Wednesday, April 30, 2008

America MUST Pray - Charles E. Wilson

Charles E. Wilson, president of General Motors, was in Union Station in Washington, D.C. on the very day of the World War II invasion of Europe began, June 6, 1944, D-day. It had just been announced on the radio that the invasion was beginning. At first the station was filled with the noise of people rushing about, the commuter trains were pouring into the station putting out an enormous hubbub of sounds and energy. But then the buzz of whispers and excitement on the train concourse went from one end of the station to the other as people said, "The invasion's begun, they've landed in Normandy, France."

As Wilson watched, it was first a woman who dropped to her knees right there in the middle of the station and folded her hands. Then a man nearby fell to his knees. Then another and another. People went down with folded hands leaning on the hard wooden benches in the main lobby. Wilson asked, what are they praying for, or who? "For Jim, George, or just for peace?" Perhaps for no reason at all, except that in the hush of the moment we all felt the need to pray!

In a few minutes everyone got up off the floor. Each went on his or her own way. The commitment was personal, private, with no embarrassment or apology expressed.

Wilson reflected later, "Union Station will always have a special meaning: we were there on the day the railroad station in Washington, D.C. became a house of prayer!"

What is sad is to think of America today. It is doubtful if any such expression of public worship and humility could ever take place again. To find hundreds and hundreds of Christians in the same public place who were willing to express their thoughts to God, would almost be impossible! One has to conclude that America then was far more Christian than today! And no one felt guilty at that hour to speak forth the thoughts of their hearts to the Lord!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

America MUST Pray - General George Patton

The final German offensive of World War II took place in the region of southern Belgium in the Ardennes forest on December 1944. This was known as the Battle of the Bulge where the Germans tried to push through a wedge to stop the allies from entering Germany. But worse, the enemy was also trying to stop the allies from securing the Belgium port of Antwerp that they could use to shorten the military supply route for the Army. Patton was in charge of the Third Army that was being hit the hardest by the German troops. Normally Patton was a braggart, bombastic, unforgiving and stubborn. But with the sudden plunge of Nazi tanks under the German General Karl von Rundstedt, Patton was being humbled quickly!

Patten realized he was in trouble. He went to his senior chaplain and asked for a special and sincere prayer to share with the troops during this trying hour. When the prayer was finished 250,000 copies were printed up and passed among the soldiers. On December 12 it was distributed and read:

Almighty and merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee. … Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call on Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and suppress the wickedness of our enemies.

When the weather miraculously lifted and the Germans were stopped Patton acknowledged in his normal salty way that God had heard their prayers. It was said of Patton that he saw maybe for the first time the work of Divine Providence in his life. Patton wrote one more final prayer at the end of the war that reinforced his image as a hardened but spiritual soldier:

God of our Fathers … strengthen my soul so that the weakening instinct of self-preservation, which besets us all in battle, shall not blind me to my duty to my own manhood, to the glory of my calling and to my responsibility to my fellow soldiers.

This prayer has been considered one of the most revealing as to the character and even the change of heart in this great World War II leader! He would not live to mellow in his retired old age. Before leaving Europe after the war, he was in a terrible wreck in an Army vehicle in Germany. He lingered with a broken back for several weeks but finally passed away. He was not around to be showered with the honors he deserved as a combat General.

America Must Pray - Judge Samuel Sewall

One of the early tragedies of the early history of America was the Salem Witchcraft trials of Salem Massachusetts in 1692. Highly educated and intelligent, Chief Justice Samuel Sewall was caught up in the hysteria and was one of the jurors that sent nineteen young women to their deaths with the charge of being witches. But within months after the tragedy many realized the terrible mistake and the miscarriage of justice.

And five years later Justice Sewall made one of the greatest acts of public contrition in American history when he stood before his church’s congregation as the Reverend Samuel Willard read aloud his confession. In the letter Sewall said that he took the blame and shame of it, asking pardon of men, and especially desiring public prayers that God, who has an unlimited authority, would pardon that sin and all other sins.

For the rest of his life, Sewall regularly set aside whole days for prayer and fasting, lost at times in the thoughts of those difficult days and his own incomprehensible actions!

Monday, April 28, 2008

America MUST Pray - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower had a bad experience in his youth with his Quaker father. He found that his dad was a constant liar and somewhat lazy in trying to provide for his large family. He moved his wife and children from pillar to post and was not diligent in work. While this soured Dwight on “religion,” it did not make him bitter toward the Lord.

Dwight graduated from West Point but did not see action overseas during World War I. This lack of combat experience made him think his career would go nowhere. But when World War II began, he was moved up the ranks fairly quickly because of his organizational skills. He was place in supreme command over all of the invading forces who were to attack the Germans in France by sea. Operation Overlord, or D-day, would begin on June 6, 1944. Thousands and thousands of troops would hit the beaches with a prediction that many would die in the initial assault. In fact there was even doubt that the invasion would be successful. If the Germans had stopped the attack, victory would take many more years to accomplish.

Because of the unknown, Eisenhower was prepared to resign from leadership if the invasion failed. He kept in his pocket a letter of recognition to be submitted to President Theodore Roosevelt if all did not go well. But he first felt it was important to give a public prayer that would be broadcast to the free world as the invasion began, invoking God’s blessings on this critical hour. Eisenhower wrote it himself.

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, … to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true. … Some will never return. … Help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice. … With Thy blessings we shall prevail over unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed. … Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.

Though the prayer was simple it came from a heart of a humble leader who knew how trying the hour would be. In a certain sense Eisenhower was frightened as never before in his important and lofty position. He meant every word of this appeal to the Lord above!

America Must Pray - The New England Primer

How to teach their children about Christ and convey proper moral values was a consuming challenge for the Puritans of early New England. Parents genuinely feared that their teenage children who died without the divine grace of the Lord would be lost forever without Christ. But the parents further reasoned that the inability to read the Scriptures was a design of Satan to keep people from spiritual truth. Therefore they were driven to instruct their children to read because the need of prayer and strong morals was so important.

They came up with a public school book entitled The New England Primer that was similar to one published in London. The text immediately caught on and became the most popular book in the new world apart from the Bible. In it was a study of the alphabet with the Bible, a basic doctrinal section, and a prayer book. Five million copies were ultimately sold! The book became an integral tool for educating youth on into the nineteenth century. The volume contained one of the most popular prayers ever quoted from generation to generation, the "Evening Prayer for a Child."

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep;
if I should die before I wake,
I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.

But few remember the "Morning Prayer for a Child" in the book which reads:

Now I wake and see the light;
tis God who kept me through the night.
To Him I lift my voice and pray
that He would keep me through the day;
if I should die before ‘tis done,
O God, accept me through Thy Son. 

Sunday, April 27, 2008

America Must Pray - Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards would be one of most influential spiritual revivalists of the 1730s and 1740s in what would be known as The Great Awakening. The colonies had fallen into spiritual lethargy with many of the citizens who were not born again. Edwards would be known in American church history as an outstanding philosopher, a cutting-edge theologian, and one who continually challenged and cajoled spiritually young seminarians and intellectuals. Edwards had been a missionary to the native Indians, was a pastor of the First Christian Church in Northampton, Massachusetts, but later became the president of what would be called Princeton College of New Jersey. He was president only three months before dying of a failed small pox vaccination.

By the age of seven Edwards used to pray five times a day in secret, and spent much time in "converting" other boys to the Lord. He also spent a lot of time meeting with them in prayer. By his early teens he had lost sight of the efficacy of prayer and the importance of righteous living, claiming to have "returned like a dog to his vomit, and went on in the ways of sin." However at the age of twelve he entered Yale College and later regained his faith after being struck by pleurisy months before his graduation.

The Great Awakening forced Americans to reconsider their spiritual convictions, recognizing that prayers must never be involved as "heat without light." Through Edwards the roots of modern Evangelicalism in America took hold.

Edwards’ writings shaped the thinking of the colonists. He wrote such works as Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer. And he wrote a chilling sermon entitled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Although his contribution to Puritan religious life centered on the composition of sermons rather than prayer, Edwards spoke of prayer continually. In 1747 he wrote a guide to prayer entitled (abridged): God’s People throughout the World in Extraordinary Prayer for Revival.

