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« on: March 27, 2011, 01:55:42 PM »

March 27, 1549
Elizabeth Dirks Drowned as Anabaptist


Elizabeth Dirks was a trailblazer and a woman of great courage. Raised in a nunnery in East Friesland, she learned to read Latin and read the Bible through and through. She became certain that monasticism was not the way taught in Scripture. With the help of milkmaids she escaped and became a follower of peaceful Menno Simons. She was one of the first Reformation women ministers, probably a deaconess.
In 1549, Catholic authorities arrested her. When they found her Bible they knew they had the person they were looking for. Mistakenly, they thought she was the wife of Menno Simons. When they tried to get her to take an oath at her interrogation, she refused, saying Christ had taught that our yes should mean yes and our no mean no.
The record of her inquisition shows that the examiners asked her to inform on those whom she had taught. Knowing that this would lead to their arrest, she refused.
"No, my Lords, do not press me on this point. Ask me about my faith and I will answer you gladly."
"We will make it so tough that you will tell us," they threatened.
When she would not reveal who had baptized her or whom she had taught, they questioned her beliefs. She insisted that church buildings were not the house of God, for our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. She denied that the New Testament spoke of the bread and wine as a sacrament but rather as the Lord's Supper. Asked if she were saved by baptism, she replied, "No, my Lords. All the water in the sea cannot save me. All my salvation is in Christ, who has commanded me love the Lord, my God, and my neighbor as myself." She denied that priests have authority to forgive sins--only Christ.
Still refusing to reveal who had baptized her, she was taken to the torture chamber and said, "So far we have treated you gently. Since you won't confess, we will put you to the torture."
A man named Mr. Hans applied screws to a thumb and fingers until blood spurted from under her fingernails. Still she wouldn't give away her friends, but her agony was so great that she cried aloud to Christ and received relief. So they lifted her skirt to apply torture to her shins. She pleaded that she had never allowed anyone to touch her body and they promised to respect her.
Then they crushed her leg bones with screws until she fainted. The men thought she was dead, but she came to and assured them she was not. Realizing that they could get nothing out of her, the authorities condemned her to die. Rather than burn her, as was customary, they tied her in a bag and drowned her on this day, March 27, 1549.
Bibliography:
1.   Bainton, Roland H. Women of the Reformation in Germany and Italy. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg, 1971.
2.   Williams, George Huntston. The Radical Reformation. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Westminster Press, 1962.

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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2011, 05:18:48 PM »

Sister Yvette,

Thanks for sharing this with us. I'm reminded of Voice of the Martyrs. This should remind us to give thanks that we still have freedom and safety in our faith. Even now, many Christians around the world do not enjoy this freedom and safety, so I hope that we don't take it for granted.

Love In Christ,
Tom
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2011, 09:08:38 AM »

March 28, 1911
Off the Cuff Decision Sparked Boreham Series


When two such notable evangelistic workers as Billy Graham and Ravi Zecharias commend the writings of a man, he must have had things to say that were truly worthwhile. That man was F. W. Boreham, a Baptist pastor who once held the record as Australia's most prolific author. Many of Boreham's essays take small things as their starting point to display the goodness of God.

Boreham was born in England in 1871, on the day that the Franco-Prussian war ended. His Christian family reared him in the knowledge of God and he was blessed to sit under many of the notable evangelistic preachers of his day, among whom were Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A. T. Pierson, and Dwight L. Moody. He learned the art of speaking well.

As a young minister-in-training, Boreham was sent to fill a pulpit in the village of Theydon Bois. There he met Stella. Finding that she was without an escort to the village one day, he asked permission to accompany her. Her hat blew off several times in the heavy wind and he suggested he tie it on her with his handkerchief. She agreed. "We saved the hat, but we lost our hearts," he wrote in his autobiography. Stella became his wife after he wrote to her from a pastorate he had accepted in New Zealand.

After many years in Mosgiel, New Zealand, Boreham transferred to a church in Tasmania. He began to publish his sermons as essays: The Luggage of Life, Mountains in the Mist, and about ninety other titles. These books brought him an international reputation. On this day, March 28, 1911, while pastoring in Tasmania, he began preaching a series of sermons that won more souls to Christ than any of his other themes.

The idea was completely spontaneous. He was beginning another Sunday evening series to run on alternate weeks. He saw that he needed something to draw the people in the intervals. He had read a biography of Luther that week and was impressed that the Reformation sprang from a single text taken from the Bible book of Romans.

As the final hymn came to a close on the morning of March 21, 1911, Boreham rose and surprised himself by saying that the next week he would commence a second series titled Texts that Made History. " 'Next Sunday evening,' I added with the air of a man who had laid his plans weeks beforehand, 'I shall deal with Martin Luther's Text!'"

