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How J. Hudson Taylor Learned How to Abide in Christ

Abiding, Not Striving or Struggling

Missionary pioneer J. Hudson Taylor of China was working and worrying so frantically that his health was about to break. Just when his friends feared he was near a breakdown, Taylor received a letter from fellow missionary John McCarthy that told of a discovery McCarthy had made from John 15—the joy of abiding in Christ. McCarthy’s letter said in part:

Abiding, not striving or struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power … this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me.… Christ literally all seems to me now the power, the only power for service; the only ground for unchanging joy.

As Hudson Taylor read this letter at his mission station in Chin-kiang on Saturday, September 4, 1869, his own eyes were opened. “As I read,” he recalled, “I saw it all. I looked to Jesus, and when I saw, oh how the joy flowed!” Writing to his sister in England, he said:

As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been perhaps the happiest of my life, and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul.…

When the agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before. McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure, but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory): “But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith but by resting on the Faithful One.”

As I read, I saw it all!.… As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured into my soul.

Source of illustration: Robert J. Morgan. Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000.

 

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May 7th in Christian History – Dr. James M. Boice and Elisha A. Hoffman

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Dr. James Montgomery Boice: “He Realized His Boyhood Dream”

As a boy, James Montgomery Boice attended Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia with his family. He loved his pastor, Donald Grey Barnhouse, and he was an avid listener to Barnhouse’s radio program, The Bible Study Hour. At the age of twelve Boice decided he wanted to become a minister. Little did he know how closely he would follow in his beloved minister’s footsteps (Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia pictured left).

Boice attended Harvard, where he received a degree in English literature. There he met his future wife, Linda Ann McNamara, at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She received a master of arts from Harvard, and they shared a dream of creating a Christian college preparatory school for needy inner-city youth.

After Harvard, Boice went to seminary top prepare himself for becoming a minister. He then married Linda, and they moved to Switzerland so Jim could study at the University of Basel. After he received his doctorate, they settled in Washington, D.C., where he worked for the magazine Christianity Today.

In 1968 Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, the church of his youth, called him to be their pastor. In 1969 he also became the speaker for The Bible Study Hour. Boice continued Barnhouse’s legacy of providing clear, intellectual, heartfelt expository preaching to the Tenth Presbyterian congregation. Under Boice’s leadership the church grew in numbers, budget, and outreach programs. The church became ethnically diverse and intensely missions focused. Many of its ministries grew out of inner-city location: ministries to internationals, HIV positive individuals, inner-city youth, women with crisis pregnancies, and the homeless. Jim and Linda achieved their dream of a Christian college preparatory school for needy inner-city youth with the creation of City Center Academy, which was started and run by Tenth Presbyterian. Despite the lack of parking in its downtown location , the church has well over a thousand members.

In the 1970’s Boice started the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, which spawned many similar conferences in cities throughout the country. In 1977 he founded the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, a topic on which he frequently wrote. In all he wrote or contributed to more than sixty books. Under Boice’s leadership Tenth Presbyterian left the Presbyterian USA in 1981 and joined the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination that conformed more closely to the church’s Reformed theological beliefs.

On Good Friday 2000, two hours before he was to preach, Dr. Boice learned that he had an aggressive form of liver cancer. His prognosis was not good.

Jim Boice (pictured on left) mounted the pulpit of Tenth Presbyterian for the last time on Sunday, May 7, 2000. He announced to his stunned congregation that he was rapidly dying of cancer. He said to them: “Should you pray for a miracle? Well, you’re free to do that, of course. My general impression is that the God who is able to perform miracles—and he certainly can—is also able to keep you from getting the problem in the first place…Above all, I would say pray for the glory of God. If you thin of God glorifying himself in history and you say, “Where in all of history has God most glorified himself?’ the answer is that he did it at the cross of Jesus Christ, and it wasn’t by delivering Jesus from the cross, though he could have…And yet that’s where God is most glorified.”

On June 15, 2000, at the age of sixty-one, James Montgomery Boice died peacefully in his sleep, just eight weeks after his diagnosis.

Reflection:

How do you think you would react if you were given news of your impending death?

Dr. Boice’s inclination was not to pray for a miracle but rather to pray that Christ be glorified in his death.

What is your reaction to what Dr. Boice told his congregation?

“While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord. So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord.” – Romans 14:8

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). Mike and Sharon have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 7th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

Elisha A Hofman: “I Must Tell of Jesus”

Many New Testament promises have corresponding verses in the Old Testament that reinforce their power. When Peter, for example, said, “God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him” (1 Peter 5:7), he was but restating David’s words in Psalm 55:22: “Our Lord, we belong to you. We tell you what worries us, and you won’t let us fall.”