Edwards said: "There is no way that Christians, in a private capacity, can do so much to promote the work of God and advance the Kingdom of Christ as by prayer." His works were read not only in America but also in England and Scotland. In his book An Humble Attempt, he begged Christians to accept the reality of the Second Coming of Christ and to prepare for it through prayer. He promoted a massive prayer chain, a blueprint, which extended on both sides of the Atlantic. He called it a "Concert of Prayer." He urged the colonies and the British Isles to commit themselves, by international agreement if possible, to use prayer as "the engagement of the heart" as a means to stir spiritual passions.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

America Must Pray - David Brainerd

Born in Connecticut in 1718, David Brainerd had early-on problems that were personal setbacks. Both his father and mother died when he was young and he was raised by an older sister and her family. Besides, he also picked up many maladies including the measles and tuberculosis that ultimately killed him. Nonetheless, as a young man he developed an extraordinarily intense prayer life.

While walking through a dark forest at the age of twenty-one, as he put it, he was "endeavoring to pray" when he felt as if he heard the voice of God as "light dawning." From that day forth he prepared for the Christian ministry and found a home with the Presbyterian Church.

Inspired by The Great Awakening, and the Christian zealousness of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, Brainerd went to Yale to prepare for the ministry. He would feel a calling to reach the Native Americans, the tribes of the Mohegans, the Mahicans, the Delawares, the Susquehannas, and others. He prayed at the outset, "Here I am, Lord, send me, send me to the ends of the earth, even to death itself, ... if it be but in Thy service and to promote Thy Kingdom." Often he would feel depressed but he used prayer to overcome personal "great darkness."

Shored up by prayer, Brainerd walked for thousands of miles to reach the Indians, sometimes going for months and never seeing a white face. He became a living example for generations of missionaries in America. In describing his prayer life, Brainerd said he asked God continually to satisfy his inner deep and longing desire after Him!

When his tuberculosis became more severe, it was Jonathan Edward’s daughter, Jerusha, to whom he had proposed marriage, who began to take care of him like a nurse. The two returned to her parent’s home in Northampton where she nursed him along in his final days. Jonathan Edwards later said that Brainerd’s prayer life was stunning even as he was facing death. Brainerd’s prayers at the invocation of grace at the table were "awe-inspiring." Brainerd and his prayer life were considered the epitome of Christian piety by John and Charles Wesley, the Anglican founders of the Methodist Church.

It was said by these two brothers that Brainerd’s prayer life was like the weaving of the shuttle, the weaving of his life "into their sermons, essays, and even the hymns they created for their evangelistic services."

David Brainerd was truly a man of prayer!

Friday, April 25, 2008

America has lost its way!

America has lost its way! It is repudiating its own laws, and thumbing its nose at the founding principles of from our European culture and our Reformation heritage. But there is no turning back. Yet Christians need to know what is coming at us with our internal moral, cultural, and spiritual failures. Here is an example concerning the burden we're carrying with Illegal Foreigners who despise our sovereignty and laugh at our laws! - Dr. Mal Couch

----A Forward From An Anonymous Source----

1. $11 billion to $22 billion dollars are spent each year on welfare to illegal aliens.

2. $2.2 billion dollars are spent each year on food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens.

3. $2.5 billion dollars are spent each year on Medicaid for illegal aliens.

4. $12 billion dollars are spent each year on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally and they cannot speak a word of English!

5. $17 billion dollars are spent each year for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies.

6. $3 Million Dollars PER DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens.

7. 30% percent of all federal prison inmates are illegal aliens.

8. $90 billion dollars are spent each year on illegal aliens for welfare & social services by the American taxpayers.

9. $200 billion dollars per year in suppressed American wages are caused by the illegal aliens.

10. The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that’s two and a half times that of white non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the US.

11. During the year 2005, there were 4 to 10 MILLION illegal aliens that crossed our southern border with as many as 19,500 illegal aliens from terrorist countries. Millions of pounds of drugs, cocaine, meth, heroine, and marijuana crossed into the U.S. from the southern border.

12. The National Policy Institute, estimates that the total cost of mass deportation would be between $206 and $230 billion, or an average cost of between $41 and $46 billion annually over a five year period.

13. In 2006, illegal aliens sent home $45 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin.

14. The dark side of illegal immigration: Nearly one million sex crimes are committed by illegal immigrants in the United States!”

The total cost is a whopping $ 338.3 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. If this bothers you and raises the hair on the back of your neck, I hope you forward it to every legal resident in the country including every representative in Washington, D.C. - five times a week for as long as it takes to restore some semblance of intelligence in our policies and enforcement thereof.

America Must Pray - Major Reuben Hollis Fleet

Fleet made the fledgling aircraft industry in the United States. He became the head of the Army pilot training before World War I. He was placed into the position of flying chief of the first airmail service in May 1918. He risked his life flying in horrible weather to prove the value of airmail aviation, and aviation in general. He pioneered many of the practices that would bring stability to the world of flying.

During the war he led the advanced flight training program at Brooks Field in San Antonio, TX. After the war he became general manager of Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation. During the twenties and thirties he worked in management with some of the most prestigious aircraft firms in the country in helping develop the state of the art airplanes.

Throughout his career he had a motto that few could forget: "Nothing Short of Right Is Right."

During World War II, and after, Fleet worked on some of the most important aircraft projects America has ever undertaken. He was considered senior adviser to so many projects that they became almost uncountable! He worked on the Liberator project, the B-36, the Delta wing Dagger fighter jet, and many others. Only a few engineers in aviation were as respected as Fleet.

In 1965 he was inducted into the Dayton, Ohio Aerospace Hall of Fame. The presentation read: "Above all, Reuben Fleet was an unabashed patriot. He believed in the basic virtues which made his beloved country great—self reliance, personal integrity, respect for truth, living within one's means, devotion to duty, thrift, belief in God, love of country."

Fleet died in 1975 at the age of eighty-eight. This country today needs more men like Reuben Fleet!

America Must Pray - George Whitefield

George Whitefield was born in Gloucester, England in 1714. He attended Oxford University. Two of his best friends were John and Charles Wesley. Though he began preaching early, there is good evidence he was not as yet born again. In 1735, while praying and fasting, he fainted from hunger. He thought that maybe he was becoming seriously ill and threw himself on his bed, crying "I thirst, I thirst." At that moment, as he later testified, he was born again and became convinced that "God had called on him to spread the gospel message of 'dynamic Christianity.'"

As Whitefield preached he drew large crowds of people. This "pale, pudgy preacher" was spellbinding to his audiences. He constantly admonished them "to be much in prayer." Next to the King of England, he was the most famous figure in the English-speaking world. Reportedly, he gave eighteen thousand sermons in his lifetime and was seen and heard, with his loud booming voice, by a record number of individuals, in the eighteenth century.

Before coming to the colonies, Whitefield’s friend John Wesley, wrote him to come over and bring evangelism to the new nation because "the harvest is so great and the laborers are so few." In America the clergy loathed him but the people revered him. When church doors were closed to him he would speak outdoors. Benjamin Franklin even helped by putting ads in his paper about Whitefield’s speaking engagements. But also being mathematically minded, Franklin would help measure off the common greens where Whitefield would speak so they could figure out how many people they could get into a given area to hear the Word of God! It is even said that Franklin’s personal wealth helped to sustain him financially after he entered into the costly public service.

Because the crowds could be so big, Whitefield had a carpenter build a collapsible, portable pulpit from which he could deliver his messages and "offer spontaneous prayers" for the audiences. Throughout his ministry, his message on prayer was always the same, paraphrased from the New Testament: "Pray, pray, pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17).

It is said that after giving his last message to an audience in Exeter, New Hampshire, he looked out at the crowd and prayed: "Lord Jesus, I am weary in Your work, but not of Your work! If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for You once more in the fields, seal Your truth, and come home and die."