Boreham was as good as his word, searching out the scripture texts that had inspired the lives of great men such as Luther, Cromwell, Hannington and over 120 others (not to mention fictional characters such as Robinson Crusoe). This wonderful series was printed under various titles but Kregel has now gathered them into several volumes under the title Life Verses.

Boreham, who had lost his right foot under a train, often fell and broke bones. To read his cheery books, you'd never realize how much pain he endured. In addition to his religious work, he wrote regularly for two secular papers, The Hobart Mercury and The Melbourne Age.

Bibliography:

1.Boreham, F. W. A Pathway of Roses; an autobiography. 1940.
2.---------------- Mountains in the Mist; Luggage of Life; The Golden Milestone; Cliffs of Opal; The Whisper of God; Dreams at Sunset; Life Verses; A Late Lark Singing; etc.
3.Manley, K. R. "Boreham, Frank William," in Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals; editor, Timothy Larsen. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
4.Pound, Geoff. "F. W. Boreham: The Public Theologian." http://www.bwa-baptist-heritage.org/sl-borhm.htm
5.Townsend, James. "F. W. Boreham; Essayist Extraordinaire." http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2001i/townsend.html.
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2011, 11:29:21 PM »

March 29, 1602
John Lightfoot Theologian and Hebrew Scholar

Imagine becoming the best Hebrew scholar in your nation without once speaking to a Jew. That is what John Lightfoot did. He may never even have seen a Jew, for they were barred from England until late in his life.

John Lightfoot was born on this day, March 29, 1602 in an England which was only just regaining the knowledge of Hebrew. Four hundred years before, King Edward I had kicked the Jews out of his nation. Many left manuscripts behind, which allowed scholars such as Roger Bacon to understand the ancient tongue. However, Hebrew studies were frowned upon by the church. Bacon himself was accused of using Hebrew to communicate with the devil.

Even as a youngster, John proved to be a natural-born scholar, especially good with Greek and Latin. However, he had only the minimum acquaintance with Hebrew. That changed after the twenty-year-old became a Church of England curate (a minister in charge of a parish) in Shropshire, England.

 One man who came every week to hear him preach was Sir Rowland Cotton. It happened that Sir Rowland had a good knowledge of Hebrew. He challenged John to learn it, saying that he could not really understand the Old Testament without understanding the language that it was written in. John felt embarrassed that a layman had more Bible knowledge than himself, a minister.

Helped by Sir Rowland, he quickly mastered the basics of Hebrew. Through incessant, diligent study, he surpassed his teacher and eventually became the greatest Hebrew scholar in all of England.

Studying Jewish writings, he showed from rabbinic teachings that Jesus was clearly identifiable as the Messiah. "Even the Lord's prayer is derived from expressions that had long been familiar in the schools and synagogues of Judea." His book Horae Hebraicae explained the New testament in light of knowledge he had gleaned from the writings of rabbis. Many later commentators consulted it. John was also prominent in the formulation of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

John never forgot the debt he owed Sir Rowland. "He laid such doubled and redoubled obligations upon me by the tender affection, respect and favor, that he showed towards me, as have left so indelible an impression on my heart, of honor to his name and observance to his house of Bellaport, that length of time may not wear it out nor distance of place ever cause me to forget it."

He died in 1675, leaving behind a body of work which filled nineteen volumes.

Bibliography:

1."John Lightfoot." Meet the Puritans. http://www.sdgbooks.com/sdgbooks/hall7_lightfoot.html
2.Welton, Daniel D. John Lightfoot, the English Hebraist. Oxford, 1880.
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2011, 02:01:44 AM »

Thanks Sister Yvette! These articles are fascinating, and I appreciate you sharing them with us.

Love In Christ,
Tom
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2011, 08:19:02 AM »

March 30, 1533
Cranmer Got the Top Job but Didn't Want it!

When Thomas Cranmer learned he had been named Archbishop of Canterbury by King Henry VIII, he balked. Visiting Germany at the time to promote the King's interest in a divorce, he dawdled seven weeks getting back to England. Although the King's word was law, Cranmer hesitated to accept the position.

The English church was in a turmoil over the question of Henry's desired divorce from Catherine. Having presented him with no male heir, the queen, once so charming to Henry, was now repugnant. Yet he could not get the Pope to agree to an annulment.

Cranmer had come to the King's attention when, in conversation with two of Henry's men, he had suggested that the universities could just as well settle the question as the Pope. Henry swore Cranmer had "the right sow by the ear." He earmarked the priest to become Archbishop of Canterbury, England's highest religious post. Cranmer was consecrated on this date, March 30, 1533.

Believing himself subject to the King, Cranmer promptly granted Henry the annulment. Throughout his tenure as archbishop, he would do pretty much whatever the King commanded. Henry's continual shifts of policy often made Cranmer appear wishy-washy. For example, he ruled Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleve lawful and six months later annulled it as unlawful.

