Saturday, May 26, 2018

Testimony

"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," I Peter 3:15

Testimony
by Jane Van Allen

From early life to riper years.
The Savior's grace has kept me;
In all my varied, pilgrim life.
The Savior's love sustains me.

In all ray sorrows, sighs and tears.
The Holy Spirit calms me;
In all my trials, doubts and fears,
The loving Savior's with me.

In every suff'ring scene of life,
God's mercy then surrounds me;
And in the darkest hours of life.
The Savior's love shines round me.
 

Evil Thoughts

Evil Thoughts
by William Collings

As deadly germs of foul disease.
Come floating on the gentle breeze:
And on their entertainers feed,
To satisfy their horrid greed:
Implanting death, where'er they go,
And filling man with mortal woe:
So, sinful thoughts our minds assail,
If we permit them to prevail;
They will to words, and actions grow.
And fill our souls with deadly woe.
 As downy seeds float through the air,
To plant their nuisance anywhere
That they can find a place to rest,
A quiet place will suit them best.
So evil thoughts. pass through the mind,
And if they can a lodgment find,
They will take root; spring up, bloom out,
And scatter their vile seed about.
Yes evil thoughts are passing by
The human mind's perceiving eye.
And if they can a lodgment find:
They occupy that human mind
With deadly germs of inbred sin,
Which let the great deceiver in
To fortify this citadel
And then prepare the soul for hell.
When these vile thoughts, our minds assail
Unresisted, they will prevail;
If they get rooted in the heart,
How hard it is from them to part
Like deadly germs of foul disease,
Which seem to go just where they please,
And on their entertainers feed
To satisfy their awful greed.
These thoughts to words and actions lead.
And thus bloom out and bear the seed,
Which satan's agents scatter round
Where a neglected spot is found.

Forgiveness of Injuries

       Mr. Herring, one of the puritan ministers, was eminently distinguished for Christian meekness, and for love to his greatest enemies. Dr. Lamb, a violent persecutor of the puritans, and especially of this good man, being on a journey, unhappily broke his leg, and was carried to the inn where Mr. Herring happened to be staying for the night. Mr. H. was called on to pray that evening in the family, when he prayed with so much fervour and affection for the doctor as to surprise all who heard him. Being afterwards asked why he manifested such respect to a man who was so utterly unworthy of it, he replied, " The greater enemy he is, the more need he hath of our prayers. We must prove ourselves to be the disciples of Christ by loving our enemies, and praying for our persecutors." On another occasion, Archbishop Laud having said, "I will pickle that Herring of Shrewsbury," the good man meekly replied, " If he will abuse his power, let it teach Christians the more to use their prayers, that their enemies may see they have a God to trust in, when trampled upon by ill-disposed men."

Dr. Coke and The Young Minister

The following interesting anecdote was related by Dr. Coke to his brother-in-law:

       In attempting to cross a river in America, Dr. Coke missed the ford, and got into deep water; he and his horse were carried down the stream, and were in considerable danger ; he caught hold of a bough, and with some difficulty got upon dry land; his horse was carried down the stream. After drying his clothes in the sun, he set out on foot, and at length met a man, who directed him to the nearest village, telling him to inquire for a Mrs. ____, from whom, he had no doubt, he would receive the kindest treatment. Dr. Coke found the good lady's house, and received all the kindness and attention she could show him; messengers were sent after his horse, which was recovered and brought back. The next morning he took leave of his kind hostess, and proceeded on his journey. After a lapse of five years, Dr. Coke happened to be in America again. As he was on his way to one of the annual conferences, in company with about thirty other persons, a young man requested the favor of being allowed to converse with him; he assented with Christian politeness. The young man asked him if he recollected being in such a part of America about five years ago; he replied in the affirmative. "And do you recollect, sir, in attempting to cross the river, being nearly drowned?" "I remember it quite well." "And do you recollect going to the house of a widow lady in such a village?" "I remember it well," said the doctor;" and never shall I forget the kindness which she showed me." "And do you remember, when you departed, leaving a tract at that lady's house?" " I do not recollect that," said he ; "but it is very possible I might do so." "Yes, sir," said the young man, " you did leave there a tract, which that lady read, and the Lord blessed the reading of it to the conversion of her soul ; it was also the means of the conversion of several of her children and neighbors; and there is now, in that village, a little flourishing society." The tears of Dr. Coke showed something of the feelings of his heart. The young man resumed, " I have not, sir, quite told you all. I am one of that lady's children, and owe my conversion to God, to the gracious influence with which he accompanied the reading of that tract to my mind, and I am now. Dr. Coke, on my way to conference, to be proposed as a preacher,"

The Bishop and The Birds

A Bishop who had for his arms two fieldfares, with the motto, " Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?" thus explains the matter to an intimate friend:

