Beneath the Sod!

We are watchers of a beacon 
whose light must never die;
We are guardians of an altar 
that shows Thee ever nigh;
We are children of Thy freemen 
who sleep beneath the sod;
For the might of Thine arm we bless Thee, 
our God, our fathers’ God. ( Charles Sylvester Horne 1865 -1914)

 

Of all the  ‘long past’ relatives I have researched, the only ones that I have found any direct evidence for more a than ‘nominal’ Christian belief are my great, great grandparents on my mother’s side.

I discovered by the fact that my great, great grandfather was killed in a mine accident in 1898.

I have a copy of the newspaper report made at the time and recognized the names of several ministers , one of whom was very well known at the time, involved in the funeral.100_0373.JPG

In other words, they were known for the company they kept.

True this is not conclusive but speaks in favour of a strong Christian connection with a very evangelical section of the Church.

We owe an immense debt, whether we recognize it or not, to those who have gone before us in the Christian faith.

Our spiritual descent from them may be direct or indirect but it is still real and tangible.

It behooves us all to play our part, to the full extent of our abilities and influence, to the next generation by whatever means and opportunities available to us.

Where would we have been had one link in this long chain had been missing and we not reached by it?

God in His purposes and providence has forged each and every one of the ‘links ‘of the chain of our Salvation.

He has not only in the external circumstances but in the hearts of men and women down through history.

It is eternally certain that His purposes for the redemption of His Chosen people will not fail.

To His name be the glory

william jay

bushman's guide.jpeg

W. Arnold Long recounts the story of a ‘moonlight’ battle between a Wallaby (a small kangaroo) and an exceptionally large ‘carpet’ snake which had entangled its feet and was severely restricting its movement and preventing its escape.carpet snake

The Wallaby was to the point of complete exhaustion by all its attempts to escape and was on the point of succumbing when a ‘shot ‘rang out and the snake fell dead.

An unseen spectator had gone to his dwelling to fetch his gun and dispatched the snake thus saving the Wallaby.wallaby

Long makes the point that in our life and death struggle with sin , we to were on the point of succumbing to its just deserts when  our Lord Jesus Christ entered the ‘lists’ and by His death and resurrection overcame sin , death and the devil.

To Him be all glory in the Church!

colquhoun

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Beneath the Sod!

The home at Bethany!

Mount-of-Olives3

The history of Mary, Martha and Lazarus has been written and preached about many times and so familiar to us all.

That Jesus, who loved all, chose some above others as nearest and dearest is a fruitful subject for discourse and imagination.

For those who study the ministry of our Lord and its attendant difficulties and hardships it come as a relief that the Lord Jesus found some refuge, repose and fellowship in this humble home.

There are few Deserts that do have an ‘oasis’, so there are few lives however difficult that do not have their ‘mon repos’ (French for my place of rest).

(As an aside, I often wonder about the logistics of accommodating Jesus and his disciples. Were they farmed out to for accommodation in various locations to minimize the burden of feeding and housing such a large group? Did the disciples forage for themselves at the end of the day? Did Jesus always send notice ahead that He was coming?)

The pencil sketches we have of the occupants of this home in Bethany are descriptive if brief.

How dearly we would love more detail about Jesus’ life. Yet the scriptural portrait of Christ’ ministry and life has enriched His people and will continue to do so to the end of the age.

Of Lazarus we know very little apart from the fact that Jesus loved him. It is a telling fact that after Christ’s raising him from the dead that the Jewish leaders plotting Jesus’ death thought it might be necessary to kill Lazarus as well.

Martha is the well meaning, care ridden and task obsessed house keeper who misses out on the far more essential fellowship with Jesus. While she may well be blamed for this, the fact remains that her desire to minister to Christ puts much of our ‘lackadaisical’ and careless Christian service to shame.

She obviously believes in the eventual resurrection of the dead but baulks somewhat at Christ’s power to raise the dead in the here and now.

Martha has doubts and fears but wisely surrenders them in the knowledge that Jesus is indeed the Messiah and that God will certainly hear Him.

