Family tree: Knots and Knotholes.

 

We may know a great deal about our immediate and extended family.

When looking at more distant and unfamiliar family and our family tree however, we find a tendency to “idealize” and place in “the best light” our forebears and time – distant relatives.tree family

We may pick up a clue here and there of how they lived and what they did. We may know a little of what they were like. Yet by and large we know nothing substantial about them.

Unfortunately or (fortunately) there are some relatives that we know next to nothing about.

We may know when they were born or when they died or where they came from or who they were married to or who their children were. We may also know something of their circumstances.

It is more probable that we will never know nothing about them at all.

As to what sort of people they were or what they believed and thought may very well remain a mystery till the Day of Judgment.

Not knowing better, we tend to paint them as people of hardy and upright stock. Pioneers may be, brave soldiers and loving mothers and fathers, thrifty and the sort to be proud of.

The truth is that people are not as we would like to paint them. As in the title there are a lot of knots and knotholes in most family trees.knothole By this I mean those who were not always very nice people, hard to get along with, a bit strange or to put it bluntly were “kooks.

Some may have over indulged in drink or other vices; some were wastrels and others hard to get along with or bad tempered.

No doubt you could add to this list.

In talking to my relatives over the last few days, I have heard some dark sidelights about some of my long dead relatives that did not paint them in a very good light yet although unknown they may have had things that extenuated the way they were and they may have had good qualities to offset the bad.

We all have skeletons in our closets and black sheep in our families.

We all have known people in whom “darkness” dominated and others who despite their faults were the “salt of the earth”.

It would be true to say that few of our lives can be marked down as singly pure and virtuous, rather in most of us darkness and light, fight for mastery and one or the other seems to be winning at various points in our lives.

Often we will end our lives with others not knowing which side won in the end.

The Puritans used to picture the Christian life as a spark a-float in the midst of the ocean. Sometimes it appears to be drowning and about to be quenched forever yet inexplicably it continues to shine in an environment seeking to overcome it.20151224_192752

Were we able to see into the lives of most Christians, as to the ups and downs of their spiritual state we would see times when sin appears to gain mastery and the upper hand. At other times we would see times of especial closeness to Christ and holiness triumphant.

Still others lead lives of almost unbroken closeness to God while others only draw near to Him in the end and finish  in a blaze of His glory.

God alone knows all: we may be up to our neck in sin and going down for the third time but as long as there is a hand above water reaching for Christ there is hope.

It is the fact of God’s Holy Spirit being at work in our life that guarantees victory in the end. He is the factor that ensures the successful completion of Christ’s saving work in the believer’s lives.

Woe betide the man or women who does not place their wholehearted trust in the Lord Jesus Christ because however good a life we lead without him it will end in sorrow .

Let us pray that we and many more will glorify God and believe in Christ and become trophies of His grace.

Bad Grammar!

John Macarthur relates that a man came up to D.L. Moody and said that He counted a great many mistakes in grammar during his message.dl-moody_400x400

Moody replied that as he was not very happy about it himself but as his father had died when he was very young his education was not what it should have been. He also said that he was trying to serve the Lord with all the grammar he possessed.

 

Living Still!

“And as he   ( Christian ) went, he sang, saying,

“Well, Faithful, thou hast faithfully profest
Unto thy Lord, with whom thou shalt be blest,
When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,
Are crying out under their hellish plights:
Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive;
For though they killed thee, thou art yet alive””.

D.L. Moody also said “One day you will read in the newspaper that ” D.L. Moody is dead,”

Don’t you believe it! I will be more alive then, than I ever was before.”

May we all be able to say the same by God’s grace. Amen

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Family tree: Knots and Knotholes.

Sermons in Gravestones!

A small volume of Spurgeon’s collected sermons is titled “Sermons in Stones”. It uses illustrations from nature and history and geology and mineralogy to base a series of Christian sermons on.

In the course of my family researches I have spent a great deal of time searching the cemetery and reading the inscriptions on headstones.tombstones-in-graveyard

No doubts for many, Cemeteries are dreary depressing places; sometimes I find them so as well.

From the Christian as well as historical perspective they are places of great interest and full of meaning. They are after all; all that most people leave behind to testify their existence and mark their passing, at least as far as the general public are concerned.

In our local cemeteries the classic headstone is becoming a thing of the past except for the few who can afford it or desire to express their love despite the cost.

In looking at many of the older gravestones they are inscribed sometimes with more than just name, birth and death dates.

Some record the cause of death for example, as a mining accident. I found one young man’s grave who died in a mine fall in the late 1850’s at little Bendigo not far from where I live, he was only 23.

Death due mine accident was common in Ballarat; my great, great grandfather was killed in a mine accident in 1898.

Some Gravestones give the cause of Death, death by drowning, death by railway accident or by car, even death by sunstroke. Some people whose sons were killed overseas in the First World War and were buried there added their son’s names to their family grave here.

(The puritans used to say that you would always find a grave your size in the “churchyard”.)

Some mark the place of their birth. Many people of “Cornish “descent came to Australia and Ballarat to engage in gold prospecting and mining. (Some of my forebears came from Redruth, although their family was English originally. Some of my family came from a place called Sancreed in Cornwall. Some from Devon and Somerset)

Others in the cemetery originated from various places in the British Isles and other European countries. There are also many of Chinese descent as well.

The Cornish people were largely “Methodists” and their gravestones testify to their faith in Christ and hope of the resurrection and second coming of Christ. They are not alone in that many a believers’ grave is inscribed with a verse from a hymn, scripture text or Christian hope.