Already leaning toward Protestantism, Cranmer became the chief architect of the English Reformation. He urged the King to place Bibles in England's churches and it was done. He wrote the first Book of Common Prayer. In only a few things did he resist Henry. At some jeopardy to himself, he pleaded for the lives of Thomas More and Bishop Fisher and testified for three days against Henry's Six Articles which went back to Roman Catholic forms. However, he sat with the persecutors of John Frith and Joan of Kent, both of whom were executed by fire.

By his twisting and turning, Cranmer escaped execution under Henry. Henry trusted him above all his other prelates and on his deathbed clung to Cranmer's hand. Under Edward, Cranmer advanced Protestantism, helping draft doctrines which became the basis for the Church of England's Thirty Nine Articles.

Under pressure, Cranmer supported Lady Jane Gray to succeed Edward. It was not to be. Mary took the throne and charged him with treason and heresy. In face of death he recanted his Protestant opinions. When he learned he was to die anyway, he publicly renounced his recantation. "As for the pope, I refuse him, as Christ's enemy and Antichrist, with all his false doctrine." When the fire was lit, he held the hand that had signed the recantation into the flame, burning it off before the fire touched his body, saying, "This unworthy right hand." As death approached he repeated several times, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

Bibliography:

1."Cranmer, Thomas." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
2.Foxe, John. Book of Martyrs.
3.Hook, Walter Farquhar, 1798-1875. Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury. London, R. Bentley, 1865-1884.
4.McKilliam, Annie E. A Chronicle of the Archbishops of Canterbury. London: J. Clarke, 1913.
5.Pollard, Albert Frederick. Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation. London: Putnam's, 1905.
6."Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation." Christian History & Biography # 48.
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« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2011, 09:05:42 AM »

March 31, 1492
Ferdinand and Isabella's Edict Against Jews

The year 1492 is most often associated with Columbus and his discovery of America. But another event of tragic proportions developed that year. It gave the world the Sephardic Jews (so called because Sepharadh was a region of Spain where many Jews had settled).

By 1492, Spain, under Ferdinand and Isabella had just emerged as a defender of the Roman Catholic faith. The marriage of the two rulers eventually united Aragon and Castile, although while she lived, Isabella did not yield her authority to her husband. In Granada, the pair defeated the Islamic Moors, who had long controlled Spain. Spurred on by the cruel Grand Inquisitor Torquemada, Ferdinand and Isabella felt they must remove all heretics and non-Christians from their land in order to purge it of pagan influences and firmly establish the Christian faith.

 The fires of the Inquisition had already roared in Spain for twelve long years. The Inquisition's primary purpose was not to deal with Jews and Muslims. Any person who professed Christianity and then returned to his or her ancestral faith was tried and punished. In eight years, the tribunal of Seville alone put 700 persons to death and condemned 5,000 others to life in prison.

But what about those Jews who never adopted Christianity? Their majesties had a plan for them, too. On this day, March 31, 1492, in the city of Granada, Ferdinand and Isabella signed an edict banishing from the Kingdoms of Aragon and Castile all Jews unwilling to receive baptism.

"You know well or ought to know, that whereas we have been informed that in these our kingdoms there were some wicked Christians who Judaized and apostatized from our holy Catholic faith, the great cause of which was interaction between the Jews and these Christians...we ordered the separation of the said Jews in all the cities, towns and villages of our kingdoms and lordships and [commanded] that they be given Jewish quarters and separate places where they should live, hoping that by their separation the situation would remedy itself."
Separation not having worked, the monarchs gave the Jews until July 31st to sell their goods and leave the country. They were forbidden to carry gold or silver out of the kingdom. Worse, although signed in March, the edict was not publicly announced until the end of April, so the Jews actually had only three months to convert their property to trade goods.

"Christians" took advantage of the situation and paid ridiculously low prices for Jewish possessions -- a donkey bought a house; a piece of cloth or linen purchased an entire vineyard.

In July 1492, the exodus began. When Columbus left on his famous voyage in August, he could not use the port of Cadiz because of the large numbers of Jews waiting to board ships in the harbor. Many Jews of Castile went to Portugal, where they were forced to pay a ransom to remain. Others went to Italy or the northern coast of Africa. Wherever they went, they were robbed.

Spain's economy paid for its mistreatment of the Jews: many had been skilled craftsmen. Sultan Bajazet of Turkey warmly welcomed those who escaped to his country. "How can you call Ferdinand of Aragon a wise king--the same Ferdinand who impoverished his own land and enriched ours?" he asked. He employed the Jew in making weapons to fight against Europe.

