Posts Tagged ‘sea’

Message in a Bottle – An Amazing Find!

May 5, 2017

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One fine evening recently two of my daughters were having a stroll on a local beach when suddenly they spotted what looked like a little note washed up on the shore. Clearly the bottle had broken but whoever had thrown it into the sea had made the extra precaution of putting it into a small zip-seal plastic bag. Fascinated by the contents (which were a little soggy despite the plastic bag) they proceeded to carefully peel it apart and dry it on the lid of our old Aga. Soon we had a full name and address – and the fact that the messenger was originally from Brazil and had been travelling on a cargo ship. In this era of internet, of course they were able to log in and see the very street (and house) where the person now lived… what a small world we live in!

As I watched my daughters delicately peel the pieces of the message and dry them out, I was struck by what a delicate process this was – and how long it was taking them to do it. Once dried out, the writing was fairly legible but it took a while to piece everything together. This interesting little incident brought to mind a simple spiritual parallel – God’s message to us, which is contained in His Word, the Holy Bible. Through the rough currents of the centuries, through opposition and the fact that (in this case) the forces of evil would have tried to hide it from those who needed to hear the message, it has survived – and today it is an open and clear Message for all who are willing to read it. We don’t need to go through a long process of peeling its pages apart – and we don’t need to attend a theological college, in order to understand God’s message to mankind today. Indeed, I know of a Christian who, although illiterate, has memorised much of the Bible by listening to it on CDs. If we are indwelt by His Spirit, sincerely desiring the truth in its fullness, He will surely lead us into all truth.

Through the ever-rolling tides of the ages, though tossed in many a storm, the Word of God stands resolute and sure and although some have tried to conceal it from the “common” people or make the message obscure by watering it down, or changing it, or twisting it to suit their evil purposes, it has survived. Men and women (some known and others not so well known) have died in the flames of persecution down through the centuries for that very survival. But the Lord knows them all and praise His Name: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21v7)

Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24v35) The sea casts up many an interesting object, as I have learned from walking by the rolling tide over the years and although I have seen a poor animal, thankfully never a human body! However, it is prophesied in Revelation that “the sea gave up the dead which were in it” and some day “the dead will be judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Rev. 20v12&13)

It is amazing how a little note in a bottle can be preserved and washed up on a beach in a different country, after a long period of rough seas, storms and treacherous rocks – and it is no small miracle that God can preserve His Word through the centuries, tossed about and attacked though it is, through the raging storms of adversity and persecution. This night, as I write, I am grateful to Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer and many others, too numerous to mention here, who have died in its defence. And above all, I am grateful to their Master, the inspired Author, who paid the ultimate sacrifice that they (and we) might have abundant life now – and forevermore in His Presence. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Peter 1v23)

Jesus said: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5v39)

“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)

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…”

August 4, 2015

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I admire the Greeks for their resilience in the face of a serious economic crisis. Having returned just recently from the island of Zakynthos, I noted that people on this island have helped each other in many ways, where sometimes a barter system operated. Nobody seemed to be panicking about the fact that the banks were closed for a while and on the whole everyone was good-humoured, smiling and gracious to tourists. In the heat of the day we stopped at a remote little mountain village called Agalás for lunch, intending to afterwards visit Damianόs cave and the Andronios Venetian wells. Only two elderly men sat in the old café and on seeing us sit down at one of the tables one of them departed to bring back a lady who had been in her own home just across the road! She immediately made us lovely toasted sandwiches along with ice-cold drinks (very reasonably priced) and as we were taking our leave, she kindly also gave us a free bag of her own home-grown lovely ripe plums.

This generosity was to be experienced throughout our trip, when after a meal out in a restaurant (usually less than half the price that it is at home) we would be offered a free desert, tea, coffee or some watermelon afterwards.

It is said that one of the ‘must see’ sites in Zakynthos is “Shipwreck Bay,” which is also known as “smugglers cove.” I took a photograph of it from a great high cliff (which was thankfully surrounded by a barrier) but it cannot be reached, except by boat. Apparently a ship (built in Scotland) ran aground here as recently as 1980; it had been smuggling cigarettes from Turkey and subsequently chased by the Greek navy. And so the rusty wreck on this lonely little stretch of beach has become a famous scene on postcards and travel books – and a rendezvous for tourists.

