Earthquake Sparks Important Bible Question

There are many questions of importance that we face throughout our lives and experiences. There are questions about health, romance, sex, money, jobs, war and peace and politics. There are questions about God, life and death. There are so many questions to ponder. But there is one question that was asked so important that one of the inspired New Testament writers recorded it in Scripture. The question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30, KJV).

Ron English
Ron English

There are many questions of importance that we face throughout our lives and experiences. There are questions about health, romance, sex, money, jobs, war and peace and politics. There are questions about God, life and death. There are so many questions to ponder. But there is one question that was asked so important that one of the inspired New Testament writers recorded it in Scripture. The question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30, KJV).

The man asking that question thinking his prisoners had escaped from his jail was about to commit suicide. He understood that if his prisoners had escaped the authorities would administer a fate to him worse than death and at the end surely execute him. So he would avoid that and take his own life (Verse 27).

His prisoners were well-known Christians. The famous Christian, the Apostle Paul, had been converted to Christianity after hearing a fiery sermon by an early church deacon, Stephen (Acts 7). Before his conversion, Paul had been one of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem charged with the responsibility of arresting Christians and putting many of them to death. Now he was not only a believer, but a leading proponent for Christ.

This jailer had heard Paul and Silas singing in the night. No doubt he mused over their plight. Here were two men who had been arrested, beaten with many stripes and thrown into his prison where they would soon appear before the authorities for trial. He had been charged with the task of keeping them safe. To make sure they were secure he took them to the inner prison-the most secure area of confinement. Since he was certain there was no way for them to escape he drifted off to sleep.

But Paul and Silas didn’t feel like sleeping. Instead, at midnight, they sang songs, spiritual songs and prayed to God. In answer to their prayers there was a great earthquake. The very foundations of the prison were shaken. All of the doors to the prison were opened and every prisoner’s chains were loosened. No doubt these men could have escaped, but they did not choose to do so.

This calamity woke the jailer from his sleep and immediately he thought the worst. Surely his prisoners had escaped and the logical thing for him to do was kill himself. He couldn’t dare face his superiors with this massive failure to keep safely the men in his charge.

When Paul saw what the jailer was about to do, he shouted for him to stop, “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here” (Acts 16:28).

Here is where one must read between the lines of Scripture. And I have no problem doing this. The jailer, no doubt, was familiar with Paul’s background. He knew why Paul was beaten and why he was in jail. He knew that sooner or later Paul would be tried and most likely put to death. He had heard the two men singing and praying and praising God. All of this impressed him, made him consider his own spiritual condition.

It was then he fell down before Paul and Silas and formed that most important question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

That question lives on today. It has survived all the earthquakes, floods and wars and political divisions of all stripes. If the Bible is true (and I believe it to be so) the answer to this question is vital-a matter of spiritual life, or spiritual death.

Paul did not hesitate to tell the jailer what he must do. It was a simple answer. He did not suggest the man enroll in a study of sacred Scripture. He did not suggest he seek out a minister of his own faith. He simply said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31, KJV).

Jesus does the saving. The individual does the believing. You must know something of Jesus-who He is, what He did and what He will do in the future. All of this is clearly recorded in Scripture. The jailer would have already known this background through the news of the day and through the singing and testimony of Paul and Silas. He had some knowledge. Then Paul and Silas shared with him the Word of the Lord (Verse 32). Now he knew about the death and resurrection of Jesus. He had experienced the moving of God through the earthquake and the timely attention of Paul and Silas that saved his life.

He gladly believed on the Lord that night.   Later, apparently his entire household believed and was baptized (Acts 16:33, KJV).

Have you considered this great question? Have you joined the jailer and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? I hope so. If not, there will never be a better time than today. I am certain that the word of the Lord Paul shared with the Philippian jailer included the following: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:14-17 KJV).

This article first published in Ezine Articles

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Salvation Link: Titus 2:11

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Pants on the Ground

Why Pants on the Ground is So Hot, Hot, Hot…

General Larry Platt

When General Larry Platt pounced onto the American Idol stage for his debut he caught the judges by surprise and Americans roared from their sofas—why?

