Spring Rain in Jerusalem.

 

 

It’s a miracle that so many people from different faiths and cultures live in harmony in Jerusalem.

When we arrived in Israel it was raining. This is the season when the rain comes to water the dry ground in Israel to help prepare for the sowing of seeds. We have been to Israel before but this is the first time we have seen the rain. I looked forward expectantly to our time in Israel. Will we receive His spring rain?
I was reminded of the scripture from Hosea,

““Come, let us return to the LORD.I
He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us;
he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us;
On the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.
Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises, he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.””
‭‭Hosea‬ ‭6:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I haven’t been disappointed. I have been rested and refreshed in my body, soul and spirit. I have seen prophetic words from the scripture develop before me eyes.

4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.
5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
6 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts. Hosea 6 v 4 to 6. KJV

They are many young couples with babies in prams, children holding onto their arms, and pregnant mothers in Israel. It has a growing population. God is bringing his people the Jews back from all the nations of the earth to live in the land of Israel. We met Ethiopian, Russian and American Jews.

Old people, couples walking hand in hand, others on canes are walking through the streets. They have lived here to see the fulfilment of prophecy. Nearby where we are staying is a school. Yesterday morning as we went out we met young boys and girls chirping happily as they entered the doors.

“In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all— the most important place on earth.
It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem.”
‭‭Micah‬ ‭4:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬ Continue reading

Camping in December in Ireland

Back in December when campervans are stowed for the winter, Bones sprung into life again after her battery was recharged.

Bones is the name my husband gave a campervan we bought two years ago. The doors rattled and the engine puffed out smoke when we first drove it. It needed much repair to make it roadworthy. It reminds us of the scripture in Ezekiel v 1 “ Can these dry bones live?”

I needed to use the campervan recently as my own car was being repaired. Tax and a top up to the insurance needed to be paid to keep it legal on the road. I thought I may as well take it out for a drive.

It had been wet and windy weather for a week. One of the wild nights I was travelling back home. I had the heater, lights, wipers and radio on in the van. I trusted Bones to get me home.

It did but next morning there was no spark to start it again. The power needed the previous night drained all life from the battery.

I was dreaming I could go on an overnight stay in the Campervan over the Christmas period. Who would come with me and would it be cold?

I wanted to visit Cushendun again. It is a beautiful place up along the Antrim coast. We had stopped in the village back in the Summer time. According to the brochures it had a Campsite that stayed open all the year round. After Christmas festivities my daughter offered to go with me one night in the van.

The forecast was 11 degrees centigrade one of the days so we planned and packed for our trip.

It was refreshing to wake up early when the sun was rising in the east over the Irish Sea. We had breakfast as the light shone through the drifting clouds. We spent the rest of the morning walking on the beach and driving through the picturesque villages along the coast road.

We treated ourselves to coffee in the luxurious Ballygally Hotel before setting off for home. I’m looking forward to many more trips out no matter what the season.

It’s good to be alive and enjoying my life. God is good all the time. There in healing in the Blood of Jesus.

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An Invite for Eleven to Dinner

There is often a storm before the calm. I want to give you an example of how our unseen enemies can prevent us getting a blessing. I often remember that God said to Satan “You and your offspring will bruise the woman and her offspring, but they will crush your head.” Genesis 3. I have many offspring that can do some crushing to Satan and his demon’s heads.

Being a big family meant we didn’t get invited out to friends’ homes often. I remember one occasion very well when Rose and Seamus invited myself and ten children, who would have been under fourteen years old, to dinner. Brendan was away on a trip and I was looking forward to the treat of someone making dinner for us. I was determined nothing was going to stop me getting there. Very often when we would arrange family events some difficulties would arise to prevent us getting a blessing.

I encouraged the children to get ready early so we could get to Rose’s house in good time. Ruth offered to help her little sister get washed and dressed. She was very fond of her baby sister Angela, for whom she had prayed. There were six boys between Ruth and Angela. Ruth had longed for a baby sister.

She prepared the bath and put the baby into the water. The only problem was she forgot to put on the cold tap. I heard cries from Mary upstairs, “Ruth has put the baby in hot water!” I ran upstairs to rescue my baby. Angela was upset of course but I settled her all the while praying for her healing of the trauma and any harm done. The skin on her legs was red. I thought I would bring her to the clinic to get some cream to be on the safe side. I reassured Ruth that it can be easy to forget to turn on the tap. She was young and wanted to help.

Many of the other children were distressed at what happened and were angry with Ruth for her oversight. I continued to pray for my children to settle. I tried to calm them and said Angela is going to be alright. I’ll bring her to the nurse for soothing cream and she will be as right as rain. All the while I was aware that this mishap could cause me to cancel our dinner date. I trusted God’s word which says “He will be with me in trouble and deliver me out of it.” Psalm 91. God’s angels are around us to deliver us. I believe there was unseen evil going on to prevent our going out.

