Monday 29 September 2008
Sunday 28 September 2008
in light yellow dress
atop the full green
of summer leaf and dress.
Autumn, gentle sister,
not seeking to divest woes
in vibrant hues
the blight in the heart
of man and land.
Thursday 25 September 2008
The death has taken place of Anne Watts, known affectionately to us ‘younger ones’ as Mrs. Watts . She died last Saturday evening at Caherass Nursing Home in Croom aged 88. Her life and testimony were remarkable and in her quiet humble manner she impacted many lives for the Lord whom she loved and served.
Anne grew up in the rich lush countryside of Adare at Tuogh House attending Saint Nicholas’ Church of Ireland and going to the school adjacent to it. Her home life ensured her days outside of school were filled helping out with the daily chores on the farm. Along with her eight brothers and sisters Anne sang in the choir and also got her early knowledge of the Scriptures at the churche’s Sunday School. Around this time the Methodist group in Adare began ‘cottage meetings’ in the area, meeting from house to house for prayer and Bible exposition and Anne went along to these also. At 16 she was' born again' surrendering her life to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour and taking her first tentative steps in a life long walk of faith. Later at a social event in limerick she spotted Harry and after the interruption of World War Two they started ‘walking out together’. Eventually on a bridge somewhere between Adare and Limerick ,Harry proposed to her and of course she accepted!
Anne’s life was never ‘cosy’ and even in the early stages of their married lives together she was severely tested when her first two babies did not survive. Before the birth of a third child, Anne prayed that she would serve God all the days of her life if the baby was born safely. God answered her plea and Joy was subsequently born a bouncing healthy girl, and Anne went on to honour her promise to God as she served Him with the remainder of her life. Following Joy, Chris was born but again in later years disaster struck, when still a young man he died tragically. Again Anne’s faith must have been severely tested.
Throughout her life she battled debilitating depression, although only those close to her would have known, as she always seemed to maintain her cheerful disposition even when inside she was suffering intense pain. On occasion she would say to me " This terrible blackness comes over me, it’s so hard to describe…"and then inevitably she would conclude,"but praise the Lord, He brought me through. He’s so wonderful you know, I don’t know where I’d be today without Him." And this was Anne’s life’s testimony, she didn’t sail through a charmed life without an earthly care, far from it, but she maintained her trust in God even when He must have seemed far away at times.
I first met Anne Watts at Mallow Street Hall where she was one of the older generation of believers who sat patiently while we new firebrands found our spiritual feet, often awkwardly and with cringe inducing ‘zeal‘. Anne was always an encourager and at a period in my life when I had fallen foul of the fellowship leadership, she always maintained contact and reminded me to ‘keep looking to the Lord‘. With my two friends Gabriel and Tony I was regularly invited over to her home where we fellowshipped over tea and biscuits. Our meetings always concluded with a time of prayer and a song or two.
When her daughter Joy paid tribute to her mothers life at Saint Nicholas' church last Tuesday afternoon ,she summed her mother up in this list of words…FAITH…FLOWERS…NATURE…CREATION…PEOPLE…SUNSETS…NEATNESS…ORDER…PRECISION. Inside Anne’s Bible Joy found over 125 names on a prayer-list, people that her mother prayed for every day of her life ( myself included I’ve no doubt). Many if not all on that list were in the church on that afternoon to pay their respects to this unique woman and her faithful life.
She was an extraordinary woman, gentle of spirit yet strong as steel in the depth of her soul. Despite her many struggles the effect she had on those who knew her was one of joy and encouragement. As a result of her own battles and victories her words did not just console but packed a real punch ,because they came with the power and authority of one who ‘had been there‘. She epitomised the experience that Paul had with the Lord- “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.(2 Corinthians 12:9)
As fitting her mothers passion for flowers, Joy ended her tribute with this story. Anne was forever giving people cuttings and plants and it seemed she was as evangelical about her gardening as she was about her faith! On the day she died Joy received a text message from a couple who been given some begonia plants by Anne. Apparently the secret of successful begonia propagation is to lift the plant as it finishes its blooming, ensuring a healthy flowering for next season. The text simply read “WE LIFTED THE BEGONIAS, THEY’RE ALMOST FINISHED BLOOMING ”Anne Watts has finished her earthly blooming and she is now with her Lord , fully rejoicing in that heavenly realm. At her request Psalm 121 was read at Saturdays Thanksgiving Service, I reprint it here in memory of a stalwart Christian woman who blessed me and so many others even in the abundance of her own trials and testings.
