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Peace in the Storm (A Special Meditation)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation on Isaiah 26:3,4

Peace in the Storm”

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

Our text is part of a song, sung by God’s people. It reflects upon the coming day of God’s deliverance of His people. It is sung in the midst of troubles that must yet be faced. The theme of the Book of Isaiah is that “Zion shall be redeemed by judgment” (Isa. 1:27). This means that the wicked will be punished, but also that God’s people will be chastised for their own good. How desolate she shall stand in this world. God’s people must be reminded of the deliverance that will be seen and experienced. We hold on to the promise of God that He will build a strong city with salvation as its walls. The gates of that city must be opened up for us that we may enter in and enjoy the security. If the gates are shut, the walls will not be helpful. It is through the Lord Jesus that we have access. The church as a righteous nation enters the city by Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. There we receive perfect safety and will dwell forever. The keeper of the city gives protection.

Perfect peace: literally in the Hebrew it is: “Peace, peace.” Isaiah, using repetition, conveys the thought of super abundant peace. God gives supernatural peace to those who trust Him (see also Phil. 4:6,7). This peace is a gift of God. It is the opposite of fear and doubt, anxiety, trouble, conflict, and warfare. It is not an earthly peace or a peace wrought by human hands or treaties. It is a spiritual peace, a peace with God and with other believers.

What a great conflict there was between us and God and between us and our fellow human beings because of sin. God is wrathful with those who contend against Him. Because of their idolatry, Judah is going to be brought down to Babylon. God hides Himself in His anger. But here is a beautiful promise. God will not always be angry. He gives double peace. What good news! There is more peace than all the world can promise or give you. Peace is through the cross of Jesus Christ and the righteousness He imputes to us. There is forgiveness for all our sins. The gospel points us to peace so that we can face all our troubles with confidence. Our peace is in the safety of being children of God, under His protection and care. May we then live in the consciousness of His gracious forgiveness! If God is for us, who can be against us? God reigns over all things and circumstances.

When our conscience accuses us, Satan is busy trying to cause us to doubt our salvation. We know that we are still inclined to all wickedness. But we read in I John 3:20, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” God sees us in Christ Jesus! We face death, and we know that death is the wages of sin (Rom. 6:23). But when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we have peace, for we know that Christ won the victory over sin and death. Jesus Christ takes His own home to glory.

There is no peace if we are willingly walking in the way of sin and disobedience! Our minds must be stayed or fixed on the LORD. The word “stayed” in our verse means to be propped up, leaned upon. In other words, we are not self-confident. We know our own weakness and sinfulness. We lean upon the Lord like a crippled man leans upon his cane. He cannot stand or walk with out it. We are unfaithful. God is Jehovah, the one who is unchangeably faithful to His covenant for Christ’s sake. He established his covenant, realizes it in Christ, and will perfect it. God sent his Son, removing the wall of depravity and sin. We read in Romans 5:1, “Therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We look, our eyes are fixed upon our God.

When Peter looked at Jesus, he was able to walk on the water. But the moment he took his eyes off Jesus to the storm-tossed waters, he sunk. Christ alone is our peace. May the Holy Spirit work on our minds by the Gospel. There we hear the voice of our Savior. Looking to Him, the fears, doubts, and anxieties of our minds are chased away, and instead there is a calm spirit, joyful peace. When the Lord chastises us His children, we do not doubt His love or power to save. Instead, we see it as His fatherly testing of us and working to purify us and strengthening our faith. Christ is our peace (Eph. 2:14).

So, trust in the LORD. Fix your eyes and mind and heart upon Him. He cares for you. In Him, we need not fear. In Him is all our hope. In Him is all our strength. Trust Him in every situation. The trials of life often bring doubt and anxiety to our minds, but we must cast these off. It is only when our mind and thoughts are propped up upon the Lord, thinking of Him, that we will experience peace regardless of circumstances. What anxieties trouble you? How can you lean upon the Lord?

Open up your Bible. Cling to His promises. Listen to His voice. I do not know which was more troubled: the disciple’s minds or the storm-tossed sea (Mark 4:37ff). They cried out, “Master, carest thou not that we perish? Jesus arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”

“Trust ye in the LORD for ever.” Jesus is in your storm-tossed boat. Look to Him in faith and trust. May you hear Him say, “Peace, be still.”