Early the next morning, he died in a pastor’s home. Hearing of his death, thousands of mourners traveled enormous distances to attend the funeral.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Greek Exegesis of the Rapture Passages, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11


By Dr. Mal Couch


The "Day of the Lord" is not describing the rapture of the church. It is a common expression of the Day of Tribulation, the Day of God's Wrath that will last for seven years. Some mistakenly have called this the rapture, and as well, the expression "a Thief in the Night" (v. 2). A thief in the night is not the blessed hope! It is the terror of the tribulation that will soon come upon the earth. The same is true of the day of the Lord. In the Old Testament, the day of the Lord is used some twenty or more times with all of the references referring to that terrible period of God's wrath tumbling upon planet earth!

In the context of these verses the rapture of the church is specifically mentioned in verses 9-10.

1 Thessalonians 5:1

BUT CONCERNING THE TIMES AND THE SEASONS, BROTHERS. (kronos, kairos) kronos has to do with a specific time period while kairos would refer to the season. In other words, the day of the Lord will come at the right time and suitable period of history, moment. Both the extent and character of events are to be noted. (Lightfoot) Both times and seasons are plural denoting a time frame that will run over seven years—these years will be like seasons that God will be using to bring wrath and judgment to the earth. (Vincent) Paul identifies himself with his readers by calling them "brothers."

YOU HAVE NO NEED TO BE WRITTEN TO. The apostle Paul had already explained thoroughly the prophetic plan of the end times. He did not need to repeat his teachings on the subject. The apostle gave to his audiences the full panoramic scope of things to come! He held back nothing. Prophecy seems to be at the center of his exegesis. This is in contrast to many pastors today in Bible churches who say they will not teach prophecy because it is too divisive!

1 Thessalonians 5:2

FOR THESE THINGS ACCURATELY YOU KNOW. Accurately (akribos) shows that Paul taught this church prophecy with a lot of details. He did not generalize the subject but focused on specificity. He wanted to make sure they were informed believers about future events. What a contrast to teachers who say "Well, we can't be sure about the events of Bible prophecy!" And they add, "I'm a pan-millennialist. It'll all just pan out in the end!" How foolish!

THE DAY OF THE LORD AS A THIEF AT NIGHT WILL LIKEWISE COME. Paul quotes Amos 5:18-on to show that the day of the Lord is God's judgment upon all men. (Morris) Paul quotes this passage to show that he is not simply revealing something new. (Ibid) Like a thief in the night; suddenly, unexpectedly will the Lord come, taking unbelievers by surprise as a thief does on those who are asleep. (Calvin) It comes expresses the absolute truth and certainty of that which is being predicted. (Alford) Concerning at night Vincent says:

It is a tradition of the Jews that Messiah will come at midnight after the likeness of that season in Egypt when the Passover was celebrated, and the Destroyer came, and the Lord passed over the dwellings. I think that this idea was perpetuated in the apostolic custom, that, on the day of vigils, at the Paschal, it was not allowed to dismiss the people before midnight, since they expected the advent of the Christ. (Word Studies)

1 Thessalonians 5:3

WHEN THEY SHOULD BE SAYING … The focus shifts now to the period of the start of the tribulation. He shifts from the believer to the unbeliever, they, them. This is happening just before or right at the time of the rapture of the church. Paul uses the third person form of the verb to identify "them" making a strict division between believer and unbeliever, the us and them.

PEACE AND SECURITY. The unbeliever's spiritual blindness is complete; they are talking as if all is well and they have nothing to worry about.

THEN SUDDENLY TO THEM PLACED UPON DESTRUCTION. Suddenly, in the midst of their reverie, destruction is placed upon them. Note the word order in the Greek text: "suddenly to them, place upon, destruction." Suddenly, without warning, catching them by surprise, destruction will be placed upon them.

They will not walk into it nor will it be a natural act. Rather destruction, disaster, ruin of such magnitude and completeness as to be incomprehensible, will descend with purpose and control by someone outside of the unbeliever's realm of existence. The unbelievers are taken by surprise as if they were asleep and this sleep most assuredly comes from a deep contempt of God. (Calvin)

JUST AS THE PAIN IN THE STOMACH THE WOMAN IS HAVING. The word stomach (gastri) is used to describe the location of the child within the womb. "She is having it in the gastri." This is a technical phrase for a pregnant woman. Alford says this expression is used because a pregnant woman, though she doesn't know the day or the hour (the times) of her delivery, she is fully aware of her condition (the season). So the destruction of the tribulation will happen suddenly. This will take place at the beginning of the tribulation when the church is gone in the rapture. The church is removed to get out of the way of this coming terror; the world however thinks possibly that they had escaped its coming.

THEY IN NO WAY SHOULD FIND SAFETY. The use of the double negative ou/me (in no way) makes it clear that there will be no escape from the Lord's wrath. "Should find safety" (Aorist Active Subjunctive). An absolute fact that shows and emphasizes that they will not experience any form of delivery. Regardless of what they do, there will be no deliverance from God's judgment.

BUT YOU, BROTHERS, ARE NOT IN DARKNESS. To be in darkness in this context means to be part of the lost world. And this is not the case of believers. It is the dark, unbelieving world that will be caught in the coming tribulation. This will not happen to "those in Christ."

IN ORDER THAT THE DAY JUST AS A THIEF SHOULD OVERTAKE YOU. Hina/in order that shows the divine arrangement: with God all results are purposed. (Alford) When "in order that" (Subjunctive) is used it expresses results. There is no way the Day of the Lord (the Wrath, the Tribulation) will in any form or fashion overcome the believer. It will not fall upon him. The verb overtake is in the Aorist Active Subjunctive grammatical form. It means to seize with a hostile intent. It is a very strong verb expressing aggressive force. Because the believers are not in darkness, the day of the Lord's wrath will not seize them. They will not be on the earth when that day comes!

1 Thessalonians 5:5

FOR ALL YOU SONS OF LIGHT, ARE THE SONS OF DAY. Believers are "owned" by the light just as unbelievers are "owned" by the night and darkness. No believer needs to fear that he will be surprised by the Day of the Lord. He will not go under the wrath of that tribulation period!

"Sons" identifies a family relationship. This terrible Day of the Lord will not fall on the family of Christ!

WE ARE NOT OF NIGHT OR OF DARKNESS. It is noteworthy how Paul tactfully shifts from the second person "you" to the first person "we." Believers will not go under any form of or even part of the seven year tribulation wrath. But the lost ("they") will face that terrible period. The Present Tense Active Voice of this verb "we are not…" brings a sense of distinction and enthusiasm to the meaning of "we are right now not of darkness", in anyway at this time, etc. All believers are of the day and the light, even the ones not currently living an acceptable Christian lifestyle. Those of the day will not face the Day of the Lord!

1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

Though the child of God is not of the night or of the darkness, he can still be asleep in failing to understand the times he is living in. But Paul makes it clear he will still not go under the terrible wrath that is on its way!

1 Thessalonians 5:9

BUT HE HIMSELF DID NOT APPOINT US TO WRATH. Because the believer will go home in the rapture before the Wrath, he will not see the Day of the Lord, the tribulation. "To appoint" is the Greek verb tithimi. It means "to place" and is in the Aorist Tense. The Aorist probably indicates that the appointment to escape the Wrath was made previously by the Lord.

BUT UNTO POSSESSION OF SALVATION. Salvation ("sozo") here should be translated deliverance. The whole point as seen in the context is that the child of God will be delivered from this terrible Day of Wrath coming. We are already spiritually saved; the issue here is discussing our being rescued/saved from the tribulation period.

1 Thessalonians 5:10

WHETHER WE SHOULD BE AWAKE, WHETHER WE SHOULD SLEEP, WE MAY LIVE TOGETHER WITH HIM. Does the apostle have in mind "whether we are alive or dead," or "whether we are spiritually alert or lethargic"? (BKC) It appears likely that he means the latter because he uses the words for "awake" (gregoreomen) and asleep (katheudomen) the same way he used them in verse 6. Paul had in mind the necessity of being spiritually awake.