The answer may be simple.  America is neck deep in shell shock over so many disappointments with the falling economy, with the tragedy of Haiti, with politicians making promises they can’t keep.  People losing their jobs, kids flunking in school.  So many illnesses dragging folks down.  We needed a break.

People tune in to American Idol for a few minutes of escape.  Then here comes General Larry Platt.  Wow!  He shook up the place.  The song, not much of a song, was swept into our idled brains with the contagious enthusiasm of The General—the new black rapper from Atlanta tryouts.  We liked him immediately and his infectious song registered with positive vibes.

Many have actually observed young people with those ridiculous “pants on the ground” styles and the cap turned sideways look.  Adults mostly shake their heads in wonder.  Surely no woman in her right mind looks at one of those guys and says, “He is one more handsome dude!  I must see if I can wrangle a date.”  Who would want to walk along side of such?

So, The General expresses our sentiments.   Thank you General.  You are getting your 15 minutes of fame, but more than that, you are providing Americans with their 15 minutes of relief.  Thank you again.  I watched as Brett Favre and his team picked up the song after their astounding victory over The Dallas Cowboys; the ladies on the View had The General come on and sing.  His song is hot! Pants on the ground–could well be pants on fire! 

You know there is a story recorded in the Bible about a man who had a problem with his pants.  He mostly tore his clothes off and was known as a crazy man who lived in the tombs in the land of the Gadarenes—a place near the Sea of Galilee.

When Jesus saw this poor man in his awful condition He didn’t compose a song, or suggest he go in for professional counseling—He healed him on the spot.  The man was possessed with so many devils that when the demons left the man and entered into the hogs nearby—almost 2000 of them—even the hogs went crazy and rushed over the edge and into the water where they drowned.

The tragic case of the devil-possessed man was changed in an instant.  He wanted to follow along with Jesus and share his great blessing with the great crowds that would come to the meetings.  But Jesus told him to “Return to your own house, and show people who know you what great and wonderful things God has done unto you” (Luke 8).  Most of us would do well to impress the folks at home with our new found faith before we launch out into the deep waters of ministry.

Let’s enjoy The General and his amusing song for now, but let us not forget many people are hurting.  We should do what we can to help them.  The best thing you can do for any one who is hurting is point them towards the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He can help.  He can save.  He loves the sinner, but hates his sin.  Prayerfully read Romans Chapter 10.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  FOR OUR NEIGHBORS TO THE SOUTH, HAITI, THE POOR PEOPLE WHO ARE HURTING FROM THE AWFUL TRAGEDY THAT DESTROYED THEIR HOMES, INUJURED SO MANY AND TOOK THE LIVES OF THOUSANDS, THERE IS A WAY YOU CAN HELP.  SEND A DONATION TO: SAMARITAN’S PURSE: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/

VISIT THEIR SITE AND REVIEW THE WONDERFUL WORK THIS ORGANIZATION IS DOING IN HAITI AND OTHER TROUBLED SPOTS AROUND THE GLOBE.  The son of Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, directs this fine work.  Within hours of the earthquake in Haiti the Samaritan’s Purse Team was packing up supplies, water purification plant and doctors to go there and provide relief.  Pray for Franklin and that mighty team of workers.  God bless them one and all.  Your gifts make their work possible.  May God bless and protect all of the men and women who went there to help.

The Gypsy Boy Prayed Hard!

KEEP ON PRAYING
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Devotinal By Michael Guido

Gypsy Smith (Born Rodney “Gipsy” Smith), the great evangelist, was converted when he was a boy. He loved his grandfather, and he tried to win him to the Lord.

Not being allowed to talk to his grandfather, he prayed for his conversion.

One day the grandfather asked, “Laddie, why are the knees of your trousers so badly worn?”

“Because I’ve been praying for your conversion,” he explained.

Weeping, he knelt with the boy, and received the Lord.

Have you ever worn out your trousers by praying for the conversion of your family and friends?