When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; What ever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

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Living or Dying in Christ

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation on Philippians 1:21

Living or Dying in Christ

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

A short Scripture text means a short meditation, right? No, it does not, especially for ministers. The less notes I take in the pulpit, the longer the sermon is. In our text, we need to understand what it means for the Apostle Paul when he states, “to live is Christ.” Second, how we learn to live for Christ, Third, we need to know why “to die is gain.” Should we wish for death?

The Apostle Paul wrote these verses to the believers in Philippi. They were concerned for him. Paul was a prisoner in Rome, waiting for his trial before Caesar. This trial could end with the Apostle facing death. In Paul’s absence, there were some who were preaching Christ out of envy and strife, and therefore they were adding affliction to Paul’s prison life. Paul wrote to comfort those saints who were concerned about his welfare. He said that all that was really important was that Christ was being preached. Paul was only concerned that his Savior was exalted and the gospel extended. Paul’s greatest concern in either life or death was magnifying Christ, his Master (vs. 20). Paul informs the Philippians that he is not afraid to die. He would be with Christ.

When the Apostle said so emphatically, “to me” placing this word at the very beginning of the sentence, he is giving a profound personal testimony. At the same time, he was drawing a contrast between the preachers who are proclaiming Christ out of selfish ambition. Paul was not self-centered, but Christ-centered. “For me to live is Christ.” Is this true of your life? Paul was concerned with the honor and glory of his wonderful Redeemer.

Paul was speaking of his life lived from day to day, continuous living on earth as a child of God. He could have spoken of the continuous hardships that he had faced. He experienced a thorn in his flesh that he had prayed might be removed. He had been beaten, stoned, and left for dead. He had been in prison both in Philippi and now in Rome. Oh, how he had suffered for the sake of the gospel. But he did not speak about those things. He spoke about Christ! Christ was the center of his whole life. Christ was everything. This was not just his preaching to others. Paul himself relied upon Christ for the whole of his salvation. He would boast in nothing but Christ crucified.

What is it to live in Christ? It is to derive one’s strength from Christ (Phil. 4:13), to have the mind, the humble disposition of Christ (Phil. 2:5-11), to know Christ with the knowledge of Christian experience (Phil. 3:8), to be covered with Christ’s righteousness (Phil. 3:9), to rejoice in Christ (Phil. 3:1; 4;4), to live not for self but for His glory (II Cor. 5:14,15), to rest one’s faith on Christ and to love Him in return for His love (Gal. 2:20).

How is this life possible? Not in ourselves. We would live for pleasure, sin, earthly things. Paul had been trying to by his own works to be right with God. It was only by Christ taking ahold of him on the Damascus Road. It was by the Spirit of Christ giving him a new heart and working conversion and faith. Paul was turned around from a physical life that leads to death to a new life lived for Jesus Christ.

Can you make this personal confession, “For me to live is Christ”? Do you and I live this confession with our daily lives: in our marriage, being a parent, in the workplace, the friends that we have, in our recreation, what we think, what we desire, and everything that we do? May God work in us and give us the grace to live in Christ.

Then “to die is gain.” This seems so strange, for death is loss. It is the loss of earthly relationships, family, friends, earthly things, and even our earthly bodies for a while. We know from Rom. 6:23 that death is God’s punishment for sin. But my friend, the sting of death has been taken away ( I Cor. 15:55). Christ bore all the punishment for our sins in our place. Death now becomes a servant to take us as pilgrims and strangers to a far better land. Dying physically meant gain for Paul. It meant that he would be with Christ (see vs. 23), “at home with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8). Death is the gateway to a clearer knowledge, more wholehearted perfect service, more exuberant joy, and a closer walk. No more sin or temptation, no more sickness, pain, trial, sorrow, affliction.

Death is gain! I will be with Christ. I will be like Christ. All the blessings of Christ will more abundantly be poured out. What do you live for? Is the glory and honor of Christ’s name more important to you, or is comfort and ease of life? Paul’s life was so wrapped up in Christ and the gospel that he wanted nothing more than to see the gospel advance, even if it meant that others sought to add to his affliction. When life’s circumstances get difficult, it is easy to become focused on self. May we say, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

Jesus is all the world to me, My life, my joy, my all; He is my strength from day to day, Without him I would fall. Jesus is all the world to me, I want no better friend; I trust him now, I’ll trust him when life’s fleeting days shall end. Beautiful life with such a friend; Beautiful life that has no end,; Eternal life, eternal joy, He’s my friend.”

