Facing up to Bereavement

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                         Rev. David Womersley

FACING UP TO BEREAVEMEN 

No. 7  FEELINGS OF GUILT 

A friend of the family, a retired doctor, said to me: “Are you going to mention guilt? This is something bereaved people olden have to contend with.

l thought about that. l realised l had sometimes said to myself: “lf only…” not realising it was actually guilt.

I did frequently think: “If only l had pressed her doctor more!” It was obvious that my wife was not getting any better but the doctor dismissed it by saying her symptoms pointed to the illness she was being treated for and increasing the medication would do the trick. She told us to come back and see her in six week but in less than four weeks, she was gone! By the time l did insist, it was already too late – nothing could be done.

Bronwen sometimes complained that l spent all my time in my study and rarely went to sit with her in the sitting room unless it was the news! l did not think much of it at the time as she was always busy: studying God’s word, reading, sewing, painting, writing. But now l often think: “If only l had left my work for at least an hour and spent the time with her. She loved a discussion. l realise that she gave the appearance of being self sufficient but underneath, she could be sensitive and vulnerable.

l know Bronwen did not like it when I would leave her every second year for three months, and once for four months, to go to Congo and Zambia. Could I have planned that differently? If only . . . .

She liked an excuse to dress up and could look very smart. lf only l had told her how great she looked! As a Yorkshireman l am not very demonstrative – but that is no excuse. l have a friend who tells his wife every day how wonderful the meal was. l have always felt that was overdoing it, the impact was lost. Under-doing it is worse! l rarely told her how delicious I had found the food. She didn’t like cooking but spent hours when we had visitors, which was frequent, doing a really splendid meal. lf only . . . .

She sometimes grumbled that l didn’t appreciate the Christmas or birthday presents she gave me. “I haven’t seen you in that cardigan recently. . . .! ”l am wearing them now and they bring back memories and my eyes water, especially if it is something she knitted.

Looking back, I realise l took so much for granted. l could have been a lot more considerate. If only . . . . . but, of course, it is too late for that. l can’t ask her to forgive me but l do try and show my son appreciation for all the many things he does for me. Any who are reading this and are not yet bereaved, you know what to do about it!

We can always ask the Lord to forgive. At such moments He does come near. As James says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”.

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Word Studies

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                              Rev. K. W. Munday

VOTING

Voting is denied in the dictionary as ‘the expression of one’s support or opinion’. lt is sometimes used in conversation when we state our agreement with someone. ‘He gets my vote every time’. But usually voting is done in an social way, indicated either by ballot paper or the showing of hands.

Democracies are very proud of the voting system. It is generally considered to be the fairest way of reaching important decisions. The late Sir Winston Churchill who had a very dry sense of humour actually said that democracy was the worst form of government, adding apart from all the others! He made his point.

In Britain we can vote for our local and national governments, and then we can only watch how they behave, but we must wait for the next election to express our opinion again.

In Switzerland, the administration is divided into cantons, and they can decide locally what they want. For instance if the government want to put a motor-way across their territory, a local referendum is taken and the decision is final. That is an example of bringing democracy down to the grass roots. The citizens value their vote and respond accordingly.

Voting generally is conducted under various conditions, which are clearly indicated to the electorate. Some call for a 2/3rd majority, some just a simple majority where 51 out of a 100 secure the decision. Others operate a proportional representation system where the candidates get a more equal opportunity.

lf asked whether there are any laws in the voting system, the answer is certainly YES. The basic principle could be challenged on moral grounds to start with. Just because more people vote for something does that automatically make it right? A vote can also be affected by others through strong canvassing, persuasion or even bribery! Another weakness is that everyone has a vote despite their intelligence or knowledge of affairs. The late George Bernard Shaw the Irish playwright said, ‘Votes are counted of the heads despite what is in them!’

And of course the biggest flaw of all is occasioned by the state of the nation. Christian values are marginalised, and the vacuum is being bled with other ideologies. How right was G.K. Chesterton as he wrote, ‘When a nation ceases to believe in God it doesn’t believe in nothing, it believes in anything’. So this mixture of anythings finds its way on to the statute book and the law is fixed.

Godless communism got us nowhere and Godless capitalism has run into difficulties, but we can all do something about a Godless democracy . . . ,if we want to!

