Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Update & Posting Schedule

We've had losses in power due to a recent storm, which knocked out our Internet for awhile this week. As such, rather than work to fill up my blog's backlog, I'm going to take this week and next off from the blog, and return with new posts in the new year. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Photo of the Week

What means this glorious radiance a
cross Judea’s plain?
These white winged angels singing in such exultant strain?
The King of glory cometh, Earth’s broken hearts to bind,
And God’s salvation morning hath dawned for all mankind.

- from a hymn by Mary Servoss

Monday, December 11, 2023

Quote of the Week

"Just as the power of the sun is the only force in the natural universe that causes a plant to grow against gravity, so the grace of God is the only force in the spiritual universe that causes a person to grow against the gravity of their own ego."

- Simone Weil

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Church History: The Age of Reason and Awakenings, Part 2 (17th-18th centuries)

Lecture Notes Outline

-        Nonconformists in England

-   Origins of the Congregationalists & Baptists

-   Persecution of Nonconformity

-   Isaac Watts & the rise of English hymnody

-   Rise of evangelicalism

-        The Evangelical Revival & the Great Awakening

-   Jonathan Edwards

-   John Wesley (Arminian)

-   George Whitefield (Calvinist)

-   Isaac Backus & Francis Asbury

-        Challenges of the Enlightenment

-   Unitarianism

-   Deism

-        English Protestant missions & activism

-   David Brainerd & the Native Americans

-   William Carey & world missions

-   William Wilberforce & the abolition of slavery

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Photo of the Week

Then come, blest hour of sunset, a
long the golden way,
And thrill us with the splendors that fill life’s perfect day.
God is the end of living; He satisfies the soul,
And they who seek His glory will find in Him their goal.
Holy, holy! Angel voices sing it; Holy, holy! Cloudy pinions wing it;
Holy, holy! Gleaming towers ring it; Holy, holy, is the Lord most high.

- from a hymn by Calvin Weiss Laufer

Monday, December 04, 2023

Quote of the Week

"We are called to be saints by that same voice which constrained [the saints] to their high vocation. It is a Christian's duty to force his way into the inner circle of saintship; and if these saints were superior to us in their attainments, as they certainly were, let us follow them; let us emulate their ardor and holiness. We have the same light that they had, the same grace is accessible to us, and why should we rest satisfied until we have equaled them in heavenly character?"

- Charles Spurgeon

Friday, December 01, 2023

A Prayer from Ulrich Zwingli

I beseech Christ for this one thing only,
that He will enable me to endure all things courageously,
and that He break me as a potter’s vessel or make me strong,
as it pleases Him.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Church History: The Age of Reason and Awakenings, Part 1 (17th-18th centuries)

Lecture Notes Outline

-        The Puritans in England

-   Discontentment with the Anglican settlement

-   Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War

-   The Westminster Confession

-   The Act of Conformity (1662)

-        Stagnation: Religious Wars & Nominal Faith

-   The Wars of Religion & the Peace of Westphalia (1648)

-   State religion

-   Life in the parish system

-   Sacraments vs. personal faith

-        Stirrings on the Continent: Quietism & Pietism

-   Madame Guyon, Francois Fenelon, and Catholic Quietism

-   Philip Spener & Lutheran Pietism

-   Zinzendorf & the Moravians

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Photo of the Week

Thou hidden source of calm repose,
Thou all-sufficient love divine,
My help and refuge from my foes,
Secure I am, if Thou art mine;
From sin and grief and shame I hide me,
Jesus, in Thy name.

- from a hymn by Charles Wesley

Monday, November 27, 2023

Quote of the Week

"Science in the modern world has many uses; its chief use, however, is to provide long words to cover the errors of the rich."

- G. K. Chesterton, from Heretics

Monday, November 20, 2023

Thanksgiving Break

I'm taking a one-week break from the blog for Thanksgiving. Normal posts will resume on Monday, Nov. 27.

Friday, November 17, 2023

A Prayer from the Odes of Solomon (1st-2nd century)

I praise you, O Lord,
Because I love you.
O Most High, abandon me not,
For you are my hope.
Freely did I receive your grace;
May I live by it. [...]
Indeed my hope is in the Lord,
And I shall not fear.