Elisha A. Hoffman loved those verses. He was born May 7, 1839 in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. His father was a minister, and Elisha followed Christ at a young age. He attended Philadelphia public schools, studied science, and then pursued the classics at Union Seminary of the Evangelical Association. He worked for 11 years with the association’s publishing house in Cleveland, Ohio. Then, following the death of his young wife, he returned to Pennsylvania and devoted 33 years to pastoring Benton Harbor Presbyterian Church.

Hoffman’s pastime was writing hymns, many of which were inspired by pastoral incidents. One day, for example, while calling on the destitute of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, he met a woman whose depression seemed beyond cure. She opened her heart and poured on him her pent-up sorrows. Wringing her hands, she cried, “What shall I do? Oh, what shall I do?” Hoffman knew what she should do; for he had himself learned the deeper lessons of God’s comfort. He said to the woman, “You cannot do better than to take all your sorrows to Jesus. You must tell Jesus.”

Suddenly the lady’s face lighted up. “Yes!” she cried, “That’s it! I must tell Jesus.” Her words echoed in Hoffman’s ears, and he mulled them over as he returned home. He drew out his pen and started writing, I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! / I cannot bear my burdens alone; / I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! / Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

Hoffman lived to be 90, telling Jesus his burdens and giving the church such hymns as What A Wonderful Savior, Down at the Cross, Are You Washed in the Blood?, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and a thousand more.

The Scriptures say, “God opposes proud people, but he helps everyone who is humble.” Be humble in the presence of God’s mighty power, and he will honor you when the time comes. God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him. 1 Peter 5:5b-7

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day - this article was adapted from the May 7th entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

 Significant Events on This Day:

1274: The Council of Lyons II met. The council was supposed to promote plans to reunite the Eastern and Western Churches, but nothing came of it.

1794: French revolutionaries proclaimed the worship of a “supreme being,” a Deist god.

1823: A group of Russian Orthodox missionaries left Irkust to evangelize the Aleutian Islands and Alaska.

1844: Protestants burned dozens of Irish Catholic homes and the St. Augustine Church in Kensington, a suburb of Philadelphia. The action was in retaliation for the killing of one of their own by a Catholic the day before during an ill0advised rally in the Irish streets. Protestants were outraged that Catholics would not participate in school Bible reading (the Catholics believed that Church leaders, not individuals, should interpret Scripture). In defense of their property, Catholics killed several more Protestants as the riot progressed.

1859: Guido Verbeck and his bride, Maria, destined for Shanghai, sailed from New York aboard the Surprise. With them were Rev. and Mrs. Brown and the medical missionary Duane B. Simmons and his wife. Verbeck was so notable a missionary that the Japanese honored him highly.

A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The events above were adapted from the entry for May 7th.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Cancer, Church History

 

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May 6th in Christian History – The Beginning of Princeton University and Rome Sacked Again

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 “From Log Cabin to University”

William Tennent was born in 1673, educated at the University of Edinburgh (pictured left), where he received a Master of Arts degree, and eventually was ordained in the Anglican Church in Ireland. He had an independent streak and tended not to conform to the Anglican Church. Instead of leading his own parish as a typical clergyman, he served as a chaplain to an Irish nobleman.

In 1718 he and his family emigrated from Ireland to Philadelphia. Shortly after his arrival he petitioned the Presbyterian synod to allow him to become a Presbyterian minister. He renounced the Anglican Church because of disagreements over church government and the Arminian tendencies of its doctrines. His petition was accepted, and he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister without having to undergo further education.

He first took pastorates in New York and then in 1726 went to Neshaminy, Pennsylvania, to lead a church. He remained there for the rest of his life. Shortly after his arrival, he began informally tutoring his sons and some other young men who were preparing to enter the Presbyterian ministry. By 1735 he formalized his efforts by building a simple log building on his property to serve as his school. It came to be known at “Log College.” His motivation for building the college was to increase the supply of Presbyterian ministers in America. Until this point candidates for the ministry had had to go to New England or abroad for training. Tennent was known for his excellent teaching skills, deep faith, and godly lifestyle.

Tennent’s three younger sons, William, John, and Charles, were trained at Log College and went on to become Presbyterian ministers and leaders of the Great Awakening.