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Illustrious Ministers of the Past

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                                  General William Booth

This month be encouraged by an inspiring letter sent out from Salvation Army founder William Booth to his fellow comrades.

Everyone knows that on going into the battle of Trafalgar, Lord Nelson hoisted at his mast head the signal, ‘England expects every man to do his duty’. That sentence has been memorable ever since.

Duty is a good old English word. I like it very much. It is so expressive and so well understood by young and old, rich and poor, saint and sinner alike. Who is there that does not know what is meant by doing his duty?

Duty signifies neither more nor less than doing what you feel you ought to do, and leaving undone what you know you ought to do.

It means a sinner giving up his sins, a drunkard renouncing his drink, a swindler abandoning his cheating, a liar forswearing his falsehood, and that forever and ever.

Have you, my comrades; put away from you every evil habit? If not, that is what God requires from you at this very moment. Will you not do your duty?

It may apply to a saint placing himself and all he possesses at the service of his Saviour. Have you done that? If not, you cannot truthfully say that you have done your duty. It may apply to a soldier offering himself to be an officer, or to fill any other post for which he may be thought best qualified in the Army; being ready and willing to fight at that post to his dying day. What are you called to? Will you do your duty?

The word duty may apply to something which is more or less the act of the hour, such as the reading of your Bible, praying in your family, speaking to someone about his soul, going to the open air, giving money to feed the poor, wearing uniform or the like. When the call comes to you for any of these things, you must do your duty.

Now, the first thing a soldier has to do what appears to be his duty is to give himself up to his performance, whatever the consequences.

When duty presents itself, comrades, do not stop to enquire about your ability or worthiness to perform the task. All you want to know about it is, “Is it my duty?”

Do not stop to consult your feelings. They will possibly, very likely, be in direct opposition, both to your judgment and your conscience. Simply ask, “Is it my duty?”

When you pray, when you sing, when you suffer without complaining, when you carry one another’s burdens, when you warn sinners, when you give your money; in short, wherever you do any act, you say by your action to those round, “Go, and do likewise. Do your duty! Do your duty!”

If death overtook you, my comrades, tonight, would you be able to say, “Husband, wife, kiss me, I am leaving you, but I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty!

“Father, mother, children, kiss me. I have loved your souls, and toiled for your salvation. Thank God, I have done my duty!”

“Brother, sister, master, servant, kiss me. I have tried to bless you. I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty!”

Would you be able to say this? And when, at the judgment seat, you meet those dear ones again, and the poor sinners who now live around about you, speeding on their way to the land of misery and despair, will you be able to say to them, “I knew you on earth; I loved you; I prayed for you; and in trying to save you I did my duty”.

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Dave’s Snippets

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                                     Dr. David Allen

JEPHTHAH  THE GILEAD – Judges 11

Quite frequently, both in literature and in the Scriptures, a great hero has what proves to be one fateful flaw or weakness in his character: Hamlet’s flaw was his procrastination; Othello is   insanely jealous, and so murdered his beautiful wife; Macbeth is ruled by his over-ambitious wife. And so it is, at times, in the Bible. Samson’s weakness was the ladies! Jephthah is another case in point

Jephthah, who was born of a prostitute, and despite looking after his legitimate half- brothers,  was rejected by them and sent away as having no part of their family or inheritance.  In time he became the leader of a band of outlaws – a sort of Robin Hood figure  in ancient Israel. 

In process of time, the Ammonites attacked his kinsmen and tribe. The elders, cap-in-hand, approached Jephthah and asked him to help them against the enemy. He agreed on the condition that, if God were to give them the victory, he should be made their leader and commander-in-chief. The elders readily agreed. Jephthah’s fortunes were certainly in the ascendant. However, he made a vow: “Lord, if you give me the victory over Ammon, I will sacrifice to you the very first thing my eyes fall upon   when I   return from the fray.” Sadly, the victory won, the first thing he saw was his beautiful unmarried daughter! Forthwith she was sacrificed.  His vow was rashly made, though there was no reason to do so, for God did not demand anything in return for His aid.

