Bits Of Samuel Chadwick

Samuel Chadwick (1860-1932) was a Wesleyan Methodist theologian who began his work for God’s kingdom as a lay minister. Eventually he became a lecturer at Cliff College which was a Methodist lay training centre. Leonard Ravenhill was educated at Cliff College during Samuel Chadwick’s teaching tenure. Best known for his book, “The Call To Christian Perfection,”  Samuel Chadwick had a “fire in his belly” for the proclamation of the Gospel and the power of prayer. This was a man who would not have easily tolerated a “lukewarm” Christian. A few of his pearls of wisdom are included below.

“There is no power like that of prevailing prayer, of Abraham pleading for Sodom, Jacob wrestling in the stillness of the night, Moses standing in the breach, Hannah intoxicated with sorrow, David heartbroken with remorse and grief, Jesus in sweat of blood. Add to this list from the records of the church your personal observation and experience, and always there is the cost of passion unto blood. Such prayer prevails. It turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God.”

“The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.”

“Compassion costs. It is easy enough to argue, criticize and condemn, but redemption is costly, and comfort draws from the deep. Brains can argue, but it takes heart to comfort.”

“Spirit filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They serve with a faith that kindles. They serve with a devotion that consumes. They hate sin with fierceness that burns. They rejoice with a joy that radiates. Love is perfected in the fire of God.”

“The Church is the Body of Christ, and the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. He fills the Body, directs its movements, controls its members, inspires its wisdom, supplies it’s strength. He guides into truth, sanctifies its agents, and empowers for witnessing. The Spirit has never abdicated His authority nor relegated His power.”

“Destitute of the Fire of God, nothing else counts; possessing Fire, nothing else matters.”

“The church that is man-managed instead of God-governed is doomed to failure. A ministry that is college-trained but not Spirit-filled works no miracles.”

“The Holy Spirit cannot conquer the world with unbelief, nor can He save the world with a worldly Church. He calls for a crusade, a campaign, and an adventure of saving passion. For this enterprise He wants a separated, sanctified and sacrificial people.”

“The root-trouble of the present distress is that the Church has more faith in the world and the flesh than in the Holy Ghost, and things will get no better till we get back to His realized presence and power.”

“Intensity is a law of prayer. God is found by those who seek Him with all their heart. Wrestling prayer prevails. The fervent effectual prayer of the righteous is of great force.”

“A season of silence is the best preparation for speech with God.”

“The man who thinks he can know the Word of God by mere intellectual study is greatly deceived. Spiritual truth is spiritually discerned.”

“No man is uneducated who knows the Bible, and no one is wise who is ignorant of its teachings.”

Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
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Walking The Boundary Lines

My husband recently acquired a set of the three paperback volumes of William Gurnall‘s “The Christian In Complete Armour.”  This afternoon he came in from the back porch, where he was sitting enjoying the fresh air, and excitedly read me these next paragraphs. He was deeply impressed by the spiritual wisdom in these two pages. To that end, I share with you, what he has just shared with me.

“The fundamental truths of the gospel are landmarks to keep us safely within the boundaries set by God. Suppose your grandfather owned some property which at one time had been carefully surveyed. He was there when they set the stakes and could have paced it off blindfolded. But he never took the time to show anyone else the markings. Over the years, the markers rotted, were rooted up, or washed away. Now your grandfather has died and left the land to you. But a dishonest neighbor claims it is his, and as proof of ownership points to the burgeoning crop of corn he has planted. You discover that the deed and land description have been lost. Since you do not really know the proper boundary lines yourself, how will you defend your case in court? You will probably end up losing your property because no one else told you where it ends and your neighbor’s begins.

The spiritual parallel is this: Every fundamental truth has some evil neighbor (i.e., heresy) butting up against it, eager to plant a crop of lies upon the sacred ground of God’s Holy Word and thus fool the saints. And the very reason that a spirit of error has encroached so far upon the truth in the last few years is because ministers have not walked the boundaries of the gospel with their people and acquainted them with these primary truths.