The college was not without its detractors. In fact, the name “Log College” was itself a derogatory and derisive reference. Many within the Presbyterian Church were skeptical of the college’s ability to provide adequate training because of its humble and remote surroundings. Additional tension came from the fact that those who were supporters of the college also tended to be more aggressively evangelistic. They embraced the great evangelist George Whitefield and his methods, which were controversial at the time.

Although many demeaned the simplicity of the Log College, George Whitefield admired it. He wrote in his journal:

The place wherein the young men study now, is in contempt called, the college. It is a log house, about twenty foot long, and near as many broad; and to me it seemed to resemble the school of the old prophets; for their habitations were mean; and that they sought not great things for themselves is plain…All that we can say of most of our universities is, they are glorious without. From this despised place, seven or eight worthy ministers of Jesus have lately been sent forth; more are almost ready to be sent, and the foundation is now laying for the instruction of many others.

The Log College closed as old age and poor health claimed William Tennent. He died on May 6, 1746. That fall supporters of the Log College joined together with Presbyterians disillusioned with Yale’s recent expulsion of David Brainerd to form the College of New Jersey. Four of the initial trustees were graduates of the Log College, including two of Tennent’s sons. Another Log College graduate and initial trustee was Samuel Finley, who later became the fifth president of the college. Today we know the College of New Jersey, the successor of Log College, as Princeton University Princeton University was born in a log cabin (pictured left – a long way from a log cabin)!

Reflection:

William Tennent’s deep faith and his commitment to teaching others created a far-reaching legacy for the kingdom of Christ.

Do you ever think about he legacy you will leave? Will it further God’s kingdom?

“Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” – Zechariah 4:10

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 6th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

  

“Rome Sacked Again”

In 1523 Giulio de’ Medici became Pope Clement VII. Martin Luther was causing problems at the time; but portents soon appeared of greater distresses to come. On April 8, 1527, as Clement blessed a crowd of 10,000, a fanatic in leather loincloth mounted a nearby statue, shouting, “Thou bastard of Sodom! For thy sins Rome shall be destroyed. Repent and turn thee!” Not quite a month later, on fog-shrouded May 6, 1527, a vast army of barbarians burst through Rome’s walls and poured into the city. They had been sent—but were no longer controlled—by Emperor Charles V. By the time the troops reached Rome, they were hungry, unpaid, shoeless, reduced to tatters, and rabid (Coliseum of Rome pictured on left).

The defending Roman and Swiss guards were annihilated. The barbarians pillaged, plundered, and burned with abandon. They entered hospitals and orphanages, slaughtering the occupants. Women of every age were attacked; nuns were herded into bordellos; priests were molested. The banks and treasuries were looted, the rich flogged until they turned over their last coin. Fingernails were ripped out one by one. Children were flung from high windows. Tombs were plundered, churches stripped, libraries and archives burned. Priceless manuscripts became bedding for horses. Drunken soldiers strutted around in papal garments, parodying holy rites. Within a week, 2,000 bodies were floating in the Tiber and nearly 10,000 more awaited burials. Multitudes perished. Rats and dogs eviscerated the bloating, fetid corpses that piled up in the city.

Pope Clement had barely made it into the safety of the Castle of St. Angelo, and from its towers he helplessly watched the ravaging of his city. “Why did you take me from the womb?” he wailed. “Would that I had been consumed.”

As news spread over Europe, Protestants interpreted the sack of Rome as divine retribution, and even some Catholics agreed. “We who should have been the salt of the earth decayed until we were good for nothing,” wrote Cardinal Cajetan, Luther’s contestant at Augsburg. “Everyone is convinced that all this has happened as a judgment of God on the great tyranny and disorders of the papal court.”

My eyes are red from crying, my stomach is in knots, and I feel sick all over. My people are being wiped out, and children lie helpless in the streets of the city. Those who pass by shake their heads and sneer as they make fun and shout, “What a lovely city you were, the happiest on earth, but look at you now!” Lamentations 2:11,15

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day - this article was adapted from the May 6th entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

Significant Events on This Day:

1312: The Council of Vienne ended. It was called chiefly to suppress the Knights Templar at the insistence of Philip IV of France. Philip made sure he got his way by appearing outside the city with an army.

1527: Charles V’s out-of-hand army entered Rome, killing, looting, raping and torturing. Pope Clement VII barely escaped with his life. The tragedy followed a prophecy by a beggar-preacher that Rome would be destroyed for Clement’s sins.

1746: William Tennent died on this day (See article above). He opened what was called a “log-college,” and his zealous students played a key role in the Great Awakening and in founding the school that became Princeton Theological Seminary.”

