Trials of Lottie Moon

This month, as we focus on our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, we often overlook the trials Lottie faced in her life. From loss of wealth to giving up the man she loved, her life was full of heartache. Yet she changed our view of missions and impacted northern China in a way that is still felt today. I remember reading somewhere: Life is not about avoiding the storms but learning to dance in the rain.

lottine.jpg  (NT Photo-oconee-1299)

In our Sunday morning Bible Study yesterday, we were discussing Peter’s venture of walking on water outside the boat in the midst of a storm. Usually, we think of this in terms of our Lord’s chiding him for his lack of faith. However, as one lady observed, everyone goes through storms in his/her life. The question is, will we have the faith to get out of the boat at our savior’s call; or will we stay put and avoid what might be learned?

Lottie Moon said, “[No] trouble comes upon us unless it is needed…we ought to be just as thankful for sorrows as for joys.” We should listen to her words and not be afraid to get out of the boat.

See more at “The Courage of Your Faith.” The Courage of Your Faith consists of 12 short stories from our history and 12 Bible Studies on issues as relevant today as they were in the past. Each study includes supplemental information and a Power Point slide presentation.

Dead Ends

The roads of life–where do they take us? In 1793, slavery was becoming a pillar of southern economic success; many southern farmers chose this road. Gowan Pamphlet, the pastor of the black church of Williamsburg requested admission of his church into the all-white Dover Association of Baptist Churches; he picked a road that looked difficult to travel. Two roads–one of slavery and the other based on the equality of man before God. Neither ultimate destination was clearly seen at the time.

Sandy and I just returned from a trip along the Oregon/Mormon Trail researching the third book in my Fury series. I wanted to travel to stops mentioned in the story. One of these was Red Rock, Iowa. Our GPS took us about nine miles off the main road over narrower and narrower gravel and dirt roads on the way to Red Rock. All the time, I looked forward to arriving at the historic town. Finally, the GPS said we were almost there. Excitement rising, we made a turn…and stopped. Just ahead was a  sign that read DEAD END.

The road to Red Rock. WayToRedRock_Extract_Sm

How much like life! I thought. As with many of the southern cotton farmers who thought they were on the right path, all indications were that I was as well…until I saw that the end was really a dead one.

Where were we to go? How would we find Red Rock? A cloud of dust arising from the road back, gave me hope. I flagged down a truck that looked official, like its driver would be able to help. I spent a good 15 minutes talking with a new friend, Cleo. He cleared up the matter. Red Rock dam was built in the 1960’s and covered the town of Red Rock. Contemporary pictures of Red Rock, Iowa, would be the peaceful surface of Red Rock Reservoir.

Again, I thought, How much like life! There IS someone who knows the paths we travel—which ones lead to death and which to life.

See more at “The Courage of Your Faith,” this month featuring “The Slaves.” “The Courage of Your Faith” consists of 12 short stories from our history and 12 Bible Studies on issues as relevant today as they were in the past. Each study includes supplemental information and a Power Point slide presentation

Why must pastors sign government-issued marriage licenses?

Baptists like John Leland influenced the creation of our Constitution. Last week, I met a fellow author in Windsor. As we walked out of the library, I mentioned what our early Baptist forefather John Leland said, that the idea of Christian Nation “should be exploded forever.” “Oh, yes,” my friend answered. “My Christian history classes talked about him.”

Image_Leland_j

John Leland

Many of my friends disagree with Leland’s POV and they’re in good company. In 2011, Focus on the Family posted an article on their website. It discussed the spiritual aspect of civil marriages. This year they again affirmed this position that the civil marriage license should have spiritual significance.

Yet, in the reality of today’s culture, civil authorities and conservative religious institutions use the word “marriage” with two different definitions and applications. Until the church and the state decouple the use of this word, situations like we now have with Kim Davis, will occur more frequently. IMHO John Leland would want to see this unlinking. Some nations (e.g. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey) require a civil ceremony separate from a religious one. So, in those countries, a couple that wants to be married before God, must have a separate ceremony.

“Render unto Caesar…” What do you think?

Early Baptists believed Matthew 22:21 was our Lord’s indication that there is a two-fold form of government, civil and spiritual, and that these should be separate. How we define separation impacts how we view our society today. What do you think is meant by separation of church and state?

Most folks today will say the term “separation of church and state” comes from the phrase wall of separation appearing in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. However, the idea was not new. Our Baptist heritage is replete with proponents of both a “civil and spiritual state.”

In 1644, Roger Williams used the term wall of separation. [“Mr. Cotton’s Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered,” The Complete Writings of Roger Williams (New York: Russell & Russell Inc. 1963), Vol. 1, 108]

Thomas Helwys believed government exists for the benefit of all citizens be they “heretics, Jews, Turks, or what-so-ever.” [A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity, Classics of Religious Liberty 1 (by Richard Groves), Copyright, 1998, Mercer University Press, Macon, Georgia, USA.] This could not be true if one religious belief became THE established faith of the land.

John Leland, leader of Virginia Baptists following the Revolutionary War, discusses the idea of a “national church” in a sub-section titled “The Reasons of Their [Baptists] Dissent.” In that book, he writes, “The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever…Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” [“The Virginia Chronicle,” The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland, G. W. Wood, 29 Gold Street, New York, 1845, p 117-118]

In his dedication to Parliament, John Clarke states the Lord Jesus has been given all power in Earth and has chosen to wield that power by a “two fold administration of power suitable to the two fold state or being of man.” [Ill Newes From New England, H. Hills, 1652, p 4-5]

What do you think is meant by separation of church and state? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Calvinist or Arminian…Particular or General…

While this new faith, derogatorily referred to as Baptist, found unity in persecution, its adherents soon began to take issue with each other. One of the first points of debate was whether salvation was a free choice or was it limited to those whom God chose. General Baptists held the former position; Particular Baptists the latter. This subject often led to heated debates. I wonder if these Baptists ever looked forward to the future time when Baptists would finally settle this matter. Surely time would clarify the waters!