My help comes from the LORD,
He will not let your foot slip—
indeed, he who watches over Israel
The LORD watches over you—
the sun will not harm you by day,
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
Wednesday 24 September 2008
Following the Bloodtrail:
Israel has possessed Mt. Hermon’s southern and western slopes since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. They are used for winter skiing and as observation points for the for the Israeli military. At present, it also serves as the highest permanent manned position of the United Nations.
Sadly, there are hardly any intensive studies made or written documents and research materials that focuses on the ancient and biblical history of the mountain due mainly to the Arab and Palestinian conflicts throughout the years. The mountain itself is a living witness, if only its grounds could tell us about the lives lost, the explosions and the cries of the women of this former land of Canaan.
Hermon means “Forbidden Place”, or sometimes interpreted as the “anathema”(from a 4th century translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible) , the mountain itself is believed to be a port of entry for group of wicked angels who corrupted the human race during the days of Noah. The Grigori (Watchers),as told of in Biblical apocrypha (Book of Enoch and Jubilees) mated with mortal women, giving rise to a race of hybrids known as the Nephilim who are described as giants in Genesis (Gen. 6:4).
Moses wrote: ”The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose…There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown” (Gen. 6:1-4).
Mount Hermon Today
The Israeli region is governed by the Golan Heights Law. It also contains the country`s only skiing area. The Syrian government also revealed plans of a multi billion ski resort in the slopes of the mountain. Since 1996, a small group of Lebanese pilgrims led by Michel Malik of Rashaya, have climbed to the top of Mount Hermon annually for the feast of Jesus’ transfiguration on August 6. The group includes Christians of various denominations as well as Druze. In spite its religious diversity, the group is Christ-centred, and most of its members participate in the Maronite mass celebrated on the mountaintop. At the moment, no further archaeological, historical or religious expeditions has been made but it seems, peace is somehow slowly achieved despite the darkness of the mountains past.
Ma. Zoe Razel C. Pittracher
United Nations Golan Journal
I bind unto myself this day,
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in the hearts of all that love me,
Christ in the mouth of friend and stranger.From the Lorica of St. Patrick
The lorica or breastplate prayer is unique to Celtic Christianity. More than a simple prayer, it is also a resounding statement of faith in the Trinity. The lorica envelopes or encompasses a believer in spiritual armour. (Eph. 6:11-17) The Celts took this Scripture seriously and saw themselves as soldiers of Christ in battle with evil. Theirs is a dynamic concept of Christianity, and it should be ours as well--a Christianity that matters. When they made their own loricas, they saw themselves as literally encircling themselves with prayer. Sometimes that even physically circled clockwise before they prayed to make visible that point.
Thursday 18 September 2008
And will the people die?
And every day do you grow old, do I
Old things – do you throw them out?
Do you throw old people out?
And how you know a flower that’s old?
The petals fall, the petals fall from flowers,
The dirt you sweep, what happens that,
Why you work so hard, why brush
And will the new young flowers die?
And will the new young people die?
"And what," his friend asked, "do you want me to do with your ashes?"
The businessman said, "Just put them in an envelope
Sunday 14 September 2008
Sitting at this old writing desk unleashes a store of memories. I first saw it in an auction room at Post Office lane, with the then not inconsiderable price tag of £30. As long as I can remember I have nurtured an ambition to be a writer. My childhood heroes were mostly authors, and ever since reading The Coral Island by R.M.Ballantyne, I had been captivated by the written word. Within my family circle this obsession was well known, they were my captive readership for my first written efforts. They were subjected to poetry readings at the dinner table, and I lengthened many a winter evening reading an essay for which I had received some praise at school. I even produced a magazine, all eight pages handwritten, the content thieved from various papers and magazines. My mother was the sole subscriber and her encouragement kept me going.
One drizzly Saturday afternoon I made my pitch for the writing desk I pointed out to my mother, what a tragedy it would be if my career as a writer were to be lost, for the sake of a paltry 30 quid. She succumbed. The desk was closely scrutinised for any sign of woodworm and the deal was made.