- Ode 5

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Church History: The Catholic Counter-Reformation

Lecture Notes Outline

-     Revival of Catholic Devotion

-   Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) & The Spiritual Exercises

-   John of the Cross & The Dark Night of the Soul

-   Teresa of Avila & The Interior Castle

-   Francis de Sales & Introduction to the Devout Life

-   Pushing Back the Reformation

-   Jesuit ministry in Europe

-   The Council of Trent

-   Global Expansion

-   Bartolom√© de las Casas & the Catholic church in the Americas

-   Francis Xavier & the mission to the Far East

-   Jesuit, Franciscan, and Dominican missions

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

A Thanksgiving Poem

I don't have a new installment of the Evangeliad quite ready to post yet, and for that reason (as well as because I'm planning to take a little break from the blog next week), I thought I'd post a classic Thanksgiving poem here. The following is by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919), an American poet who, although unfortunately dabbling in a few occult ideas later in her life, nonetheless was able to reflect the high theological literacy of her day in her Thanksgiving poem:

Thanksgiving, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hang about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives
And conquers if we let it.

There's not a day in all the year
But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
To brim the past's wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
Of worry or of trouble.
Farseeing is the soul and wise
Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
As weeks and months pass o'er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Photo of the Week

Take up, take up thy burden, w
hy weary should’st thou be?
Far greater were the trials thy Saviour bore for thee.
Lean thou on him for comfort, whose gentle voice will say,
There’s rest beside the fountain; go, rest thee by the way.

- from a hymn by Fanny Crosby

Monday, November 13, 2023

Quote of the Week

"Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; 
my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."

- Abraham Lincoln

Friday, November 10, 2023

A Prayer from Sadhu Sundar Singh

Dear Master, Thy varied blessings and gifts have filled my heart to overflowing with gratitude and praise. [...] Thanks and praise be to Thee that Thou hast brought me, unworthy though I am, out of death into life and made me to rejoice in Thy fellowship and love. I know not as I ought either myself or my sore need, but Thou, O Father, knowest full well Thy creatures and their necessities. Nor can I love myself as Thou lovest me. To love myself truly is to love with heart and soul that boundless love which gave me being, and that love Thou art. Thou hast therefore given me but one heart, that it might be fixed on one only, on Thee, who didst create it. [...] Graciously accept me, and wheresoever and howsoever Thou wilt, use me for Thy service. For Thou art mine, and I belong to Thee, who didst take this handful of dust and make me in Thine own image and didst grant me the right to become Thy son. All honor and glory and praise and thanksgiving be unto Thee for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Church History: The English Reformation

Lecture Notes Outline

-        The English Reformation

-   William Tyndale & the English Bible

-   Henry VIII’s dispute with the Roman Catholic Church

-  Seeks marriage annulment

-  Becomes head of the English Church

-  Dissolves England’s monasteries

-  Seeks to retain certain other Catholic practices

-   Thomas Cranmer and the Book of Common Prayer

-   Resurgence of Catholicism under Queen Mary

-   Queen Elizabeth and the Thirty-Nine Articles

-   Anglicanism as a “via media

-   King James and the Authorized Version (KJV)

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Photo of the Week

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, 
to the one who seeks him;
It is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

- Lamentations 3:25-26

Monday, November 06, 2023

Quote of the Week

"You can often help others more by correcting your own faults than theirs. Remember, and you should, because of your own experience, that allowing God to correct your faults is not easy. Be patient with people, wait for God to work with them as He wills."

- Francois Fenelon

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Devotional Column: The Peace that Passes Understanding

I've been hoping to be able to post a link to the video of my PhD oral defense here on the blog, but it has not been made available yet. In the meantime, here's a devotional column I wrote recently for publication in my local hometown newspaper:

The Peace that Passes Understanding

I can remember, as a child in Sunday School, hearing a turn of phrase in songs and teachings that always stuck with me: “the peace that passes understanding.” It spoke of a blessing, a sense of rest and harmony that no ups or downs of daily life could touch: a peace that was beyond comprehension, unexplainable by any cause except God’s own work in one’s life. This phrase comes from Philippians 4:7, as part of a lovely promise. Here it is in the words of a more modern translation: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This promise is winsome and beautiful, but to understand how one obtains the promise, you have to look back at what came before. Here’s the preceding verse: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). In this context, the promise becomes clear—the peace of God is a gift that is given in response to our regular, faithful, daily act of praying. In every situation, we are called to present our requests to God.

But notice that verse 6 also gives us an intriguing command: “Do not be anxious about anything.” How is it possible not to be anxious, when our feelings get worked up by the busyness of life and the whirlwind of bad news that surrounds us in this age of terrorism, wars, and pandemics? We don’t have any control over those external events, so how can we control whether or not we feel anxiety?