Bibliography:

1.Adapted from an earlier Christian History Institute story by Diane Severance, Ph.D.
2."Ferdinand V, King of Castile." Encyclopedia Americana. Chicago: Americana Corp., 1956.
3."Jewish History Sourcebook: The Expulsion from Spain, 1492 CE." The Medieval Sourcebook.
4."Spanish Expulsion, 1492." http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ jsource/Judaism/expulsion.html
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2011, 09:19:49 AM »

April 1, 1868
"Hand, Head and Heart" at Hampton Institute

What was the son of a Hawaiian missionary doing in Virginia anyhow? Samuel Chapman Armstrong was there to study. But he soon found himself learning more out of the classroom than in it, for the Civil War took him from his books to become Lieutenant-Colonel of the Ninth United States Colored Troops Regiment in the Union army. That is where his life's work began.

It was impossible for him to labor beside his dark-skinned companions without stirrings of conscience. Their need for education was immense. If Christ's call to do for our brothers what we would have done for ourselves meant anything, he must do something!

After the war, he served on the government's Freedman's Bureau. It seemed too little. An entire race needed practical training. Armstrong made it his business to see they were helped. He proposed the creation of a vocational school. Obtaining financial backing from the American Mission Society, he founded the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, in Washington DC. On this day, April 1, 1868, the institute opened to begin its task of training freed slaves "hand, head, and heart" (that is, vocation, academics, and faith.)

In Hampton's highly structured program, the morning was devoted to religious exercises and academic classes, the afternoon to vocational trades and work. Armstrong insisted that students learn by doing. The skills Hampton taught included blacksmithing, carpentry, cooking, dressmaking, farming, laundering, sewing, and shoemaking. The students themselves helped build and maintain their campus.

As befitted a school sponsored by a Christian mission, faith experiences were part of the Hampton routine. Church services and devotions were mandatory. Chapel time each morning consisted of Bible reading and hymn singing.

Ten years after Hampton's founding, it branched out and took Native Americans in. Armstrong was the only educator who would agree to train Indian prisoners of war. All Armstrong's efforts were spurred on by a simple creed. "Simply to Thy cross I cling is enough for me," he said.

Hampton Institute lives as testimony to Armstrong's faith. Its ideas served as a model for Booker T. Washington when he undertook the educational program at Tuskegee. Like Armstrong, Washington put his primary emphasis on vocational training.

Bibliography:

1.Abbott, Lyman. Silhouettes of my Contemporaries. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1921.
2."Armstrong, Samuel Chapman." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Scribner, 1958 - 1964.
3.Engs, Robert Francis. Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839 - 1893. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999.
4."Hampton's Heritage." (www.hamptonu.edu/about/heritage.htm).
5.Peabody, Francis Greenwood. Reminiscences of Present-Day Saints.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin company, 1927.
6."Samuel Chapman Armstrong." http://www.famousamericans.net/samuelchapmanarmstrong/
7.Various encyclopedia and internet articles.
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2011, 10:32:31 AM »

April 2, 1877
Mordecai Ham, Outspoken Evangelist

Imagine the honor of leading a notable evangelist like Billy Graham to Christ. Mordecai Ham did just that. However, he was in a position to do so only after he had wrestled with his own preferences and yielded to God.

Born on this day, April 2, 1877, in Allen County, Kentucky, he resisted God's call to become an evangelist because he wanted to be a salesman. His grandfather and father, both preachers, had lived in poverty and Ham did not want that. But eventually the Lord prevailed. Six months after Ham married Bessie Simmons, he quit his business to enter the ministry as a fundamentalist Baptist.

Early in his ministry, he claimed to have had an encounter with the Holy Spirit so intense that he pleaded for the Lord to back off or he felt he would die. Thereafter, he evidenced spiritual power throughout his life, continually confronting sin and sinners. In one notable early instance, he confronted an infidel who was hiding in a cornfield to avoid the preacher.

 "What are you going to do?" asked this opponent of the gospel.

"Ask God to kill you," replied Ham. The infidel protested. Ham said that since the man claimed to believe there was no God, such a prayer shouldn't bother him in the least. Nonetheless the unbeliever begged Ham not to pray for his death, so Ham agreed to pray for his salvation instead, and the man was converted on the spot.

Ham would write that there are three reasons men run from Christ: love of gain, love of sins that make them shun the light, and fear of what others will say. "The best way on earth to study human nature is to hold up Christ to your crowd and note how He affects them. Each man or woman can be judged by his or her attitude toward Christ. If their deeds are evil, they will shun His light."

In 1905, four years after Ham entered the ministry, Bessie died suddenly of cerebral meningitis. At first Ham thought he would remain single like the apostle Paul. However, a couple years later, he fell in love with a fourteen-year-old girl. They were wed the following year and had a happy marriage that lasted for over fifty years and produced three daughters. Ham considered Annie Laurie the greatest of God's blessings to him.

Ham continued to win souls. In over thirty years of preaching, he won at least 300,000 converts (his estimate was close to 1,000,000). Billy Graham, perhaps the most notable of those converts, made his declaration of faith at a 1934 Ham meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Ham was a fierce opponent of alcohol and many other social evils. He blasted whatever he considered to be wrong and his preaching helped create the climate for prohibition. Today, memory of him is largely swept under the carpet as an embarrassment because he was also virulently anti-semetic and anti-catholic. The outspoken evangelist ran a radio program for many years. He died in 1961. His life's motto had been "Love all men, fear no man."