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When one reads a Christian witness like this it is like a candle in the midst of death’s darkness and we can only pray that we could leave a like Christian testimony behind us.

Others seek to testify to their love for their departed parents, wife or child others wish for their peace and rest after trials and sickness in life.

Others leave behind a testimony to their being freemasons. You often find the wife will have a small cross above her name and the husband will have a “compass “above his. I confess I shudder when I see this because although some older professing Christians are members of a Masonic lodge, it is my firm conviction that free masonry is contradictory to Christianity.

Many modern grave plaques testify to the person’s devotion to golf or fishing. Others profess their religious devotion to a particular football team.

I do wonder what comfort their relatives get by the remembrance of this “profession of faith”.

Unless alive at the Lord’s return, we will all get a grave or if cremated a container. The Lord Jesus Himself had a tomb but because death could not hold him it is an empty one.

It is because of this glorious fact of history that those who die in Christ will not remain in the grave but will rise again to be ever with the Lord.

Woe to those who die with no greater hope but that their football team will keep winning Grand finals or that the fish they chase all their lives will finally get caught.

 

I sometimes imagine what it would be like to be up at the cemetery on the day Christ returns and see the various reactions among the people to the sight of Christ in His Glory. Some of the people will rejoice to be united again with their resurrected bodies and their glorious Lord. The rest will wish that they had stayed in their graves.

Let us pray that we will be found among those who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that we can leave behind us testimony and a witness to our belief and faith in him.

A Christless sermon is a worthless sermon.

It is like bread made without flour: the essential element is lacking.

Of such a sermon we may say — “They have taken away my Lord,

and I know not where they have laid him.” The writer is of the

same mind as John Berridge, who wrote, —

“Some fast by Calvin hold,

Some for Arminius fight,

And each is mighty bold,

And seemeth surely right:

‘Well, though with Calvin I agree,

Yet Christ is all in all to me.”

Quoted by C.H. Spurgeon in the “Salt Cellars”.

“Do-Gooders”

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”  Titus 3:1-8

Although not justified in God’s sight by the good works we have done, the Christian is to be known by what they do as much as by what they say.

Paul in the last years of his life and ministry seeks to impress upon Titus the need to persevere in exhorting his congregation to live holy, useful and Christ-like lives.

In this portion He hammers home the need for Christians to be good citizens and submissive to authority and government in lawful things. (It is only when obedience to man conflicts with obedience to God that we are to obey God rather than man.)

Our obedience to God shows itself in our obedience to those He has placed in authority over us and in the believer’s readiness and willingness for every good work.

It is also show by their avoiding of quarrelsomeness and exhibiting gentleness and courtesy, even in the most difficult situations.

Paul reminds us all, that by nature we are born sinners like those around us and full of the selfish and frictional tendencies which provoke hostility and conflict.

It is only the grace of God working in us that makes us to differ and seek to emulate those characteristics which abounded to the full in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We owe all to the great mercy and love of Christ who contrary to our deserts, suffered and died in our stead and reconciled us to God.

Through Him we have an eternal hope which colours our attitude to this present world and prompts us to live the heavenly life, here and now.

This scriptural reminder of the foundation of Christianity and its visible expression to the people around us, is one to which we need to pay close attention today.

Many “Christians” so called are regarded by the people around them as being little different from themselves and judge them as being motivated by the same earthy considerations and pleasures as everyone else.

This is one reason why the message of Salvation is disregarded and the Church relegated to merely the place for weddings and funerals.

Perhaps if we were the Christians we should be, we would see our friends and neighbors drawn to like faith in Christ.

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Sermons in Gravestones!

Alternative Realities.

One of the recurring themes in Science fiction is the idea of alternative realities. The same people living their lives in sometimes similar or sometimes completely different ways. The thought is that people standing at the crossroads in their lives make a decision and it sets them on a certain path. What would happen if the person made a completely different decision and went another way? Infinite possibilities leading to different destinations and what if in a different reality it actually is occurring?https://i0.wp.com/www.messagetoeagle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/paralleuniverses.jpg

This idea occurred to me when I was doing some family research.

My great grandfather was called Cornelius Sullivan. He was originally O’Sullivan but disliked the”O” so dropped it. When I was trying to find his grave I found “Cornelius O’Sullivan” and assumed that he was buried under his original name. My grandfather was brought up Catholic so I assumed his father was a catholic as well. This O’sullivan is buried in the catholic section of the cemetery.

My grandfather as I said was brought up catholic but lapsed because of disillusionment with that church.

On further research in City directories I found my Great grandfather always referred to as Sullivan, so I checked the cemetery records and it turns out that my grandfather is buried in what they call the Benevolent section of the same cemetery: (I am not sure yet what this means about the circumstances of his death and burial, he may have been an orphan or was too poor to afford anything else, he did die during the depression.) Whether this means also that he to lapsed from Catholicism and was buried in another section is something I may never know.

The ironic thing is that the two men both died within one year of each other.

The point being two men of the same name around the same time, similar religious upbringing and possibly a great deal in common. Yet both making different choices and ending up in different places.

While this is interesting theoretically the truth is this world is all we get. What we do and what we believe has not merely temporal but eternal consequences. If when confronted by the call to accept the Gospel and believe on Christ we reject Him, the path we have chosen leads to eternal loss and sorrow. If on the other hand we believe in Jesus and live by faith and trust in Him ,our path then, whatever befalls, is one which is leading ever upward to heavenly joy in the Saviour’s presence.

There is only one you and only one me.  Choose wisely!!

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,

15while it is said,
         “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
         DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”Hebrews 3:13-15

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Alternative Realities.