Because I had made sure the children got dressed in good time, we had time to go to the clinic and still get to dinner. All ten of the children climbed into our yellow minibus and I drove over to the clinic nearby. I took Angela to get attention and left the other children in the van. They were obedient children and knew to occupy themselves till I returned.

I was in the waiting room when Hannah came to get me. War had broke out between Mary and Ruth back at the van. I prayed again for God’s help. There was yelling, crying, screaming and upset with the younger children as they watched the melli. Mary had not got over her anger at Ruth and blamed her for hurting her wee sister. There were fists flying and pulling of hair. I ran back to the van to bring order and peace. I stopped the fight and made them forgive one another and settle down. The baby was attended to back in the clinic. She was none the worse for her experience.

Calm was restored to my children. I drove us all to our dinner date. I overcame unforeseen circumstances that could have prevented us getting there. We all enjoyed a feast. Our host Rose had made a big effort to prepare dinner for us all, not an easy task. Thank you Rose and Seamus, I  will be ever grateful for your kindness.

I was relieved we came out of the storm only with a few bruises.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/relieved/

Unity

There was devastation in my country, Northern Ireland, when Protestants and Cathoilics were at war from 1968 to 1998.

Thirty years of Troubles. Catholics were bombed out of their homes, forced to move away from Protestant neighbours. Protestants were bombed out as well to force families into Ghettos. City centres were bombed to try to disrupt everyday life. Your life was at risk if a Catholic married a Protestant. Hearts were broken over the death of loved ones, and dreams. Men and women were kidnapped and never returned to their families. Many people were forced into exile. Why did this happen? Other nations who don’t believe in Jesus were laughing at us. We were bringing shame to the name of Jesus.

This is Christian Unity week. Around the third week in January each year, Christians are encouraged to gather together to pray. This movement has been encouraged for around ninety years. I think it a great idea. I was inspired to seek for unity many years ago when I read Jesus’ word to his disciples before he went to the crucified.

“Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.
Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭17:11-12, 17, 21-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It was one of Jesus’ last prayers for us before he died. This prayer is still valid today. When I first came upon this scripture there was war in Northern Ireland; war between Protestants and Catholics.
I was distressed that this situation was definitely the opposite of what Jesus prayed. I determined to look for unity among Christians.

I sought out other Christians in my town. I went along to every Church to meet the people and see what their services were like. I found they had many things in common. The bible was read and explained. They prayed to the same Father in heaven, “Our Father who art in heaven.” They all said that Jesus forgives our sins. They all said there is a heaven and a hell and one can be sure of getting there to heaven if one has faith in Jesus. They all celebrated the breaking of bread to remember Jesus death. Many people turned to God during the troubles and found solace at Church. Congregations were growing. But still I wondered why are there so many churches. Why were there so many different meeting places? Why was there such hatred and bitterness among people outside causing bloodshed in my country?

Here is another verse that inspired me at the time.

““I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:19-22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I wanted God to change my life on the earth. Jesus said “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus promises us eternal life in heaven with him and the Father if we believe and trust him. Not only that but he wants us to experience his kingdom life here on earth. There is peace, joy, unity and love in heaven. Why not on earth as well? I wanted heaven to come on earth in my life, home and community.

I wanted to pray, even if it was only one other person, all those thirty eight years ago. I read a book in the library about people in America meeting together to pray for healing and people got healed! I found a group of ladies who prayed. One was a Presbyterian, another a Church of Ireland, a Methodist, a Baptist and myself a Catholic. We met together to pray each week. I felt at home and began to pray. One lady said later, “I was the best wee evangelical prayer she had ever heard.” Yes God was in our midst, as Jesus said “I am there with them.” There may have been war outside, but we had peace in our hearts and in our meetings. Prayers were answered, especially prayers for peace in our country. We would pray that bombs would not go off. Often bombs were found by the police before they did any damage. We prayed for our families. I found these ladies loving and encouraging. I looked forward each week to seeing them.

With any step forward in one’s walk with Jesus, one’s heart gets tested. Immediately after Jesus taught his disciples to agree in prayer, Peter asked “How often have we to forgive?” It is necessary that to be in unity one has to forgive. Each of us is a sinner. If I want my own way and don’t work with the other person then there is disagreement. Our prayer is not answered.

This can be particularly relevant when a husband and wife wish to pray together. You don’t have to leave home or go to Church to pray with someone else if you are married. Statistics show that not many couples pray together. It is easier to pray with a stranger who believes in God than one’s husband. It is God’s plan that a husband and wife are in unity. He wants us to be one! How can this be? Only by God’s power. No amount of reading “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” will bring about the unity. I know. I have been tried in the furnace of affliction in order for me to agree with my husband. Perhaps you ladies out there can identify with me.

