A friend of ours sent us an email invitation to a special prayer meeting being held Wednesday night, April 17, at Tremont Temple Baptist Church, located in downtown Boston. I just got this, so by the time I post, it’ll be “tonight.” The email was originally sent from the Pastor of Tremont Temple, Denton Lotz, and then forwarded to us.
We wanted to share this because of what the invitation says … what it really says … about our hope, faith, and courage … in spite of circumstances which may surround us.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Members of Tremont Temple Baptist Church! “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of he Almighty You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day …” (Psalm 91:1) A great tragedy has come to Boston. The terror of bombs going off at the Boston Marathon, the tragic loss of lives, the destruction, the terror that struck the heart of the people of Boston reminds us again of a world without God and without hope. Yet, as Christians we are a people of hope. We believe that Jesus Christ has overcome all the powers of evil and darkness. We believe that in Christ the power of God is present and gives us power to overcome. We will not be defeated or terrorized by a few evil people. We will put our hope and faith in the God who is victorious on a cross! Therefore, tomorrow, Wednesday evening, we will continue to have our regular prayer meeting at 6:30. It will be a Special Prayer Meeting to pray for the families who are mourning the death of their loved ones. We will pray for the recovery of the wounded. We will pray for the solace of those in fear and still suffering. We will pray for Boston and that peace and order will return. You are invited to bring friends to this Special Service of Prayer to be held at 6:30 in Currie Chapel! May the Peace of Christ be with you! Denton Lotz, Pastor”
After I read the invitation, I found the Church’s website, to gain information about the church. Loved the website, the videos of the choir, their mission and ministry outreaches … and then, I read the history of the church. And, boy did I get a history lesson!
I began to think, to realize again, what a large part of our nation’s history churches have been. I know, we are the “church,” the body of Christ. Yet, I began to think about how large a role the actual church buildings have played in our history. Think about it … before there were city buildings, often, the only place large enough to hold a public meeting was the church, so often located at the very center of town. Yes, the symbolism rings … at one time, the church was at the very center of our lives, just like our town squares. How many of you can remember when the church was called “the meeting place,” or, a more modern slang (in my time), when you were going to church, you were “going to meeting.”
In many towns and cities, like Boston and Hartford, the seeds of so many “movements” were either planted or cultivated in the church building, during these public meetings. I remember walking the “History Trail” through Boston, and being aware of how many churches were included in the walk. And, of standing inside the Old North Church … looking up at the church tower, thinking of lanterns, and how these churches are still sounding “warnings” today …
A few notes from the “Our Story” page at Tremont Temple:
“Tremont Temple Baptist Church has a rich history that has made it a leader in the Boston area for social justice, evangelism, and human rights. In the 1830s the struggle for social justice was seen in the fight for the abolition of slavery. In 1838 a group of men led by Timothy Gilbert started the Baptist Free Church. It was “free” in that there was no rent charged for pews, but more than that it was for the freedom of all people, being the first integrated church in America. A group of 82 charter members organized the church in 1839.
Throughout its history many famous individuals spoke or performed here, including the singer Jenny Lind. Abraham Lincoln spoke here. The first reading in Boston of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 took place here. Charles Dickens read for the first time in Boston his famous Christmas Carol here. Dwight L. Moody called the church “America’s pulpit.”
Tremont Temple is now in a period of renewal. We are united in our efforts to become a church that holds together the Biblical concerns of mission and evangelism. At the same time we are concerned about mirroring the Kingdom of God and thus our concern for social justice issues.
God has blessed Tremont Temple throughout our long history. We are aware, however, that history will not save us. Rather, it is our commitment to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ that makes our church relevant to the city of Boston. We exist for the sole purpose of glorifying God and making Christ known to the people of Boston and the surrounding area. We have always been a church that welcomes all people. We are pleased that God has places in our midst an international community. What a joy to worship with the people of God from every continent and many nations. We invite you to join us for worship and experience the warm international fellowship that we have become!”