Bibliography:

1.Baker, James T. "Ham, Mordecai Fowler, jr." Encyclopedia of Religion in the South. Edited by Samuel S. Hill. Macon, Georgia: Mercer, 1984.
2.Borland, James A. "Mordecai Ham, a Thorn in the Devil's Side." Fundamentalist Journal 3 (February, 1984) 44-46.
3.Brackney, William H. Historical Dictionary of the Baptists. Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 1999.
4.Clutter, R. T. "Ham, Mordecai Fowler." Dictionary of Baptists in America. Editor, Bill J. Leonard. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1994.
5.Coppenger, Mark. "What I Learned from Mordecai Ham." Leadership IX: No. 4 (Fall 1988) pp. 32-33.
6.Ham, Mordecai. "Why Men Will Not Come to Christ." Fundamentalist Journal 3 (February, 1984) 44-46.
7."Milestones." Time 78. (November 10, 1961): 78.
8.Mordecai Ham 1878 - 1959 [sic]. n.d. 2006. http://www.cantonbaptist.org/halloffame/ham.htm
9.Mordecai Ham 1877 - 1961. n.d. 2006. http://www.swordofthelord.com/biographies/ HamMordecai.htm
10."Rev. Mordecai Ham Dies at 84; Evangelist Converted a Million." New York Times (November 2, 1961): 37.
11.Smithers, David. "Mordecai Ham; Prayer Makes History." 2002. 2006. http://www.watchword.org/smithers/ww47a.htm
12."What Do You Offer God?" 1999. 2006. http://www.baptistfire.com/gospel/ham.shtml
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2011, 08:32:52 PM »

April 3, 1528
Adolf Clarenbach Arrested

When Luther sparked church reformation in Germany, there was bound to be a backlash. In those intolerant days, when church and state acted together, there was no choice in matters of faith. Someone had to be the first to die for the new ideas. One of the first two martyrs was Adolf Clarenbach.

Around 1520, Adolf Clarenbach became a teacher in a cathedral Latin school. Evidently he was a better than ordinary teacher, for in 1523 he was made principle of the city school in Wesel. But storm clouds loomed. Through reading Erasmus and Martin Luther and studying the Bible, he became a follower of the Reformation.

When his views became known, he was forced to leave Wesel. Adolf then preached in Cologne and the Rhine country, forming communities of evangelical believers.

 Returning home in 1528, Adolf returned to his death. At the urging of Catholic leaders, he was arrested at Cologne on this day, April 3, 1528. He was charged with teaching Protestant ideas. Also arrested was Adolf's friend John Klopreis. About that same time authorities arrested yet another Reformation preacher, Peter Fliesteden. Klopreis managed to escape, but Adolf and Peter remained in custody.

The two were held in prison for several months and tortured. When questioned, Adolf insisted that "there is no satisfaction for sin except the death of Christ alone." However, good works witness that we have the faith we claim.

On September 28, 1529, Adolf and Peter were handed over to secular authorities at the gates of Cologne to be burned to death. The long delay between Clarenbach's arrest and death is owing to the fact that three jurisdictions had a stake in his trial. Furthermore, the local citizens were upset with the sentence and had to be pacified. When plague visited the city, the superstitious people took it as a sign that they were being too kind to the heretics and public opinion swung against the prisoners.

Adolf and Peter have been called the first martyrs of the Reformation. However, it is not clear if they were Lutherans or not. But three hundred years after their deaths, Lutheran Germans of the lower Rhine honored them with a special celebration and erected a monument in their honor.

Bibliography:

1.Clarenbach, Adolf. Kirchenlexikon. http://www.kirchen-lexikon.de
2.Schaff, Phillip. New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1951.
3.Various other internet articles.
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2011, 09:23:21 AM »


April 4, 397
Death of Stalwart Bishop Ambrose

Milan's bishop was dying. Whether consciously or unconsciously, he extended his arms like Christ on the cross. Christ Jesus appeared to him in a vision. People were awed.

Popular singers today have a tremendous influence on our culture. Presidents cultivate their friendships, postage stamps honor their talents, and fans worship their every move. However, when Ambrose of Milan died on this date, April 4, 397, his popularity and influence were as great as anything we see today. The day was a Good Friday. His death made such an impression on the public that five bishops could hardly cope with all the people who requested to be baptized the next day.

Ambrose had been a governor of Northern Italy back in the day when the barbarians were invading the Roman Empire. At that time it was still the custom for the people to elect their bishops, and in 374 the people of Milan could not agree who their new bishop should be. Some wanted an Arian to lead them. Arians denied the full divinity of Christ. Others wanted a bishop who would teach that Christ was the son of God.