We have both staples and luxuries in our religion, just as in our homes. Luxuries are wonderful and often enhance our appreciation of the staples, but they quickly lose their appeal when our basic needs go unmet. What pleasure is there in dining from fine china if you have no food to put on the plate? Of what value is a silk blouse in winter if you have no coat?

A preacher should preach not only fundamental truths, but also those truths he observes to be most frequently undermined by Satan. These are often the ordinances of God that should dictate the Christian’s response to controversial issues of faith and practice.

To know which doctrines are under greatest attack among his own congregation, a pastor must read and study his people as diligently as any book in his library. From the personal tone of Paul’s letters, we can surmise that he frequently paced the boundaries of the young church, looking for encroaching errors. When he discovered that false apostles had infiltrated the Galatian church and were preaching the law again, how he pounded home the gospel truth of justification by faith. When word came to him of division and strife among the Corinthians, what poured forth from his heart but that peerless exhortation on love?

Pastor, your flock may sometimes grow restless and complain that you keep them in the same pasture too long by preaching on one sin. The fault is not yours, but theirs, if they keep straying away from the Shepherd every time your back is turned. Who can blame a dog for continuing to bark when the wolf is still prowling about the fold?

If you long to grow in the likeness of Christ, do not pray for a preacher who will entertain you with a clever new topic each Sunday. Please instead for a man of principle who will preach against sin and for truth without compromise, until his people repent and turn from their evil ways.”

William Gurnall, “The Christian In Complete Armour, Volume 1;” The Banner of Truth Trust; 1986; pg. 242-243 (First published in three volumes in 1655, 1658, and 1662)

Link: http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/home.php

Related Link: “Bits Of William Gurnall

Original Content: Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Bits Of G.K. Chesterton

While not a father of the faith in the same vein as others who have been featured in this “Bits Of” series, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was a man of staunch faith, uncommon intellect, and delightful wit. He was a prolific and versatile writer producing fiction (widely known for his detective fiction and the character of Father Brown), non-fiction, poetry, and plays. Chesterton excelled at Christian apologetics and loved to debate. His penned wisdom has a large and loyal following. Below are a few examples from a man who was a fearless champion of the faith.

“Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.”

“If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.”

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.”

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”

“It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It’s that they can’t see the problem.”

“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

“No man who worships education has got the best out of education… Without a gentle contempt for education no man’s education is complete.”

“Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all.”

“A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition.”

“A yawn is a silent shout.”

“Brave men are all vertebrates; they have their softness on the surface and their toughness in the middle.”

“If I had only one sermon to preach it would be a sermon against pride.”

“The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.”

“There are only two kinds of social structure conceivable—personal government and impersonal government. If my anarchic friends will not have rules—they will have rulers. Preferring personal government, with its tact and flexibility, is called Royalism. Preferring impersonal government, with its dogmas and definitions, is called Republicanism. Objecting broadmindedly both to kings and creeds is called Bosh; at least, I know no more philosophic word for it.”

“It is idle to talk against representative government or for it. All government is representative government until it begins to decay. Unfortunately (as is also evident) all government begins to decay the instant it begins to govern.”

“Youth is the period in which a man can be hopeless. The end of every episode is the end of the world. But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged.”

“Love is not blind; that is the last thing it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.”

“How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win.”

“Jesus promised the disciples three things – that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.”

“Tolerance is the virtue of men who don’t believe in anything.”

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

Original Content: Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Don’t Send A Boy To Do A Man’s Work

Below is an essay from my daughter’s blog, “My Soul Found Rest.” When she first sent me the rough draft to look over, I was emotionally moved by what she wrote. Now, I will be the first to admit that I have never read Wendell Berry; had not even heard of him before my daughter told me that he was the focus of this semester’s Honors College at Belhaven University. I know, this admission shows me to be a severely under-educated individual; there is clearly no limit to the number of things I do not know.

My daughter’s life has, like the rest of ours, had its share of “complications.”  It has been part of my job as her mother to help her navigate some of the rough rapids on the river of her life. Occasionally, she has been summarily dumped out of the boat and into the water, leaving her hurt and floundering. Each time though, she has climbed back into the boat and kept on paddling.