Try it, won’t you?

Prayer: O God, all through today make me brave enough to follow Thee, strong enough to witness for Thee, and convincing enough to win souls to Thee. Constrain me to pray persistently for the conversion of my family and friends: through Christ. Amen.

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Who was Gipsy Smith? 

Gypsy (Gipsy) Smith

His Early life
Parent's Grave


The grave of Polly and Cornelius Smith in St Nicholas churchyard in Norton now part of Letchworth Garden City.

Smith was born in a gypsy tent six miles northeast of London, in Epping Forest. The site is marked with a large, commemorative stone,in the woods near Waterworks Corner, Woodford Green. Smith received no education. The family made a living selling baskets, tinware, and clothespegs. His father, Cornelius, and his mother, Mary (Polly) Welch, provided a home that was happy in the gypsy wagon. Smith was a child when his mother died from smallpox near Baldock in Hertfordshire. She is buried in the nearby churchyard of St Nicholas church in Norton, now part of Letchworth Garden City. The Smith children numbered four girls and two boys (Rodney was the fourth child).
Cornelius was in and out of jail for various offences. There, he heard the gospel from a prison chaplain; later, he and his brothers were converted at a mission meeting. From 1873 on, “The Converted Gypsies” were involved in numerous evangelistic efforts.
Smith’s conversion as a sixteen-year-old came as a result of a combination of things. The witness of his father, hearing Ira Sankey sing and the visit to the home of John Bunyan in Bedford all contributed. He taught himself to read and write and began to practice preaching. He would sing hymns to the people he met and was known as “the singing gypsy boy.

Smith was born in a gypsy tent six miles northeast of London, in Epping Forest. The site is marked with a large, commemorative stone,in the woods near Waterworks Corner, Woodford Green. Smith received no education. The family made a living selling baskets, tinware, and clothespegs. His father, Cornelius, and his mother, Mary (Polly) Welch, provided a home that was happy in the gypsy wagon. Smith was a child when his mother died from smallpox near Baldock in Hertfordshire. She is buried in the nearby churchyard of St Nicholas church in Norton, now part of Letchworth Garden City. The Smith children numbered four girls and two boys (Rodney was the fourth child).
Cornelius was in and out of jail for various offences. There, he heard the gospel from a prison chaplain; later, he and his brothers were converted at a mission meeting. From 1873 on, “The Converted Gypsies” were involved in numerous evangelistic efforts.
Smith’s conversion as a sixteen-year-old came as a result of a combination of things. The witness of his father, hearing Ira Sankey sing and the visit to the home of John Bunyan in Bedford all contributed. He taught himself to read and write and began to practice preaching. He would sing hymns to the people he met and was known as “the singing gypsy boy.

At a convention at the Christian Mission (later to become the Salvation Army) headquarters in London, William Booth noticed the Gypsies and realized the potential in young Smith. On 25 June 1877, he accepted the invitation of Booth to be an evangelist with and for the Mission. For six years (1877–1882), he served on street corners and mission halls.

Family

He was married on 17 December 1879 to Annie E. Pennock, one of his converts. It was from this marriage that Rodney and Annie had three children, two boys and one girl. Albany Rodney, the eldest, became a Christian later in life and eventually followed in his father’s footsteps and became an evangelist in the United States. He was known as Gipsy Smith, Jr. and served as an evangelist from 1911 to August 24, 1951 when he died. Albany was married and had three children of his own. His eldest was John Rodney or (Jack) and was known as a well-respected lawyer. G. Wilbur Smith was a Presbyterian pastor and pastored three different churches, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Stuttgart, Arkansas and his last pastorate was at Batesville, Mississippi. Albany’s youngest was Betty and was the apple of his eye, she grew up into a fine wife. Rodney’s youngest son, Alfred Hanley became a Christian while he was yet young and became a Wesleyan pastor in England and served at 11 different pastorates during his 43 years in the ministry. Hanley died on February 11, 1949 at the age of 67. Rhoda Zillah served with her father in his great South African campaign known as the “Mission of Peace”. She eventually married a banker named James Lean and had two children, Rodney James Lean and Zillah Lean. Zillah Elizabeth Lean, Gipsy’s granddaughter, worked with the late English author David Lazell, of East Leake, in his first biographical account of Gipsy Smith entitled, “Gipsy Smith, From the Forest I Came”. Also, Reverend Charles Smith, of Van Buren, Arkansas wrote a brief biographical account of the Gipsy Smith family for the British Evangelical Magazine, The Flame (July-September 2006: Volume 72 No. 3).

