reading of Paul’s fascinating journeys in territory which would be highly dangerous to travel through in today’s world. Nevertheless, in those days before the advent of Islam, there was the “great goddess Diana whom all the world worshipped” (Acts 19) and who “brought no small gain unto the craftsmen,” (V24). Back then anyone who preached the gospel would have been in danger, just as Paul was. The reason for this was obvious: great profits were to be made from the sale of silver shrines of “Diana” and no craftsman likes to see his livelihood in peril! In fact today, as then, the love of money in itself can be a source of idolatry.

“Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone in Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.” (Acts 19v26&27)

It is interesting to make the comparison with idolatry then and Roman Catholicism today. I see that the Pope wishes to visit Ireland next year (2018) and I believe that there are many reasons for this, not least a report that there is great disillusionment here with the Roman Catholic Church, with numbers of people leaving it faster than ever before. But superstition still abounds. Take for example the village of Ballinspittle in Cork where “the moving statues” phenomenon has brought in tourism and prospered small businesses since 1985 when so called “moving statues of the Virgin Mary” were first observed. Imagine what the “fall of Roman Catholicism” would mean for just one small village – and if it happened all across the world what it would mean for the Vatican in financial terms!

Silversmiths like Demetrius in Acts 19v24, statue- makers and those travelling with “relics” of saints would be at a financial loss, while locations all over the world from Medjugorje in Bosnia to Tapao in Vietnam would lose out on tourism, if crowds no longer travelled to see places where there was supposed to be “apparitions” of the Virgin Mary etc. Shrines and statues as objects of worship would be no more, if many turned to the living God as in Paul’s day, when “mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19v20)

“Sirs,” said Demetrius the silversmith to his colleagues in business, “ye know that by this craft we have made our wealth.” Demetrius, as with all who think only on the affairs of this world, clearly had no concept of this truth: “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?” (Mark 8v36&37)

Later we read of another “Demetrius” in 3John 1v12 and this Demetrius was a disciple. I would like to think that this Demetrius was the same one, this time, converted – but unfortunately there is no evidence for this either way. Eternity will reveal many things and perhaps, too, many pleasant surprises…

There is nothing more precious in this world than the value of your soul; perhaps it needs attention today, whatever your standing in society, or your church or denomination. It may not be well with your wealth or even, worryingly, with your health – but is it “well with your soul?”

As Paul travelled, contending with dangerous “crowd mentality,” vicious opposition, beatings, persecution, imprisonment – and eventually death (although we are not told the manner of his death), he said: “neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy…” Acts 20v24. When his fellow believers feared for his safety, they “besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.” (Acts 21v12) But Paul answered: “What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (V.13)

The proposed visit of the Pope next year should be viewed by those who have been born again as an opportunity. There may be many protests from ex-Catholics who are angry about child abuse and other issues, while pious clergy, church dignitaries and ordinary people will line the streets but this is an opportunity for tract distribution and outreach as the Lord leads, so that eyes would be opened, just as Paul’s were, after acknowledging blindness on the Damascus Road. If the Lord can work in the life of Paul, transforming him from being a persecutor of the church – to someone who was an outstanding apostle, He can perform this same miracle in many lives.

Oh that the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ Saviour today would be able to say with the apostle Paul: “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men” (Acts 20v26)

The believer must aspire to nothing less than these words of Paul (for whom material possessions and riches meant nothing)…. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Philippians 3v8)

A Christian Bookstall in Drogheda… “The Wind Bloweth Where It Listeth…”

October 10, 2016

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Just recently, having noticed that people were selling all sorts of ware in the old town of Drogheda, I set up a book table in the town centre. Included on the long folding table were plenty of free Christian literature and booklets, CDs and DVDs, second-hand books, seasonal cards, bookmarks, my own four books and free John’s gospels in the language of many who now live in Drogheda: Polish, Russian, Lithuanian, French and Spanish. It was a pleasantly dry autumn day… but unfortunately also very windy!