1840: Father Demetrius A. Gallitzin, “Apostle of the Alleghenies,” died. He immigrated to the US from Russia, converted to Catholicism, studied at Baltimore Seminary and spent the bulk of his life establishing churches in the Allegheny Mountains. He had been strongly influenced by his zealously religious mother. Amalia, who had brought many to a belief in Catholicism.

1986: The first American Indian Roman Catholic bishop, Donald E. Pelotte, was ordained in Gallup, New Mexico.

A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The events above were adapted from the entry for May 6th.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Church History

 

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May 4th In Christian History – Father Damien, W. Robertson Nicoll, and Jessie Hetherington

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

1256: With the bull Licet Ecclesiaa Catholicae, Pope Alexander IV founded the order of Hermits f St. Augustine, also known as Augustinians.

1453: Patrick Yohannis XI issued a bull on the West Indies, drawing a line of demarcation between the colonial possessions of Spain and Portugal.

1521: Martin Luther arrived at Wartburg (castle pictured on left) after having been kidnapped for his own protection by German ruler Frederick the Wise on his way home from the Diet (Congress) of Worms. During his months there, Luther translated the Bible into German (Luther’s study at Wartburg Castle where he did his translation pictured on right).

1535: King Henry VIII of England had several Carthusian monks hanged, drawn and quartered in London for refusing to submit to him as head of the church.

1923: Sir William Robertson Nicoll died. The sickly scholar was in bed for much of his life but read two books a day and wrote the Expositor’s Bible (mini-biography in article below).

“Father Damien: Minister to Sufferers of Leprosy on Molokai”

“I am ready to be buried alive with those poor wretches.” The man who said this was father Damien. The wretches he spoke of were the miserable sufferers of leprosy on Molokai Island. Leprosy was the curse of the Hawaiian archipelago, which was so blessed in other ways. People with the disease were isolated on the peninsula of Molokai. The disease causes nerves to die and leads to damage of the body’s extremities. Leprosy was so feared that the Hawaiian government made it illegal for anyone landing on the peninsula to return to the other islands. Damien knew that if he went, he would not be allowed to return. On this day, May 4, 1873, he made an irrevocable decision: He would confront the gates of hell (Father Damien pictured on left in 1873 shortly before he left for Molokai).

Conditions on the island were bestial. Demon-faced men raped beautiful young girls in whom leprosy had just been discovered in the stages of final decay. Victims of the dreadful disease threw weaker victims out of the huts to die. Not that the huts were wonderful: They were hideous with disease and despair. Most of the wretched men and women reeked of a decaying flesh.

Damien turned white as a sheet as he landed on the beach. Yet he prayed to be able to see Christ in the ghastly forms before him. Given one last chance to leave he refused. He had volunteered for hell, and he intended to civilize it.

The son of a Flemish farmer, Damien had entered the priesthood with great fervor. His very presence in Hawaii was the result of constant appeals to his supervisor to let him go. Once there, he proved himself a determined evangelist.

Nothing he had done before could compare with the efforts he now made. Although water was plentiful in the mountains,, there was little in the settlement, so Damien organized daily bucket brigades. Later he constructed a channel that diverted a stream of water to the very doorsteps of the unhealthy town. He developed farms. The apathetic lepers had neglected even this simple attempt to make themselves self-sufficient. He burned the worst houses and scoured out those that could be salvaged. Saw and axe in hand, he built new houses. He laid out a cemetery, stating that from that point on, anyone who died would be properly buried. He prepared a dump and cleaned up the village and its land. He shut down alcohol stills.

And he told his decaying audience about Christ. His cheerful conversation led dozens to turn to Christ. The same men who had been stealing from dying outcasts or dumping them into ditches to die asked for baptism (Island of Molokai pictured on right).

Jealous Hawaiian authorities and Protestant missionaries, who had done little for the outcasts, spread scandalous stories about Damien. But he labored on.

Twelve years after he arrived on the island, Damien discovered that his own feet were leprous. Four years later he was dead. His quiet heroism won worldwide renown. It brought new donations to help the leper colony and staff nurses and other helpers. By his gruesome living death, Damien assaulted the gates of hell.

Author’s of the Above Article: A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The article above was adapted from the entry for May 4th.

A. Kenneth Curtis, Ph.D, is president of the Christian History Institute and the founding editor of Christian History magazine. He has written and produced several award winning historical films for Gateway Films/Vision Video’s Church history collection. He is also coauthor of 100 Most Important Dates in Christian History and From Christ to Constantine: The Trial and Testimony of the Early Church. He and his wife, Dorothy, reside in eastern Pennsylvania.