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Confidence in the Midst of Calamities

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation on Job 19: 25,26

Confidence in the Midst of Calamities

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

Job was in the midst of calamities. In one day, everything was taken away. All his children died. His servants were killed or stolen. He had a dreadful disease in his body: an awful breath, he was skin and bones, sores all over his body. Job was an outcast of society. His wife told him to commit suicide, and his friends despised him as a terrible sinner. He is reproached and persecuted. Job was all alone! What a terrible condition.

But Job had hope. He made an amazing confession. “I know that my redeemer liveth!’ He knew that he suffered this at God’s hand even though he did not know why (vs. 6ff). Let’s look at Job’s confession.

“Redeemer”: the Hebrew word has the idea of a vindicator, one who takes up the cause for another. There are many examples of this in the Old Testament. If someone murdered a member of your family, you could appoint a person to avenge the blood that was taken. If a family was sold into slavery because of debts owed, one like a Boaz came so that the household of Naomi and Ruth could be freed from bondage. It was a near kinsman who took care of Naomi and Ruth by allowing them to glean in his fields. He would take their land and harvest the crops for them. He would marry Ruth, so that there would be children. Without children, the woman would be cut off from God’s promise and inheritance. In Boaz’s marriage, Naomi and Ruth had a rich lineage, resulting in the Christ.

There was nothing that Job could do to stop his calamity, persecution, rebuke, or the accusations made against him. He clung to the One who would vindicate him and his righteousness: God in Christ Jesus. Job clung to his righteousness in Christ. While the dark clouds of calamity swirled around him, he lifted his eyes heavenward. “I know that my redeemer liveth.”

“My redeemer lives!” What a confession. While Job saw his own death (“though after my skin worms destroy this body”), he saw that his redeemer lives. He saw two things by faith. First, he confessed the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Job’s faith was like the faith of Abraham, when Abraham was called to kill his only son, Isaac, he knew that God was able to raise his son back to life (Hebrews 11:17-19). Second, Job knew that this vindicator “shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” Over against what Satan, Job’s so-called friends, or the world had to say, his vindicator would declare Job righteous in God’s court. This was Job’s hope. He had a vindicator who would pay for his sins, who would take up his cause. Although accused as a terrible sinner by his three friends, Job knew that one day the redeemer would stand as Judge, declaring him righteous. He would be declared righteous, not by his own works but by the work of his redeemer. By the grace of God, Job had faith in this redeemer: one who would take up his cause before God himself! It is the promised seed of the woman, promised to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. One would come who would pay the debt for his sins.

The beauty and significance of this confession is found in how personal it is. Job speaks of “my redeemer.” Not only is there a redeemer, but he is mine! He will stand up for me and vindicate me. That means that Job was certain that God declares him righteous. God is for Job even though his so-called friends and society were against him. Notice the words, “I know that my redeemer lives.” “I know!” Not, “I think so” or “I hope so.” There is no certainty in that at all. Can you say, “I know that my redeemer lives”? Surely, if Job who lived in the time of types and shadows could have this certainty, how much more can we who have the completed Scriptures and who live after the fact of Jesus’ birth, suffering, death, and resurrection! “I know that my redeemer lives.” No ifs, buts, or perhaps; that would surely rob us of peace and comfort!

Job, facing his own death had the certainty of life afterwards. “And though after skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” They say that there are only two certainties in life: taxes and death. But for the child of God, there is the certainty of life after death. We shall see God. How? God is Spirit and therefore invisible. The answer is that we shall see God in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ. We shall dwell in his beauty and love and fellowship. Is this what you desire?

Job did not know why God had so afflicted him. You and I should not ask, “Why are these troubles coming to me? Why does God allow or cause it?” Know this, child of God; affliction is for our profit. By it, God is testing us. He is also weaning us from this life and all it has to offer, to the world which is to come. He is saying to us, “Look to me.” We are taught to live as those who desire to see God’s face. When is the last time that you have included in your prayers the petition, “Come Lord Jesus, yea, come quickly”?