God's promise here is made to the believers whether they are mature or spiritually carnal, whether spiritually watchful or not. All those in Christ will escape the wrath, whether walking in maturity or out of fellowship with the Lord (1:10). Paul is not, however, arguing for one to live one's life in carnality, nor is the promise an argument for taking the easy road as a believer, or saying that children of the Lord are free to live however they wish—just the opposite. Instead, the promise is a confirmation of the doctrine of justification by faith. All of our sins have been purged at the cross; our position in Jesus is based on His complete work of redemption. Thus, the promise says that, although our experience in Christ may be weak and may need strengthening, all believers should be longing for the return of their Savior. And if the trumpet should sound tomorrow, all who are physically alive, who belong to Him, will join the resurrected in meeting Him in the air—the rapture! (Mal Couch, Thessalonians Greek Commentary)

1 Thessalonians 5:11

THEREFORE COMFORT ONE ANOTHER AND BUILD UP (EDIFY) ONE ANOTHER. The comforting has to do with two things: the encouraging of the weaker brother spiritually, and the reminder of the rapture and the fact that they will see their loved ones who have gone before. This was a great concern of the Thessalonians as indicated in 4:13. The wording of 5:11 is similar to 4:13. In 4:13, believers are to comfort each other in regard to the truth of the rapture, that is, that the dead in Christ will suddenly go first and then we who are alive will join them. But here in 5:11 we are to comfort one another in reference to the fact that we will not experience the Day of the Lord, and whether asleep or awake we will be with Him: Christ "who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him."

No matter what happens "we shall always be with the Lord" (4:17b).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

America Must Pray - Thomas Paine

In the 1760s Thomas Paine became a catalyst for the Revolutionary war. He was known as being hot-tempered and at times erratic, and an agnostic at best. Theodore Roosevelt called him "that filthy little atheist." But even atheists in the fox hole can call upon God, and that is just what Paine often did. His prayers may not have been sincere but they were brilliant and they inspired the nation in defense of freedom.

Paine often quoted the Old and New Testaments to illustrate the need to pray. He wrote:

So Samuel called unto the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God that we die not for we have added unto our sins this evil, to as for a king.

Paine wrote the treatise called Common Sense which was used to rivet the colonies and even some in Great Britain alike to understand the merits of the revolution. As disingenuous as it may have been coming from Paine, his invoking God and prayer, in effect was trumping the authority of the King of England—a strategic move at that time!

By 1776, Common Sense had been published by a dozen printers from Philadelphia to Boston. One hundred thousand readers had bought the pamphlet.

Another personality stirred by revolution fever was the Christian Virginia lawyer Patrick Henry. He was delighted when a group of Baptist pastors, who were pro-revolutionary, had been jailed for holding prayer services for freedom. Many called these preachers rabble rousers but Henry jumped on his horse and road to defend them in Spotsylvania, Virginia. Being an Anglican, Henry was for anyone who advocated freedom from Britain.

In March of 1775, Henry stood before the Virginia colonial convention and erupted in indignation over British arrogance and the Crown’s disregard for the grievances of its American subjects. Standing before the delegates, he roared forth,

There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our cause. ... Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

When he finished more than one hundred delegates sat in place in complete silence. One young man who was standing but a few feet from Henry said, "Let me be buried on this spot!" Shortly, ministers from all the denominations, including the Rabbis of five synagogues, called for liberation from the Mother Country.

Monday, April 21, 2008

America Must Pray - Jacob Duche

In September of 1774, the British had made it clear that they would use force if necessary to put down dissent against English rule over the colonies. There was a rumor in Philadelphia that they had planned for an incursion in and around Boston. Delegates from the colonies were meeting and knew that their homes and families were in harm’s way. At the meeting Anglican minister Jacob Duche knew that David’s Prayer in Psalm 35 was part of the church reading for the day. He read it before the delegates that included George Washington, John Adams, and Patrick Henry. Duche read: "O Lord, fight against them that fight against me. ... Say to my soul, ‘I [God] am your salvation.’

When he finished reading Duche added spontaneously: "Be Thou present O God of Wisdom and direct the counsel of this honorable Assembly. … May religion (Christianity) and piety prevail and flourish among the people."

Adams wrote in his diary, that the prayer and the emotions that erupted were "as permanent, as affectionate, as sublime, as devout, as I have ever heard offered up to Heaven." Samuel Ward of Rhode Island called it, "One of the most sublime, all-encompassing, well adapted prayers I have ever heard."

The prayers going forth from these great and Godly men were leading the way for the ultimate freedom of the colonies!

But can a good apple turn into bad fruit? Yes, it can. Duche had become one of the first chaplains of the Continental Congress. After the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1776, in that fall Duche astounded his church by resigning his position as chaplain. Without explanation he turned against the Revolution because he felt the colonies did not have a chance against the British. He put thousands of Revolutionary troops at risk be sharing with the British General William Howe much military intelligence about revolutionary troop movements. Duche wrote to George Washington that he should immediately surrender to the English forces. The Congressional delegates were incredulous and called him a "Judas," "fop," and other unkind descriptions.

But the nation would survive the timidity and weakness of such men. It would go on to victory on the prayerful pleas of the vast majority in the new nation who were convinced that it was the Lord of the Bible who was setting them free!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

America Must Pray - John Witherspoon

Over half the ministers in the colonies gave their support to the Revolutionary war. They became chaplains, members of state legislatures, public servants in all fields, and even joined the army to fight. With their help they had the Continental Congress endorse a new Bible, created a national day of prayer and fasting that would be celebrated twice a year throughout the war. They saw the war as a "sinless just cause." They saw the spiritual climate and the renewed spiritual revival in the colonies as a "saving acquaintance with God through prayer."

One of the most famous American clergyman of the Revolution was John Witherspoon. He had come to America to be the president of the College of New Jersey from his native Scotland. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister well known for his piety and intellectual brilliance. As a delegate from New Jersey he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Witherspoon was enlisted behind the scenes to draw up the official declaration about prayer and fasting.

Witherspoon continued to write the official government prayer decrees of Congress. On December 18, 1777, he drafted the first proclamation calling for a day of thanksgiving throughout the colonies. Gratitude and thanksgiving were always in all his prayers. On one occasion he wrote:

We are to adore the Superintending Providence of Almighty God for the innumerable bounties of His Common Providence. ... The citizens of these United States need to continue to rededicate themselves and their cause to Divine Providence, He who is our shield in the day of battle, our comforter in the hour of death and our kind parent and merciful judge through time and through eternity.

Most of the pastors of that day were staunch Presbyterians or Dutch Reformed. They along with many Anglican pastors were Calvinists who held to the absolute sovereignty and total providence of God in all things.

Friday, April 18, 2008

America Must Pray - Benjamin Franklin

Many historians believe Franklin was at best a deist but the jury is still out as to that issue. Franklin was generally quiet about spiritual things, but not always. Many of the colonial leaders kept their faith, or lack of, in silence. As with Abraham Lincoln, they rejected the denominational and sectarian bickering and disputes but their trust in God, and Christ, may have been genuine. So with Benjamin Franklin!

With George Washington chairing the proceedings, Constitutional convention delegates poured into Philadelphia in the middle of September 1789. Tempers flared and debates proliferated. Realizing the squabbles were becoming more heated and susceptible to political impasse, Franklin took to the floor out of frustration and addressed the delegates on the importance of their turning to prayer. In doing so he gave his most inspiring speech ever!

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probably that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."

Without His concurring aid we shall succeed, in this political building, no better than the builders of the Tower of Babel. Do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance now that we have won the war of independence?

I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate at this service.

Roger Sherman of Connecticut seconded the motion, though others sat in silence. They were either embarrassed or unconvinced that in drafting a constitution there was need for prayer. But because the Congress was debating the issue of separation of Church and State, they were afraid to follow Franklin’s advice. That issue had to do with a formal State church, or denomination, having dominance over the political affairs of the nation, not the fact that God could be beseeched for His guidance in the blessings of the realm!