       Fifty or sixty years ago, a little boy resided at a little village near Dillengen, on the banks of the Danube. His parents were very poor, and almost as soon as the boy could walk, he was sent into the woods to pick up some sticks for fuel. When he grew older, his father taught him to pick the juniper berries, and carry them to a neighboring distiller, who wanted them for making hollands. Day by day the poor boy went to his task, and on his road he passed by the open windows of the village school, where he saw the schoolmaster teaching a number of boys of about the same age as himself. He looked at these boys with feelings of envy, so earnestly did he long to be among them. He was quite aware it was in vain to ask his father to send him to school, for he knew that his parents had no money to pay the schoolmaster ; and he often passed the whole day thinking, whilst he was gathering the juniper berries, what he could possibly do to please the schoolmaster, in the hope of getting some lessons. One day when he was walking sadly along, he saw two of the boys belonging to the school trying to set a bird-trap, and he asked one what it was for. The boy told him that the schoolmaster was very fond of fieldfares, and that they were setting the trap to catch some. This delighted the poor boy, for he recollected that he had often seen a great number of these birds in the juniper-wood, where they came to eat the berries, and he had no doubt but he could catch some.
       The next day the little boy borrowed an old basket of his mother, and when he went to the wood he had the great delight to catch two fieldfares. He put them in the basket, and tying an old handkerchief over it, he took them to the schoolmaster's house. Just as he arrived at the door, he saw the two little boys who had been setting the trap, and with some alarm he asked them if they had caught any birds. They answered in the negative; and the boy, his heart beating with joy, gained admittance into the schoolmaster's presence. In a few words he told how he had seen the boys setting the trap, and how he had caught the birds to bring them as a present to the master.
       "A present, my good boy !" cried the school master; "you do not look as if you could afford to make presents. Tell me your price, and I will pay it to you, and thank you besides."
       "I would rather give them to you, sir, if you please," said the boy.
       The schoolmaster looked at the boy who stood before him, with bare head and feet, and ragged trousers that reached only half-way down his naked legs. "You are a very singular boy!" said he, "but if you will not take money you must tell me what I can do for you, as I cannot accept your present without doing something for it in return. Is there anything I can do for you?"
       "O, yes!" said the boy, trembling with delight, "you can do for me what I should like better than anything else."
       "What is that?" asked the schoolmaster, smiling.
       "Teach me to read," cried the boy, falling on his knees. "O, dear, kind sir, teach me to read!"
       The schoolmaster complied. The boy came to him at his leisure hours, and learned so rapidly that the schoolmaster recommended him to a nobleman residing in the neighborhood. This gentleman, who was as noble in mind as in birth, patronized the poor boy, and sent him to school at Ratisbon, The boy profited by his opportunities; and when he rose, as he soon did, he adopted two fieldfares as his arms.
       "What do you mean?" cried the bishop's friend.
       "I mean," returned the bishop, with a smile, "that the poor boy was myself." 

"Thy sins are forgiven thee..."