Mary is admired by all as the thoughtful and contemplative one. She will forget all else to come and sit at Jesus feet and rightly so.

We might humourously imagine however that if she had done her fair share of duties before Christ arrived there would have been less likelihood of Martha’s frustration.

Seriously, she sets before us all the example of seeking first and foremost the ‘one thing needful’ in the listening to and communing with Jesus. Like her, we should never let it be taken away from us.

When Jesus speaks we should ignore all else because it is here that blessing and spiritual riches come to us, more importantly to be with Him is to become like Him.

The family of Bethany’s nearness of affection to Jesus did not shield them from trial and sorrow. Indeed for the present it heightened it as Jesus delayed His arrival. To have faith is to have hope and yet hope delayed is itself the source fear and pain.

 

Christ’s human love for his friends was subordinated to the desire to glorify God and though they suffered a little longer it served a higher purpose and did not lessen the joy they eventually received.

So this often proves in our daily lives. Were we to live lives free from trial and sorrow, Satan would accuse us as he did Job. That God is able to sustain us in the ‘ills’ of life strengthens us and glorifies Him

The believer often appears to fare no better than the unbeliever and at times appears to fare even worse. Yet they would not part from their Saviour, though he seems to hide Himself.

The sister’s sorrow is more than repaid by the Lord’s return of their brother to them from the tomb. Yes Lazarus is raised to die again yet in The Resurrection,  Christ  becomes the door to life.lazarus

Again Mary’s love for the Lord comes to the fore in anointing and washing his feet. Her eyes in faith looked towards the coming sacrifice, when no one else sees it and acts accordingly.

Others may sneer at the cost and seeming impropriety but Our Lord Jesus is worthy of our richest and best love.

As a memorial it will stand to the end of the age because the same devotion is sought for in all of Christ’s people, yet how feeble and cold is our love still.

When we are troubled with many things and worn thin with cares and fears let us return in thought and imagination to this ‘Home in Bethany’ and sit at the feet of our Lord.

Famous Relatives!

Further to my mention of my ‘Ford relations’, the story has filtered down that as well as some of them coming here to Australia, some of them went to America as well.

It was asserted by someone that from this American branch of the Ford family sprang Henry Ford of Model  ‘A’ and ‘T’ fame.1917_Ford_Model_T_Runabout

I searched for a possible connection, but as his family seemed to have come from Ireland, if there is indeed a link it is further back than I am able to find.

For many of us being related to someone famous gives us a boost in our estimation of ourselves.

I think I recounted before,  the encounter Will Rogers snr. had with a ‘society’ woman whose boasted that her ancestors came out on the ‘Mayflower’.

He replied that his ancestors met them on their arrival.

If we do not possess fame ourselves, we would still like to be somehow associated with someone who does.

If we have not yet made our mark in life we would still like to bask in the reflected glory of someone who has.

However this may be for each of us, in the eternal scheme of things it is our relation and union with Christ that counts above all.

We may well live and die in obscurity and without our names meaning anything to anybody as long as Christ is glorified in us and through us.

Far rather bask in the glory of God in Christ than the World’s short lived and tawdry fame.

House Proud?

On one of my cemetery walks I came across the grave of a man who died in the 1930’s and who felt it necessary to have his former address including street number engraved upon his tombstone.

One wonders what interest he thought future generations would show in his former habitation?

The fact that he once lived in one of the better neighborhoods of the City may have been important to him but could it really impress anyone else?

Would it not have been far better if he could have given a ‘forwarding’ address?

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The home at Bethany!

Known of God.

The ‘Ford’ branch of my family were ‘tallow chandlers’ in Redruth Cornwall selling candles to the Tin mines.A5 Wheal Peevor group.jpg

The earliest member of the family I know about came from somewhere in England and purchased a partnership in the candle making firm (it became Magor and Ford) in Cornwall and married a Cornish girl.

My great, great, great grandfather lost most of his money through the business and immigrated to Australia on board the ship ‘Red jacket’ in 1858.DT2036

majorca churchThey appeared on the goldfields at Moonambel, Victoria and then moved across to another gold-strike at “Majorca” this was where my great, great, grandmother married my great, great, grandfather in 1868.