On the following Wednesday evening it was delivered to the front door of our house, the men disappearing as soon as the delivery docket was signed. My brother and I took over, trundling the desk through the house towards my bedroom, a tiny attic garret, atop a narrow zigzagging staircase. Negotiating the desk up to the room was tricky, my brother and I heedless to the tirade of directions coming from mother at the bottom of the stairs. The mahogany bureau was eventually ensconced beside the bedroom window, my delight was unbounded.
As the novelty of the writing desk began to dwindle it became smothered with books and papers. At last it was just another prop for bric-a-brac in my claustrophobic space. Years later I would dust it down, and give it pride of place in the sitting room. The house hasn’t changed much over that time, except for the glaring absence of my mother.
She never saw her pushy 14 year-old rise to literary greatness; she knew even then that youthful dreams are fragile things. Many of her own were dashed early on, and yet she continued without any rancour. I fancy she is pleased to see the old desk, salvaged all those years ago, standing proud and polished at the hub of things in her house.
OUR RITE OF PASSAGE
Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage?
His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone.
He is required to sit on a tree stump the whole night and not remove the
blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry
out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.
He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must
come into manhood on his own.
The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises.
Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm.
The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically,
never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man!
Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the tree stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.
We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, our Heavenly
Father is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble
comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.
One day, their parish-priest retired and a new one was appointed. Not only could the new priest see right through the brothers' deceptions, but he also spoke well and true about it. Due to the priest's honesty and integrity, the church's congregation grew in numbers. Eventually, a fundraising campaign was started to build a much bigger church.
All of a sudden, one of the brothers died. The remaining brother sought out the new priest the day before the funeral and handed him a check for the amount needed to complete the new building. He held the check for the priest to see.
"I have only one condition," he said. "At the funeral, you must say my brother was a saint. You must say those exact words."
After some thought, the priest gave his word and took the check. He cashed it immediately. At the funeral the next day, however, the priest did not hold back. "He was an evil man," he said about the dead brother. "He cheated on his wife and abused his family. Never once did he commit an unselfish act." He railed on and on about the deceased.
After nearly a half hour of the evil truth, he paused and shrugged his shoulders. Finally, he said, "But compared to his brother, he was a saint."
Saturday 13 September 2008
When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor. When you have realized that our position is nearly desperate you will begin to understand what the Christians are talking about. They offer an explanation of how we got into our present state of both hating goodness and loving it. They offer an explanation of how God can be this impersonal mind at the back of the Moral Law and yet also a Person. They tell you how the demands of this law, which you and I cannot meet, have been met on our behalf, how God Himself becomes a man to save man from the disapproval of God....
I quite agree that the Christianity is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it beings in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth - only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.
Wednesday 10 September 2008
A dancing, singing green upon my tree,
My green has passed; I have no song to sing,
What will my Autumn be ?
Must it be, though alive, as all but dead,
A heavy-footed and a silent thing ?
Effectless, sapless, tedious, limited,
A withered vanishing ?
Thus I; but He to me: Have I not shown
In Autumn woodland and on mountain fell,
The splendour of My purpose for Mine own ?
Fear not, for all is well.
And thou shalt see, My child, what I will do,
For as thy lingering Autumn days unfold,
The lovely, singing green of hitherto
Will come to thee in gold.
Professor Antony Flew is a British philosopher who for most of his academic life has been a prominent atheist. While an undergraduate at Oxford he regularly attended C.S.Lewis’s Socratic Club but was unconvinced by Lewis’s morality argument for the existence of God as outlined in his book of Christian apologetics ‘Mere Christianity’ Although he found Lewis to be "an eminently reasonable man" and "by far the most powerful of Christian apologists for the sixty or more years following his founding of that club," Flew pursued his own ideological path presenting his atheism finally in the 1966 published book ‘God and Philosophy‘. In this and subsequent works he maintained that one should presume atheism until evidence for God surfaces. In an interview in 2004 he said that such evidence had now emerged as far as he was concerned and that he had become a deist, although emphatically pointing out that he was not a Christian believer. He clarified these views in the 2007 book ‘There Is A God’. This turn around by such a leading figure in the atheist movement caused huge consternation amongst his former colleagues, some even accusing Flew of mental ineptitude because of his age (he was born in 1923). Here are a few remarks made by Antony Flew since his revised view on the existence of God… ~GOSh.~
...." Well, I don’t believe in the God of any revelatory system, although I am open to
that. But it seems to me that the case for an Aristotelian God who has the characteristics of power and also intelligence, is now much stronger than it ever was before. And it was from Aristotle that Aquinas drew the materials for producing his five ways of, hopefully, proving the existence of his God. Aquinas took them, reasonably enough, to prove, if they proved anything, the existence of the God of the Christian revelation. But Aristotle himself never produced a definition of the word 'God' which is a curious fact. But this concept still led to the basic outline of the Five Ways...