I find it interesting that the islanders can make something as simple as a (comparatively recent) wreck into a tourist attraction – with the result that many tourists pay to sail there every day. I heard someone say: “Honestly, those Greeks can use just about anything to make a living!”

Somehow I see an analogy here for those who serve the Lord. Each of us is a unique human being and each of our lives has followed an interestingly different path. He has given each one of us gifts, resources and very different opportunities to reach others but often it is the miserably negative experiences that we have and the times of brokenness in life which have the potential to amass the rich capital that matters – our growth in the Lord and the salvation of souls. An abandoned rusty old ship has been turned into a positive tourist attraction – and a life that has been suddenly hit by illness or bereavement can be turned into a positive opportunity to reach souls. It is only when we experience the low times for ourselves that we can reach out with real understanding and His love for others who need to know Him.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2Corinthians 1v3&4)

Will Your Anchor Hold in the Storms of Life?

October 18, 2014

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As I write, I hear a storm raging in the darkness of the night. The leaves are blowing from our trees, which only some weeks ago were resplendent in thick-leafed foliage. That Indian summer sun seems but a memory now as blustery October gales reduce the trees to stark silhouettes. Sometimes we have no wish to dwell upon the stark realities of life either, but as sure as autumn follows summer; storms and dark waters in life are something which we will all have to face at some time or another.

A short distance from where I live is the sea and I know that the wind there will be even wilder with high foaming tides and as the hymn describes it so vividly: “the billows roll.”

As I listen to the wind tonight, my mind travels back to summer when I saw a boat named “Steadfast” in the little town of Kilkeel in County Down. The boat rested in gentle lapping waters, safely anchored in a peaceful harbour. Oh how I long at this moment for that… “harbour bright where we shall anchor fast by the heavenly shore, with the storms all past for evermore!”

But for those who know Him, we must endure the high seas of life for another little while. What is your anchor this day in the storms of life which shall surely come? Is it a philosophy, a certain denomination or a theory that you cling to? This night as dark waters of depressing thoughts and discomfort would seek to drown me, “the cables passed from His heart to mine” and I have an “Anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.”

Oh that all who read would have that glorious assurance of knowing that their “hopes abide within the veil.”

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Mel-chis-ed-ec.” (Hebrews 6v19&20)

Link to the hymn “We have an Anchor:”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQQO8v-0VBo

 

 

Reflecting on the words of Paul on the Greek island of Rhodes

August 13, 2013

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Some time ago I made a brief visit to the Greek island of Rhodes, famed for its beautiful butterfly valley, its rich history, historical sites and ‘St. Paul’s Bay.’

Above is an early morning view from my little balcony in the quiet village of Haraki (Charaki) which lies just north of Lindos in Rhodes. Lindos was founded around the 10th century BC and overlooks that bay which is reportedly the location where Paul landed all those years ago. “And it came to pass, that after we had gotten from them, and launched, we came with a straight course unto Co-os (Kos), and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence to Pat-a-ra.” (Acts 21v1)

“Them…” who were they? We read that Paul’s fellow Christians “all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.”

How rare it is in these days to witness sincerity, concern and genuine love expressed as it was amongst the early Christians.

In this “crooked and perverse” world we live in, Christians are appalled at the behaviour of those around them who have no love or care in their hearts for even close relatives. But is it possible that even those who declare themselves to be Christians fall short in this?

 I think on Paul’s words in Philippians 2v5-8 … “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of a cross…”

Therefore we are exhorted to “let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus.”

And to “do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (Phil. 2v14-15)

If these lights grow dim – what hope is there for the rest of this perverse world in which we live?

Yes, it is often difficult. We will most certainly face persecution, opposition and false accusations as we “press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3v14)

But we have these promises if we press forward in His strength… “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4v7); “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” (Phil. 4v13); “my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4v19); “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” (2Thess. 3v3)

As the same fierce sun sets once again across the same beautiful rolling tide that washed Paul’s ship into the little bay of Lindos, I know that the same Saviour who loved His servant Paul, loves us with an everlasting love and desires the very best for each one of us, that we may be used of Him to shine as lights in the darkest of waters.

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“Behold I Come as a Thief…”

December 26, 2011

It is hard to believe that seven years have now passed since the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake which occurred on Sunday, December 26, 2004. ‘Tsunami’, a Japanese word, originally meant ‘a large wave in a harbour’, but is now used to describe the most destructive of all waves. Unlike other waves, it is caused by neither the influence of moon or sun – but by a giant disturbance under the sea, which may be either a volcanic eruption or an earthquake (as in this case). As coincidence would have it, my reading was in Revelation when this disaster struck. Earthquakes are mentioned more in this final book of the Bible, than in any other, and are very much associated with the end times. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24v7&8: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. And these are the beginning of sorrows.”