Salvation Army

 

Gipsy (Gypsy) Smith & Salvation Army

 

‘Gipsy’ Smith as a Captain in the Salvation Army

Rodney and Annie served in several assignments and saw membership rise to hundreds, then a thousand. By June 1882, great crowds were coming and the work was growing. A gold watch was given to him and about £20.00 was presented to his wife by the warm-hearted members of a local congregation. Acceptance of these gifts was a breach of the rules and regulations of the Salvation Army, and for this, he was dismissed from the Army. This happened so suddenly that other evangelists had to step in to take up his preaching engagements, including a contemporary preacher Charles Crowie Smith, who took over 2 engagements in Hanley. His eight assignments with the Salvation Army had produced 23,000 decisions and his crowds were anywhere up to 1,500.

Evangelist travels

He traveled extensively around the world on evagelistic crusades, drawing crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands throughout his life. Busy as he was, he never grew tired of visiting gypsy encampments whenever he could on both sides of the Atlantic. Gipsy never wrote a sermon out for preaching purposes. Smith wrote several books and could sing as well as he preached. Sometimes he would interrupt his sermon and burst into song. Several of these hymns he would sing were recorded by Columbia Records. Although he was Methodist, ministers of all denominations loved him. It is said that he never had a meeting without conversions.

During World War I he ministered under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A.to the British troops in France, often visiting the front lines. As a result of this, King George VI made him a member of the Order of the British Empire.

Later life

Gipsy Smith’s wife, Annie, died in 1937 at the age of 79 while he was in America. Front page headlines in 1938 carried the news of the 78-year-old widower marrying Mary Alice Shaw on her 27th birthday. This, of course, brought some criticism. But it was a good marriage, for she helped him in his meetings, sang, did secretarial work, and later nursed him when his health failed.

Stricken by a heart attack, he died on the Queen Mary on a cruise in America, age 87. It was estimated that this was his 45th crossing of the Atlantic. His funeral was held 8 August 1947 in New York City. A memorial with a plaque was unveiled on 2 July 1949 at Mill Plain, Epping Forest, England, his birthplace. So ends the life of one who once said, “I didn’t go through your colleges and seminaries. They wouldn’t have me…but I have been to the feet of Jesus where the only true scholarship is learned.”

Much of this report was taken from work done by Charles Smith (No relation to Gipsy Smith) and published in the online “The Free Encyclopedia” Wikipedia.  Charles wrote to suggest I credit this report and I am most happy to do so.  Charles is working, I believe, on a larger work on Rodney “Gipsy” Smith’s life & ministry. He hopes to publish soon.  Click this link for Wikipedia report:  http://bit.ly/ccU244 

You will find more detail about “Gipsy” Smith in the story about his father’s conversion to Christ.  A remarkable story and one you should share with others.  http://bit.ly/9Utx8u

The Magic of Curt Anderson

Curt Anderson

 

 By the Editor 

When I was the pastor of a church in Alabama a family from Michigan moved to our little community and united with our church.  The mother and dad were fine people and they had two wonderful boys, Curt and Wray.  The mother, Ellen Anderson (Her husband (Danny), too) was an active church member.   Ellen was a stay at home mom and wife who had a good bit of time to help out at our church and Christian school. 