       "My parents," said Luther, " were very poor. My father was a wood-cutter, and my mother has often carried the wood on her back that she might earn wherewith to bring up us children. They endured the hardest labor for our sakes." John Luther, the father of little Martin, gradually made his way, and established two small furnaces for iron. The child grew up by the side of these forges, and with the earnings of this industry his father was able to send him to school. In those days fear was regarded as the grand stimulus in the business of education. "My parents," said Luther, in after life, " treated me severely, so that I became timid. They truly thought they were doing right, but wanted discernment." At school the poor child was treated with even greater severity. The master flogged him fifteen times in one day. "It is right," said Luther, relating this fact," it is right to correct children, but at the same time we must love them." With such an education Luther early learned to despise the attractions of a self-indulgent life. When Martin was fourteen years of age, his father sent him to the school of the Franciscans at Magdeburg. Here he was cast upon the world, without friends or protectors. According to the custom of those times, he and some children, as poor as himself, begged their bread from door to door. The practice is still preserved in many towns in Germany. "I was accustomed," says he, " with my companions, to beg a little food to supply our wants. One day about Christmas time, we were going all together through the neighbouring villages, from house to house, singing in concert the usual carols on the infant Jesus born at Bethlehem. We stopped in front of a peasant's house which stood detached from the rest, at the extremity of the village. The peasant, hearing us sing our Christmas carols, came out with some food which he meant to give us, and asked, in a rough loud voice, 'Where are you, boys' Terrified at these words, we ran away as fast as we could. We had no reason to fear, for the peasant offered us this assistance in kindness; but our hearts were no doubt become fearful from the threats and tyranny which the masters then used towards their scholars, so that we were seized with sudden fright. At last, however, as the peasant still continued to call after us, we stopped, forgot our fears, ran to him, and received the food that he offered us. It is thus," adds Luther, "that we tremble and flee when our conscience is guilty and alarmed. Then we are afraid even of the help that is offered us, and of those who are our friends, and wish to do us good."
       Often the poor modest boy, instead of bread, received nothing but harsh words. More than once, overwhelmed with sorrow, he shed many tears in secret; he could not look to the future without trembling.
       One day, in particular, after having been repulsed from three houses, he was about to return fasting to his lodging, when, having reached the Place St. George, he stood before the house of an honest burgher, motionless, and lost in painful reflections. Must he, for want of bread, give up his studies, and go to work with his father in the mines of Mansfeld? Suddenly a door opens, a woman appears on the threshold - it is the wife of Conrad Cotta, a daughter of the burgomaster of Eilfeld. Her name was Ursula. The chronicles of Eisenach call her "the pious Shunammite," in remembrance of her who so earnestly entreated the prophet Elijah to eat bread with her. This Christian Shunammite had more than once remarked young Martin in the assemblies of the faithful: she had been affected by the sweetness of his voice and his apparent devotion. She had heard the harsh words with which the poor scholar had been repulsed. She saw him overwhelmed with sorrow before her door; she came to his assistance, beckoned him to enter, and supplied his urgent wants.
       Conrad approved his wife's benevolence; he even found so much pleasure in the society of young Luther, that, a few days afterwards, he took him to live in his house. From that moment he no longer feared to be obliged to relinquish his studies. He was not to return to Mansfeld, and bury the talent that God had committed to his trust!
       At the age of eighteen Luther went to the University of Urfurth. Here the young student spent, in the library of the university, the moments he could snatch from his academical labours. Books being then scarce, it was in his eyes a great privilege to be able to profit by the treasures of this vast collection. One day, (he had been then two years at Erfurth, and was twenty years of age,) he was opening the books in the library one after another, in order to read the names of the authors. One which he opened in its turn drew his attention. He had not seen anything like it till that hour. He reads the title - it is a Bible! a rare book, unknown at that time. His interest is strongly excited; he is filled with astonishment at finding more in this volume than those fragments of the gospels and epistles which the Church has selected to be read to the people in their places of worship every Sunday in the year. Till then he had thought that they were the whole word of God. And here are so many pages, so many chapters, so many books, of which he had no idea! His heart beats as he holds in his hand all the Scripture divinely inspired. With eagerness and indescribable feelings he turns over these leaves of God's word. The first page that arrests his attention, relates the history of Hannah and the young Samuel. He reads, and can scarcely restrain his joyful emotion. This child, whom his parents lend to the Lord as long as he liveth; Hannah's song, in which she declares that the Lord raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set him among princes; the young Samuel, who grows up in the temple before the Lord; all this history, all this revelation which he has discovered, excites feelings till then unknown. He returns home with a full heart. " O!" thought he," if God would but give me such a book for my own!" Luther did not yet understand either Greek or Hebrew. It is not probable that he should have studied those languages during the first two or three years of his residence in the university. The Bible that had filled him with such transport was in Latin. He soon returned to the library to find his treasure again. He read and re-read, and then, in his surprise and joy, he went back to read again. The first gleams of a new truth then arose in his mind.
       In the summer of 1505, Luther was returning from a visit to his parents. He was within a short distance of Erfurth, when he was overtaken by a violent storm. The thunder roared; a thunderbolt sunk into the ground by his side. Luther threw himself on his knees. His hour is perhaps come. Death, judgment, eternity, are before him in all their terrors, and speak with a voice which he can no longer resist. " Encompassed with the anguish and terror of death," as he himself says, he makes a vow, if God will deliver him from this danger, to forsake the world, and devote himself to His service. Risen from the earth, having still before his eyes that death that must one day overtake him, he examines himself seriously, and inquires what he must do. The thoughts that formerly troubled him return with redoubled power. He has endeavored, it is true, to fulfill all his duties. But what is the state of his soul? Can he, with a polluted soul, appear before the tribunal of so terrible a God? He must become holy. He now thirsts after holiness as he had thirsted after knowledge. But where shall he find it? How is it to be attained? The university has furnished him with the means of satisfying his first wish. Who will assuage this anguish, this vehement desire that consumes him now? To what school of holiness can he direct his steps? He will go into a cloister ; the monastic life will ensure his salvation. How often has he been told of its power, to change the heart, to cleanse the sinner, to make man perfect! He will enter into a monastic order. He will there become holy. He will thus ensure his eternal salvation.
       Such was the event that changed the vocation and the whole destiny of Luther. The hand of God was in it. It was that powerful hand that cast to the ground the young master of arts, the aspirant to the bar, the intended jurisconsult, to give an entirely new direction to his after life.
        Luther re-enters Erfurth. His resolution is unalterable. Still, it is with reluctance that he prepares to break ties that are so dear to him. He does not communicate his design to any of his companions. But one evening he invites his college friends to a cheerful and simple repast. Music once more enlivens their social meeting. It is Luther's farewell to the world. Henceforth the companions of his pleasures and studies are to be exchanged for the society of monks ; cheerful and witty discourse for the silence of the cloister; merry voices, for the solemn harmony of the quiet chapel. God calls him; he must sacrifice all things. Now, however, for the last time, let him give way to the joys of his youth! The repast excites his friends. Luther himself encourages their joy. But at the moment when their gayety is at its height, the young man can no longer repress the serious thoughts that occupy his mind. He speaks. He declares his intention to his astonished friends; they endeavor to oppose it; but in vain. And that very night Luther, perhaps dreading their importunity, quits his lodgings. He leaves behind his books and furniture, taking with him only Virgil and Plautus. (He had not yet a Bible.) Virgil and Plautus! an epic poem and comedies! Singular picture of Luther's mind! There was, in fact, in his character the materials of a complete epic poem ; beauty, grandeur, and sublimity; but his disposition inclined to gayety, wit, and mirth; and more than one ludicrous trait broke forth from the serious and noble groundwork of his life.
       Furnished with these two books, he goes alone in the darkness of the night to the convent of the hermits of St. Augustine. He asks admittance. The door opens and closes again. Behold him forever separated from his parents, from his companions in study, and from the world. It was the 17th of August, 1505. Luther was then twenty-one years and nine months old.
       The monks had received him joyfully. It was no small gratification to their self-love to see the university forsaken, by one of its most eminent scholars, for a house of their order. Nevertheless, they treated him harshly, and imposed upon him the meanest offices. They perhaps wished to humble the doctor of philosophy, and to teach him that his learning did not raise him above his brethren; and thought, moreover, by this method, to prevent his devoting himself to his studies, from which the convent would derive no advantage. The former master of arts was obliged to perform the functions of doorkeeper, to open and shut the gates, to wind up the clock, to sweep the church, to clean the rooms. Then, when the poor monk, who was at once porter, sexton, and servant of the cloister, had finished his work, "Cum sacco per civitatem - With your bag through the town!" cried the brothers; and, loaded with his bread-bag, he was obliged to go through the streets of Erfurth, begging from house to house, and perhaps at the doors of those very persons who had been either his friends or his inferiors. But he bore it all. Inclined, from his natural disposition, to devote himself heartily to whatever he undertook, it was with his whole soul that he had become a monk. Besides, could he wish to spare the body?to regard the satisfying of the flesh? Not thus could he acquire the humility, the holiness, that he had come to seek within the walls of a cloister.