Daniel Graves is the Webmaster for the Christian History Institute and holds a master’s degree in library science from Western Michigan University. He is the author of Doctors Who Followed Christ and Scientists of Faith. Dan and wife, Pala reside in Jackson, Michigan.

“Weak Lungs: Sir William Robertson Nicoll”

Sickness proved a blessing for W. Robertson Nicoll, for it determined his career and ministry. He was born in 1851 with weak lungs. His mother, brother, and sister died from tuberculosis. He was raised by his father, Pastor Harry Nicoll, whose church numbered 100 souls—but whose library numbered 17,000 books.

Inheriting his dad’s love for literature, Robertson began a weekly column for the Aberdeen Journal. He started pastoring, but doctors told him his lungs were too weak for preaching. He contracted typhoid and pleurisy, resigned his church, and retreated to his books. Here Robertson found his calling.

He was already editing a magazine called The Expositor, and in 1886 he began The British Weekly. It became a leading Christian journal in Britain. He then started The Bookman, and two years later The Woman at Home appeared in magazine stalls. While editing his four periodicals, Robertson began publishing books (he read two books a day throughout his life). The Expositor’s Bible, a series of 50 volumes, was released between 1888 and 1905. Then The Expositor’s Greek New Testament appeared. Robertson persuaded Alexander Maclaren to issue his expositions; then he found and developed other writers. In all, Robertson edited hundreds of titles and wrote 40 books of his own. He became the most prolific and respected Christian journalist in the English-speaking world.

In 1909, while being knighted, he said, “I never contemplated a literary career. I had expected to go on as a minister, doing literary work in leisure times, but my fate was sealed for me.” His illness forced him to do much of his work propped in bed amid the clutter of newspapers, books, pipes, and cigarette ashes. His cats purred nearby, and he always kept a fire burning, claiming that fresh air was the devil’s invention. His library contained 25,000 volumes, including 5,000 biographies. “I have read every biography I could lay my hands on,” he said, “and not one has failed to teach me something.”

Sir W. Robertson Nicoll died on May 4, 1923. Among his last words were, “I believe everything I have written about immortality!”

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:10-11

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day - this article was adapted from the May 4th entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

 “Jessie Hetherington: Voyaging to Australia—But Ending Up in Paradise”

On May 4, 1837, Jessie Hetherington began a letter to her mother that she never finished.

Several months earlier Jessie and Irving Hetherington had been married and immediately left Scotland for Sydney, Australia. Before their wedding, Irving had a fruitful ministry in the poor suburbs of Edinburgh. While involved in this work, he felt the call of God when he heard a request for preachers in New South Wales, Australia, even though he knew it might mean the end of his engagement to Jessie. Jessie, however, gladly agreed to accompany him: “Where you wish to take me, there I will go.” Three months later into the voyage to Sydney, Jessie caught scarlet fever and died just days later. (All Saints Church in New South Wales pictured on left).

The following is an excerpt from the letter Irving finished for his wife:

I write now in Sydney, for, during our whole voyage, we met no opportunity in England; yet is my Jessie’s every look and every tone as distinctly engraved on my memory—as fully remembered, as they were two months ago. O yes! I never can forget. And in particular will you be anxious to know what was her experience in the prospect of eternity. It was of the serenity of heaven. Let me die the death f the righteous, and let my last end be like hers. O, it was the most perfect peace! On the surgeon appraising me on Tuesday of her extreme danger, I thought it right to communicate this to her. She was quite collected at the time; and was looking at me in the affectionate manner that was so usual to her, and which will, I think, never cease to haunt my dreams. I said to her that Mr. Thompson did not give us reason to expect her recovery. “It is the Lord’s will, and we must submit, Irving,” she quietly answered. “And have you no fear then, of death, Jessie? “No, dear.” “And how is it that you are not afraid to die?” “I have long taken Christ for my portion, and set my hopes on Him.” I could but weep. Afterwards I asked her what word of God gave her the most comfort. “Come unto me all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” she replied, with much eagerness; and, after I had made some remarks on this, she bade me repeat some of those Scriptures in which salvation by grace is offered to sinners. This I continued to do, when I thought she was in a state of consciousness; and prayed with her day and night. Her spirit ascended as I was commending her to the grace of God. As assured do I feel of her blessedness, yea, as confident that she is now with the God for whom she gave up so much, as I could be were an angel to bring to me tidings of her mingling with the choir above. To her, death was indeed unspeakable gain. But what a loss have I sustained!