P.S. Hey, I just thought of something, in regard to church being so important in our daily lives “so long ago” … Growing up, I went to school, home, church, school, home, church … every now and then, get to go to the store or shopping (not often) … then, school, home, church, school, home, church … Today … Guess what? school, home, church, school, home, church,every now and then go to store (mostly gas station) or shopping … then school, home, church … I know I am grateful for the first … maybe I become more grateful for the second …
We hold to our promise to share only good news here, to never “air” any political views … to provide a platform for praise, not politics. As you know, we often feature quotes from U.S. Presidents, and try tofeature great quote collections on occasion. We will be doing more ofthat in the future, as the response to quotes is always encouraging. A friend just sent us this short video of excerpts from Ronald Reaganspeeches, where President Reagan talks about Jesus, the Bible, faith, and prayer-and their place in American history and our daily lives. Carol was playing this, and I was in another room, but I recognized the voice … Please enjoy this video, and remember that this was not that long ago, it was in our country, it was addressed to the American people, and this was our President … speaking while in office …
Just when I think I know about courage and faith …
Here is a follow-up to our last post about the ten Boom family … We wanted you to see, and learn, for yourself, what the ten Boom family did, and how their legacy is being kept alive through theTen Boom Museum. The link below will take you directly to thehome page of the “tenboom.org” website, where you will actually beable to take a virtual tour of the museum, the actual “Hiding Place,”where over 800 Jews were saved from certain death through the courage andfaith of the ten Boom family. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn about the family, and to share in this legacy work.
Please click the link below to go directly to the website:
We are honored to feature this guest post from Dr. Mike Evans. Dr. Evans is the Executive Director of The Corrie ten Boom Fellowship, as well as Chairman of the Board of the Corrie ten Boom Foundation in Ha’arlem, Holland, which operates the ten Boom Holocaust Museum. He also founded The Jerusalem Prayer Team, which is a direct outreach of the Corrie ten Boom Fellowship. He founded Churches United with Israel, Inc., the Middle East Media Group, the Evans Institute of Middle East Studies, The Jerusalem World News and TimeWorthy Books.
This is a post Dr. Evans sent me to recognize an important anniversary, and it gives us an opportunity to introduce to many of you his work, especially in regard to the ten Boom Holocaust Museum. Growing up, in our home, Corrie ten Boom was a hero of the faith, and I can always remember a copy of “The Hiding Place,” and other books by Corrie ten Boom, being on our bookshelves. She was one of Mom’s most admired people, and authors. Enjoy the post, and please, look around at the various resourses you’ll be able to enjoy, as well:
Here’s my latest article published on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze. It is about the amazing ten Boom family and their love and sacrifice for the Jewish people. It was 69 years ago this coming Sunday that Casper ten Boom died after spending 10 days in prison. Please take a few moments to read the article, and if you could give positive feedback or comments, it will help us expand our influence through this outlet. Also, you may want to forward this to other family and friends who love the Jewish people. I believe they will enjoy reading this wonderful story. Forgotten Heroes | TheBlaze.com.
Be inspired by today’s stories of “Sauls” being transformed into “Pauls.”
“A racehorse can run just as fast in either direction.” Russell S., a VOM contact in Colombia
Those who are most passionately opposed to the gospel can become the most effective in sharing Christ’s love.
God chose Saul, a persecutor of Christians, and transformed him into a passionate preacher of the gospel who later became known as Paul. Today, God still calls out to persecutors of his children and changes them into preachers of his truth.
The angry men throwing stones at Stephen wanted a witness’s approval to kill him. So they took off their coats and dropped them at the feet of a young man named Saul, who was in agreement with the execution of the Jesus-follower.
Saul went on to lead the charge against the Jewish apostates… until he met the one he was fighting against.
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Jesus asked. Saul’s life was changed. Instead of fighting against the name of Jesus, he began preaching and praying and healing in it.
God chose Saul, a persecutor of Christians, and transformed him into a passionate preacher of the gospel who later became known as Paul. Today, God still calls out to persecutors of his children and changes them into preachers of his truth.
Read the stories of seven such men in VOM’s new book, SAUL TO PAUL.
The seven men in this book tried to destroy the Bride of Christ, but they ultimately succumbed to the power of the Holy Spirit. Their stories illuminate the struggle of the persecuted church and show that our sovereign God can incline even the most hardened heart toward his own.