       The poor monk, overwhelmed with toil, eagerly availed himself of every moment he could snatch from his degrading occupations. He sought to retire apart from his companions, and give himself up to his beloved studies. But the brethren soon perceived this, came about him with murmurs, and forced him to leave his books: "Come, come! it is not by study, but by begging bread, corn, eggs, fish, meat, and money, that you can benefit the cloister." And Luther submitted, put away his books, and resumed his bag. Far from repenting of the yoke he had taken upon himself, he resolved to go through with it. Then it was that the inflexible perseverance with which he ever prosecuted the resolutions he had once formed began to develop itself. His patient endurance of this rough usage gave a powerful energy to his will. God was exercising him first with small trials, that he might learn to stand firm in great ones. Besides, to be able to deliver the age in which he lived from the miserable superstitions under which it groaned, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of them. To empty the cup, he must drink it to the very dregs.
       This severe apprenticeship did not, however, last so long as Luther might have feared. The prior of the convent, upon the intercession of the university of which Luther was a member, freed him from the mean offices the monks had imposed upon him. The young monk then resumed his studies with fresh zeal.
       He loved, above all, to draw wisdom from the pure spring of the Word of God. He found in the convent a Bible, fastened by a chain. He had constant recourse to this chained Bible. He understood but little of the Word; but still it was his most absorbing study. Sometimes he would meditate on a single passage for a whole day; another time he learned by heart some parts of the Prophets, but above all, he wished to acquire, from the writings of the Apostles and Prophets, the knowledge of God's will - to increase in reverence for His name - and to nourish his faith by the sure testimony of the Word.
       Burning with the desire after that holiness which he had sought in the cloister, Luther gave himself up to all the rigor of an ascetic life. He endeavored to crucify the flesh by fastings, macerations, and watchings. Shut up in his cell as in a prison, he was continually struggling against the evil thoughts and inclinations of his heart. A little bread, a single herring, were often his only food. Indeed, he was constitutionally abstemious. So it was that his friends have often seen him - even after he had learned that heaven was not to be purchased by abstinence - content himself with the poorest food, and go four days together without eating or drinking.
       Luther did not find, in the tranquillity of the cloister and monkish perfection, the peace he was in quest of. He wanted an assurance that he was saved.
       His conscience, enlightened by the Divine Word, taught him what it was to be holy; but he was filled with terror at finding, neither in his heart nor in his life, the transcript of that holiness which he contemplated with wonder in the Word of God. Melancholy discovery! and one that is made by every sincere man. No righteousness within; no righteousness in outward action ; everywhere omission of duty - sin, pollution. The more ardent Luther's natural character, the more powerful was this secret and constant resistance of his nature to that which is good, and the deeper did it plunge him into despair.
       The monks and theologians encouraged him to do good works, and in that way satisfy the divine justice. "But what works," thought he, "can proceed out of a heart like mine? How can I, with works polluted even in their source and motive, stand before a Holy Judge?" - "I was, in the sight of God, a great sinner," says he; "and I could not think it possible for me to appease him with my merits.''
       A tender conscience led him to regard the least sin as a great crime. No sooner had he detected it, than he labored to expiate it by the strictest self-denial; and that served only to make him feel the inutility of all human remedies. "I tormented myself to death," says he, "to procure for my troubled heart and agitated conscience peace in the presence of God: but, encompassed with thick darkness, I nowhere found peace."
       His bodily powers failed, his strength forsook him; sometimes he was motionless as if dead.
       One day, overcome with sadness, he shut himself in his cell, and for several days and nights suffered no one to approach him. One of his friends, Lucas Edemberger, uneasy about the unhappy monk, and having some presentiment of his state, took with him some young boys, choral singers, and went and knocked at the door of his cell. No one opened or answered. The good Edemberger, still more alarmed, broke open the door, and discovered Luther stretched on the floor in unconsciousness, and without any sign of life. His friend tried in vain to recall his senses, but he continued motionless. Then the young choristers began to sing a sweet hymn. Their clear voices acted like a charm on the poor monk, to whom music had always been a source of delight, and by slow degrees his strength and consciousness returned. But if for a few instants music could restore to him a degree of serenity, another and more powerful remedy was needed for the cure of his malady; there was needed that sweet and penetrating sound of the gospel, which is the voice of God. He felt this to be his want. Accordingly his sufferings and fears impelled him to study with unwearied zeal the writings of the Apostles and Prophets.
       About this time the visit of Staupitz, vicar-general of the Augustines, was announced. This good man had passed through similar exercises, and had at length found peace in believing. Soon after his arrival, one of the brothers attracted his notice. He was a young man of middle stature, reduced by study, fasting, and watching, so that you might count his bones. His eyes, which were afterwards compared to a falcon's, were sunk; his demeanour was dejected ; his countenance expressed a soul agitated with severe conflicts, but yet strong and capable of endurance. There was in his whole appearance something grave, melancholy, and solemn. Staupitz, who had acquired discernment by long experience, easily discerned what was passing in that mind, and at once distinguished the young monk from all his companions. He felt drawn towards him, had a kind of presentiment of his singular destiny, and soon experienced for his inferior a paternal interest. He, like Luther, had been called to struggle; he could therefore understand his feelings. He could, above all, show him the path to that peace which he had himself found. What he was told of the circumstances that had induced the young Augustine to enter the convent, increased his sympathy. He enjoined the prior to treat him with more mildness. He availed himself of the opportunities his office afforded for gaining the confidence of the young monk. He approached him affectionately, and endeavored in every way to overcome the timidity of the novice - a timidity increased by the respect and fear that he felt for a person of rank so exalted as that of Staupitz.
       His venerable guide proves to him that there can be no real conversion, so long as man fears God as a severe judge. "What will you say, then," cries Luther, "to so many consciences, to whom are prescribed a thousand insupportable penances in order to gain heaven?"
       Then he hears this answer from the vicar-general - or rather he does not believe that it comes from a man; it seems to him a voice resounding from heaven. "There is," said Staupitz, " no true repentance but that which begins in the love of God and of righteousness. That which some fancy to be the end of repentance is only its beginning. In order to be filled with the love of that which is good, you must first be filled with the love of God. If you wish to be really converted, do not follow these mortifications and penances. Love him who has first loved you."
       Luther listens, and listens again. These consolations fill him with a joy before unknown, and impart to him new light. "It is Jesus Christ," thinks he in his heart;" yes, it is Jesus Christ himself who comforts me so wonderfully by these sweet and salutary words."
       Still the work was not finished. The vicar-general had prepared it. God reserved the completion of it for a more humble instrument. The conscience of the young Augustine had not yet found repose. His health at last sunk under the exertions and stretch of his mind. He was attacked with a malady that brought him to the gates of the grave. It was then the second year of his abode at the convent. All his anguish and terrors returned in the prospect of death. His own impurity and God's holiness again disturbed his mind. One day when he was overwhelmed with despair, an old monk entered his cell, and spoke kindly to him. Luther opened his heart to him, and acquainted him with the fears that disquieted him. The respectable old man was incapable of entering into all his doubts, as Staupitz had done; but he knew his Credo, and he had found there something to comfort his own heart. He thought he would apply the same remedy to the young brother. Calling his attention therefore to the Apostle's creed, which Luther had learned in his early childhood at the school of Mansfeld, the old monk uttered in simplicity this article: "believe in the forgiveness of sins.'' These simple words, ingeniously recited by the pious brother at a critical moment, shed sweet consolation in the mind of Luther. "I believe," repeated he to himself on his bed of suffering, "I believe the remission of sins." "Ah," said the monk, "you must not only believe that David's or Peter's sins are forgiven: the devils believe that. The commandment of God is that we believe our own sins are forgiven." How sweet did this commandment appear to poor Luther! "Hear what St. Bernard says, in his discourse on the Annunciation," added the old brother. " The testimony which the Holy Ghost applies to your heart is this: 'Thy sins are forgiven thee.' "
       From that moment the light shone into the heart of the young monk of Erfurth. The word of grace was pronounced, and he believed it. He renounced the thought of meriting salvation - and trusted himself with confidence to God's grace in Christ Jesus. He did not perceive the consequence of the principle he admitted - he was still sincerely attached to the Church - and yet he was thenceforward independent of it; for he had received salvation from God himself; and Romish Catholicism was virtually extinct to him. From that hour Luther went forward - he sought in the writings of the Apostles and Prophets for all that might strengthen the hope which filled his heart. Every day he implored help from above, and every day new light was imparted to his soul.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Links To Christian Comedy