The Bible isn’t telling us not to feel our genuine feelings, but rather is instructing us what to do with those feelings. Here’s how I like to explain it: Imagine that all your worries are drops of water, filling up a basin that you hold in your arms. As more and more of life’s busyness and tragedies come your way, those drops continue filling up the basin, making it heavier and heavier. At this point you have two options. You can either just keep holding that basin and all the water in it—letting the worries of life drive you into deeper anxiety, getting heavier and heavier—or you can just dump them all out of the basin. By holding onto them, you are choosing anxiety. But the verse tells us to pour them all out—do not be anxious, but instead, in every situation, present your requests to God. Rather than holding onto your worries, turn them into prayers instead. Pour them out to the Lord. If you’re a person who’s just naturally a worrier, that doesn’t have to be a negative thing; it could mean that you are equipped to be a great prayer-warrior, always interceding for your family and community.

If we can do this, turning our worries into prayers, then the promise of God’s peace becomes applicable to our situation. The peace that passes understanding—a peace that literally makes no sense at all, given what’s going on in our lives—is on offer for us. How? By turning over our worries and fears about things that we cannot control to One who reigns supreme over them all. When the situation is given to God, we can have peace. That doesn’t mean that everything will always work out perfectly, but it does mean that we can hold onto a deep, restful sense of hope even in the most tumultuous of times.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Photo of the Week

Give us the wings of faith to rise
within the veil, and see
the saints above, how great their joys,
how bright their glories be.
We ask them whence their victory came:
they, with united breath,
ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,
their triumph to his death.

- from a hymn by Isaac Watts

Monday, October 30, 2023

Quote of the Week

"The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God."

- Martin Luther, from his 95 Theses

Friday, October 27, 2023

A Prayer from Desmond Tutu

Disturb us, O Lord

when we are too well-pleased with ourselves
when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little,
because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, O Lord

when with the abundance of things we possess,
we have lost our thirst for the water of life
when, having fallen in love with time,
we have ceased to dream of eternity
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim.

Stir us, O Lord

to dare more boldly, to venture into wider seas
where storms show Thy mastery,
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes
and invited the brave to follow.


Thursday, October 26, 2023

Church History: The Reformation's Second Wave (mid-16th century)

Lecture Notes Outline

-        The Anabaptists (the Radical Reformation)

o   Beginnings in Zwingli’s Zurich – Conrad Grebel & Felix Manz

o   Distinctives: peace, simplicity, religious liberty, congregational polity, and believer’s baptism

o   The Hutterites & the Bruderhof in Germany and eastern Europe

o   Michael Sattler & the Schleitheim Confession

o   The Munster Rebellion

o   Menno Simons

-        John Calvin & the Reformed Churches

o   Conversion to Protestantism & flight to Basel

-  Writes Institutes of the Christian Religion

-  Doctrinal focus on the sovereignty of God

o   William Farel invites Calvin to Geneva

o   Strasbourg sojourn & return to Geneva

o   Heinrich Bullinger & the Helvetic Confessions

o   Reformed churches in France and the Netherlands

o   John Knox in Scotland

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Photo of the Week

It is not death to fling a
side this sinful dust,
And rise, on strong exulting wing, to live among the just.
Jesus, thou Prince of life, thy chosen cannot die!
Like thee, they conquer in the strife, to reign with thee on high.

- from a hymn by Cesar Malan

Monday, October 23, 2023

Quote of the Week

"The gospel is the proclamation of God's free love; the revelation of His boundless charity. Nothing less than this will suit our world; nothing else is so likely to touch the heart, to go down to the lowest depths of depraved humanity, as the assurance that the sinner has been loved -- loved by God, loved with a righteous love, loved with a free love that makes no bargain as to merit, or fitness, or goodness."

- Horatius Bonar

Friday, October 13, 2023

PhD Oral Defense Coming Up

Dear readers,

I've been hard at work preparing for the final hurdle of my PhD studies--the oral defense, which comes up this next Tuesday. I'll be presenting on my dissertation, "The Emergence and Development of Missiological Themes in Early Nonconformist Hymnody (1706-1755)," and then answering questions on my research. I'll take a few days off from the blog while that's going on, but I should be back in a week or so. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Photo of the Week

Lord, her watch Thy Church is keeping:
When shall earth Thy rule obey?
When shall end the night of weeping?
When shall break the promised day?

Gone for ever parting, weeping,
Hunger, sorrow, death, and pain;
Lo! her watch Thy Church is keeping;
Come, Lord Jesus, come to reign!

- from a hymn by Henry Downton