I think that the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are
supported by recent scientific discoveries. I’ve never been much impressed by the kalam cosmological argument, and I don’t think it has gotten any stronger recently. However, I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it…
It seems to me that Richard Dawkins constantly overlooks the fact that
Darwin himself, in the fourteenth chapter of The Origin of Species, pointed out that his whole argument began with a being which already possessed reproductive powers. This is the creature the evolution of which a truly comprehensive theory of evolution must give some account. Darwin himself was well aware that he had not produced such an account. It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design…
The greatest thing is their (John and Charles Wesley) tremendous achievement of creating the Methodist movement mainly among the working class. Methodism made it impossible to build a really substantial Communist Party in Britain and provided the country with a generous supply of men and women of sterling moral character from mainly working class families. Its decline is a substantial part of the explosions both of unwanted motherhood and of crime in recent decades. There is also the tremendous determination shown by John Wesley in spending year after year riding for miles every day, preaching more than seven sermons a week and so on. I have only recently been told of John Wesley’s great controversy against predestination and in favour of the Arminian alternative. Certainly John Wesley was one of my country’s many great sons . "
Tuesday 9 September 2008
To forge the stuff of poetry
In the whirly-gig of busy inconsequence…
All significance lays slaughtered
A mute offering stretched on the sacrificial altar
Of our deadlines and zippy onelines,
Speeching away the Centre of the universe,
Filling every gaping quiet with noise and knowing,
Street-wisely consigning to our priority gutters
The last vestige of the merest hint of mystery…
And strewed about the cluttered floors of our dwellings
More opinionated bric-a-brac,
Flashed at the speed of light from our darkened minds.
We stumble with the agility of youth
Striding across the country fields of clod,
As if to stop and breathe that air
Would squeeze the breath of life from us
And reduce us to pitiable creatures
Lingering in the shadows, making sense of it all
And realising, at last, that this race
Will not be won by the swift.
Monday 1 September 2008
"No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says; he is always convinced that it says what he means."
~George Bernard Shaw~
The Bible is the written word of God, and because it is written it is confined and limited by the necessities of ink and paper and leather. The Voice of God, however, is alive and free as the sovereign God is free. 'The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.' The life is in the speaking words. God's word in the Bible can have power only because it corresponds to God's Word in the universe. It is the present Voice which makes the written word powerful. Otherwise it would lie locked in slumber within the covers of a book."
~A. W. Tozer,~
"It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit, and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him."
The Bible is God's chart for you to steer by, to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where the harbour is, and how to reach it without running on rocks or bars.
~Henry Ward Beecher ~
My ground is the Bible. Yea, I am a Bible-bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small.
~John Wesley ~
If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.
As evangelical Christians, we have tended to relegate art to the very fringe of life. The rest of human life we feel is more important. Despite our constant talk about the Lordship of Christ, we have narrowed its scope to a very small area of reality. We have misunderstood the concept of the Lordship of Christ over the whole of man and the whole of the universe and have not taken to us the riches that the Bible gives us for ourselves, for our lives, and for our culture.
It (the Bible) sustains me As a belief… I'm the sort of character who's got to have an anchor. I want to be around immovable objects. I want to build my house on a rock, because even if the waters are not high around the house, I'm going to bring back a storm. I have that in me. So it's sort of underpinning for me.I don't read it as a historical book. I don't read it as, "Well, that's good advice." I let it speak to me in other ways. They call it the rhema. It's a hard word to translate from Greek, but it sort of means it changes in the moment you're in. It seems to do that for me…It's a plumb line for me. In the Scriptures, it is self-described as a clear pool that you can see yourself in, to see where you're at, if you're still enough.