I know my Redeemer lives. Therefore, I shall see God! This statement shows the indestructible nature of true, saving faith. In the midst of circumstances that Job did not understand, he nevertheless fell back on the most basic truth of the gospel: his redeemer lives! Redemption brings to mind the glorious truth that the Christian is owned by God, purchased with his own blood, declared righteous with the righteousness that God freely gives to him by grace alone through faith. Can you say, “I know that my Redeemer lives”?

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Murmuring or Singing? (A Meditation on Numbers 14:1,2)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation on Numbers 14: 1,2

Murmuring or Singing?

And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured...”

God’s people were standing at the border of Canaan, the promised land! This was a time for celebration and praise to the God who had delivered them from the bondage of Egypt and led them through the wilderness. They were right on the border of blessing. But they were faced with another crisis of faith. The twelve spies had returned from the land with vivid proof that the land was all God had promised it would be.

There was a majority report and a minority report. The majority report of the ten made no mention of God. Rather they reported: “The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitant thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

The minority report declared: “the land that we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it unto us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.”

Both reports acknowledged that the land will only be taken by fighting and conquest. Certainly, it would not be easy to conquer the land. It was not lying there vacant, ready to be taken. There were many and strong people there, and Israel could not simply walk in and possess it. They would have to fight. (In reality, there was no need for the spies to scout the land, but we read in Deuteronomy 1:21,22, when Moses set before the people the land that the LORD had promised them, they demanded of Moses to send men before them to search out the land. This was in itself an act of unbelief.) The first report was evil, because it was given with an evil purpose and great exaggeration. The report of the majority of the spies intended to impress one thing on the minds of the people. “We be not able to go up against the people” (Numb.13:3). It did not take into account the power of the unseen God. It did not remember the mighty deliverance out of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the manna that fell from heaven, or the many deliverances the Lord had given them. The manna was still there, as was the cloud that still overshadows them by day or that blazes above them by night. We read that all the congregation cried, all of the people wept, all the children of Israel murmured. Theirs was the sin of self-pity, unbelief, and disobedience. They wish to die in the wilderness, or go back to the bondage of Egypt.

In contrast was the faith of men like Joshua and Caleb over against the unbelief of the rest of the children of Israel. We read “all the congregation cried” and “all the children of Israel murmured”. Of course, this does not refer to every individual. We know that there were those who did not murmur. There is always a small remnant such as those like Joshua and Caleb whose voices are drowned out by the noise of the whole. They speak of the glory and sureness of God’s promise and His help in the battles to come. For victory comes only by way of struggle and fighting. “They took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us…The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes” (Deut. 1:25,30). There was no need for fear or dismay, no reason to weep and wail. They were near the promised land. God was with them; he had fulfilled all his promises! Over against the lies of the ten spies, Caleb and Joshua bore witness to the truth. They warned the people not to rebel against the LORD. “The LORD is with us.”

Dear reader, do you today murmur in unbelief or sing praises in faith? What is your response when forced to stay home, or not able to work, or perhaps seeing your stock portfolio crumble? We are near the land of promise, heaven. Jesus is coming, coming soon. In the world, we can expect tribulation and trouble. The victory is gained not without a fight, the battle of faith. How are you dealing with the trial set before you? God is with His people. As He has so wonderfully delivered us in the past, led us all the way through our wilderness, do you cling and believe His promise? We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. We have a greater leader than Moses or Joshua. Our Lord Jesus has conquered sin, Satan, and death by His own death on the cross. He will give us the good land flowing with milk and honey! Sing and shout His praises. Stand firm in unwavering faith and hope. The LORD is with us: fear not! Not murmuring but singing!

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Who Will Show Us Any Good? (A Meditation on Psalm 4:6-8)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Meditation on Psalm 4:6-8

Who Will Show Any Good?

There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.”

Once again, a sharp contrast is presented in these verses! It is a contrast between many who seek happiness in the things of this world and the spiritual joy given to the godly. Which are you? The blind person, outside of Jesus Christ, ignorant of what is truly good, is filled with a longing and desire for earthly things: “their corn and their wine increased.” Corn and wine represent both what is necessary and that is luxurious in life. Therein they will be happy. Of these, the Psalmist says, “There be many who say, Who will show us any good?” Over against these, the godly join with one another seeking God’s favor and love. “LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.”