       Stand-up comedy is a comic style in which a comedian performs in front of a live audience, usually speaking directly to them. The performer is commonly known as a comicstand-up comiccomedianstand-up comedian, or simply a stand-up. In stand-up comedy, the comedian recites a grouping of humorous stories, jokes and one-liners typically called a monologue, explains pictures in funny way, routine or do act by using his imagination. Some stand-up comedians use propsmusic or magic tricks to "enhance" their acts. Stand-up comedy is often performed in corporate events, comedy clubsbars and pubsnightclubs, colleges and theaters. Outside live performance, stand-up is often distributed commercially via televisionDVDCD and the internet.

Comedy:
  • A Prairie Home - Garrison Keillor radio show
  • Anita Renfroe - "I’d rather people laugh because they relate to something I say than because I wrote a clever punchline. All my stuff is about my life – it’s real and it connects people – and that’s a wonderful thing."
  • Bean and Bailey - Hilarious, clean and inspirational Christian comedy.
  • Brad Stine - "Frantic, aggressive, and caustic with echoes of Robin Williams, Sam Kinison, and George Carlin..." - The New Yorker
  • Chonda Pierce - Hilarious insights on marriage.
  • David Ferrell - "His 100% clean show appeals to all ages and backgrounds."
    His 100% clean show appeals to all ages and backgrounds. - See more at: http://www.comediandavidferrell.com/#sthash.VtptfhXB.dpuf
  • Dennis Swanberg - laughter good for the soul
  • Good Mythical Morning - Rhett & Link daily morning talk show.
  • Jeff Allen -"For four decades, Jeff Allen has been performing in theaters, on television and radio, and as a keynote for corporate functions and fundraisers around the world."
  • Ken Davis - from Lighten Up ministries in Northern Minnesota
  • Kerri Pomarolli - "Kerri Pomarolli is one hilarious chick! She is inspiring and encouraging. The Big Apple audience loved her!" Donna of Lambs Theater
  • Leslie Townsend -"If you thought good, clean, comedy was a thing of the past - an evening with this skilled performer will set you straight."
  • Mark Lowry -storyteller, singer and author
  • Matt Jernigan - song parodies
  • Michael Jr. - stand up comedian and author of children's books
  • Stuff Christians Like - author and social media expert
  • Thor Ramsey -"After over twenty years as a standup comedian, I am now a teaching pastor at Canyon Lake Community Church."
  • Tim Hawkins - "Tim Hawkins has been meticulously crafting a no-bones, no-bull comedy show that entertains the entire family."