This book will encourage you to pray for persecuted Christians and help you view “enemies” as people who might someday be a great asset to Christ’s kingdom.
David Brainerd: The very name brings so many images to mind. Courage, bravery, faith, prayer, service, and unselfishness. I have no doubt I should have mentioned prayer first. A man who devoted so much time to prayer and intersession. No wonder there were so many miracles. There are so many stories of his miraculous missionary ministry. A life devoted to prayer, and so often alone and against all odds, he effectively brought the Gospel where it had never been heard before, to peoples whom language he did not even know. So many stories and images. His suffering and service, while battling terminal illness, giving his life to preach the Gospel. No wonder his favorite message, his favorite Bible passage, was Isaiah 53. Here in New England, and especially “down” in southern New England, it seems every Pastor has a favorite David Brainerd story.
My own personal favorite, and I will paraphrase as best I can from memory, was when David Brainerd was scheduled to preach to a large group of Indians, and as was usually the case, he did not know, nor speak their language. His interpreter showed up completely and totally, “falling down” drunk, almost unable to speak coherently. But, there was no one else available who spoke both English and the Native Indian language. Somehow, the interpreter managed to stay awake and standing long enough to stammer through the message. What happened? God’s Word was so powerful that many, many of the Indians came forward to accept Christ as their Savior and Lord. My first knowledge of David Brainerd came through the many references made to him in E.B. Bounds’ many books on prayer. David’s story, and the stories about his life as missionary, astounded me. Please be advised, that any book about his life and his work, will fill you with the same amazement, and encouragement. In fact, I would go so far as to say that any one that is planning and wanting and willing to serve others on Christ’s behalf, regardless of the office or capacity, should read all he can about the life of David Brainerd, and especially his diary, which he devoutly kept throughout his missionary life. Both his Diary and Journal (which he kept from June 19, 1745, to June 19, 1746) are full of ministry and miracles that read like The Acts of the Apostles. The Life and Diary of David Brainerd has had a life-transforming effect upon many, motivating them to become missionaries, evangelists, preachers, and people of prayer and power. John Wesley said, “Let every preacher read carefully over the life of David Brainerd.” He is remembered not only as the great Apostle to the North American Indians, but also as a chief source of inspiration in the lives of thousands who have been challenged from ease and selfishness to lives of holiness and sacrifice, as they have prayed and wept over his Journal. Everyone should read about David Brainerd. Everyone. Oh, and then compare your hardships to his. He is called “The pioneer of modern missionary work.” Most of the biographies condense like this: Missionary to the American Indians in New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. Born in Connecticut in 1718, he died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-nine, on October 9, 1747, while staying at the home of Jonathan Edwards, in Northampton, Massachusetts. Jonathan Edwards preached his funeral sermon and published the diary which David had kept. David Brainerd’s life reached out and touched the whole world, challenging more people into Christian service than perhaps any other man that ever lived. The mere mention of the name, Brainerd, automatically triggers the mind to think of dedication in a way that perhaps has never been equaled. His ministry to the Indians was contemporary with Wesley, Whitefield and Edwards as they ministered to the English-speaking people during the period called in English and American history the “Great Awakening.” Brainerd’s centuries-spanning influence for revival is positive proof God can and will use any vessel, no matter how fragile and frail, if it is only sold out to souls and to Jesus. “His story,” said J. M. Sherwood, “has done more to develop and mold the spirit of modern missions, and to fire the heart of the Christian Church, than that of any man since the apostolic age.”
David Brainerd was born in Haddam, Connecticut on April 20, 1718, the sixth of nine children of Hezekiah and Dorothy (Mason) Brainerd. His father was a local justice of the peace, and both David’s parents were Christians. His father died when he was nine, and the death of his mother in March, 1732 brought additional great grief to 14 year old David. By 1739, he was setting aside whole days of secret fasting and almost incessant prayer as he strove for acceptance with God. On July 12, 1739, at 21 years old, he returned to his secret place of prayer, where God spoke to him as the day dawned, and he had a glorious salvation experience.