When it appeared that a riot was about to break out over the election, governor Ambrose stepped forward and encouraged the people to conduct themselves in an orderly and Christian manner. A child cried out, "Let Ambrose be bishop!" The crowd took up the cry and elected him.

Ambrose tried to duck his new responsibility. He had been a ho-hum Christian up to this point and was not even baptized yet. However, he could not escape his obligation. And so he dedicated himself fully to Christ and His Church. He gave all of his money to the poor and strongly defended Christian truth.

Justina, mother of the Roman Emperor, was an Arian. She demanded Ambrose give up a church for her followers. Despite intense pressure, Ambrose refused. The empress sent soldiers to take Ambrose's own church. Ambrose and his supporters recognized a spiritual battle when they saw one. They chose to fight with spiritual weapons, not swords, rocks and sticks, entering the building and praying. With imperial soldiers surrounding the church, the people stayed inside for several days, praying, singing psalms, and listening to Ambrose preach. During this time Ambrose developed a form of congregational singing in which two groups of the congregation sang alternately.

Fortified by message and song, the people held out against the soldiers. Finally, Justina recalled her troops. Ambrose and his people had won the spiritual battle using spiritual weapons, especially Christian hymns. In his life, he wrote many other hymns. The type of congregational singing Ambrose began in Milan became popular and was used in the church for centuries.

Bibliography:

1.Adapted from an earlier Christian History Institute story.
2."Ambrose of Milan." http://www.cyberhymnal.org
3.McGuire, M. R. P. "Ambrose, St." New Catholic Encyclopedia. 1967.
4.Greenslade, S. L. Early Latin Theology. (Westminster Press, 1956).
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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2011, 09:44:39 AM »

April 5, 1796
Suddenly Hauge Found Living Faith

Don't you sometimes feel there could be a lot more to your Christian life? When Hans Nielsen Hauge was nearing twenty-five, he felt that way. The young carpenter had done a lot of religious reading. He was afraid of hell and longed to be established on "the spiritual rock, Jesus Christ." He even fell to his knees in his father's fields praying for this.

Suddenly, on this day, April 5, 1796, while singing "Jesus, I Long for Thy Blessed Communion," he was filled with divine joy. "...my mind became so exalted that I was not myself aware of, nor can I express, what took place in my soul. For I was beside myself. As soon as I came to my senses, I was filled with regret that I had not served this loving transcendentally good God. Now it seemed to me that nothing in this world was worthy of any regard. That my soul possessed something supernatural, divine, and blessed; that there was a glory that no tongue can utter..." Not only did he know for certain that he was saved from eternal damnation, but he felt a "living faith" spring up in him.

Enraptured, Hauge asked the Lord what He wanted him to do. The answer that came to his mind was, "You shall confess My name before the people; exhort them to repent and seek Me while I may be found and call upon Me while I am near; and touch their hearts that they may turn from darkness to light." Hauge was obedient.

He left his parent's home to spread the gospel through Norway. This task was made harder by the fact that the established church was afraid of enthusiasts and had forbidden all religious services (under the Conventicle Act) except those under the supervision of regularly posted clergymen. Consequently, Hauge spent much time in jail. Some of his incarceratations lasted several months. But although men sought to thwart him, God so endorsed Hauge's preaching with the power of the Holy Spirit that spiritual renewal followed wherever he went. Often this was accompanied by economic renewal, for Hans was gifted with many skills and strong business-sense and helped Norway's peasants develop industries.

Eventually he won the support of several bishops. However, he was once held in prison from 1804-1814 although all charges against him fell through. His enemies (among them certain godless bishops) called for his death.

He traveled 10,000 miles in Norway with the gospel and is regarded as the founder of Norwegian Pietism. Norwegians immigrating into the United States brought Hauge's teachings with them, influencing Lutheranism in the New World. A group also sailed settled in the Natal, South Africa, carrying Pietist ideas there.

Hauge's first wife and three of his four children died before him. Worn out, bleeding from the lungs. and otherwise broken in health, he himself died in 1824 at the relatively young age of 53. His last words, spoken with a face that shone with light, were, "O Thou eternal, loving God!"

Bibliography:

1.Arden, Gothard Everett. Four Northern Lights; men who shaped Scandinavian churches. Illus. by Jordan Lang. Minneapolis, Augsburg Pub. House, 1964.
2.Barrows, John Henry, ed. The World's Parliament of Religions. Chicago: Parliament Publishing co., 1893. Source of the image.
3.Gordon, Ernest. Book of Protestant Saints. Chicago: Moody, 1946.
4.Hallqvist, Brit. G. "A word from one of the authors of Captive and Free." Augsburg Now. Fall 1997, Vol. 60, No. 1 http://www.augsburg.edu/now/archives/fall97/word.html.
5.Hauge, Hans Nielsen. Encyclopedia Britannica. Britannica Corp., 1911.
6.Kiefer, James E. "Hans Nielsen Hauge, Renewer of the Church." http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/122.html.
7.Various internet articles.
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« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2011, 09:20:30 AM »

April 6, 1924
Death of Ivan Prokhanov, One of the Milk People

The Molokans were a Russian sect dating from the late 18th century. Molokans believed the Bible was the soul's guide for salvation and rejected the rituals, icons, fasts, ornate churches, and worship of relics that were common in the Orthodox Church. They were called Molokans or "milk people" because they drank milk during Orthodox fasts. The government sent many Molokans to the Caucasus. One such family was the Prokhanovs. In 1869, Ivan Prokhanov was born into this heritage.