Links To Christian Journals and Magazines

Read Journals & Magazines:
  • Communique - An online literary and arts journal.
  • Image Journal of Arts and Religion - Published in English, this journal has many articles that speak to the traditions of faith and the arts.
  • Risen Magazine - "We want to make the world believe in something greater, to improve community, and to influence culture with faith, hope, and love."
  • Faith & Form - The Interfaith Journal on Religion, Art and Architecture
  • Ministry & Liturgy - Provides leadership resources for ministry and education. 
  • Hollywood Jesus -  Ranking, Reviewing the latest films for Christian web traffic.
  • Thunderstruck - A truck stop for the soul. Hosted by Steve Beard

Links To Christian Fine Arts Communities

CIVA is a big tent, where a wide range of people who love Christ and love art engage in conversation and activity. Comments by Cameron Anderson, Director of CIVA.
Christian Fine Arts Communities:
  • Abbey of the Arts - by Christine Valters Paintner, Ph.D. Transformative living through contemplative and expressive arts
  • Area 15 Community - engaging both professional and emerging artists with their communities in order to bring art events to the church
  • International Arts Movement - "Caring for culture through wrestling deeply with issues of art, faith and humanity."
  • the Kindlings - "We are anintergenerational, grassroots, relational movement of thoughtful creatives for whom God is of central importance"
  • Fallout - A urban art center located in Minneapolis
  • A Gathering of the Tribes - Cultural organization in lower, east side Manhattan
  • CIVA - stands for Christians in The Visual Arts network
  • Creative Paradox - "We believe that artists are "culture makers" who, when invested in, can impact a dehumanized world, turning it toward a world that is full of hope and fully human."
  • Freedom art project - "A visual tribute to God through the permanent exhibition of 66 monumental large scale paintings."
  • Asian Christian Art Association - "made possible through the efforts of Japanese theologian-artist, Masao Takenaka."
  • Cita - "Encouraging and Equipping Christians in Theater Arts to impact the world and further the kingdom of God- for over 20 years."
  • ECVA - The artists registry for the Episcopal Church Visual Arts
  • The Refinery Arts & Spirit Center - Nourishing spiritual growth through the arts
  • Dunamis Arts - website spear headed by Gene Johnson in Richmond, VA.
  • poasis - "Poasis is a loose collective of artists from around Vancouver Island seeking to understand the interplay and role of arts in the life of the worshiping Church."
  • Arts Centre Goup - Mentors Christian artists in the UK
  • Work of The People - A Visual Liturgy Library
  • Artists in Stained Glass - a web site developed for the promotion of Canadian stained glass artisits
  • Association of Consultants for Liturgical Space -Liturgical Design Consultants
  • British Society of Master Glass Painters - The British Society of Master Glass Painters
  • Churches! The Ecclesiological Society - "The Ecclesiological Society, founded in 1879, is the successor of the Cambridge Camden Society"
  • Stained Glass Association of America A professional trade association with international membership.
    a professional trade association whose membership consists of the finest architectural stained and decorative art glass artists and studios in the United States and around the world. - See more at: http://stainedglass.org/#sthash.6F6MyUeg.dpuf
    a professional trade association whose membership consists of the finest architectural stained and decorative art glass artists and studios in the United States and around the world. - See more at: http://stainedglass.org/#sthash.6F6MyUeg.dpuf
  • The Foundation for the Sacred Arts - "Foundation for Sacred Arts is a Catholic nonprofit organization founded to stimulate a vibrant renewal in the patronage and production of Christian sacred arts"

Monday, May 21, 2018

Links To Christian E-cards

       An E-card is similar to a postcard or greeting card, with the primary difference being that it is created using digital media instead of paper or other traditional materials. E-cards are made available by publishers usually on various Internet sites, where they can be sent to a recipient, usually via e-mail. It is also considered more environmentally friendly compared to traditional paper cards. E-card businesses are considered environmentally friendly because their carbon footprint is generally much lower compared to paper card companies because paper is not used in the end product.
       E-cards are digital "content", which makes them much more versatile than traditional greeting cards. For example, unlike traditional greetings, E-cards can be easily sent to many people at once or extensively personalized by the sender. Conceivably they could be saved to any computer or electronic device or even viewed on a television set, and digital video E-cards have begun emerging. 
      Typically an E-card sender chooses from an on-line catalog of E-cards made available on a publisher's web site. After selecting a card, the sender can personalize it to various degrees by adding a message, photo, or video. Finally the sender specifies the recipient's e-mail address and the web site delivers an e-mail message to the recipient on behalf of the sender.

More Free Christian E-cards:
 Paid Membership, Christian E-cards:

"Repent of Your Sins!"

"In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean Wilderness and began preaching. His message was, "Repent, of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near." Matthew 3:1,2 and "Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from it's place, unless you repent." Revelation 2:5
Description of the Christian Clip Art: text, St. John The Baptist, stained glass clip art, John points up to the heavens, halo, shepherd's staff, fur clothing, three different images, the eternal flame in lavender below
Scripture on second clip art is "Listen! It's the voice of someone shouting. "Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wastland for our God! Isaiah 40:3
The eternal flame in lavender for pastel or white
church web pages. It looks nice on the sidebar folks.
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 from Here As In Heaven by Elevation Worship
song "Shine A Light'

Friday, May 18, 2018

What Is Known of John's Birth and Early Training?

       He was of the priestly race by both parents, his father, Zacharias, being a priest of the course of Abijah, and Elisabeth a descendant of Aaron. Of the first thirty years of his life, the only history we have is contained in a single verse, Luke 1:80. But it is a reasonable presumption that he received the Jewish ecclesiastical training of that period. He was the chosen forerunner of the Messiah (Luke 1:76). Dwelling alone in the desert region westward of the Dead Sea, he prepared himself for his work by discipline and constant prayer. One of his instructors, Banus (mentioned by Josephus, the Jewish historian), tells how he lived with John in the desert, eating the sparse food and bathing frequently by day and night. At last (about A. D. 25) John came forth from his hermit-like seclusion in the wild mountainous tract in Judea lying beyond the desert and the Dead Sea, and took up the work of his real office, preaching repentance and baptism, and attracting great multitudes. 