Franklin’s suggestion was temporarily defeated but later assemblies understood the wisdom of his words because he had earlier reminded them: "In the beginning of this contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of dangers, we had daily prayer in this room for divine protection. Now we no longer need His help?" Those words must have taken deep roots. Because in time, prayer would become the standard opener for various governmental bodies in America for generations to come.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

America Must Pray - Early Christian Colleges

By the conclusion of the Revolutionary war there were already two dozen institutions of higher learning in America, dedicated to Christian principles and various disciplines to benefit the new nation. They supplied the colonies with politicians, lawyers, doctors, clergymen, and merchants. They cast a wide shadow in their influence on the affairs of building America. Each college had been founded by a specific church or denomination and was watched over by Godly ministers. They set out to provide, in their own words, "a truly Christian education."

Even Benjamin Franklin, often mistaken as a deist, understood the value of these Christian institutions for the nation. He helped found the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania) with a rigorous morning and evening prayer time and of worship. In these awesome and blessed all-male institutions, the men rose at four and five o’clock for prayer. A brief sermon and prayer was led by one of the professors. If a student missed, he forfeited the next meal! The day would end with another prayer time, seeking and asking God’s guidance for the next.

On Sundays the time for spiritual contemplation was even more intense. Longer services and invocations were held, with the president of the college delivering the messages. For decades, such rigors of Bible study and prayer were maintained with few complaints. One graduate observed "The students as a rule preserved order in the Prayer Hall, because they realized that any disrespect to Christianity would bring speedy and severe punishment."

But students would often be students, having fun with the administration for comic relief! Before prayer on one occasion, the students placed a stuffed raccoon behind the Bible on the podium. The poor raccoon was seen by all smiling down at all the students and faculty as they filed into the room. How the school’s professors responded is not recorded!

In these prayer times, as one student wrote, "Together, the president and the students beseeched God to instill in them diligence in their studies and good moral character in their lives, affirming through prayer that we all intended to promote the glory of God and the good of all mankind."

In time, such honor to God in these services disappeared and almost all of these early institutions departed from the faith. But all who participated affirmed that prayer sustained these schools of higher learning for generations before they finally departed and went into a form of godless apostasy!

America Must Pray - Robert Morris

Toward the end of the Revolutionary war, the Continental Congress was running out of money. Fifty thousand dollars were needed to tide the troops over. The entire war effort hung in the balance, especially with several months of cold weather ahead.

Robert Morris had come to America as a teenager from Liverpool, England. He had become a very successful merchant, utilizing the port of Philadelphia to great advantage in moving goods to Britain. Morris was stretched to the limit in trying to help the war effort. On New Year’s Eve he decided to attend St. George’s Methodist Church in Philadelphia for an all night prayer vigil to ask God’s help to sustain the soldiers at Valley Forge just a few miles away.

Leaving the church at midnight he began going from door to door asking for funds to sustain the war. He awakened his wealthy friends asking for their help. By the end of the first day of the New Year, he had convinced merchants to help him secure the necessary monies. Within hours Washington was told that his troops would have the provisions, equipment, guns, and ammunition they so badly needed.

It would be nearly three years from that winter in Valley Forge before Washington and his men routed the British at Yorktown, effectively ending the war. Prayer had played an integral role in the hard-fought and decisive defeat of the British, as it would in the formation of the new republic. Many of the people in America would not forget what the Lord had done. On July 4, 1783, the first recorded celebration of American independence took place in the Moravian community of Salem, North Carolina, where the entire day was spent in prayerful thanksgiving. The people gathered, prayed, sang hymns, feasted on sweet cakes, partook of fine wine, until it was time for bed. For them, July 4 was not simply a time of setting off fire works, it was truly a time of prayer and of remembering the blessings of their new found freedoms.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Angelic World

Part One and Part Two of Clifton Bible Church's Monday Night Bible Study is now available to listen to online. Taught by Senior Elder, Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Highlights of Jeremiah

Currently, Dr. Mal Couch is teaching the highlights of the book of Jeremiah at Clifton Bible Church on Sunday Mornings. Here are the latest audio files in that series.

America Must Pray - Chief Justice John Marshall

By the 1830s America was growing. It had been through several wars and had survived. With freedom came an implicit understanding for most people of the need to turn to God through prayer. This fact made an impression on Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall. It was said of him that he balanced his public duties with a deep, private belief in God. But Marshall was more than just a praying justice. It was said that he had indisputably the most important influence in the formation of the Supreme Court.

Marshall was a writer and he became the biographer of Washington. He reinforced the idea of Washington’s Christian virtues and piety.

Marshall began his prayers each evening with the famous: "Now I lay me down to sleep …" While this prayer was well-known and simple it was yet profound. The Chief Justice did not mind calling out to the Lord with these simple lines.

Marshall had his own struggles. He was extremely devoted to his wife, Martha, who was an invalid for most of their forty-two years of marriage. Marshall often knelt at her bedside while he prayed for her, and with her!

It was at this time that the French literary author, Alexis de Tocqueville, came to America to find out what made this nation tick. He traveled the length and breadth of the land and came to the conclusion:

The religious (Christian) atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me on arrival in the United States. The longer I stayed in the country, the more conscious I became of the important political consequence resulting from this novel situation.

In France I had seen the spirits of Christianity and of freedom almost always marching in the opposite directions. In America I found them intimately linked together in joint reign over the same land.

My longing to understand this phenomenon increased daily.

Monday, April 14, 2008

America MUST Pray - The Four Chaplains

On February 3, 1943, the troop ship Dorchester was sailing from St. John, Newfoundland to Iceland with nine hundred soldiers. The waters were cold and it was midnight when a German submarine torpedoed the ship. In the dark the ship's whistle began to blare—the ship was sinking. On board were four Army chaplains: one Catholic, a Methodist, a Jewish rabbi, and a Dutch Reformed clergyman named Clark Poling. Before the ship sailed Poling told his family, "Don't pray for my safe return, pray that I do my duty."

As the vessel was sinking everyone was grabbing life jackets. Seeing that some were without one, the four chaplains took off their own vests and handed them to four men who had none standing at the railing. As the ship sank, those soldiers in the water and in lifeboats could see the chaplains with arms linked and bracing themselves as they went down. Because of the cold water only about two hundred men survived the sinking. Almost all of those who lived ended up with some kind of physical impairment for the rest of their lives, but none could forget the sacrifice of these chaplains who perished under the waves.

In the years that followed, in the military chapels, from West Point to Fort Snelling, Minnesota, stain glass windows were etched with the portrays of these four brave and self-sacrificing chaplains. In 1960, Congress honored the men by striking a distinctive Congressional Medal of Honor that was awarded to them posthumously.

America Must Pray - James Madison

Like many men in the generation of leaders in his day, Madison did not often speak publicly of his Christian commitment. Yet when he was younger he had prepared for the ministry at the College of New Jersey, later to be named Princeton. In order to prepare, he studied the Old Testament, classical languages, including Hebrew, and spent an extra year in college for more study. It is said he immersed himself during that time in the rigors of a regimen of prayer.

As president, he and his family resided in the Executive Mansion with St. John’s Episcopal Church just across the street. The family joined the church and worshipped and prayed there often. The family occupied pew 54. This pew was later reserved for the use of all future presidents of the United States.

During the war of 1812 with England, Madison called for the country to pray and fast on several occasions. Congress urged him (and he agreed) to call for prayer, remembering the catalytic effect prayer had on the nation during the Revolutionary War three decades earlier. Rather than calling for prayer for divine intervention, Madison beseeched America to acknowledge fully its sins and to ask for God’s divine redemption to absolve the country’s past transgressions. He recommended the third Thursday in August to be set apart for the purposes of rendering homage to the Sovereign of the Universe.

In his letter to the nation Madison wrote: "That God would take the American people under His peculiar care and protection, and that He would guide their public councils." He prayed that God would "turn the hearts of our enemies from the violence and injustice which sway their councils against us, and that He would hasten a restoration of the blessings of peace."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

America Must Pray - Francis Scott Key

The great test for the new nation following the War of Independence was what was known as the War of 1812. Old wounds had not healed and this was a renewed conflict with England. The British were forcefully boarding American ships at sea. They were searching for AWOL British sailors. In the struggle the city of Washington was burned by the English in direct retaliation for the torching of British facilities in Canada.