From his youth, David Brainerd was frail and sickly. By August, 1740, he was weak and spitting up blood. Consumption or tuberculosis of the lungs was the plague of colonial New England, and would plaque David every day thereafter, for the rest of his life. He was very intelligent, and would attend Yale for a time. On April 19, 1741, Ebenezer Pembertson visited Yale and gave a stirring address about missionary work to the Indians. The next day, on his 23rd birthday, Brainerd vowed “to be wholly the Lord’s, to be forever devoted to his service.” On July 29, 1742, he was licensed to preach as a Presbyterian at Danbury, Connecticut. Brainerd’s first sermon was on July 30th at Southbury, Connecticut, using I Peter 4:8 as his text and his first message to the Indians was soon after, on August 12, near the Connecticut-New York border. He traveled as an itinerant preacher for several months. David would travel over 15,000 miles on horseback, often in great pain. He preached from place to place that first winter, then served as a supply preacher at East Hampton, Long Island, New York for six weeks. On his last Sunday there, March 13th, although he could hardly stand up, he preached for an hour and a half. The next day, he left for work among the Indians. He said later, “I never, since I began to preach, could feel any freedom to enter into other men’s labours and settle down in the ministry where the gospel was preached before.” He felt he had to preach where Christ was not named nor known. He left for his life’s work March 25, 1743.
Here is one story of many, this one from his first visit to Indian tribes on the Forks of the Delaware River: Arriving the night before he would begin his work, he camped just outside the Indian settlement. He did not know, until the next morning (when he safely entered the Indian village) that he was being watched by warriors who were sent to kill him that night. The warriors made their move, approaching David’s tent, when they saw their target, on his knees, praying. Then, they saw a rattlesnake crawl up to David’s side, and lift up his head to strike. David did not even see the snake, even when the rattlesnake’s forked tongue almost touched his face. Then, suddenly, for no reason, the snake froze, and then quickly slithered away into the woods. David had no idea he was inches from sure death-one way or the other. However, the Indians ran back to the village and proclaimed that “The Great Spirit is with the paleface!” And, they gave David Brainerd a prophet’s welcome. His short life with the Indians would be full of miraculous interventions of God on his behalf, and of the great ministry and revivals that would follow. He was frequently in distress for lack of suitable food, exposed to hunger and cold, lost in the forests, caught in storms with no shelter available, obliged to ford raging streams and to spend the night in the woods, in peril from wild beasts and wild savages. He realized, however, that he had at most a year or two longer to live, and concluded, after much struggle of soul, that he should “burn out to the last” as a traveling missionary. Falling on his knees in his resignation, he cried: “Farewell friends and earthly comforts; farewell to the dearest, the very dearest of them all. I will spend my life to my latest moments in caves and dens of the earth, if the kingdom of Christ may thereby be advanced.”
After five years of arduous travel, manifold hardships, and almost constant pain, David Brainerd, spitting blood and almost delirious with fever, stumbled down the road to Northampton to die in the home of Jonathan Edwards. He was not yet 30, but he had no regrets. “Now that I am dying,” he exclaimed, “I declare that I would not for all the world have spent my life otherwise!”
From his diary: “Here am I, send me; send me to the ends of the earth; send me to the rough, the savage pagans of the wilderness; send me from all that is called comfort on earth; send me even to death itself, if it be but in Thy service, and to promote Thy kingdom.” The last words written in his diary, on Oct. 2, 1749: “My soul was this day, at turns, sweetly set on God: I longed to be with him, that I might behold his glory. I felt sweetly disposed to commit all to him, even my dearest friends, my dearest flock, my absent brother, and all my concerns for time and eternity. O that his kingdom might come in the world; that they might all love and glorify him, for what he is in himself; and that that blessed Redeemer might “see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied! Oh, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Amen.”
The 53rd chapter of Isaiah was exceedingly precious to David Brainerd. When preaching to the Indians, his favorite theme was Isaiah 53. And, when he came to the end of his life, the last entry he made in his Diary contained a quotation from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah.
His last words were “He will come, and will not tarry. I shall soon be in glory; soon be with God and His angels.”
After spending a great deal of time studying the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I have gained even more respect and admiration for his person, and his work. Two things about him have really struck me, as I’ve listened to his speeches and interviews: How great a speaker he was, and perhaps even more, how brave, how courageous he was-and had to be, every day. Let’s also remember that, yes, he was a Pastor. And, a father. And, a husband. And … a brother. Ted “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.”