Now alone, Irving Hetherington continued on to Australia and became the first evangelical minister in Singleton, New South Wales. It was a district fifty miles long by thirty miles wide. For several years he also was the superintendent of the area’s school. Combined with these responsibilities he made weekly treks in all weather to settler’s houses to serve both them and their convict servants, doing much of his studying and sermon preparations on horseback. After nine years he was called as the minister of Scott’s Church in Melbourne, where he preached until just before his death in 1875.

Reflection

Have you ever lost a loved one? If it hasn’t happened yet, it will in the future. When our loved ones have given their allegiance to Jesus, we can know that they are in God’s presence. If you have loved ones who are not yet on the way to heaven, share with them that Jesus is the way.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 4th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

 
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April 29 In Christian History – Jesus as a Youth; Joan of Arc; & Catherine of Siena

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

1380: Catherine of Sienna, Dominican tertiary and mystic, died in Rome. She had a strong influence on world events through correspondence with the notables of her day.

1525: Fray Pedro died. He was a mentor to Las Casas, the “Father of the Indians.”

1607: The first Anglican Church was established in the American Colonies, at Cape Henry, Virginia.

1882: John Nelson Darby died in Bournemouth, England. He was a founder of the Plymouth Brethren movement and exerted a strong, worldwide influence on dispensationalism and proponent of a pre-tribulational rapture. In the United States, many of Darby’s ideas were popularized in the notes of the Scofield Bible.

1933: Dawson Trotman (pictured at right) began his work with Navy men. The work led to the formation of the Navigators, a discipleship organization.

1945: Five hundred Greek Catholic clergymen at Lwow, Poland, were surrounded by police and arrested. Many were shot.

“Joan of Arc Turns Tide of French-English War”

Throughout much of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the English fought the French in an attempt to claim France as their own. The English had the upper hand Until Joan of Arc appeared.

Joan was a simple and pious peasant girl who wove and spun. She began to see heavenly beings and hear their voices, which told her that deliverance would come to France through her. The voices sent her to the nearest French bastion, but when she appeared before him her pleas were ignored. Eventually, Joan convinced local authorities that she was for real. One thing led to another and she ended up picking the disguised dauphin out of a crowd of courtiers. She also made prophecies, which were recorded in a letter written from Lyons on April 22, 1429. Those prophecies came true.

One of her predictions was that she would save besieged Orleans, and area that was crucial to the defense of France. On April 29 in 1429, a rapid march brought Joan of Arc, accompanied by French forces, to the city of Orleans. It was the turning point of the Hundred Years’ War. The English retreated the next day, but as it was Sunday, Joan forbid the French to pursue them. Within a few days, the English garrisons around Orleans had all been captured. Joan was wounded in the fighting, which was also as she had predicted.

Charles, the irresolute dauphin, had to be coaxed into action. Joan convinced him to undertake various moves, which he did halfheartedly. A dramatic French victory at Pasay opened the way for Charles to retake Reims. Again Joan had difficulty convincing him to take the logical step of having himself crowned, but he finally acquiesced. Then she knelt before him and called him king.

The voices told her that she had less than a year left for her work. Those succeeding months proved to be frustrating for her. The king and his advisors lacked the boldness to pursue the advantages Joan had gained for the French. A feeble attempt to retake Paris failed. Not long afterward, Joan was captured by the English, who brought charge of witchcraft against her. Determined to find grounds for executing her, they had a group of high-powered theologians browbeat her and did not allow her any legal counsel.

As could be expected with such a stacked trial, Joan was convicted of practicing witchcraft. In a moment when her terror overcame her, she recanted with the caveat that she did so only as far as it was God’s will. Her persecutors soon entrapped her with accusations.

Quickly she regained her courage and did not waver again, even when brought to the stake. She asked that a crucifix be held before her face and called upon the name of Jesus as long as her breath remained in her.

Subsequent inquiries exonerated her and the pope officially canonized her as a saint in 1920.

Author’s of the Above Article: A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The article above was adapted from the entry for April 29.

A. Kenneth Curtis, Ph.D, is president of the Christian History Institute and the founding editor of Christian History magazine. He has written and produced several award winning historical films for Gateway Films/Vision Video’s Church history collection. He is also coauthor of 100 Most Important Dates in Christian History and From Christ to Constantine: The Trial and Testimony of the Early Church. He and his wife, Dorothy, reside in eastern Pennsylvania.

Daniel Graves is the Webmaster for the Christian History Institute and holds a master’s degree in library science from Western Michigan University. He is the author of Doctors Who Followed Christ and Scientists of Faith. Dan and wife, Pala reside in Jackson, Michigan.