As we learn in our last meditation on Jer. 17:5-8, the green tree produces faith, joy, and peace. We see these three things in this Psalm. What is good? The person outside of Christ asks this in the midst of the necessities, trials, and difficulties of our lives. Have you asked this same question, perhaps in the political and economic upheavals these last months? Perhaps you were unable to work. You were unable to go to school or be involved in sports. You or a loved one were sick and laid up in the hospital, unable to have family with you. You are an aged person in a rest home, and the children and friends could not visit with you. “Who will show us any good?”

What do you mean by good? The Bible tells us that none but God are good. We read in Micah 6:8,” He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” There you have a definition of good. If you have that, you are happy now in our pilgrimage and in eternity.

Faith looks up. In contrast with the wicked looking all round them in the world, the child of God prays. “LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.” We desire and pray for the smile of God’s face in favor and love. But how can we experience that favor? We are not just, loving mercy, nor walking humbly with God. Instead, we are just the opposite. How can we be reconciled with this God? The answer is in one person whom God has given for us, his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of what God requires of a person. Jesus did justly all his life, never wavering. All of his life up to his hanging on the cross, he took the punishment for our sins and fulfilled all righteousness. Oh, how he loved and showed mercy, having compassion on the crowds who were like sheep without a shepherd. He has brought his sheep out of the pit of despair and set their feet upon the rock of ages. We hear Jesus say to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, sin no more.” Did you hear Jesus’ answer to the thief on the cross who cried, “Lord, remember me when thou comest to thy kingdom.” Jesus walked humbly with his God and cried out, “Not my will but thy will be done.” Our faith stands in our God in Christ Jesus.

What joy this gives us, even in the midst of difficulties and trials! “Thou hast put gladness in my heart.” The best that the world can give us is corn and wine, staples of a luxurious living. You can smile when you belly is full of food and your cup is full of wine, making glad the heart of man. But do not build anything on that gladness. It only lasts until the crops fail and the economy drops. When the LORD lifts our hearts with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, then there is gladness that is overwhelming and eternal! It will fill all your real needs, even if the corn and wine fail.

We have peace. There is terrible anxiety in the hearts and lives of many today over their jobs, stocks, and future. They worry and worry and maybe cannot sleep at night. Those who have the light of God’s countenance upon them have peace. The Psalmist says, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety. When you know that all your needs are fulfilled, you are at peace. If you know that God is for you, who then could ever be against you? God did not spare his only begotten Son but gave him up for me; what can then be against me? No, all things work together for good unto those that love God. We can sing:

In God’s love abiding, I have joy and peace, More than all the wicked, though their wealth increase. In his care confiding, I will safely sleep, for the Lord my Savior, will in safety keep.” (Psalter #7, Stanza 3

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Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - May 2020

Limerick Reformed Fellowship
Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary
38 Abbeyvale, Corbally Co. Limerick, Ireland
http://www.limerickreformed.com/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

In this newsletter I want to go back to happier times, before the current upheaval in church and state, although the happier times seem but distant memories now. In the last newsletter, 17 December 2019, I mentioned our plans to go to Australia.

The journey to Australia was long (bus trip from Limerick to Dublin, flight from Dublin to Amsterdam, second flight from Amsterdam to Singapore, and, finally, a third flight from Singapore to Brisbane). I am sorry that we could not visit the saints in Singapore; our layover was not long enough. Singapore airlines offer a wonderful service, by the way. Perhaps they need to do that in order to make such long flights bearable. Although I survived the flight to Singapore, my heart sank when realization hit that we had another flight of over eight hours to Brisbane. Nevertheless, we arrived safely, for which we thank the Lord.

Dear friends, (Pastor) David and Ruth Torlach (Brisbane Evangelical Presbyterian Church), whom I have known from my seminary days, were our gracious hosts in Australia. To see them again was a happy reunion: the only regret is that we did not see their children, who live in Tassie (Tasmania). Seth, with his wife Megan, was the exception: they came to Brisbane to attend the Youth Camp, and it was wonderful to see Seth again and meet his wife. David and Ruth welcomed us warmly and made us feel right at home the entire time that we were there.