We may think that Jephthah’s action was extreme. But, in the period of the Judges, there was no central control and some very unruly and brutal behaviour. However, Jephthah, a man of integrity, heeded the biblical warning about keeping solemn vows – Ecclesiastes 5:2.  But, one rash  and imprudent  vow, brought  tragedy  to a great  commander  and  ruler  and so cast a   dark and long shadow  over what should have been a time of celebration and merriment in the camp of Gilead. Do remember, poor sad Jephthah, and so beware of rashness like that!

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Prayer Dynamics

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                                    Rev. E. Anderson

FOR ALL PRISONERS

Prayers by the Rev. Peter Marshall

 

LORD JESUS, who didst come to liberate the captives remembering the prisoners, we pray, those locked up in jails, those locked up in jails, those confined to the huts of the chain gangs.

Release from the prisons of their own making all those who struggle with habits that bind them. If Thou wilt make them free, they shall be free indeed. Release them, we pay.

And Lord, remember the captives of illness, witness and pain. Loose them from that bondage into the heritage of  perfect health which is Thy perfect will for them.

Remember in Thy mercy the prisoners of sorrow who know not comfort, the prisoners of loneliness who know no solace of friendship. Thou who wast a friend to the friendless. Thou who were a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, remember them of most graciously.

Together we pray too for the peoples of other nations whose freedom has been stolen, whose liberties have been restricted or taken away, whose lives have known deep and dark shadows; for they too are prisoners, prisoners of human tyranny.

O God, let not the flares of freedom die out on the altars of their hearts that, having glimpsed that good life, they may not be disobedient to the vision nor forget the lustre of the freedom yet to be. .

For these great gifts we ask confidently knowing that Thou didst come to earth to free us from ‘the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God’. Amen.

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Wisdom’s Ways provided by the late Rev. A. Linford

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Rev. A. Linford, before his decease, was recognized as a good, great and interesting Bible teacher in the Assemblies of God Fellowship for many years. He was a well-loved Bible College lecturer and writer that bequeathed a tremendous amount of Biblical material in his generation. What a legacy he has left to be researched and brought forth to refresh our day! We shall be using such on this site: His writings from the book of Proverbs and also his Editorials that he wrote for the Redemption Tidings when he was its editor. I trust you will enjoy and appreciate his inspired teaching.

FRAGRANCE IN LIFE AND DEATH

”The memory of the just is blessed” – Proverbs 10: 6, 7

”None of us liveth to himself, and no man diets to himself’ – Rom 14:7. Thus wrote Paul, and in so doing affirmed the solidarity of the Human race. We came from one, we receive our genius from one, we are one. Though divided by colour and culture, by race and religion, by circumstance and environment, the human race is one – ”for God hath made of one blood all nations of the earth” – Acts 17:26. Sin has divided us, but salvation unites us, as Dan Crawford said: “I am denationalized – a brother to all men; Arab, African, Mongul, Aryan, Jew; seeing in the Incarnation a link that binds us up with all men”. Not that patriotism is wrong, but grace leaps national barriers and avoids the extremism of the politicians toast: ”My county, may she ever be right: but, right or wrong, my country”.

A just man is fragrant in life: ”Blessings on the head of the just” are those words of appreciation and thanks that are drawn out by the influence and activities of a good man. But the vicious man who plots his neighbour’s ruin calls forth curses on his head. The world is a mirror, if we look closely we may see ourselves. Good deeds are reflected in reactive blessings; evil actions recoil upon the doer. As Jesus said: ”With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” – Matt 7:2. Reciprocation is a law of life. A just man generates an atmosphere of love, of kindness and of tender care; an evil man creates a fetid miasma that poisons relationships.

A just man is fragrant in death: Fragrant memory is the legacy of the righteous. How precious to think of those lives that were godlike! Their influences continue long after their departure: inspiration, incentive and impulsion flow from the remembrance of what they accomplished for God and what they expressed of God. Their reputation is like an aura of blessing, an aroma of grace, a rare and fragrant atmosphere of goodness. But the wicked leave behind a nauseous stench that the memory is glad to consign to oblivion. ”Whose faith follow,” says Hebrews 13:7, in reference to leaders now departed. The biographies of good men make us want to live better lives.

PRAYER

May I exude the fragrance of Thy love and care today, O Lord.

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Great Stories

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                                     Rev. E. Anderson

REVERENCE FOR CHILDHOOD

Josiah Wedgwood was the originator of a most exquisite and beautiful style of pottery. It is exceedingly rare and much admired.