“Death by Exhaustion”

Giacomo Benincasa, dyer of fabrics in Siena, Italy, named his twenty-third child Catherine. Their house sat on a hillside, the basement containing dye rooms. Atop the hill sat the church of St. Dominic over which, when Catherine was seven, she saw a vision of Jesus. From that day she yearned to serve Christ.

At age 12 she so resisted her father’s pressure to marry that he said, May God preserve us, dearest daughter, from trying to set ourselves against the will of God. We have long seen that it was no childish whim of thine, and now we know clearly that it is the Spirit of God. He gave her a room near his dye quarters, and there Catherine made herself a chapel.

Catherine’s personality burned like a knife, and she soon inserted herself without invitation into community and church affairs, becoming the most outspoken Italian woman of the Middle Ages. She railed against the death sentence of a young man convicted of criticizing the government, and she accompanied him to his execution, snapping up his decapitated head and arousing public protest. She cared for prisoners. When the Black Death swept Italy, Catherine was everywhere giving aid.

Catherine fumed and stormed about corruption in the Church. She denounced materialism and immorality in the monasteries. “Those who should be the temples of God,” she wrote, “are the stables of swine.” She fired letters like missiles, keeping three secretaries busy at a time. She told Pope Gregory it would be better for him to resign than to founder, and “Do not be a boy, but a man!” She negotiated peace treaties. She was instrumental in moving the papacy from France back to Rome.

It’s no wonder that, on April 29, 1380 she died at age 32 of exhaustion from these and other labors. Her last words: “Dear children, let not my death sadden you; rather rejoice that I am leaving a place of many suffering to be united forever with my most sweet and loving Bridegroom.”

Next to St. Francis, Catherine of Siena is the most celebrated of the Italian saints.

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, , Red Sea Rules, and On This Day - this article was adapted from the April 29th entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

 

“Jesus: The Child Who Knew More Than His Parents”

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Every Jewish male was required to attend, but women who loved God came as well. It was a difficult eighty-mile trip from Nazareth, but Passover was the highlight of the year. Since highway robbers were a known danger, pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem usually traveled together in caravans for protection. Mary and Joseph traveled with a large group of friends and relatives.

When Jesus was twelve years old, the Passover was on April 29, A.D. 9, and the whole family attended the festival as usual. This was a highly significant period in Jesus’ life because at the age of thirteen Jewish boys were considered to be responsible for themselves before God. The year prior to this was filled with intense instruction (see Darrel L. Bock. Luke. BECNT. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994. 1:259-75). *Note: The custom of the bar mitzvah came after the time of Jesus.

After the celebration was over, Mary and Joseph started home for Nazareth with their large group of fellow pilgrims. Without their knowledge, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not miss him at first because they assumed he was friends elsewhere in their caravan. But when they stopped for the evening, they could not find him, and realized he was missing. So they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. Three days later they finally found him in the temple, sitting among the religious leaders, engaged in a question-and-answer session with them.

But Mary and Joseph were angry at what they perceived as his disobedience. They were relieved to find him but were understandably upset. Mary said, “Son! Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

Jesus answered her, “But why did you need to search? You should have known that I would be in my Father’s house.”

In Jesus’ Greco-Roman world, house or household was not only a designation of location but also of authority. Jesus was aligning himself with his heavenly Father’s house even if it meant disrupting his relationship with his earthly parents. This was a foreshadowing of the pattern for the rest of his life. Mary and Joseph did not understand what he meant. They could not comprehend Jesus’ understanding of who he was. But Mary stored all these things in her heart.

Then, as an obedient twelve-year-old, Jesus returned to Nazareth with his parents and lived under their authority (Luke 2:41-52).

 Reflection

Mary and Joseph were probably the very first persons to wrestle with the question of who Jesus was. Before his birth an angel had told Joseph that Mary’s son would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and had told Mary her son “would be very great and [would] be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). Yet Mary and Joseph did not completely understand the angels’ messages. These were the things that Mary pondered in her heart. We, too, must answer the question, Who is Jesus? What is your answer?

“So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” – Luke 1:35

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the April 29th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

 
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The Bounty Bible – April 28, 1789

Series: On This Day In Christian History

The English ship Bounty, commanded by Lieutenant William Bligh, journeyed to the South Pacific in 1787 to collect plants of the breadfruit tree. Sailors signed on gladly, considering the voyage a trip to paradise. Having no second-in-command, Captain Bligh appointed his young friend Fletcher Christian to the post. The Bounty stayed in Tahiti six months, and the sailors, led by happy-go-lucky Fletcher Christian, enjoyed paradise to the full. When time came for departure, some of the men wanted to stay behind with their island girls. Three men, trying to desert, were flogged. The mood on ship darkened, and on April 28, 1789 Fletcher Christian staged the most famous mutiny in history. Bligh and his supporters were set adrift in an overloaded lifeboat (which they miraculously navigated 3,700 miles to Timor).