 In the late 1630’s, while Colonel John and Lady Lucy Hutchinson became Particular Baptists, many common folk were becoming General Baptists. Did you ever stop to ask yourself why the elite who converted to the Baptist way of thinking would tend toward Particular Baptist teachings while the common man would tend toward General?

Abstract of Systematic Theology by James Boyce

While today “the World” lies open at our fingertips, in 1979 our small town in Colorado was more concerned with local issues than problems outside of our community; denominational arguments did not concern our small Baptist church. When one retired member, who had gone to the mission field as a volunteer, wanted to attend the 1979 Convention in Houston, Texas, we all voted to send her; no one had ever asked to attend the Convention before. She wanted to go because of the rising debate over the literal interpretation of scripture. Even though she tried to explain the issues, most of us had no idea what was happening and really didn’t care much! That was the year conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention organized and put into action a plan to placed conservatives into key positions within the denomination.

 In 1993, our daughter and her husband attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They arrived on campus at the very end of the conservative transition and saw the emotions that stirred those in the faculty affected by the changes. The period from 1979 until the early 90’s saw a big change in our denomination. In the early years, “The Abstract of Systematic Theology” by James Boyce was given out to students who would accept it. A conservative document, it swayed many of its readers. It is available on the Internet today.

Would You Die For The Bible?

In 1555, at the age of 19, William Hunter was burned at the stake for believing he had the right to determine what he believed to be true. In “The Martyrs,” he is given a copy of the Bible written in English, one that he can understand. It answers his questions and gives him the strength to face what will be coming. It became the most relevant book in shaping his life. Others thought the Word was only correctly understood by those who had been trained. How relevant is God’s Word to you? Would you be willing to give your life for a conviction that the Bible’s truths belong to you? You can view a PPT slide show here including pictures of a monument to William Hunter.

So, what’s a Gowan Pamphlet?

“The Slaves” is the ninth segment in The Courage of Your Faith series. The historical setting for this study is Virginia after the Revolutionary War. While researching topics for this series, I came across an article that mentioned a Gowan Pamphet. Now, what was a Gowan Pamphlet, I wondered. It turns out it’s a “he.” Gowan Pamphlet was a black slave in Williamsburg who pastored its first Baptist church. It was made up of, by some estimates, 600 free and slave blacks. Under his leadership, the African Church (as it was known) was accepted into the Dover Association in 1783. While in Williamsburg, we spent some time tracking down one of the possible early sites for the church. You can find an online slide show including a possible location of “Raccoon Chase” here.

See more at “The Courage of Your Faith.” “The Courage of Your Faith” consists of 12 short stories from our history and 12 Bible Studies on issues as relevant today as they were in the past. Each study includes supplemental information and a Power Point slide presentation.

All documents can be downloaded at no charge from the web site. The short stories have been compiled into one eBook which is downloadable from both Barnes & Noble and Amazon for a small fee. A link now appears at the top of this email for those who wish to be added to this mailing list. Feel free to forward this email to anyone you think might be interested. They can then add their name to receive future updates. Have fun.

First Battle of the American Revolution

“The Separates” is the seventh segment in The Courage of Your Faith series. Alamance was a southern battle over taxes fought by mostly Baptist and Quaker farmers against the British supported governor. Unless you are from the south, you probably have not even heard about this battle or about the Regulators. In southern states in 1770, taxation was based on a set fee for land given to the settler. However, the governor could change it. And the tax collectors could extract more for themselves. Furthermore, taxes often had a way of disappearing once collected.

The Battle of Alamance (see pictures of the battlefield here) was fought in 1771 and is commemorated by a number of monuments in the field where, by some accounts, 3700 Regulators confronted Governor Tryon’s militia of 1500 men. The Regulators came to Alamance expecting the Governor to accede to their demands for fair taxation. When that did not happen and weapons were fired, most of the Quakers left; they hadn’t even brought guns. Baptists, on the other hand, came prepared for a hunt; they had guns but not enough rounds to finish a battle. In the end the Regulators lost. Dissatisfied and angry with England, farmers emigrated from the area, seeding the South with resentment toward the British and those that supported them.

See more at “The Courage of Your Faith,” this month featuring “The Separates.”

All documents can be downloaded at no charge from the web site. The short stories have been compiled into one eBook which is downloadable from both Barnes & Noble and Amazon for a small fee.

Impact of the First Great Awakening on Baptists

“The Evangelists” is the sixth segment in The Courage of Your Faith series. At the start of the 18th century, Baptists were a minority in the New World. By 1750, they had grown to become a spiritual force of great influence. Why? Here is perhaps one reason. “The pioneer spirit combined with the movement of God’s Spirit in the first Great Awakening to produce massive growth of Baptists in New England, the Middle Colonies, and particularly the South.” [Nettles, Tom, The Baptists, Volume 2, p.49] Our Lord was doing something remarkable in the New World, and Baptists had become an integral part of it.

See more at “The Courage of Your Faith,” this month featuring “The Evangelists.”

The short stories have been compiled into one eBook which is downloadable from both Barnes & Noble and Amazon for a small fee.