 

My forebear carried on a ‘cartage’ business and is described as a dealer in ‘tea’ in Cemetery records.

There is no marker in the area where my great, great grandparents are buried so I can only approximate within a short distance where they are, which I find rather sad.

We say of those who died in war that have no known grave that their whereabouts is known only unto God.

Whatever happens to us, let us seek to not only to be known of God but to know God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet there is room!

While “Strait is gate and narrow the way that leads to life.” The truth remains that the “Father’s house has many mansions.”images bl

There is no shortage of room in the Father’s house.

The door despite its narrowness is not barred to anyone who is willing to enter.

It is our unwillingness to enter that is the fundamental problem.

Fussy Eaters!

One of my favourite comedy shows has the hero on an economy drive desperately trying to save money.

By sheer misfortune, the only meal he can afford to purchase at a ‘cafeteria’ is one that he detests and will not eat.imageshancock.jpeg

To my mind if I were in his position, I would force myself to eat it rather than go hungry.

It is difficult to get small children to eat vegetables no matter how much we say that they are good for them.

Many only develop an appetite for them much later in life and regret they did not eat more of them earlier.

What makes all this healthy eating harder is the fact that most of us love sweet things and deserts.

It is often the promise of a lovely desert that has been used to encourage our eating of healthier but less tasty foods first.

For some of us there are many things in the Bible that are not easy to swallow and do not appeal to our taste buds. Yet the Scriptures as God’s Word is the wholesome meal set before us.

We may need the promise of the spiritual equivalent of desert to bring us to partake of it, at least at first, but as we grow, we find that our palettes become accustomed to it and it becomes ‘sweet to our mouths’.

abhors.jpeg

Known of God.

The Roaring Forties.

“The Roaring Forties are strong westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, generally between the latitudes of 40and 50 degrees. The strong west-to-east air currents are caused by the combination of air being displaced from the Equator towards the South Pole, the Earth’s rotation, and the scarcity of landmasses to serve as windbreaks.

The Roaring Forties were a major aid to ships sailing the Brouwer Route from Europe to the East Indies or Australasia during the Age of Sail, and in modern usage are favoured by yachtsmen on round-the-world voyages and competitions. The boundaries of the Roaring Forties are not consistent, and shift north or south depending on the season. Similar but stronger conditions occurring in more southerly latitudes are referred to as the Furious Fifties and the Shrieking or Screaming Sixties.” (Wikipedia)

1roaring forties.JPG

The sailing ship ‘Champion of the Seas’ took 83 days to bring my ‘Gilbert’ ancestors from Liverpool to Melbourne in 1855.

ChampionSeasRig

The vessel no doubt took advantage of the southern route and these strong prevailing winds even though it risked encounters with storms and even ice bergs.

Comfort on board ship depended on the class of passage and wind and weather conditions. Poor food, shortages of fresh water, disease and Sea sickness and plain boredom also made so long a voyage difficult at times.

Yet the hope of a striking gold as well as a new and better life prompted these hardy souls to venture all.

It was not till the advent of steam and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 that voyage times decreased.

Only steam ships could use the canal but the early ships still used sails to save on coal when possible and in places where coaling stations were few and far between.

Seldom in the history of Christianity have the prevailing winds and tides of the world favoured it.

Indeed it has been that every man’s hand was against the growth of Christ’s kingdom. The individual believer invariably finds the winds blowing contrary to him or her and has to struggle just to make headway.

Those times when conditions appear to be most favourable to progress and the furtherance of the Church there are those who overladen it with excess cargo or kick planks out of it.