As the months and years of our ageing universe pass, we know from God’s Word that there will be more and more earthquakes in ‘diverse places.’ In the latter times, our earth will suffer the most violent tremors ever experienced in the history of mankind. Those of us in western Europe, to date, have had very little experience of earthquakes, and yet, some day every nation of the world will be affected by that great earthquake mentioned in Rev. 16v18: “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” In Verse 20 of this chapter we learn that: “…every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”

As the terrible story of the Tsunami unfolded, so too did many stories of heroism and fortitude. I read a newspaper report of one young girl, a tourist in the region, who saw and recognised the signs of the Tsunami before it struck. Being a student of geography, she was well read in this particular phenomenon, and knew the tell-tale signs of approaching catastrophe. The result was that she raised the alarm within the little area where she happened to be at the time, and was able to save the lives of at least one hundred people. Surely, we too, as Christians, need to be well read in God’s Word? His will for us is that we should know the warning signs that accompany the times we live in, and be prepared to warn those souls around us to “flee from the wrath to come.” (Matt. 3v7;Rom.5v9). I am sure that it took courage for this young girl to shout the warnings to the formidable adults around her. It takes much courage for us also, to visit our neighbours, and warn them of the things that we have gleaned from God’s Word. But proclaim it we must, going in His strength, for Jesus tells us: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 10v32&33). And in Mark 8v38 we learn that… “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Just as God told Noah to be prepared for the coming flood, we are exhorted to be prepared for “that day and hour” which no man knows. (Matt. 24v36). “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would have not have suffered his house to be broken up.” (Matt. 24v42&43).

The Tsunami ‘came as a thief.’ People were not expecting this sudden dreadful devastation which overtook them. Those masses of people who checked in at airports during the pre-Christmas rush would have made excellent preparation for their holidays. Perhaps weeks, even months of meticulous planning and anticipation filled their lives. How much more should we anticipate and be prepared for “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord!” (Mal. 4v5). “Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev. 16v15).

Some day that curse upon our earth shall be removed, and terrible events like Tsunamis shall be no more, for we read: “And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 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.” (Rev. 22v3-5). And so, this life is but for a season, but the years of eternity are indeed “for ever and ever.” Without the Lord, those ages of eternity are too awful to contemplate, for we read: “And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20v15).

To those who know Him, He says: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3v11). So long as we are followers of Jesus, and “Walk in the Spirit,” (Gal.5v16) this day and all our tomorrows belong to Him.

To those who do not know Him, He says: “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev.3v20).

“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22v16&17). “He which testifieth of these things saith, ‘Surely I come quickly,’ Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.” Rev. 22v20). May God bless His precious words to the hearts of all who read, and may “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Rev. 22v21)

Remembering Fanad Lighthouse, Donegal, Ireland: A Spiritual Analogy

September 10, 2011

Resilient in the face of stormy winds, lashing sea and cold cutting rain, it stands through good times and bad. Throughout the seasons, resolute against the skies, whether cloudless blue or black and threatening, it shines brightest on the darkest night and remains a symbol of comforting light and warning to those on peril on the stormy seas.

It is firmly founded upon the rock, for if it was built on sand, it would long ago have fallen to the crashing sea, storms and rain.

Like the lighthouse, the Christian’s life can receive a very personal battering and sadly sometimes when we are seriously attacked, we can also be lashed by tongues. At times like this we can understand something of the lot of Job whose ‘comforters’ (for the most part) were very quick to pass judgement in an unwise manner.

Thank God for the Book of Job which illustrates how God can draw us closer to Himself through the trauma of life’s bitter storms, for our latter end (like that of Job’s) will be victorious and enriched as He moulds us to be the individuals that He wants us to be. And we can also be now more equipped to counsel and comfort those who suffer too, as is illustrated by the words of 2Cor. 1v3&4… “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.”

The Psalms, too, are full of exhortation to confide in Him, our Almighty Confidant and Counsellor… for who greater than this can we turn to? Psalm 91, which begins: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” is a Psalm of victory for the Christian who is on the receiving end of something which is challenging his faith.