““But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:6-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This is the ideal but in the working out of this truth one has to give up one’s own agenda for the sake of the other. It means giving up one’s pride, ambition, and independence for the sake of the other. Am I willing to do this for the sake of the Kingdom of God and unity to come in my marriage, my family and community of believers.

Jesus knew how difficult we would find it to agree. It is difficult for two sinners to live together. Paul fell out with Barnabas, who had been a big encourager to him before. They went their separate ways. Jesus has made provision for us. He died and shed his blood for me for my forgiveness of sins. He wants me to forgive my brother or sister who has done me wrong. Through his blood we can be reconciled and be in unity again, so we can pray. Outside of ourselves we have the evil one, the devil, with whom to contend. He hates when people agree to pray and especially when a couple pray. Satan is defeated when we overcome our disagreements.

I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to united again in your belief and practice. It is clear there are serious differences among you.”
God has taken me on a journey to seek an answer to Jesus’ prayer for unity. This has taken me back into my own home. I seek unity with my husband so we can pray and our prayers are not hindered. God has cleared away the serious differences between us. This means being humble, forgiving and not arguing.

Jesus told us to remember his death in Communion. Before we come to Communion in remembering Jesus death on the cross we are encouraged to go to our brother and and sort out any disagreement.
“Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am beginning to understand why there is bitterness and hatred among Christians. It is deeply rooted in their hearts. Injustices against one another in past generations had grown into devastation of lives and property in our towns. Great offences had festered for generations and grew into deep roots of malice and hatred. Can our land be healed? Can people be healed who have been deeply hurt? Is there any balm to heal the wounds of my people?

God was working. There was hope. Two “Cities of refuge”were opened. Cecil Kerr began a work of Reconciliation in Rostrever Renewal Centre. Protestants and Catholics could find a space to meet together and be accepted. Corrymeela, near Ballycastle, was opened by Ray Davey with a vision to give holidays to people who needed to get out of the war zones. Another city of refuge. Protestants and Catholics were starting on a journey of getting to know one another.

Peace talks were held with the help of other leaders from Britain, Tony Blair, and America, President Clinton. Channels of communication were opened. Political leaders from Northern Ireland, John Hume and David Trimble received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work for peace. Martin Maginess and Paisley who had been enemies, became the First Minister and Deputy Minister in Stormont. They worked together and became known as “The Chuckle Brothers.” The War ceased. The devastation stopped.

There is a Balm to heal the wounds of my people. I found him. He is Jesus. He forgives all sins of the people and their forefathers’ sins through the shedding of his blood. If we have faith that he forgives sins we can be set free. So the devastation, hurt, divorce, cancer and hatred need not continue. It starts with me forgiving another if he hurts me. If I feel wounded I ask Jesus to heal me and not let the wound fester until I want revenge. By his stripes I am healed.

When I was suffering from cancer, I had unforgiveness in my heart. I definitely wasn’t in agreement with my husband and other Christians. I had to ask Jesus to forgive me again and in return I chose to forgive others. My heart was cleansed and at the same moment my cancer disappeared. I sought reconciliation with my husband and others.

The war has ceased. But now so many of our churches, whether they are Catholic, Church of Ireland, Prespyterian, Methodist, Baptist, or new Church having falling numbers in their congregations? Why are so many people suffering from cancer. Has there been fall outs in marriages, divorces, family and church members?

I urge you as Paul says above, to make up the differences between you. Pray together again with one or two. This is how we solve our problems and our nation’s problems. When we are forgiven, healed and restored we are free to pray together and our prayers will be answered. Some people from Northern Ireland now are invited to other war torn nations to help broker peace. What God has done for us he can do for others.

There is restoration after devastation. We need not give up hope.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/devastation/

 

Bird Watching Again.

I’m telling my children who are returning for Christmas to make sure they bring warm hats and gloves. No we are not going skiing. I’m planning to go Bird Watching instead of Christmas shopping. I have plenty of binoculars to share and I am blessed to live by the an inland sea Lough which invites many birds to stop a while. I will not have to organize a long journey. There is a variety of bird life nearby.

I am being restored in my mind and body as I take time beside still waters as Psalm 23 says.

He leads me beside still waters to restore my soul.

I discovered a group of birds I had not encountered before yesterday. They were a delight to watch. I was happy to look at these birds for a while. God too is taking pleasure in his creation.
I was reading today from Revelation 4 v 8 to 11

8 Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—
the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”
9 Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), 10 the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,

11 “You are worthy, O Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power.
For you created everything,
And it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created.