Rather than expect the fitful winds of this present world to speed us on our way we must seek rather to that same (authentic) rushing wind of the Holy Spirit  that came on the day of Pentecost to bring us to the heavenly harbor

david-roy-macgregor-an-australian-clipper-in-the-roaring-forties

Farewell Flintstones!

jackie gleason

The actor Jackie Gleason wanted to sue cartoon animators Hanna Barbera for using himself and the character he played on the popular series “The Honeymooners” as a basis to pattern “Fred Flintstone” on without clearing it with him first.honeymooners

Gleason’s lawyer told him that he would no doubt win any legal case but did he really want to be the one who took such a popular show as the “Flintstones “off the air”?

The large sum of money Gleason might have made by winning the lawsuit could not make up for the possible resentment and ill feeling caused by forcing the program off the air and depriving the show’s viewers of so much laughter and enjoyment.the-flintstones-fred-flintstone-wilma-flintstone-barney-rubble-betty-K3J3M9

The point I would make here is that just because we can do something does not mean we should do it.

Too much of our behaviour, even as Christians seems to be largely matter of ‘point scoring’ and striving for ascendancy.

Even worldly wisdom tells us to ‘pick our battles’ because the cost of winning is sometimes too high and the victory  often does more long term harm than good.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, [h] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Matthew 5:38-41

It is the way of the World to take without asking and to be forever looking for the advantage. Its people return blow for blow and insult for insult. By contrast the follower of Christ exercises like meekness and forbearance and thus wins others to Him.

The short term gain and temporal advantage we might seek in this World bears no comparison to the higher and eternal riches that are at God’s right hand and are there for all who trust in Christ.

Cup and Saucer.

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I still think that despite being the most civilized way to drink tea, a cup and saucer is also the most awkward.

For someone as inherently unstable as I am, moving around from one place to another without some spillage is nearly impossible.

Far better to appear to be ‘uncultured’ and ‘unsophisticated’ than spill scalding hot liquid over ‘all and sundry’.

Were we depending on ourselves and our unaided efforts to achieve the heavenly goal set before us as believers we would have good cause for fearing that we would spill all and fail at last.

While some in the Church cry up man’s inherent goodness and ability the fact is it is completely insufficient for the task in hand.

The need for power from ‘on high’ is not just needed for the great and important tasks and trials of the Christian life but also for those small things that we think require no divine help at all.

Lost for words?

It is sad to think that many ‘Christians’ of today patterns his religion more after the political correctness of the ‘New Age’ and eastern mysticism than they do the Scriptures.

As a result they spend more time trying to reach a consensus than proclaiming the truth of God’s Word.

We see very little of the boldness such as characterized the ministry of the Apostle Paul when surrounded by the rampant paganism of the ancient world. Nor do we see very much of the faithfulness which the apostle Peter displayed in convicting the Jewish multitude on the Day of Pentecost.

We may say these men of God had a far greater measure of the Spirit’s power than we do. This is true, yet the greater part of the early growth of the Church came from ordinary people who scattered in all directions as a result of persecution and other things.

How then can we explain our corporate embarrassment and timidity when it comes to standing boldly for the veracity and relevance of the Bible as the Word of God and the gospel of Christ and Him crucified?

Maybe we should ask each other whether the ‘cat has got our tongue’?

Do we believe that the gospel is the sinful World’s only hope of Salvation or we do not? Is the Bible truly the Word of God with the need to be heard or it is a matter of no great importance whether we proclaim it or not.

God forgive me and us all for prevaricating with the gospel message so desperately needed a lost and sinful world.

****************************************************************************

John-macduff_jr

 

“Many a good and righteous cause on earth has been lost by the death of its advocate. But our Advocate, as He is without beginning of days, is without end of years. As the tinkling bells of the High Priest’s vestments were heard by the crowd in the outer court, while he himself was ministering within the veil – the sound conveying to them the assurance that he was still engaged in the solemn act of intercession – so the ear of faith can still catch up the music of these sacred chimes – these silver bells in heaven – “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!” (J.R. Macduff- “Clefts on the Rock – The Believer’s Ground of Confidence in Christ, 1874”) An Author I heartily recommend.

Footnote : One measure I would extend to the usefulness of this blog is not merely the numbers of people who read it,but rather the readers willingness to recommend it to others.
The Roaring Forties.

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

images moody evangelism

 

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://i2.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.