Prayer was being offered up in all the churches to end the conflict. Patriotism was in full bloom and it touched a lawyer who had argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, Francis Scott Key. Having been caught behind enemy lines, Key was made a British prisoner. He was on board an English ship as the harbor of Baltimore was bombarded with a relentless barrage. As the smoke cleared Key saw the American flag still waving. He jotted down some poetic lyrics he called "The Defense of Fort McHenry." But the poem was renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner" by a Baltimore newspaper.

Many do not know that in the original poem there was the phrase "In God is our Trust." This became when later made popular, "In God We Trust." The poem and the song that followed became an overnight success but it was not until 1931 that the U.S. Congress officially designated it the country’s national anthem.

Timothy Dwight was a well educated pastor and a longtime friend of George Washington. He wrote what is thought to be the oldest hymn by an American still in common use today. Some of the lines read:

I love Your kingdom, Lord,
The church our blessed Redeemer saved.
I love Your church, O God,
Dear as the apple of Your eye.

Dwight also wrote many essays and poems that parents read to their children. Dwight challenged parents with this essay: "All the duties of Christianity are eminently solemn and venerable in the eyes of children. But none will so strongly prove the sincerity of the parent; none so powerfully awaken the reverence of the child, none so happily recommend the instruction he receives as what is given at family devotion."

Dwight lived by example. He and his family gathered daily for prayer.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

America Must Pray - Sarah Josepha Hale

Mrs. Hale was widowed at thirty-four with five small children. Nonetheless she pursued a career in writing and publishing. Gifted and talented, and a hard worker, she quickly became America’s first female editor. She acquired in 1828 the Ladies’ Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book. These became formidable publications for the first half of the nineteenth century.

Besides having general articles of interest for her women readers, Mrs. Hale used these periodicals to advance prayers, needed spiritual articles, and topical opinions to a highly diverse mass readership. Deeply religious, Mrs. Hale had a tremendous influence on women in America. She helped finance the all-female Vassar College, which today, as with most older schools, has gone south into socialism and liberalism!

Committed also to children’s work, Mrs. Hale founded the first nursery schools. She wrote a book of nursery rhymes which included the well-known "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Millions of children were raised up on this volume entitled Poems for Our Children, published in 1830. Mrs. Hale inspired Abraham Lincoln to institute Thanksgiving. He found Hale to be an inspiration, remembering how the widow with five children had turned tragedy into such an accomplished life. Hale had tried for many years to impress upon the public of the importance of such a gesture. She wrote in 1858: "Would it not be more noble, more truly American, to become national in unity when we offer God our tribute of joy and gratitude for the blessings of the year" with a Thanksgiving celebration?

Friday, April 11, 2008

America MUST Pray - Eddy Rickenbacker

Rickenbacker joined the Army to fight in Europe during World War I. He began his career in 1917 as the chauffeur of the U.S. Commander of the European forces, General John J. Pershing. But he transferred to the newly formed Army Air Corp, the Ninety-fourth Aero Pursuit Squadron. In time he became the "Ace of Aces" by shooting down twenty-six German aircraft in daring dogfights. Because of this he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. With his fame, when he returned to the States, he founded in 1921 General Motors and helped design automobiles. In time he headed up and purchased for himself that company's new division, Eastern Airlines. He built it into the first profitable commercial airline in history.

Following the attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, no one was more qualified to inspect our American air units' readiness than Rickenbacker. When he returned from England on a tour of bases there, he met with Secretary of War Henry Stimson who lost no time in assigning him to the Pacific to continue reviewing Allied readiness in that theater of operation.

Flying from Hawaii in a B-17, Rickenbacker and six members of the crew realized midway that they had faulty navigational equipment and were hundreds of miles off course over the ocean. They had to ditch in the sea some six hundred miles from the Samoa Islands. Constructing three makeshift life rafts they had to hold on for dear life, hoping that some ship would find them. They floated for twenty-one days with no water and food. "In the daytime we prayed for the coolness of the nights; nights we craved the sun," he remembered.

One crewman, Private Johnny Bartek, had grabbed a New Testament with Psalms, from the plane. The men read David's prayers over and over again, and the words of Christ: "Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Rickenbacker added that with the daily singing of hymns and their prayer services, the men were able to "release something" in the midst of all their anxieties, and "the talk for the first time became intensely personal." By the end of the first week two of the men became angry at God because they were not rescued, but the rest went on praying with deep-felt hope. Rickenbacker never gave in to feelings of despair.

One morning after prayer, a seagull landed on his head. With his bare hands he captured the bird. The men drank the blood and ate even the bones. From the gut they made bait to catch fish by which "that seagull kept us alive."

After the war Rickenbacker made strong recommendations as to what planes should carry to save men downed over the water. He also wrote a book about his experiences: "Seven Came Through". He did not forget the role Divine Providence had played in his rescue and wrote a prayer of gratitude that was widely circulated to the troops and to Americans on the home front:

For thy rod and thy staff comforted me even unto the four corners of the world. I have sinned, O Lord, but through thy mercies thou hast shown me the light of thy saving grace.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

America Must Pray - Timothy Dwight

Timothy Dwight was a well educated pastor and a longtime friend of George Washington. He wrote what is thought to be the oldest hymn by an American still in common use today. Some of the lines read:

I love Your kingdom, Lord,
The church our blessed Redeemer saved.
I love Your church, O God,
Dear as the apple of Your eye.

Dwight also wrote many essays and poems that parents read to their children. Dwight challenged parents with this essay: "All the duties of Christianity are eminently solemn and venerable in the eyes of children. But none will so strongly prove the sincerity of the parent; none so powerfully awaken the reverence of the child, none so happily recommend the instruction he receives as what is given at family devotion."

Dwight lived by example. He and his family gathered daily for prayer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

America Must Pray - The New England Primer Improved

The popular New England Primer was revised and turned into a new and improved version. While published in New York it went in circulation throughout the school systems of the country. The Introduction read: The writer of the following book, having been impressed with the sentiment, that a concise treatise, calculated to instruct children in the duty of prayer, is much needed. … Parents and teachers, conscientiously engaged in training up youth in the ways of PIETY, will reflect, that prayer is the first and last duty of the sinner; that children must be taught not only diligently, but early, a sense of obligation to God for all His mercies, and likewise the duty of asking them from Him by prayer.

For older children came another book entitled Juvenile Devotion. This poem was put in the book to inspire morning prayer:

While many younger far than I,
Last night by death were snatch’d away,
The angel of the Lord has kept
My health in safety while I slept.

The evening prayer read:

While many younger far than I,
This day by death were snatch’d away,
My wand’ring steps have been His care,
To guard from death and every snare.

Another widely circulated book followed for family use entitled Family Prayer. It was to be used for family devotionals and "to take the lead in ensuring that their children became constant in their prayers as the sure path to a virtuous life." The book insisted that fathers should read to their children not mothers unless fathers have died. "It stressed the need for such fathers, not mothers, to take the lead in ensuring that their children became constant in these prayers." The Introduction read:

The utility of books of this description in a Christian country can be questioned by none. There is not a Christian father of a family, who is not urged to acknowledge his obligations to the author, by whom he is furnished with the means of guiding the devotions of his household, and of teaching those, whose spiritual as well as temporal interests, are committed to his care, how, suitable, to address themselves to the Father of their spirits, the Preserver of their lives, the Bestower of their blessings, and the Redeemer of their souls."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

America MUST Pray - Harry Hopkins

In the late 1930s Harry Hopkins was the confidant adviser of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. When World War II began in September 1939, the President knew it could spill over to America. It was just a matter of time. The Battle of Britain began in the summer of 1940 and that nation was struggling to survive. England was the only bastion of democracy in Europe and it could not hold on forever alone against Nazi tyranny.