It has been a privilege to watch our daughter grow in her faith.  She has met the complications in her life by doing what we all should do: turn to the Lord first.  She truly believes that life has a “happy ending,” not because she has a false “Pollyanna-like” attitude, but because she has chosen to place her faith in the surety of her God and His Word to her. She knows that no matter what this life brings, her Father continues to uphold her in His Righteous Right Hand; her ultimate goal is Heaven. She has been learning that she doesn’t have to fear the future, she can trust God to use those events in her life that have left her bruised, for His purposes and the maturing of her faith.  And, while her life has had no shortage of “bumps in the road,” she has learned, as have her father and I, that there is only one place we can go to find help.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of
eternal life.” John 6:68 (ESV)

I trust that you will be as encouraged by this essay as I was.  It is easy to get bogged down in the trials and tribulations of our lives. We lose our focus; we forget that God is Sovereign; we begin to fear that we are on a path that has no good end.  Just as in the Wendell Berry story referenced below, our Father comes and straightens out the mess we make of our lives and He does so with a deft and gentle Hand. His mercy, His grace, His love are always ready to lift us out of the quagmire, setting our feet on solid ground.

It’s Complicated

This was my first honors essay of the semester. The short story referenced is from Wendell Berry’s That Distant Land, a collection of his short stories.

In his short story, “Don’t Send a Boy to Do a Man’s Work,” Wendell Berry describes the consequences of complications. The main character in the story, a twelve-year-old boy named Athey Keith, has been left in charge of overseeing a hog-killing while his father, Carter Keith, is out of town. Carter Keith has laid specific plans and enlisted the help of knowledgeable men to make sure the work gets done efficiently and well. However, several complications arise during the hog-killing, which turn the Keiths’ well-laid plans upside down and cause the story to turn in an unexpected direction. The rest of the story hinges on how Athey and the other men deal with the complications.

Complications are hardly an uncommon event in our day-to-day lives. The dictionary built into my computer defines “complicate” as such: “[to] make (something) more difficult or confusing by causing it to be more complex.” Complications, or problems, as we more often call them, seem to arise with impeccable timing whenever we least desire them. Yet it seems that although complications may be sometimes unwelcome and turn our story in unexpected directions, our stories, once finished, become clearer and more illuminating as we reach the end of the book.

The plot’s driving force in Berry’s short story is the three complications and how Athey and the other men handle them. While Athey would certainly have had a much more productive hog-killing and a less harrowing day without any such complications, such a plot (or lack thereof) would not have made much of a story. Stories are driven by conflict.

When I was part of a fiction-writing group in high school, my teacher (a fiction author) had to remind me over and over again that I needed more conflict in my story. What I was writing would have been nice to live, but it was boring to read. There was no impetus to drive the plot forward. I resented her correction, because I wanted to write stories like I wanted to live, sweet, delightful, and all with happy endings. That’s still how I would like to live my life. But I am old enough now to begin to realize that my life is not going to go in a carefully plotted way to reach its happy ending. It’s going to take its twists and turns, and complications (whether small or large) are going to arise.

If I believe the promises of Scripture, that God works in all things for the good of those that are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), then I can navigate the bumps in the road with confidence. But questions still remain, and I am sure that I am not the first person to raise questions such as, “Is there any way to avoid complications? If I can, should I? Do all complications arise from sin? Even if they do, can they still turn out all right in the end (and preferably before the end too)?”

Athey could not have avoided the particular problems that came his way, all of which began with other people. He could not foresee them, nor could he escape them. The only thing he could do was be prepared for them, in the sense that he could be ready to deal with any problems that might occur. But when the complications came, he was not ready. The somewhat cocky young boy that he was, his pride and fear caused him to react in a way that allowed the originally small problems to become big ones.

I don’t think there were any complications in the Garden of Eden. Life there must have been like the story I tried to write—boring to read, but wonderful to live. Like in Berry’s story, the first Biblical complication came from another person. The complications Athey had to deal with all began with other people, but his fear caused him to react in a way that exacerbated the problem instead of solving it. Neither did Adam and Eve begin the first complication in this world, but they chose to yield to it instead of standing up and resisting. This first complication resulted in the fall of man from perfection, and now the human story is, well, complicated. At times it’s positively messy.