MLMcgeown wallaby 2019Since David and I are both in the ministry and since we had not seen one another (except once) since our seminary days, we had a lot to talk about. I was greatly encouraged to be able to discuss the joys and sorrows of the ministry with a likeminded colleague. Ruth and Larisa also enjoyed chatting about the realities of being the wives of pastors. I discovered quite quickly that ministers the world over face the same basic issues; churches the world over have the same encouragements and discouragements; and the devil attacks churches across the world in very similar ways. How good it was to see the Lord’s work in different parts of His vineyard!

The main reason for our visit was the EPC Youth Camp, which is held every two years, and is hosted and organized by the youth of the different EPC congregations. This year the Brisbane youth hosted the camp in Minden, Queensland. The EPC youth camp is a much smaller and more intimate version of the Protestant Reformed YPC with about forty young people in attendance, with ages ranging from thirteen to the mid-twenties. They were truly a beautiful group of godly, spiritually mature, enthusiastic, servant-hearted, and fun-loving young people! Ruth Torlach and her sisterin-law, Sue Higgs, were the caterers, while the young people led devotions, served the food, and cleaned up afterwards. There was a lot of time for team games, swimming (when the temperatures hit the mid 30’s Celsius or mid 90’s Fahrenheit a pool is a must!), chatting, fellowship, and even wildlife exploration. Larisa and I even got an air-conditioned room. Speaking of wildlife, contrary to reports, not all the fabulous Australian fauna is deadly. One boy brought me an Australian tree frog, while another teenage boy caught a possum, which he cornered in a cupboard, and David showed me a rhinoceros beetle.

My role was camp speaker. Over the seven days of the camp I gave seven speeches/sermons on the Armour of God from Ephesians 6, instruction that the young people enthusiastically received. On Thursday, word got out that I planned a test to see how much the young people had learned and understood, so the young people started cramming for the quiz that I prepared. They took the test very seriously, huddling in corners, poring over their notes, and begging me for clues. The test was “Military Graduation Exercises,” in which the teams had to answer questions on the Armour of God to demonstrate that they were ready to deploy the various pieces of armour described in the speeches. The exam ended with a sword drill to test their ability to find passages in the Scriptures. None of the young people had any cause for embarrassment, for they all performed extremely well and duly graduated as “Christian soldiers.”

Another highlight of the visit to Australia was the privilege afforded to me to preach in Brisbane EPC for two consecutive Sundays. It was wonderful to meet the congregation, lead them in worship, and fellowship in their homes. The EPC uses the same Psalter as the Limerick Reformed Fellowship, the Scottish Metrical Version. Their order of worship is also almost identical to ours in Limerick, so I felt quite at home. Since December/January is the Australian summer, the other church activities (Bible studies, catechism, young people’s meetings, etc.) were not taking place, which gave the Torlachs lots of time to show us the sights of Brisbane and beyond.

Mcgeown lizard 2019When we arrived at the EPC worship place (Mount Ommaney Special School) I was surprised and fascinated to see a large lizard, an Australian water dragon, about the size of a small dog, sitting on the pathway. I was informed that such lizards are common: they run around freely and they are quite familiar with humans. I saw many such lizards in Australia (including geckos that gathered around a light outside the Torlachs’ house), and on one occasion David caught a lizard and gave it to me to hold it. In addition, we saw koalas, kangaroos, parrots, bats, kookaburras, and cane toads. The latter are a pest species, but I still found them interesting. We swam in the ocean, visited a mountain forest retreat (O’Reilly’s), explored the city of Brisbane, and visited the
famous Australia Zoo to see crocodiles and many other creatures.

All in all it was a wonderful trip, which gave us greater appreciation for the saints in Australia. It was difficult to bid the Torlachs farewell, but we had people in Limerick eagerly awaiting our return. In the next newsletter, I will get back to reporting about Limerick, which, as I write, is under a “lockdown” order, so that we have not met for public worship since March 22. Therefore, as a lot of you are doing, we have had to be creative to get the Word out.

In Christian love, Rev. Martyn and Larisa McGeown

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Synodical Committees

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Contact/Missions

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Classical Officers

Classis East
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Classis West
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