The mutineers aboard the Bounty began quarreling about what to do next. Christian returned to Tahiti where he left some of the mutineers, kidnapped some women, took some slaves, and traveled 1,000 miles to uninhabited Pitcairn Island. There the little group quickly unraveled. They distilled whiskey from a native plant. Drunkenness and fighting marked their colony. Disease and murder eventually took the lives of all the men except for one, Alexander Smith, who found himself the only man on the island, surrounded by an assortment of women and children.

Then an amazing change occurred. Smith found the Bounty’s neglected Bible. As he read it, he took its message to heart, then began instructing the little community. He taught the colonists the Scriptures and helped them obey its instructions. The message of Christ so transformed their lives that 20 years later, in 1808, when the Topaz landed on the island, it found a happy society of Christians, living in prosperity and peace, free from crime, disease, murder—and mutiny. Later, the Bible fell into the hands of a visiting whaler who brought it to America. In 1950 it was returned to the island. It now resides on display in the church in Pitcairn as a monument to its transforming message (The Bounty Bible pictured at left – Article adapted from the April 28th entry in Robert J. Morgan. On This Day: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs & Heroes. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000.

Also On This Day In Christian History:

1553: The Nestorians chose Sullaqa, superior of the monastery of Rabban Hormizd, to reunite them with the Catholic Church. He made his profession of the Nestorians’ intent to Rome on this day.

1841: The Roman Catholic missionary Pierre Chanel died a martyr in Tonga, where he had gone despite strong Protestant resistance. He was working on an island that had been unreached by Protestants.

1872: Francis Havergal wrote her hymn “Lord Speak to Me that I May Speak” in Winterdyne, England. It first appeared in a leaflet with the title “A Worker’s Prayer.”

1911: Thousands of Genevans demonstated for five hours against a religiously inspired ban on gambling. A shocked Karl Barth was appalled at their mindless slogans and came out in support of the ban.

1955: Christian and Missionary Alliance pilot Albert Lewis died when his seaplane crashed in the pass leading into the Baliem Valley in Irian Jaya (the known as Nederlands, New Guinea). Ten thousand souls came to Christ, owing in part to Lewis’ supportive ministry.

Adapted from the April 28th entry in This Day In Christian History, edited by A Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves, Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications.

 
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Ratherius – The Combative Bishop

Series: On This Day in Church History

April 25, 975 – By R.J. Morgan

 No generation is without its Christian heroes, but they were scarce in the tenth century. Ratherius might have been one but for his headstrong style. He was brilliant and religious, but opinionated and envious.

Ratherius was born near Verona, Italy. He excelled in school and eventually became a monk. In 931 he was consecrated Bishop of Verona. His tenure was turbulent, for he railed against the sins of the clergy. “The cohabitation of clergy with women,” he wrote, “is so customary, so public, that they think it lawful.” It wasn’t just immoral relationships that Ratherius had in mind, but wedded ones. He was merciless on priests who married, calling their unions “adulteries.”

The concept of a celibate clergy reaches early into church history. In the Eastern Church, the early councils approved marriage for clergymen. But the Western Church wasn’t so sure. At the Council of Nicaea, an idea arose for ministers to leave their wives and devote themselves to the single life. The scheme was rejected, but a few years later Pope Siricius ordered celibacy for priests. Later, Pope Leo decreed that if a married man entered the ministry, he was not to “put away” his wife, but to live with her “as brother and sister.”

The issue was being vigorously debated during the days of Ratherius, and the Bishop of Verona knew what he believed—that the single life allows full devotion to Christ. But his aggressive stance on that and other issues provoked backlash. He was deposed and imprisoned for two years, during which time, being without books, he wrote one entitled The Combat. He escaped to Southern France and supported himself by tutoring rich children. Being restored to his bishopric, he was soon deposed again. This time he became abbot of Alna, but he argued with his monks about the Eucharist. They sighed with relief when he returned a third time to Verona. Once again he was exiled, returning to the abbotship of Alna. He stayed there awhile then moved to other positions here and there before dying on April 25, 974.

Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. And do your best to live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:10-12,18

Adapted from the April 25 entry Robert J. Morgan. On This Day. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997.

 
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