When I returned home I got out my bird books. Brendan has bought me quite a few over the years. I looked up my favorite one. It gives pictures and descriptions of the most common birds found on our shores. There were all kinds of birds, ducks, geese, swans, sea gulls, oystercatchers, and waders but there was no sign of my discovery. I looked through another. It must have been bought in America. No luck here either.

At last I picked up a hard backed book with a picture on the front. At last. There on the front cover was my new discovery, a bird with a few feathers sticking up from its crown, a Lapwing.

image

According to the book the lapwing has green feathers on his back and wings. I was not close enough to see the green colour of the back wings. His underbody is white. The lapwing gather is flocks. When one takes flight they all do. Their black under feathers make up a full wing span and aides it to spin, twist and dive in flight.
This bird is distinctive because of the tuft of feathers on his head.

Yesterday this group of lapwings were resting along the shore. They were within easy sight as the full tide allowed the water to come up near the bank. They were well camouflaged amid the stones and seaweed on the shore.

I didn’t have my binoculars or note book with me. I will make sure we are fully equipped for our nature study day at Christmas time. Who knows what other residents or visitors to our Irish shores I will find when I next go bird watching.
It will not cost us money. There will be no temptation to overspend or visit coffee shops. Just a flask and a few nibbles will help the bird watchers to endure. They will enjoy it so much; a welcome change from work and study. Time to breathe fresh air, slow down and hang out together like the birds. Time to heal and be restored. A time for peace.

Safety and Peace in Northern Ireland.

We are living in peace and and safety in Northern Ireland.

My neighbor keeps bees.  I was surprised.  I thought they must keep very quiet.  I never see any bees around the flowers in the garden.  Yesterday evening I was enjoying the evening sun.  I noticed a humming sound coming from high in the tree nearby.  I listened and looked.  It sounded like bees buzzing.  I looked closer and sure enough there were bees feeding on the pollen from the tree.  I noticed the white chairs under that tree felt sticky.  The pollen had fallen on them.  It must be sugary, pleasant for the bees to gather for their hive.  I now call this my buzzing tree.  As I pass each day I hear the sound of the bees above.

God has blessed us here in Ireland these last weeks with sunny, clear skies.  All life is opening up in the safety, warmth and comfort.  Shorts, cotton shirts and sun hats are taken out of storage.  We are using a pedalo Aaron bought for his young family years ago.  I thought it would never be used again as he has moved abroad.  No more sound of grandchildren squealing with delight as their dad launched out into the water at Newcastle.  But God.  He brings restoration.  Abraham and I were happily peddling in the Lough below with expensive yachts towering over us.  Granny was squealing!  God has filled my heart with joy.

I believe everyone should have a house and garden.  Having a home to keep warm in the winter is necessary.  As the spring arrives one needs to get out doors after a cold and dark winter.  Summer arrives suddenly when the trees get clothed in dark gree leaves and weeds sprout out of the ground where there was only soil a short time before.
As the days get long and warm it is pleasant to have space to sit outdoors and enjoy the flowers, the birds singing and fresh air.  It is good for the soul.  He leads me in green pastures to restore my soul.

In King Solomon’s reign in Judah and Israel, the people
“Were very contented with plenty to eat and drink.  And there was peace throughout the entire land. They lived in peace and safety.  Each family had his own home and garden.” I Kings 4 v 24.
When I travelled in Mediteranean countries I admired the little white houses with the families sitting under the shade of the vine tree in the cool of the evening.  It is a picture of what I read in Scripture,
“And every man neath his vine and fig tree shall live in peace and be unafraid.”  Micah 4

This was so refreshing to see.  I longed for that image of peace.  Could that ever happen in Northern Ireland?  At the time there was war.  Getting out of the turmoil for a week was a blessed relief.

Praise God today in N Ireland we do have peace and people are sitting out in their gardens.  The word of The Lord has come to pass.
“And into plowshares turn their swords,  and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”  Micah 4 v 3

Hail the King, hail The Lord of all.  Of his government there shall be no end in Ireland!  Isaiah 9.  Safety and peace are restored to N Ireland.

Paths of Peace

Brendan and I were visiting a friend today.

image

In her garden is an ancient olive tree.  It has a knarled and thick trunk. There are young trees springing up around the trunk from olive seeds that took root.  The olive tree is symbol of peace.  When invaders conquered a region in ancient times they cut down the trees.  This olive tree has remained standing.

Here is the view out the front of her home.

image

Her garden is a peaceful place, a little bit of heaven on earth.  As I walked through the garden and discovered the olive tree and took in the beautiful view,  I was reminded of some verses from Proverbs,

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.

For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.

She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.

Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.

Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.

She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:13-18‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Today I was walking along paths of pleasantness and peace.