The Hope of Israel . . .

"Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake,
these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and
everlasting contempt. Those who have insight will shine brightly
 like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead
 the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever."
 Daniel 12:2,3
Description of Christian Clip Art: prophecy about the resurrection of the saints in Christ, medallion with the feet of Christ at the top raising from the empty tomb, clouds, O or medallion from an old manuscript, white background
Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,
"Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out
 of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land
of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have
opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up
out of your graves" Ezekiel 37:12,13
"But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again!
 Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy!
 For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place
of the dead! Isaiah 26:19
"I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;
 I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another.
 How my heart yearns within me!" Job 19: 25-27
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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Early Religion

      The Bible was once compared to a great tree, with its books as branches, its chapters as twigs, and the verses as leaves. A minister, addressing a Sunday-school gathering, announced his text as "on the 39th branch, the 3d twig, and the 17th leaf." He said to his great audience, "Try to find my text." A little lad who was in the pulpit, owing to the crowded state of the church, answered "Malachi, third chapter, and seventeenth verse." The minister said, "Right, my boy; take my place and read it out." It so happened the boy's brother had died recently, and the sight of the little curly-headed lad, only eleven years old, with his little black gloves reading in silvery tones, "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels," brought tears to many eyes. The minister laid his hand on the boy and said, "Well done; I hope one day you will be a minister." The lad was Henry Drummond, afterward the loved teacher of thousands in America and Great Britain. 

Day By Day Living

These words found in the Church
Advocate are by Adelaide A. Proctor:

Day By Day Living
Do not look at life's long sorrow;
See how small each moment's pain;
God will help thee for to-morrow.
So each day begin again.
Every hour that fleets so slowly
Has its task to do or bear;
Luminous the crown and holy.
When each gem is set with care.
Do not linger with regretting.
Or for passing hours despond;
Nor, thy daily toil forgetting.
Look too eagerly beyond.
Hours are golden links, God's token,
Reaching heaven; but, one by one,
Take them, lest the chain be broken
Ere the pilgrimage be done.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sacred Heart Index

Above a samples of Sacred Heart, Christian Clip Art found in my collection.
        The devotion to the Sacred Heart (also known as the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sacratissimum Cor Iesu in Latin) is one of the most widely practiced and well-known Roman Catholic devotions, taking Jesus Christ′s physical heart as the representation of his divine love for humanity.
       This devotion is predominantly used in the Roman Catholic Church and in a modified way among some high-church Anglicans, Lutherans and Eastern Catholics. The devotion is especially concerned with what the Church deems to be the long suffering love and compassion of the heart of Christ towards humanity. The popularization of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a Roman Catholic nun from France, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Jesus during a series of apparitions to her between 1673 and 1675, and later, in the 19th century, from the mystical revelations of another Roman Catholic nun in Portugal, Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart, a religious of the Good Shepherd, who requested in the name of Christ that Pope Leo XIII consecrate the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Catholic mysticism, particularly with Saint Gertrude the Great.
Illustrations and Graphics Under This Theme:
  1. Sacrado Corason De Jesus
  2. Sepia and Greyscale Prints of The Sacred Heart
  3. Sacred Heart Symbols
  4. St. Augustine of Hippo stained glass design
  5. The Sacred Heart Burns Bright
  6. "Sacratissimum Cor Jesu" 
  7. Antique Sacred Heat Scraps 
  8. Vintage postcard of the Sacred Heart
  9. The Sacred Heart and Rainbow
  10. Christ Bleeds for The World
This page last updated May 14th, 2018. 

Have We a Historical Records of the Deaths of the Apostles?

       The records of their end are found in traditions preserved by the early Church. Matthew was martyred in Ethiopia; Mark in Alexandria, Egypt; Luke was hanged on an olive tree in Greece; John, after many perils, died a natural death in Ephesus; Peter was crucified in Rome, head downwards; James the Great beheaded at Jerusalem; James the Less beaten to death with a fuller's club in the temple grounds; Philip hanged at Hieropolis; Bartholomew flayed alive; Thomas slain with a lance at Coromandel; Jude killed with arrows; Simeon crucified in Persia; Andrew crucified; Matthias stoned and beheaded; Barnabas stoned to death by Jews at Salamis; Paul beheaded at Rome under Nero.

Symbols of the church...

Description of Christian Clip Art: traditional symbols of the church, stained glass clip art, scroll, spinning wheel, ruler etc...

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A Heart Cry

A Heart Cry
It is thy hand, my God !
My sorrow comes from thee;
I bow beneath thy chastening rod,
'Tis love that bruises me.

I would not murmur, Lord,
Before thee I am dumb:
Lest I should breathe one murmuring word,
To thee for help I come.

My God! thy name is Love,
A Father's hand is thine;
With tearful eye, I look above,
And cry, " Thy will be mine!"

I know thy will is right,
Though it may seem severe;
Thy path is still unclouded light,
Though dark it may appear.

Jesus for me hath died;
Thy Son thou didst not spare;
His pierced hands, his bleeding side,
Thy love for me declare.

Here my poor heart can rest;
My God! it clings to thee;
Thy will is love, thine end is blest,
All work for good to me.

Vintage postcard of the Sacred Heart


Description of Christian Clip Art: text, "Behold this Heart which has loved men so much, that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, to testify to them its love.", Sacred Heart symbol with cross and flame, vintage postcard, passion flowers and roses, wreath, crown of thorns

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Why Was Twelve the Number of the Apostles?