I don’t think there’s any way to avoid complications altogether. If there were, someone surely would have found a way by now! We can’t force others into our perfectly molded stories for ourselves—they’re going to bring complications, and sometimes we aren’t going to like the results. But neither our stories nor Berry’s story ends with failures to handle problems correctly. Fortunately for young Athey, his father came back—to a mess, it’s true, but he was quite up to handling the challenge and soon put things back to rights.

The human story doesn’t end with failure either. Although Adam and Eve didn’t have the power to put to right the wrong that they had done—that took someone with the proper authority—our Father sent His Son to earth to handle the challenge and put things back to rights. Unlike Carter Keith, He never has to go on a business trip, leaving us in charge. If Keith had been present at the hog-killing, the complications that arose would have been handled differently, and the resulting problems avoided. Likewise, because the Lord is present, we have the ability to handle the complications that come our way correctly. Not that we always will (in fact, many times we won’t), but we can, through His power. What is more, we have the guarantee that our stories will have happy endings. There might be cliffhangers after some chapters, and plot twists, and some pages might have tears on them. But in the end, we will close the book with a sigh of relief and meet our Author, the finisher of our faith.

Author: My Soul Found Rest (Used with permission)

Original Content: Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Bits Of Adoniram Judson

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was an American Baptist missionary to Burma where he served God faithfully for thirty-seven years. His legacy of faith remains today as a testament to the love and dedication he and his wife, Ann Hasseltine, had for the Burmese people. Adoniram Judson labored tirelessly against great odds so that the Burmese people would hear the Gospel. His wrote the Grammatical Notices of the Burman Language which was the foundation for his translation of the Bible and remains in use today. He assembled the first Burmese-English dictionary.

After the first twelve years of their work in Burma, only eighteen people had been converted to Christianity. By the time he died, there were one hundred churches and eight thousand believers. This was a man whose faith held him securely in the center of God’s will. He was willing to give his entire life to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Below are a few of his words:

“Let me beg you, not to rest contented with the commonplace religion that is now so prevalent.”

“The motto of every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be ‘Devoted for life.'”

“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world? Whether you can consent to see her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”  (Source: a letter written by Adoniram Judson to Ann Hasseltine’s father, in which he asked permission to marry.)

“If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.”

“No mind, no wisdom–temporary mind, temporary wisdom–eternal mind, eternal wisdom.”

“Our prayers run along one road and God’s answers by another, and by and by they
meet.”

“God answers all true prayer, either in kind or in kindness.”

“The future is as bright as the promises of God.”

“God loves importunate prayer so much that He will not give us much blessing without it.”

Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

“All Aboard!”

Today is my husband’s birthday. In honor of this momentous occasion, we attended the “Big Texas Train Show” yesterday. My husband loves trains (and planes and ships), having worked on the Soo Line Railroad in his much younger years. There are times that he regrets having left the railroad, as he will tell you that he enjoyed his work there very much.

As we were wandering through the show, looking at all the railroad memorabilia and the various displays of model trains, we came across a vendor who was selling ball caps. There, sitting among the other ball caps, I found one for the Soo Line. When I picked it up to show him, his face completely changed. I have not seen him smile that big in a very long time.

Now, in that moment, I knew exactly what I had to do. I began thanking God for “saving my bacon.”  You see, I was totally unprepared for my husband’s birthday. I had planned a special meal, but had not yet purchased his gift. This was within my rather limited budget, so I told him grandly: “I will buy it for your birthday present.” A little further down the way, we came across a vendor selling coffee cups and, you guessed it, there was a Soo Line coffee mug. You know what I did; made the same offer.

Wearing his new ball cap and carrying his new coffee mug, I have never seen a bigger smile on his face nor more twinkle in his eye. He was inordinately pleased with these two rather simple and inexpensive items. There are few events in life more satisfying than giving a gift to someone and knowing that it has given them pure joy.

So, to my husband, I wish birthday felicitations with profound gratitude for your love and care these past thirty-three years. It is an honor to walk through life with you.

Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Bits Of John Knox

John Knox (1514-1572) was a Scottish clergyman who played a pivotal role in England and Scotland during the Protestant Reformation. He is the author of the well-known “A Monstrous Regiment of Women” and is considered to be the founding father of the Presbyterian denomination. Below are a few examples of his written legacy.

“A man with God is always in the majority,”

“No one else holds or has held the place in the heart of the world which Jesus holds. Other gods have been as devoutly worshipped; no other man has been so devoutly loved.”

“You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time.”

“What comfort ought the remembrance of these signs be in our hearts! Jesus Christ hath fought our battle. He Himself hath taken us into His care and protection. However the devil my rage by temptations, be they spiritual or corporeal, he is not able to bereave us out of the hand of the Almighty Son of God.”

“By the brightness of God’s scriptures we are brought to the feeling of God’s wrath and anger, which our manifold offences we have justly provoked against ourselves; which revelation and conviction God sends not of a purpose to confound us, but of very love, by which He had concluded our salvation to stand in Jesus Christ.”

Let the whole Scriptures be read and diligently marked, and no sentence (rightly understood) shall be found, that affirmeth God to have chosen us in respect of our works, or because He foresaw that we should be faithful, holy, and just. But to the contrary, many places shall we find (yes, even so many as entreat of that matter) that plainly affirm that we are freely chosen according to the purpose of His good will, and that in Christ Jesus.”

“We presume not to define what number God shall save, and how many He shall justly condemn: but with reverence we refer judgement to Him who is the universal Creator; whose goodness and wisdom is such that He can do nothing but wisely; and whose judgement is so perfect, that His works are exempted from the judgement of all creatures.”

“That our God is eternal, incomprehensible, and immutable, so are His counsels constant, subject to no mutability nor change, constant, I say, in God Himself, howsoever things change to our apprehension.”

“But justly leaving the reprobate to themselves, and to Satan their father, they willingly follow, without all violence or compulsion on God’s part, iniquity and sin, and so finally the way of perdition, to which they are naturally inclined. But if yet that any will affirm that therefore God’s foreknowledge doth but idly behold what they will do, and that in his eternal purpose, counsel and will, he will one thing and they will another, so that their will prevail against His, he shall not escape the crime of horrible blasphemy.”

“Neither yet therefore doth it follow that His foreknowledge, prescience, will or power, doth take away the free will of His creatures, but in all wisdom and justice (however the contrary appears to our corrupted judgements) he uses them as best pleases His wisdom to bring to pass in time that which before all time He had decreed.”

“True it is that we be elected in Christ Jesus to be holy and to walk in good works which God hath prepared. But every reasonable man knoweth what difference there is betwixt the cause and the effect. Election, in which I include the free grace and favour of God, is the fountain from which springeth faith, and faith is the mother of all good works. But what foolishness were it therefore to reason: ‘My works are the cause of my faith, and my faith is the cause of my election’?”

“The chief end of man’s creation we have before declared to be the glory of
God, which if you can not see shine in the just condemnation of the reprobate,
accuse your blindness.”

“We do not imagine the faithful members of Christ’s body to be stocks and
stones insensible, without will or study of godliness, but we affirm that it is
God that worketh in us the good will and good thought, for of ourselves we are not sufficient to think one good thought.”

“God is omnipotent and compelled to suffer nothing which He hath not appointed in His eternal counsel: He is a Spirit and free from all such passions as creatures be subject to; for in His eternal Godhead there is neither patience subject to pain, neither yet sorrow annexed with anguish and grief. But when such passions be attributed to God, it is for the weakness of our understanding that the Holy Ghost doth subject Himself in language and tongue to our capacity.”

“And so is God’s justice rather accused than maintained by the foolishness of
your curious brains, saying, God permitteth many things which He would not. What vanity is this? Is it not a thing confessed amongst all that God’s power is omnipotent? Who then can compel Him to suffer that which He would not? And why doth He willingly suffer things which in His law He hath forbidden? I answer, for the manifestation of His own glory, which is more precious than the heavens and the earth and all things contained therein.”

Original Content: Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved