Praying for VBS from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Guest post by Gretta Weaver. Gretta prepared this as a prayer guide for our church in preparation for our Vacation Bible School. I post it here in case others would like to use it for their Vacation Bible School or adapt it for other children’s ministries.

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Galatians 1:1-3

  • Thank God for it the power of the gospel that He used to save us from our sins.
  • Pray that workers and teachers of VBS would proclaim the gospel that saves and allow it to motivate them this week in serving.

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:11-12

  • Pray that God would reveal himself to the children through the gospel this week at VBS.
  • Pray that the teachers would be able to present the gospel clearly. Pray for the children to respond through faith and repentance.

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
Galatians 2:4-5

  • Pray that God would have shield the VBS classes from untruths that would distort and confuse the gospel truth.
  • Pray for those who are hearing a false gospel regularly (at their home church or from their family) that they would hear the true gospel and respond by faith and repentance.
  • Pray that parents would recognize the difference and believe the true gospel.

Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Galatians 2:10

  • Pray that God send poor, dirty, misbehaving children who have been hurt.
  • Pray that we would be compassionate and love them like Jesus would.
  • Pray that God would send outcasts and those who are difficult to deal with due to broken homes, poverty, and sin.
  • Pray that God would equip, by His Holy Spirit to minister to these children instead of criticizing them to others.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:14

  • Pray that this would be the attitude of workers toward each other, as well as the children.

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:15

  • Pray that as the week goes on and the workers get tired, that they recognize the temptations of the enemy to cause disunity and be intentional with encouraging one another and promoting peace.

 

Vincent of Lérins (434) on How to Steer Clear of Heresy

We said, further, that in this same ecclesiastical antiquity two points are very carefully and earnestly to be held in view by those who would keep clear of heresy: first, they should ascertain whether any decision has been given in ancient times as to the matter in question by the whole priesthood of the Catholic Church, with the authority of a General Council: and, secondly, if some new question should arise on which no such decision has been given, they should then have recourse to the opinions of the holy Fathers, of those at least, who, each in his own time and place, remaining in the unity of communion and of the faith, were accepted as approved masters; and whatsoever these may be found to have held, with one mind and with one consent, this ought to be accounted the true and Catholic doctrine of the Church, without any doubt or scruple.

Vincent of Lérins, “The Commonitory of Vincent of Lérins,” in Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lérins, John Cassian, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. C. A. Heurtley, vol. 11, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1894), 153–154.

Clement of Rome (c. A.D. 97) on the Peace and Harmony of the Universe

The heavens, revolving under His government, are subject to Him in peace. Day and night run the course appointed by Him, in no wise hindering each other. The sun and moon, with the companies of the stars, roll on in harmony according to His command, within their prescribed limits, and without any deviation. The fruitful earth, according to His will, brings forth food in abundance, at the proper seasons, for man and beast and all the living beings upon it, never hesitating, nor changing any of the ordinances which He has fixed. The unsearchable places of abysses, and the indescribable arrangements of the lower world, are restrained by the same laws. The vast unmeasurable sea, gathered together by His working into various basins, never passes beyond the bounds placed around it, but does as He has commanded. For He said, “Thus far shalt thou come, and thy waves shall be broken within thee.” The ocean, impassible to man, and the worlds beyond it, are regulated by the same enactments of the Lord. The seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, peacefully give place to one another. The winds in their several quarters fulfil, at the proper time, their service without hindrance. The ever-flowing fountains, formed both for enjoyment and health, furnish without fail their breasts for the life of men. The very smallest of living beings meet together in peace and concord. All these the great Creator and Lord of all has appointed to exist in peace and harmony; while He does good to all, but most abundantly to us who have fled for refuge to His compassions through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory and majesty for ever and ever. Amen.

Clement of Rome, “The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 10–11.

 

Andrew Fuller on Spiritual Preaching as Gospel Preaching

Near the end of his life, Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) ruminated on spiritual preaching in a letter dated February 21, 1813, to his Scottish friend Christopher Anderson.

I have been thinking of late [1813] of the force of the petition, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” As spiritual things are spiritually discerned, if the Lord leave us to ourselves, we shall lose sight of the gospel, and somehow get beside it. I have heard many ingenious sermons, and perhaps preached some, in which the gospel was overlooked; and if a sinner heard it, and never heard the way of salvation before, he might have died, and gone to the bar of God, for any thing he could have heard then, without having been told his danger, or the way of salvation. Take not thy Holy Spirit from us! It is for want of spirituality of mind, surely, that there is so much orthodox, and at the same so little evangelical preaching.

Joseph Belcher, ed., The Last Remains of the Rev. Andrew Fuller (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, [1856]), 361. For the full text of the letter, see Hugh Anderson, The Life and Letters of Christopher Anderson (Edinburgh: William P. Kennedy, 1854), 214-215.

Religious Liberty for Muslims: A Baptist Tradition

Baptists have historically argued for the religious liberty of all people. As a group that was persecuted in their early days, Baptists have consistently argued for four hundred years that the civil government does not have authority over the consciences of citizens. Baptists have recognized that we either have religious liberty for all or not at all. If the government can take someone else’s freedom today, they can take yours tomorrow. Below is a list of quotes evidencing Baptists’ historic commitment to religious liberty. These could be multiplied many times over. The unique thing about the quotations below is not their advocacy of religious liberty for all, but that they specifically identify Muslims as deserving freedom to practice their religion freely. (Note: “Turks” and “Turkish” was used as an identifier of Muslims.)

“For men’s religion to God is between God and themselves. The king shall not answer for it. Neither may the king be judge between God and man. Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure. This is made evident to our lord the king by the scriptures.” Thomas Helwys, A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity (1612)

“It is the will and command of God that, since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus, a permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or anti-christian consciences and worships be granted to all men in all nations and countries.” Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution (1644)

Roger Williams also cited in a positive fashion that Oliver Cromwell once maintained in a public discussion “with much Christian zeal and affection for his own conscience that he had rather that Mahumetanism [i.e. Mohammedanism or Islam] were permitted amongst us, than that one of God’s Children should be persecuted.”

“The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” John Leland, “The Virginia Chronicle” (1790)

To add contemporary Baptist voices, I could add these excellent pieces by my friends Russell Moore and Bart Barber. These men and their arguments are right in step with the larger Baptist tradition of defending religious liberty for all.

 

 

Michael Haykin’s Seven, nay Eleven!, Books for Summer Reading

Over on his Facebook page, Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin, professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been posting pictures of the covers of books that he is reading this summer. The list is as fascinating as it is eclectic. Below is the list that he has posted. The links are to the Amazon book pages and the comments are Dr. Haykin’s own from his original Facebook posts. I don’t think the list is meant to be taken in order of importance, so you probably should read them all.

  1. 'The Noise of Time' Julian Barnes.jpg
    The Noise of Time: A Novel by Julian Barnes.
    Summer reading #1: read a review of this in the WSJ and it sounded fabulous. Just bought it at my fav bookstore in Hamilton: Bryan Prince.
  2. 'The Lives of Muhammad' Kegia Ali.jpg
    The Lives of Muhammad
    by Kecia Ali.
    Summer reading #2: as a believer in the Triunity of God and the deity of the Lord Jesus and his atoning death, I believe Islam to be wrong…but I am deeply interested in Islam as a religion and desire to learn all I about it. Hence this new book.
  3. 'Brown' Kamal Al-Solaylee.jpg
    Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone) by Kamal Al-Solaylee.
    Summer reading #3: this is by a Canadian author and I was drawn to it by the title and then the contents drew me in.
  4. 'Reformations' Carlos Eire.jpg
    Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650
    by Carlos M. N. Eire.
    Summer reading #4: this is a tremendous overview of the Refm by Carlos Eire.
  5. 'John Calvin's Institutes' Bruce Gordon.jpg
    John Calvin’s ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion: A Biography
    by Bruce Gordon.
    Summer reading #5: I loved Gordon’s Calvin bio and this looks equally good.
  6. '2 Timothy' by Craig Smith.jpg
    2 Timothy
    by Craig A. Smith.
    Summer reading #6: along with Hebrews, 2 Timothy is my fav NT book and I am very impressed with this commentary by Craig Smith.
  7. 'Being Protestant in Reformation Britain' Alec Ryrie.jpg
    Being Protestant in Reformation Britain
    by Alec Ryrie.
    Summer reading #7: this is a fabulous study of Protestant piety–very deep and scholarly. Not for the novice!
  8. 8 'Chacer's Tale'.jpg
    Chaucer’s Tale: 1386 and the Road to Canterbury
    by Paul Strohm.
    Summer reading #8: Geoffrey Chaucer is very important for the English language: without his work we might all be speaking French. I know little about him and looking forward to having my ignorance illuminated.
  9. 9 'Not God's Type'.jpg
    Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms
    by Holly Ordway.
    Summer reading #9: I love memoirs and biographies and I look forward to this recent account of Holly Ordway’s rejection of atheism for Roman Catholicism.
  10. 10 'Praying Together'.jpg
    Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer: In Our Homes, Communities, and Churches
    by Megan Hill.
    Summer reading #10: I need this for my soul: for praying is the hardest part of my Christian life.
  11. 11 'John Owen Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity'.jpg
    John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity by Tim Cooper.
    Summer reading #11: in preparation for our Fuller Conference this fall on Baxter, Owen, and Kiffen, I have this splendid work by Tim Cooper (whom I am very much looking forward to meeting at the September conference).