When he was about ten years old, Ivan fainted and lay lifeless. A doctor pronounced him dead, and he was placed in a coffin. But as the elders read the Bible over him, preparing to bury him, Ivan opened his eyes and began to cry. In later life, he thought: "Surely the power of the Omnipotent appointed me to live and to solve a special problem set by Him for my life; another power, the power of death, wanted to cut my life short in its very beginning, but the power of the Omnipotent overcame . . . and I was left to be on earth." Remembrance of this helped him in times of depression.

Reading Voltaire and Rousseau, Ivan grew confused about the purpose of life. In 1886, he took up a New Testament and saw Christ's claim, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by me," (John 14:6). He read Paul's words, "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain," (Philippains 1:21). He sought forgiveness for his unbelief and thanked God for salvation. After that, he anchored his thinking in the optimistic belief that Christ has overcome the world, despite our daily problems.

Ivan wanted to be useful to the Russian people. Like the Apostle Paul, he resolved to provide for his own needs while engaging in Christian work. And so he studied mechanical engineering at the Institute of Technology in St. Petersburg. At the same time, he taught children and preached. His meetings had to be kept secret, because religious gatherings were illegal outside the Orthodox Church. As evangelical Christianity spread, Orthodox priests used their political clout to repress it.

Ivan was convinced that the Russian people needed spiritual reform more than anything else. He wrote, "No social or political reforms could prove successful unless a moral and spiritual reform in the people themselves was first realized." He produced an illegal Christian magazine. At one point, he had to flee to the West. When he returned, he served as an engineer for Westinghouse Electric Company by day and as an evangelist and hymn writer by night. He established a Bible school and organized youth groups. Often he did not get to bed until 2 A.M. Twice he was imprisoned for his faith.

Beginning in 1905, Russia enjoyed several years of religious freedom. Ivan served as president of the All Russian Evangelical Christian Union.

Two years before his death he wrote, "As I look back, analyzing the events of the past fifteen years, I cannot but see that every incident, every hindrance, even persecution and imprisonments, served definitely and positively for the growth of the Evangelical Christian Movement in Russia...." He died in exile on this day, April 6, 1924, in Berlin.

Bibliography:

1.Bernbaum, Dr. John A. "Ivan Prokhanov and His Dream." Russian-American Christian University. http://www.racu.org/context/reflect_feb1996.html.
2.Brandenburg, Hans. The Meek and the Mighty. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.
3.Prokhanoff, I.S. In the Cauldron of Russia. New York: All-Russian Evangelical Christian Union, 1933.
4.Rohrer, Norman B. and Deyneka, Peter. Peter Dynamite, Twice-Born Russian. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1975, especially pp 72-82.
5.Various missions and evangelical encyclopedias and short internet articles.
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« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2011, 09:22:26 AM »

April 7, 1824
Premiere of Beethoven's

My chief aim when I was composing this grand Mass was to awaken and permanently instill religious feelings not only into the singers but also into the listeners," wrote Ludwig von Beethoven.

The Missa Solemnis (Solemn Mass) premiered on this day, April 7, 1824* in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is one of the greatest pieces of religious music ever written.

Beethoven wrote it with his usual attention to detail. Originally he planned it to celebrate the consecration of his favorite pupil who had been named archbishop of Olmutz (a city now in Czechoslovakia). This was Rudolph, Archduke of Austria, who studied with Beethoven for fifteen years. Beethoven wrote to Rudolph, "The day on which a High Mass composed by me will be performed during the ceremonies solemnized for Your Imperial Highness, will be the most glorious day of my life; and God will enlighten me so that my poor talents may contribute to the glorification of that solemn day."

 Unfortunately, the mass was far from done on Rudolph's consecration day. It would take Beethoven another two years to complete the work.

Meanwhile, he engaged in sly dealings to raise money. He took a sizable advance for the mass from one music publisher. Shortly afterward, he entered negotiations with other publishers for more money. At the same time, he offered manuscript copies to European courts, again for considerable sums of money.

He owed Prince Nikolai Galitzin several string quartets. But Beethoven put them on hold while he labored on the mass. He did eventually compose the quartets for Galitzin, but in the meantime, he sent him a copy of the mass. Galitzin was delighted with the work.

"It was with inexpressible joy, dear sir, that I received the Mass that you recently composed...I am trying to get the work performed in a manner worthy of its creator..." He arranged its performance as soon as he could, and that is why the work premiered in St. Petersburg.

It was the only full performance in Beethoven's lifetime (bits of it were played in other concerts). Had he been able to attend, he could not have enjoyed it, for only the loudest noises penetrated his deaf ears.

Although a Catholic in name, Beethoven seems to have really believed instead in the distant God of the Deists. His favorite religious quote, posted under glass at his work table, was taken from the temple of an Egyptian goddess, and sounds pantheistic, as if God were indistinguishable from his creation: "I am that which is. I am everything that is, that was, and that will be. No mortal man has raised my veil. He is of himself alone, and it is to this aloneness that all things owe their being." Nonetheless, the Solemn Mass captured the moods of faith as few other works ever have, especially in its lovely "Sanctus."

---
*Russia had not yet changed its calendar to agree with the rest of Europe, so the Russian date was in March.

Bibliography:

1.Beethoven, Ludwig von. Missa Solemnis. Various recordings.
2.Cooper, Barry. Beethoven Compendium. Thames and Hudson, 1991.
3.Drabkin, William. Beethoven: Missa Solemnis. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1991.
4.Schindler, Anton Felix. Beethoven as I Knew Him. University of North Carolina Press, 1966.
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« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2011, 09:34:09 AM »

April 8, 1901
Chalmers and Co. Clubbed to Death on the Fly

In 1900, after the death of his second wife, James Chalmers was urged to return from Papua to England for a rest. "I cannot rest and so many thousands of savages without a knowledge of Christ near us," he replied. On April 4, 1901, the veteran missionary sailed to Goaribari Island in a steam launch. With him was a newcomer, Oliver Tompkins. The two British men and native evangelists who accompanied them were never seen alive by their fellow workers again.

Chalmers first vowed to become a missionary in 1856 when he was fifteen. This was a boyish impulse after hearing his pastor read a letter from Fiji. At the time, although a bold lad, Chalmers had not given his heart to God. He was the kind of boy who is more comfortable with action than books. To save a friend from drowning or risk his life in a makeshift boat were fun. He became the ringleader of a group of rowdies, and was in the thick of every fight with neighboring villages. Chalmers' gang determined to break up an evangelistic meeting. A friend pleaded with him to attend the meeting in a right spirit instead, and Chalmers did. He became convinced that he needed to follow Christ. Once he made that decision, the eighteen-year old immediately started preaching to others.

 He remembered his vow to become a missionary and strove to obtain the education he needed. Somehow he muddled through his courses, but fellow students remembered him better for terrifying them with pranks than for feats of scholarship. Once he frightened everyone by appearing in the dining hall dressed in a bear skin!

Eventually Chalmers made it to the South Seas with his wife Jane. On their way to Rarotonga, they were shipwrecked and completed the journey aboard a pirate vessel. Bully Hayes was so impressed with Chalmers, he allowed him to hold religious services and even told his men to attend! The islanders could not pronounce his name and called him Tamate. Tamate would prove bold to the point of audacity wherever he went--and stubborn, too.

After his transfer to Papua, Chalmers needed all the boldness he could muster. Conditions were horrifying. Cruelty, continual warfare, and cannibalism were the norm. Chalmers ducked death time after time as he took the gospel along the steamy coasts of the large island, he literally plucked clubs and swords out of enemy hands to save his life and the lives in his party. In one region, he so influenced the natives that peace prevailed and cannibalism ceased within five years of his coming.

Author Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island) spent several weeks aboard ship with Chalmers. "He took me fairly by storm for the most attractive, simple, brave and interesting man in the whole Pacific," he wrote. Had he known the missionary earlier, it would have redirected his own life, he thought. Later he wrote in a letter, "I hope I shall meet Tamate once more before he disappears up the Fly River, perhaps to be one of 'the unreturning brave.'"

Chalmers was one of the unreturning brave. On this day, April 8, 1901, Tamate, Tompkins and several native evangelists were surrounded by armed savages. Promised a banquet, the men (who always traveled unarmed) were clubbed from behind and killed. Their bodies were cooked with sago and served as the main course of the promised feast.

Bibliography:

1.Chalmers, James. Pioneering in New Guinea, 1877-1894. New York, Revell, 1895.
2."Chalmers, James." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
3.Harrison, Eugene Myers. "James Chalmers 1841 - 1901; The Greatheart of New Guinea." Giants of the Missionary Trail. http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/giants/biochalmers.html
4.Langmore, Diane. Tamate, a king : James Chalmers in New Guinea, 1877-1901. Carleton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 1974.
5.Lovett, Richard. James Chalmers ; his autobiography and letters. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1903.
6.Various articles in mission encyclopedias and on the internet.
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