As is true today, most Americans were foolishly pacifistic about entering the war. They would have let Europe die on the vine and fall under the German onslaught. Roosevelt had to move cautiously because of the blindness and the stupidity of the American population. The best he could do was to send his envoy, Hopkins, to England to meet with Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

In London, Churchill held a dinner for Hopkins. After the meal, Hopkins rose to address Churchill with these remarks:

I suppose you wish to know what I am going to say to President Roosevelt on my return. Well, I am going to quote to you one verse from that Book of Books, and the Song of Solomon 1:16. “Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” And then he paused and with almost a whisper, he said, “Even to the end.”

History records that Churchill began to weep openly. It was not going to be a matter of “if” but “when” the full force of the U.S. would be engaged in the war to help England survive!

Returning to Washington, Hopkins wasted no time in debriefing the President. He reported that it was imperative that Roosevelt meet with Churchill personally. This came about in August when an American cruiser, with the President onboard, sailed into Placentia Bay, Newfoundland where he would meet with Churchill who had arrived on the newly commissioned battleship, HMS Prince of Wales.

For an open church service, both Roosevelt and Churchill met on the fantail of the Prince of Wales along with hundreds of British and American seamen joining to sing and worship the Lord. A chaplain prayed: “O Lord God, whose compassions fail not, support, we entreat Thee, the peoples who are now under the terrors of invasion. … Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Prayers continued: “Save us and deliver us from the hands of our enemies; abate their pride, assuage their malice. Establish our hearts, O God.”

Some of the great hymns of the faith were then sung. “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” along with “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Having been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy during World War I, Roosevelt asked that they also sing the navy hymn: “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.” After the war, Churchill wrote about this meeting that the prayer service had been a “deeply moving expression of the unity of faith of our two peoples, and that none who took part in it will ever forget the spectacle.” He added, “There were there British and American sailors joining fervently together in the prayers and hymns familiar to both. Every word seemed to stir the heart. It was a great hour to live.”

Despite the pride and spiritual warmth of the day, the occasion would be bittersweet. In a few months the Prince of Wales would be sunk by the Japanese and half of those young British sailors who sang with such heart-felt gusto perished.

Monday, April 7, 2008

America MUST Pray - Warren G. Harding

Harding was the first of the post-World War I presidents. And he was considered the country’s worst commander in chief, allowing the nation to slip into corruption that flourished in his administration. He showed little intellect or forceful leadership. And yet God would later on get a hold of him spiritually.

As a college student Harding flirted with atheism, but as he entered politics, he seemed to have a conversion and became a regular worshipper in the Baptist Church. After being elected President in 1920, he is reportedly to have said: “It is not time for exultation but for prayer to God to make me capable of playing my part,” but his administration seemed to go downhill from there.

In 1922 his wife, Florence, who was ambitious for him, came down with kidney disease, and for some time, lapsed in and out of a comma. When he realized he was going to lose her, he sat outside of her sickroom and “obsessively” recited the 121st Psalm over and over again. This Psalm appealed to the Lord’s Divine Providence: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” By the end of September, Florence had recovered considerably and began to function normally, though kidney failure ultimately took her life.

After her recovery, Harding died in San Francisco while returning from a trip to Alaska. How he died we are not sure. Some have surmised from the pressure of his administration scandals. Historians can only speculate because there was no autopsy performed after his death. Many are unsure of Harding’s salvation. If he was a true believer in Christ his spiritual carnality got the better of him in the final years of his life.

America MUST Pray - Calvin Coolidge

Harding’s Vice President, Coolidge, became the new commander in chief following Harding’s death. Hearing of Harding’s passing, Coolidge and his wife knelt down by the bed and prayed. He humbly asked the Lord to bless him as he served the American people. He was told of the President’s death while on vacation at his farm in Vermont. Because of this he was sworn into office by his father, who was a local justice of the peace.

Coolidge was dubbed “Silent Cal” by journalists because he was always reticent to speak in public. He was the epitome of New England cool and puritanical piety. He and his wife Grace had their troubles. They lost their sixteen year old son from food poisoning. Grace composed a prayer that was circulated across the country entitled “The Open Door” that spoke of God leading us along the path to the glories of His grace. It clearly struck many as the cry of an agonizing mother.

Although Coolidge was popular he never stood for reelection. He left office when things seemed to be going well in America. He was followed by Herbert Hoover who was the President when the Great Depression hit the nation and the world. Hoover was a Quaker who prayed with the stock market crashed: “I need the help of Almighty God in this service to my country.” Hoover said there was two times Americans needed privacy: When praying and when fishing! Hoover became the scapegoat for the cataclysm of the Depression.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

America Must Pray - Dwight Lyman Moody

Moody was a veteran of the Civil War. He realized the spiritual damage that the war had done to American society. After the war he began to reach out to the orphans and street kids in Chicago. He set up Sunday school classes for their Bible training and for evangelism. He established lay training Bible Institutes that at one time had over 1200 men and woman in formal classes. He moved his school to Chicago; it was named later Moody Bible Institute.

Moody published in 1884 one of the most popular and most read books of his generation, Prevailing Prayer. In it he talked about prayers for thanksgiving and for petitions before God. He wrote, "Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer. You will find that prayer has been a mighty power that has moved not only God, but man."

In his huge evangelistic services, Moody had song leader Ira Sankey lead in the singing. Sankey popularized such songs as "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Moody, a former shoe salesman, could relate to the common man and to pastors as well. Moody and Sankey became the most successful team in American religious history.

Following in the footsteps of Moody was a spiritual giant, a writer and speaker, Phillips Brooks. He was known as the "Prince of the Pulpit." After spending Christmas Eve in the Holy Land, he wrote one of the most famous Christmas carols, "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Brooks was famous for one-liners such as "Pray not for crutches but for wings." His statement "I do not pray for a lighter load, but for a stronger back." This was quoted by Theodore Roosevelt and John Kennedy. Brooks influenced Helen Keller who credited him for inspiring her to make more accessible prayer books in Braille, in larger print, and in audio format.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Death of Harvard University

Harvard actually died long ago but they put the grave stone over the school recently with the takeover of Muslims on campus. For the last several months a Muslim muezzin gave a call to prayer on the Harvard Yard. The few Muslim women on campus have been given special privileges in the gym to separate them from other women at the University. No one knows how to stop the Muslim "invasion" that gives them special rights. They are not stupid, however. They know how to push and push in order to intrude on the ways of this nation. They can get away with their antics because American "Christianity" has become brain dead. It gave away and discarded its biblical heritage and now is morally and spiritually impotent and has no answers.

This is a far cry from the early blessings of the founding of the school.

The principle men of the colony, twelve in all, headed up the school as the governors, including John Winthrop. This was in the days of male leadership when men were role models who led young men into the field of higher learning.

Harvard is named after a young Puritan minister, John Harvard (1607-38) who came to America from England, was continually ill, and died at an early age. He left his library and his estate worth around eight hundred pounds to help the school along. The school was established in 1636 by the General Court of Massachusetts. They voted on four hundred pounds for the founding of a "Schoole." This was the first time it is said a free people voted on a sum of money to establish an institution of higher learning. Harvard's gift inspired others to contribute to start a school for the training of ministers.

The school had classes taught in Latin. There were also extensive studies in Hebrew and Greek. Only a handful of men graduated in the first class of 1642.

Part of the curriculum consisted of studies in:

  • Rhetoric: "How to speak aptly is better than to speak wrongly."
  • Grammar: "The English language is second to none."
  • Ethics: "There is no true friendship among the wicked."

It would be interesting to know what John Harvard would now think of his school if he saw the Muslim encroachment into the life of the institution. By the way, it was in 1639 that the school was officially named after him.

Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Who Are the Kings of the East? By Dr. Mal Couch

As events in the Far East unfold, with China growing in international influence, the question comes up again, Who are the kings of the East in Revelation 16:12? Could this be a reference to China in regard to some of the final events of the tribulation? The answer is yes! But first, it is important to analyze as much as possible all we can about the verse.