I encountered a range of reactions on the day – everything from sheer apathy to mild hostility. In between there were many who were interested and curious, while one lady was very kind and friendly. “Oh you must be so cold standing there,” she said in motherly tones, “let me get you a cup of tea or coffee. Now what would you like? I’ll go now and get you something. Just tell me. I love your books, by the way!” She reached for a second-hand book and also two of my books, “Singing on the Journey Home” for herself and “Ricky the Runaway” for her little grandson. She was delighted with the scripture bookmarks too and I assured her with many thanks, that honestly I didn’t need a hot drink at that particular time. As she was in a hurry, we didn’t discuss spiritual matters but that lady warmed my heart with her friendly manner and I have prayed that the Lord will meet her at the point of her need.

A young man who had watched me put out the bookstall, now perused the books with interest and then asked me sincerely: “tell me, are you a nun?” to which I answered with an amused chuckle, “No, I’m married three children.” He was very interested in the testimony of an ex-nun which I gave him. He told me that he had been a Roman Catholic but was so fed up in the last few years of hearing about the child abuse scandal that he had left the church and had started to attend the Church of Ireland. After the short conversation, he had to hurry for a bus. It was so good to have these conversations, though, which under normal circumstances would never have happened…

Another elderly man came along and, not looking at me, proceeded to swiftly leaf through a few of the books, throwing them down again. “Do you realise,” he said angrily, “that all this literature you have here quotes from the Protestant version of the Bible? The church was built upon St. Peter you know!”

He went to walk off hurriedly and I called him back. “Here’s something to read,” I said, offering him an ex-priest’s testimony tract. He shoved it in his pocket and hurried away without another word… This incident reminded me of another one some time ago. This time a middle-aged woman approached me angrily. “You’re causing dissension between people, that’s what you’re doing!” she told me.

Another young woman (of Ugandan origin), after giving me much encouragement, hurried down to her church to get me some literature of interest. There were others who took an interest and still others who kindly helped in a practical way, when a sudden gust of violent wind sent my lighter literature (especially the tracts) down the street! Looking back on the scene, after leaving for the day, I didn’t see one tract on the street. The wind indeed, “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)

It was a tiring ordeal, but praise God, my hope is built on nothing less than the real Rock on which the true Church is built – the Church not built with man’s hands or devised by man’s schemes. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1Corinthians 10v1-4) Praise the Lord, once again I lean on this His faithful promise: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55v11)

 

The Erroneous Practice of the “Blessing of the Graves”

June 12, 2016

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Around this and other times of the year here in Ireland I have noticed various newspapers proclaiming an event known as “the blessing of the graves.” Relatives of the deceased are encouraged to tidy their graves in preparation for the event and although this ritual may vary in rural and urban areas throughout Ireland, in all places where it is held the priest will bless those graves and pray for all the deceased within that graveyard. May I say that I sincerely hope that no one ever prays for me when I am dead! However, whether they do or not will make absolutely no difference to my eternal destination for the Bible says: “And as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9v27) How wonderful to have that assurance in your heart… that the very moment your soul is separated from your body, it will be in the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ! “Absent from the body… present with the Lord!” (2Corintians 5v8)

With regard to the afterlife, the Bible makes it very clear that there is only a choice of two destinations for the soul… heaven or hell. Roman Catholic theologians invariably refer to the book of Maccabees to support an ‘in-between’ destination which they refer to as ‘Purgatory’ but the book of Maccabees and other books of the Apocrypha were never referred to by Jesus or the apostles. In fact, these spurious books were not even accepted by the Roman Catholic Church until the Council of Trent in 1546 AD. Also, these books were never acknowledged as sacred Scriptures by the Jewish Church, it was not written in Hebrew and furthermore teaches immoral practices which could never be conceived to be the Word of God.

As is the case with this and other ordinances of Roman Catholicism, there is usually a sum of money involved in having your graves blessed. At this point I must relate something which I witnessed quite a few years ago. I was once visiting a monastery in Northern Ireland when I stumbled upon a “blessing of the cars” ceremony. Before me was an interesting scene… I saw a priest hovering over a car with some “holy” water, while a lady was simultaneously searching her open handbag to pay him for this dubious privilege.