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
“The time is always right to do what is right.” “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”
“A right delayed is a right denied.”
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”
“War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.”
“Seeing is not always believing.”
“The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
“Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”
Phillips Brooks was a descendent of the earliest Puritans of Massachusetts. He studied at Harvard, taught for a short time in Virginia, and was ordained in the Episcopal Church about five years before the American Civil War began. He was one of the most eloquent preachers of his time, and due to his great oratorical skills, he served in prominent churches in Philadelphia and Boston (Trinity Church). He was for many years an overseer and preacher of Harvard University. Brooks’ close ties with Harvard University led to the creation of Phillips Brooks House in Harvard Yard. On January 23, 1900, it was dedicated to serve “the ideal of piety, charity, and hospitality.” In 1877 Brooks published a course of lectures on preaching, which he had delivered at the theological school of Yale University, and which are an expression of his own experience. In 1878 he published his first volume of sermons, and from time to time issued other volumes. Phillips Brooks was introduced to Helen Keller, when she was young, by Anne Sullivan. Brooks has been given credit for introducing Helen to Christianity. Toward the end of his life, Brooks was chosen bishop of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts. His entire life, he had touched many lives by his preaching as well as his personal Christian walk. In addition to his moral stature, he was a man of great physical bearing as well, standing six feet four inches tall.
As a boy, Phillips’ parents had hymn-sings on Sunday evenings, and by the time Phillips went to college, he knew over two hundred hymns. Many of these would be included in his sermons, and Phillips wrote poems and hymns himself. Today Phillips is best remembered as the writer of the great Christmas hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” which was written in l868. His inspiration for writing the classic hymn? It was a Christmas Eve he spent in Bethlehem some years before, which, as you could imagine, left a lasting impression on his mind. He was inspired by the view of Bethlehem from the hills of Palestine, especially at night. Brooks loved children, and wrote this song for the children in his Sunday School when he was rector of Philadelphia’s Holy Trinity Church. Lewis Redner, who was the organist and Sunday School superintendent for the church, wrote the music. Brooks loved children and would often write letters to them. That explains why, when Brooks died on January 23, 1893, a five year old was upset because she had not seen her preacher friend for several days. Her mother told her Bishop Brooks had gone to heaven, and the child exclaimed, “Oh, Mama, how happy the angels will be.”
These words are placed over his tomb: “A preacher of righteousness and hope, majestic in stature, impetuous in utterance, rejoicing in the truth, unhampered by the bonds of church or state, he brought by his life and doctrine fresh faith to a people, fresh meanings to ancient creeds.”
I am working on a short biography of Matthew Henry, the great writer, whose Bible commentaries are still being used today, and still, over 300 years later, are popular and considered standard for Biblical study. Here is another figure from Christian history, who also served as a Pastor. I find it striking now, looking at the brief histories I’ve written or gathered, of great men of the faith, that I never mentioned as part of their initial introduction, that they served as Pastors.
I came across this story, taken from Matthew Henry’s diary, which was written shortly after he had been robbed. I have to share this with you. It reminds me of something about what was thought about the early Christians, who had been converted through the preaching of the Apostle Paul: The amazing thing about these new converts was not that they did not steal anymore … it was that they did not want to steal anymore. Here’s the short story from Matthew Henry:
“Many years ago, Matthew Henry, a well-known Bible scholar, was once robbed of his wallet. Knowing that it was his duty to give thanks in everything, he meditated on this incident and recorded in his diary the following:
‘Let me be thankful, first, because he never robbed me before; second, because although he took my purse, he did not take my life; third, because although he took all I possessed, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.'”
Before I close, please allow me to share just a few short quotes from Matthew Henry:
THOSE THAT WILL NOT YIELD TO THE FEAR OF GOD SHALL BE MADE TO YIELD TO THE FEAR OF EVERYTHING ELSE.
WE STAND NO LONGER THAN GOD HOLDS US AND GO NO FARTHER THAN HE CARRIES US.
IT IS BETTER TO BE SERVING GOD IN SOLITUDE THAN SERVING SIN IN A MULTITUDE.