Revelation 16:12 takes place toward the end of the seven year tribulation. It is the Sixth Bowl of Wrath that exhibits the full anger of the Lord against a rebellious and evil world. This bowl of wrath focuses on "the great river, the Euphrates." The verse reads:

And the sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river, the Euphrates;
and its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings from the east.

The Euphrates has always been seen as a geographical and political divide in the Middle East. Though it ran almost through the middle of ancient Babylon, it was seen as a barrier from forces that might descend upon the Middle East, Africa, or Eastern Europe, bringing the barbarian nations from the Far East.

One view is that this is a way of describing in the end times the movement of the forces of that region, i.e. all the Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Iraq who would conspire to come against Israel in the final days. But a more prominent view would say these "kings" are the heads of state for nations further to the East, India and/or China. India has never been an aggressor power that attempted to break out of the Indian Continent, though that is not impossible in an end time scenario. But the more plausible answer would be that these kings represent China.

John the Apostle

When John the apostle was writing Revelation the vast area of China was controlled by various dynasties and war lords. Now we see China as one large socialistic and communist nation but of course this was not the case in John's day.

I believe the verse is referring to China but I dare not be dogmatic or do my prophecy studies based on current news. I always am quick to say, "It seems to be that this is possible ...…"

Prophecy Teachers

Most dispensational and premillennial prophecy teachers have felt that the "kings of the East" referred to China, though Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost is not sure. He does write however:

Revelation 16:12 reveals that some supernatural event brings about the removal of that which kept the Asiatic powers from coming into the region of the Holy Land to challenge the authority of the Beast. Just who these forces will be, represented as the Kings of the East, can not be determined. But their coming brings us to the final stage of the campaign of Armageddon. They are brought toward the plains of Esdraelon for the purpose of meeting the armies of the Beast in conflict. (Things to Come)

Walvoord adds:

The drying-up of the Euphrates is a prelude to the final act of the drama, not the act itself. We must conclude, then, that the most probable interpretation of the drying-up of the Euphrates is that by an act of God its flow will be interrupted even as were the waters of the Red Sea and of Jordan. This time the way will open not for Israel but for those who are referred to as the Kings of the East. The evidence points, then, to a literal interpretation of Revelation 16:12 in relation to the Euphrates.

China—A Worldwide Dominant Power

According to Daniel 11:36-45 the king in the passage will arise during the tribulation "and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god" (v. 36). The apostle Paul quotes this passage and confirms for us that this is clearly a reference to the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3-5). "At the end time" the Antichrist will hear of an invasion coming from the king of the South, probably Egypt and other African powers (Dan. 11:40, 42).

Then a threat arises from the East and from the North that will "disturb him, and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many" (v. 44). To protect and consulate his forces the Antichrist sets up "his royal pavilion" (his military headquarters) between the seas (between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea) and the beautiful Holy Mountain; "yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him" (v. 45).

This power from the East is probably this great force coming from China. While we want to be careful and avoid being dogmatic on this, all signs are leading to this as a possibility. Today, China could field an army of more than 300,000,000 men! She is now the leading producing nation even above both America and Japan. China's buildup of forces is taking place at an alarming rate. She is working toward a full submarine force and also desiring to build aircraft carriers that will give her complete mobility around the world.

The Pentagon says "China's expanding and improving military capabilities are changing East Asia military balances." America now imports almost everything from China, from drugs, to toys, and almost all electronic goods. She is a producing nation; we are the consuming nation! The label "Made in China" is actually supporting her fast growing military buildup! China is now spending $139 billion each year on her military growth. She is also the largest holder of American bonds and debt. We are beholding to her. We are no longer the dominant power on earth, yet we are almost the only country standing behind Israel. What will happen when we can no longer be Israel's defense?

In my opinion China will be the great force from the East that will invade the Middle East in the tribulation period.


On Revelation 16:12 Scott writes:

The Euphrates formed the limit in the east of the Roman conquest, and the eastern boundary of enlarged Palestine in the future. It has ever stood as a geographical barrier - a natural separating bulwark between the west and the east. The barrier is removed by an act of judgment.

The reason of divine judgment on the river is "that the way of the kings 'from' (not 'of' as in the AV) the rising of the sun might be prepared. It is not the king of the east, but from the east.

Pentecost summarizes: "It can thus be concluded that the second great opposing Gentile force will be that composed of the coalition of nations in Asia, who unite against this threat of world-wide dominion by the head of the Roman empire," the Antichrist.

It is my opinion that the compelling commodity that drives the whole world into the Middle East is the oil reserves, coupled with doing the Arab nations a favor - attempting to get rid of the Jewish state in the process!

America Must Pray - William Holmes McGuffey

He would end up being a force to contend with. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, educator, and president of Ohio University and even several other colleges. But to get there he taught himself. Born in 1800 and raised in a poor household in Pennsylvania, he was blessed with a Godly mother, Anna. Often she would stop her work outdoors and fall on her knees with William by her side and pray. She would be totally immersed in prayer, seeking God’s help in raising her son.

Coming down the road one day was a Reverend Thomas Hughes, the headmaster of the local Greersburg Academy. Anna shared with him her poverty and asked if somehow he could help William. The headmaster enrolled William in his school so that he could receive some formal education. Anna’s prayers were answered!

William McGuffey after college realized that children needed more than the standard The New England Primer. He wanted to add to the education of children a sense of what the Bible is all about and about the need for them to learn how to pray. He selected material from Longfellow, Whittier, and Thoreau. He emphasized precision in English grammar and gave to children wonderful stories and poems to memorize.

As he updated his books he made direct reference to God and to prayer. In his first reader he wrote: At the close of day before you go to sleep, you should not fail to pray to God to keep you from sin and from harm. You should thank Him for all his good gifts; and learn, while young, to put your trust in Him; and the kind care of God will be with you, both in your youth and in your old age.

Unfortunately, after his death in 1873, subsequent editions of his books removed some of the stronger references to God and prayer. This was because of the slow growth of modernity creeping into American education. It was a repudiation of Puritan values and the influence of modern German theories of education. The educational traditions that took this nation far would feel the seismic shift of the times.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thank You Letter

Dear Dr. Mal Couch,
                       Greetings in the wounderful name of Lord Jesus Christ!
We have to received a box of books, dated 1 April 2008. We are  very thankful to you and your all friends that help you for this good work. I am studying  these books, they are really very helpful in my pastoral work. I will send you the feedbacks on these books. Please pray for us & our work becuse we are working in a Muslim country name "Pakistan".
God Bless you & your work.
Thanks and warm regards.
In the name of Jesus Christ!
Yours brother in Christ,
(name withheld to protect identity)

America Must Pray - Sherman's March to the Sea

It was 1864 and near the end of the Civil War and Sherman was making his sixty mile march to the sea. To end the war quickly Sherman was using a scorched earth policy destroying everything in his path. While the destruction was terrible this tactic would end the conflict soon.

As they marched many of the regimental bands were playing "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow." The men sang the song as they marched along; the song they had heard in their churches back home. Unwittingly Sherman would write in his diary a line that would later become another most popular hymn: "God will take care of them." In the same diary he would make a statement that would become known for decades: "War is hell."

In the South, General Robert E. Lee took every moment to encourage his men to pray. He would often dismount his horse and join his troops in their prayer meetings.

In the weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg, when Jefferson Davis, as he had on so many other occasions, called on the Confederacy to observe a day of "fasting, humiliation, and prayer." General Lee sent out order to his men that "all military duties except those absolutely necessary be suspended" on that day.

Both men were believers and men of prayer and fasting. How strange it is that this war pitted Christian against Christian!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

America Must Pray - Julia Ward Howe

Julia was the daughter of a wealthy New York banker. She was exposed to many hymns that had come across the sea from England such as "Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus," "Rock of Ages," and "Onward Christian Soldiers." As a writer and poet from New England, Mrs. Howe wanted to contribute something to the war effort. A pastor by the name of James Clark suggested some of the new words she had written as a poem/prayer be turned into a song using the melody of the familiar "John Brown’s Body." Mrs. Howe wrote all night long and by dawn the final words had come to her.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea;
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me;
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

This became known as The Battle Hymn of the Republic.