I often wonder how poverty stricken parishioners have felt throughout the years, when they could not afford to pay the priest for blessing the graves of loved ones and for praying that they will eventually be released from Purgatory, which is said to be a place or state of suffering where sins are reputedly cleansed, in preparation for Heaven.

The very thought that a soul may be bought a place in Heaven with filthy lucre is surely the height of blasphemy. In Psalm 49v6&7 we read… “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever).

Praise God, the great price has been paid, for “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1John 1v7)

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” (1Peter1v18-21)

So graves, while they may be kept tidy, cannot be “blessed” and deceased souls should not be prayed for, for the Lord Jesus Christ was “once offered to bear the sins of many” and the great sacrifice has been paid once for all, giving living souls the opportunity to repent of their sins and put their trust in His redeeming blood, so that they may have that assurance in their hearts of a home in Heaven.

“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10v11-14) Praise God that we can “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10v22) And praise God we can be cleansed from our sins in the ‘here and now’ in preparation for Heaven – which, unlike  the fictitious place of Purgatory is a destination of pure light, love and joy; a destination which is in God’s will for every soul who is alive today. (1John 2v2)

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15v55-57)

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

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16v31)

For God So Loved the People of France, that He gave His only Begotten Son…

December 3, 2014

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“Car Dieu a tant aimé le monde qu’il a donné son Fils unique, afin que quiconque croit en lui ne périsse point, mais qu’il ait la vie éternelle.” (John 3v16)

As my daughter has been in France for a while now, I have been studying with interest the current state of religion in this country. When travelling I like to take the opportunity to distribute my handcrafted “John 3v16” bookmarks, as well as tracts in the language of the country, where possible. Wikopedia informs me that “France is a country where freedom of religion and freedom of thought are guaranteed by virtue of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The Republic is based on the principle of laïcité (or “freedom of conscience”) enforced by the 1880s Jules Ferry laws and the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State. Roman Catholicism, the religion of the majority of French people, is no longer the state religion that it was before the 1789 Revolution and throughout the various, non-republican regimes of the 19th century (the Restoration, the July Monarchy and the Second French Empire).”

To the visitor France would appear to be a most secular country these days but although Roman Catholicism is the religion of the nominal Christian majority, Islam is fast catching up, with converts to Islam said to number as many as 200,000, while most of the immigrant population in France are Muslim. By 2011 there were 2000 mosques in France; today the number is steadily growing and it is reported that Muslims in France have the highest percentage in the population when compared with all other European countries.

In Marseilles, where my daughter lived for some time, nearly half of the population are now Muslim immigrants and unfortunately violence, riots and other serious crime have taken their toll here, just as recent riots and car burnings in Paris have created similar chaos.

There are many other religions and cults in France, with Jehovah’s Witnesses being high on the list of the main small religious minorities. However, as is the case in many countries throughout the world, sound Evangelical Christian fellowships and churches are sadly few and far between.

Today the residents of France (whether immigrant or native) desperately need to know the Lord as Saviour. It is reported that 80% of French people have never owned or even seen a Bible

Please pray for the people of France, that country where Huguenots took their stand all those years ago. In what is known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, during the period of 24th August – 3rd October 1572, Roman Catholics killed thousands of Huguenots in Paris, while many massacres took place in other towns and cities such as Bordeaux, Bourges, Lyon, Rouen and Toulouse. Many Huguenots escaped to the British Isles, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Dutch Republic, South Africa and North America and today their descendants can trace their roots back to those early days in France.

For Christians visiting the country it is good to have in your possession some Christian literature or tracts in the French language. The message to the French people as to the rest of the world is clear:

“Ils dirent: crois au Seigneur Jėsus-Christ; et tu seras sauvé, toi et la maison.” (Acts 16v31)

(“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”)

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