And so the lighthouse remains strong in the face of bitter lashings and vile winds, because the rock is its foundation. Yet even this rock is not imperishable for some day, with every island of the sea, it will flee away. (Rev.16v20) But the Christian’s life is built on that Eternal Rock; the Rock of Ages, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord, the Rock of my salvation, please help me to remain calm in the midst of life’s fierce storms and enable me to love thee more and more…

“Jesus Saviour Pilot me Over Life’s Tempestuous Sea”

June 10, 2011

The night before I embarked on a recent lone trip to bring my student daughter home with all her belongings was a restless one and next morning I was worn out before I even started to drive to the Stena Line port in Belfast! Gale force winds had been forecast for the day and the sea looked as grey as the sky, as I drove the car through driving rain on board ship. But thankfully the winds seemed to die down as the journey progressed and soon I was standing on deck admiring the first faint glimmer of the Scottish coastline across the pale blue sea. Now, the next hurdle (thoughts of which had kept me awake the previous night) was on the horizon. I knew that I would enjoy the trip along country roads by the sea as far as the motorway which led to Glasgow but driving in a strange city was not something I was looking forward to! As anticipated, I felt at home in those first rural roads; the sea spray lashed off great rocks and sheep grazed peacefully here and there as I drove slowly along the rugged coastline. At one point I stopped briefly to eat a sandwich and drink some water, while watching the rolling waves foaming into a lovely sandy cove. But then as I continued on my journey, the country road led to a fast dual carriageway and soon the latter became an even faster motorway with many lanes.

I now felt ill at ease because I wasn’t quite sure about the way to the part of the city my daughter had been living in for the past year; it is impossible to study a map while driving – and I don’t entirely trust satellite navigators! Soon I came to overhead signs which left me in no doubt that I had missed the turn off the motorway that I was supposed to take. Eventually I found myself in the city centre, parking here and there to ask people for directions. Nobody was able to help me and by now I felt exhausted, so I decided to call my daughter who thankfully agreed to come around to where I was parked. Meanwhile an angry looking traffic warden tapped on my window. “This is a tow-away zone. Move it!” He barked unsympathetically when I told him about my journey, my uncertainty, that I was a stranger to this city and the fact that my daughter would be there at any minute. Just as I was beginning to despair (even though I wasn’t obstructing anyone) I looked in the mirror and there she was – running towards the car! How I thanked the Lord for bringing her there so quickly in answer to my prayer! My daughter jumped into the passenger seat and after giving me a hug was directing me through all these streets which had become so familiar to her.

Further mini-dramas awaited me on the journey and I began to think about how impatient, angry and unwelcoming some people can be to visitors to their country. I resolved there and then never to be impatient when driving behind someone who looked a little uncertain… Next morning while packing all the belongings she had accumulated over her Erasmus year, I noticed some onlookers watching as my daughter and I carried them down to the car. After packing her laptop I said: “I think I’ll stay in the locked car while you bring the remaining things down here.” I simply didn’t trust those who were watching us and later that evening I breathed a sigh of relief as we drove the car on board ship for the return journey. Yes, the sea was more tempestuous than it had been on the way over, but somehow I felt at peace amongst those rolling waves – just as I had while sitting alone in that little sandy cove watching the foaming tide the day before.

Somehow I feel more at peace with God’s creation than with mankind in the cities they have built; yet I know that the Lord wants me to reach these souls He loves and for whom He died. I could spend the rest of my days avoiding people and admiring the Creator’s handiwork – but how wrong this would be! I love the hymn: “Jesus Saviour Pilot me…” Yes, life’s seas are tempestuous but I must keep my eyes fastened on the Master Pilot and while doing so, He will assist me to throw out the lifeline for others so that they too can some day be at peace in that Haven of Rest. There is a lovely story associated with this hymn; a dying soldier was being visited by Major D. W. Whittle who felt led of the Lord to sing it. The soldier was touched as it reminded him of his sister who used to sing it for him before he entered the army. He requested that the hymn be repeated over and over again for him and finally asked: “Will Jesus be my Pilot into the Haven of Rest?” When told that He would, the soldier said that he would “trust Him with all his heart.” Next day when Major Whittle called to see the young soldier, he learned that he had passed away during the night… into that Haven of Rest, to be with his Master Pilot. Praise God – He is better than all the satellite navigation systems that were ever invented! 

Link to this hymn: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/j/s/jspilotm.htm