Tolle lege!

A Poem on Bunhill Fields

Bunhill Fields was a burial ground for dissenters/non-conformists in London who died in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Here lie John Bunyan, Hercules Collins, John Gill, Thomas Goodwin, Joseph Hart, William Kiffin, Hanserd Knollys, John Owen, Susanna Wesley, and many more. The following poem weaves together some of the names and lines of the saints whose bodies lie here awaiting the resurrection.

2016-05-21 12.59.57Tread softly! sure the foot’s on hallowed ground,
For many a saint of God is resting here;
The busy hum of City life’s outside—
Within the railings lies the dust that’s dear.

Some that were mourned by loved ones who were left;
Some for whom countless tears were often shed;
For they live on in many hearts to-day—
In prose, in poem, whether sung or read.

We see the wondrous Bard of Bedford’s tomb;
Here rests the precious dust of Joseph Hart;
Dear Isaac Watts, not very far to seek—
Quite close, within the sound of busy mart.

John Owen lies within these sacred, walls;
And Gill is here, and many more the same;
Old Andrew Gifford, Rosewell, Goodwin, too,
All spoke the truths the Bible teaches plain.

Macgowan’s lines will surely reach the heart,
A hidden chord be touched as on we read;
For “sinner saved by grace” is here the strain—
Such minds, so taught, are on this point agreed.

But when we reach the plains above we’ll know
That Jesus Christ has everything done well;
And with dear Swain we’ll laud His wondrous love,
Who plucked us “as a burning brand from hell.”

There Samuel Stennett’s “raptured eyes shall see
The Saviour’s lovely face” he sang of here;
And Burder’s “warmer heart in brighter world”
Shall “shout that God is love” in accents clear.

But Bunhill Fields is full of wondrous tales,
And true ones, too, of favoured saints of old
Who served their Master spite of pain and loss;
Cared not for glory, but for truth were bold.

The sovereign grace of God—that sweetest sound
To man who’s taught his sinful heart to know—
Was striven for at mighty cost by those
Whose bones lie mingled with the dust below.

What wondrous sight ’twill be on that great day
When Jesus, coming down the parted skies—
The resurrection morn—to meet the saints,
Will call His blessed ones and with them rise!

Good Lady Erskine, Rippon, Cromwells, too,
And many more the pen would fail to name;
The spots are given where all of these are laid;
Go, search your quest were surely not in vain.

Descriptions some you’ll find within this book,
Entrancing stories, witching tales are here;
There’s Fleetwood’s famous name and old DeFoe’s,
And Lady Page, whose sufferings are clear.

And when you’ve read the tales that here are told—
A few culled from the page of history’s lore—
The writer will be very well repaid
If Bunhill Fields you love a little more.

M. J. L.

From Alfred W. Light, Bunhill Fields (London: C. J. Farncombe & Sons, 1913), vii-viii.