Posts Tagged ‘wars’

My Recent Visits to Five Castles and Thoughts on a “Fortress for the Soul”

June 10, 2017

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In the last couple of months, I have had occasion to visit five old Irish castles, for one reason or another and it never ceases to fascinate me how these fortifications are still standing at all after hundreds of years! By the way, there is little difference between fortresses and castles, since both are “fortifications,” although castles may have been more comfortable to live in!

At the end of April we stayed close to Ballybunion Castle by the Atlantic Ocean in County Kerry when we visited that lovely lady, the ex-nun, Peggy O’Neill. Built around the dawn of the 1500’s, if Ballybunion Castle could talk it would tell us of ancient battles, sieges and power struggles over the centuries. On the way home we stopped to take a photograph of Desmond Castle by the pretty village of Adare with its thatched cottages in County Limerick. Beautifully reflected in the River Maigue, this castle (see the second one above) was built in the early part of the 1300’s and again was witness to turbulent struggles for hundreds of years.

A week later I had to travel over to Trim Castle with a delivery of my first book – “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year,” for Trim Visitor Centre. Trim Castle is impressively large and medieval (12th century), standing by the River Boyne in the historical town of Trim in County Meath. Some days later I had a call from my aunt who (although approaching 88!) loves to travel and takes a great interest in history. “I’ll meet you at Tullynally Castle in County Westmeath, as I hope to travel there with the Historical Society,” she said. Unlike the others this castle is not at all in ruins and is actually still lived in, being a home to the Pakenham family for over 350 years. I took a photograph of it (above) with gathering clouds in the evening.

Soon after this we had a family reunion and picnic in the grounds of the more recent lovely Ardgillan Castle (built in 1738) which overlooks the Irish Sea in north County Dublin. Like Tullynally Castle, this one is not in ruins and is currently used for events at all times of the year. Older castles were often built by rivers or the sea and always strategically so as to afford protection from the enemy. Moats and drawbridges were a common sight at medieval castles and when the enemy would come to invade; the drawbridge would be taken up to bar their entry.

Castles are mentioned throughout the Bible; we read in 2Chronicles 17v12 “And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.” Castles were a sign of power and enormous wealth; to attack a castle one would have needed to be accompanied by a very great army indeed! In these dangerous days of random terrorist attacks I have been thinking of that verse in Isaiah 59vv19: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.”

The only hope for safety in our times is in our Fortress, the Holy One of Israel… the One of whom David said: “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. We may not have the equivalent riches of the great lords and kings of old – but our riches are not of this world and while the fortresses of olden days will someday fall to ruins and eventually scattered ancient stones, our Fortress is an Everlasting One which cannot ever be moved. Our armour is a spiritual one and the Force that defends us has already won the battle. We already have the victory – if we have put our trust in His finished work at Calvary! Our riches in Him are beyond compare.

Who knows what future events will occur in our times, with regard to the current enemies of civilised society? Today the enemy is not as obvious as in days of old; he doesn’t wear the uniform of an invading army and he walks our streets with thoughts in his head that no one knows… When he attacks, it is without warning and sometimes there is no place to hide our physical bodies.

But there is a sure place to hide for the soul of mankind. There is a refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us and if we have repented and are trusting in Him with all our hearts, “walking in the light as he is in the light,” He is our sure refuge for time and eternity… a rich and Everlasting Fortress for the soul. His will is that all should put their trust in Him today, for He loves you and paid the ultimate price to make you His own.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10v28)

LINK TO HYMN: “A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD” (BY MARTIN LUTHER: 1483 – 1546):

That Word above all earthly powers,

No thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Thru Him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also –

The body they may kill:

God’s truth abideth still:

His Kingdom is forever!

 

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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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