He was a man of fine talent and of a princely nature. An English nobleman called upon him once and desired to inspect the potteries. He was shown around the plant by a lad of about fifteen years, while Mr. Wedgwood followed, some steps behind.

The nobleman was a reckless and outspoken man who had no reverence for sacred things and no faith in God, and expressed himself in what would be ‘clever’ profanity and jested with sacred things. The boy was first shocked by the nobleman’s irreverence, but wa soon captured by his cleverness and laughed heartily at the brilliant remarks which he made.

When they returned to the office, the boy was dismissed and Mr. Wedgwood held up a most rare and beautiful vase and described the long process through which it had gone before it was perfected. The visitor held out his hand to receive it, but the artist let ift fall on the floor and it was immediately broken to atoms.

The nobleman was angry, and said, “I wanted that for my collection”.

The artist immediately replied: My lord, there are other things more precious than this vase which can never be restored. I can make you another piece of pottery equal to, or better, than this, and I will do so, but you can never give back that boy who has just left us his simple faith and his religious reverence, which you have destroyed by making light of sacred things.

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Healing Testimonies

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                                       Leonard Fowler

MY FAITH HAS BEATEN

PARKINSON’S DISEASE

 

A MAN who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for seven years wants to travel Britain to tell others about how his faith healed him.

Leonard Fowler, 66, had two walking sticks, used a wheelchair and was taking more than 2o tablets a day.

The disease caused him to shake, and although he had been a Christian for most of his life, was beginning to lose faith.

That was until 2003, when he attended Blackpool Christian Centre, being run by evangelist William Lee.

Leonard said: “William invited people to go out for prayer and my wife asked if I would go but I just ignored her. Nobody laid hands on me or touched me, but right there in the church I was completely healed!

“I went to see my local doctor who had diagnosed me and put me on the tablets, and he couldn’t believe it. I now feel great, I take no tablets, and I’m amazed at how God’s Holy Spirit met me that day and healed me.

“I had been a Christian for years but as the years go on you begin to doubt God and wonder if you will ever be healed”.

Since the miracle, Leonard has travelled to different churches to tell his story, while he has been a source of encouragement to may Christians when privately talking to them.

Leonard added: “I’ve been around a lot of churches telling people what happened to me. I’m not a preacher but I am an encourager. I want to show people that when they don’t see hope there is hope!

“When you persevere and walk step by step with the Lord you don’t know what can happen.

“We always want instant miracles, but I had to wait for seven years – and some have to wait even longer.

“It could be weeks, months or even years, but if you trust in God He willnever let you down”.

Evangelist Lee said the miracle was ‘special’ to him.

He added: “This man came into the service and was on lots of tablets a day and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, of which there is of course no natural cure.

“But God met him that day, and we were all so excited. It was a great example of God’s power healing a man in a desperate situation”.

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Knowing the Truth

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                                    Rev. A. Hocking

PICTURES

Rev. A. Hocking

Someone has given me a book of ‘incredible visual illusions’.   They are pictures that make sense, but when you look at them closely, they don’t.   For example an artist called Escher like to draw pictures like this.  One is of a waterfall driving a water wheel.  The water then flows down a conduit, back up to the wheel again.  Impossible!  Yet when you look at the picture it looks perfectly feasible.    Another shows men climbing a staircase which leads nowhere but back to the beginning again.   Looked as a whole, the pictures seem to make sense, but closer examinations shows that they are nonsense.

Many people’s lives are like that.  The life most people see is a façade.  On the surface, everything seems to be normal and happy, but underneath, the reality is that their lives are in a mess.   Over the years I have talked to many people like this.  Some were so desperate that they were considering suicide.  Others just wanted to run away and leave everything behind.  These things are not the answer. 

If you feel your life is like that, go and talk to someone.  A trusted friend, your minister, even e mail us here.   Most important of all, though, invite Jesus Christ into you life.  Hand your life and all its problems and failures over to Him.  He can change your life around and you will find Him to be the best friend you ever had!

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Points to Ponder

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                                    Rev. E. Anderson

WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN’T LOOKING

  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing, and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don’t.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it’s all right to cry.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I learned most of life’s lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.
  • When you thought I wasn’t looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, “Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.”

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