       All of the twelve disciples were Jews. Their number was doubtless fixed upon after the analogy of the twelve tribes. They were mostly Galileans, taken from the common people, and some at least had been disciples of John the Baptist. (See Matt. 12:25; John 1:35; Matt. 19:28.)

Carl Bloch's "Sermon On The Mount"

Description of The Painting: painting of Jesus preaching by Carl Bloch, large crowds of people, faint halo above Christ's head, rocks on the mountain

Bloch was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and studied with Wilhelm Marstrand at the Royal Danish Academy of Art (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi) there. Bloch's parents wanted their son to enter a respectable profession - an officer in the Navy. This, however, was not what Carl wanted. His only interest was drawing and painting, and he was consumed by the idea of becoming an artist. He went to Italy to study art, passing through the Netherlands, where he became acquainted with the work of Rembrandt, which became a major influence on him.

Carl Heinrich Bloch was a devout, orthodox Christian whose biblical works were primarily commissioned by the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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How Was the Apostles' Creed Formulated?

       According to one ancient writer who quotes from tradition, it was Peter who contributed the first sentence - "I believe in God the Father Almighty"; John added - "Maker of heaven and earth"; James - "And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord"; Andrew - "Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary"; Philip - "Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified dead and buried"; Thomas - "He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead"; Bartholomew - "He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty"; Matthew - "From whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead." The other clauses were contributed by James (son of Alpheus), Simon Zelotes, Jude and Matthias. It should be remembered, however, that neither Luke nor any ecclesiastical writer before the fifth century makes mention of an assembly of the apostles to formulate a creed, and the early fathers never claimed that the apostles framed it. Its date and the circumstances of its origin are uncertain. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Choir In Gold

"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and
 singing hymns of praise to God..." Acts 16:25
Description of Christian Clip Art: choir, sheet music, hymns, singing, group chorus, gold choir robes, scriptures about choirs, singing, lips, faces Sunday morning choir

"After singing a hymn, they went out to
the Mount of Olives." Mark 14:16
"He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to out God,
 Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD." Psalm 40:3
"I will sing to the Lord all my life, I will sing praise to
 my God as long as I live" Psalm 104:33
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The Choir In Green

"You strum away on your harps like David and
 improvise on musical instruments." Amos 6:5

Description of Christian Clip Art: choir, sheet music, hymns, singing, group chorus, green choir robes, scriptures about choirs, singing, lips, faces Sunday morning choir

"Break forth, shout joyfully together, You waste places of Jerusalem,
For the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem."

"My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast,
I will sing and make music." Psalm 57:7
"Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty:
 Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations..." Revelation 15: 3-4
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The Choir In Wine

"Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry?
 Let him sing psalms" James 5:13
Description of Christian Clip Art: choir, sheet music, hymns, singing, group chorus, wine or plum choir robes, scriptures about choirs, singing, lips, faces Sunday morning choir

"When the morning stars sang together, and all
the sons of God shouted for joy?" Job 38:7
"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands." Psalms 100:1
"Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song,
and his praise in the congregation of saints." Psalms 149:1
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Monday, May 14, 2018

The Choir In Navy

"Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.
Sing and make music from your heart to the LORD..." Ephesians 5:19
Description Of Illustration: choir, sheet music, hymns, singing, group chorus, navy choir robes, scriptures about choirs, singing, lips, faces Sunday morning choir

"Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: for he is highly exalted.
 Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea." Exodus 15:1
He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters,
 in the assembly I will sing your praises." Hebrews 2:12
"My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you -
I whom you have delivered." Psalm 71:23
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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Is Being Tempted a Sin?

       The sin does not consist in the temptation itself, but in inviting it, or yielding to it. Jesus himself was tempted "in all things as we are; yet without sin." Doubtless Satan, in the passage to which you refer, knew that Jesus had been fasting and so tried to tempt him to turn stones into bread. Again, believing that the desire for worldly power might influence him, he tried to tempt him by offering him the dominion of the whole earth, but again failed. It is not strictly correct to say that one cannot be tempted unless he has wrong desires. The tempter is always ready with his lures; but, if we rebuke our own desires and repel the temptation, asking divine strength to do this, the danger will pass. After conversion comes regeneration, and we are enabled to overcome sin. We may still be conscious of a struggle within, but we get strength to stand firm against it. The truly converted man is no longer the slave or bondman of sin, but is kept day by day from its power ever again having dominion over him.
 "Remind Me, Dear Lord" sung by 
Alison Krauss and the Cox Family

Is Trouble Sent As a Punishment?

       The Bible does not teach that all trouble comes from God as a punishment. It recognizes the fact that trouble is in the world, and, while it has some very definite things to say about it it does not attempt to give a complete solution of the whole problem. Hebrews 12:5-11 declares that God does in some instances, discipline or "chasten," those whom he loves, but this could hardly be called punishment. (See also Deu. 8:5; Ps. 94:12; John 15:2.) Sometimes, however, calamity is a definite punishment, as in many cases during the history of Israel - and particularly in their exile. The book of Job is a beautiful explanation of a form of suffering which has the double purpose of disciplining the soul and glorifying God. Nothing can bring such credit to God as the demonstration made by a soul that trusts and praises him in the midst of misfortune. Paul and the other apostles glorified in their opportunities to suffer for Jesus' sake. They rejoiced "that they were counted worthy to suffer shame in his name" (Acts 5:41). They felt that he had borne so much for them that they wanted to bear something for him. The Bible nowhere encourages people to dodge suffering; it exhorts them to bear it, while at the same time it exhorts them to lessen the sufferings of others, and help them bear their woes. See: James 1 12-5 ; I Pet. 4:12-19 and Gal. 6:2.