Any pastor would be delighted to have a person so caring and concerned about the local church.  During one of her visits she told me about a relative who was famous.  “Famous?,” I asked.  She was delighted to share the story.  Her famous relative was Rev. George Bennard, the hymn writer (1873-1958).  He wrote a number of songs, but his most famous was The Old Rugged Cross.  I was impressed, but over the many years that story faded in my memory.  This past week her son, Curt Anderson, was a guest in our home along with his wife, Bonita and their three children, Ty, Jon and Drew.  The Andersons home school their kids.  So, mostly, the whole family travels with Curt.    Curt is an evangelist who uses magic  as a tool to win souls and encourage Christians to live for God.  His wife is his stage assistant.   While seated around our table we were talking about his mom and dad and our church.  I remembered to him that his mother had shared a story about a famous relative who had written a song.   

Curt immediately said, “George Bennard and The Old Rugged Cross.”  We talked about Mr. Bennard for a bit and Curt told me he now owned the international rights to that wonderful song of our Christian faith.  Later, I looked up the song and Mr. Bennard.  I found that Billy Sunday learned of the song after if was first published.  He used it on his radio program and I suppose in some of his evangelistic meetings.  The song became an instant hit with the faithful.  It sold some 15,000,000 copies.  Wow!   

George Bennard knew he wanted to be a preacher from a young age.  Economics hindered him at the beginning after his father died.  But he would later work with The Salvation Army where he served, I believe, as an evangelist.  Later after leaving that good ministry, he did the work of an evangelist on his own.  I was proud of the Anderson family and the dedication of Ellen to Christian work.  Her relative, George Bennard, would have been proud of her dedication.  He would also be very proud of her son, Curt, who is earning a good reputation with his Curt Anderson Magic.   I am happy to report this story here on our blog and hope you will pray for Curt Anderson.  If your church or ministry would like to consider his ministry of magic I hope you will contact him.  His website is:  http://www.magicurt.com/  Click on that link and read his story and see samples of his work.  He has a lovely Christian family and is worthy of your consideration.   Can you see a likeness in Curt to the Rev. George Bennard?   

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George Bennard

 

The Rev. George Bennard, who grew up poor in Iowa, wrote what many consider to be the most beloved hymn of all time, “The Old Rugged Cross.” “I seemed to have a vision . . . I saw the Christ and the cross inseparable,” he wrote in his memoirs. He wrote the song over a month as he traveled to revival meetings. The melody came easily, but he labored over the words in the four verses and refrain. The hymn, published in 1913, was immediately successful. Bennard (pronounced Benn-ARD), who was born in Youngstown, Ohio, was the son of George and Margaret Russell Bennard, of Scottish descent. The couple, who had five other children, moved their family to Albia, where the senior Bennard ran a tavern, and later to Lucas. When the Albia tavern burned, the father of the house turned to mining coal, and an accident led to his death at 49, forcing young George, at 16, to support his mother and sisters as a miner. BECOMES MINISTER: In 1895, across the state in Canton, Bennard attended Salvation Army meetings, and at 24 became a minister when he enlisted in the Salvation Army at Rock Island, Ill. By 1898, he was conducting revival meetings throughout the Midwest, later transferring to New York, where he resigned in 1910 to go out on his own as an evangelist. It was at that time that he began composing hymns. Bennard settled at Albion, Mich., and opened his own hymn publishing company. It was at Albion that he likely began — and later finished — “The Old Rugged Cross.” The hymn was first sung formally at a revival meeting at Pokagon, Mich. Noted evangelist Billy Sunday, an Iowa native, popularized the hymn with his nationally broadcast radio show. By 1939, more than 15 million copies of the hymn had been sold and numerous recordings made. OTHER HYMNS: Bennard eventually composed about 350 hymns, such as “Speak, My Lord,” “Oh, Make Me Clean” and “Have Thy Way, Lord” but none was as successful as “Rugged Cross.” Bennard, who played a guitar but not piano, was known as a persuasive speaker and sharp dresser, yet humble and sincere. Bennard’s first wife, Willaminta, died, and in July 1944 he married Hannah Dahlstrom, who was his accompanist. The couple eventually retired to Ashton, Mich. Bennard died of asthma in Reed City, Mich., on Oct. 10, 1958, and services there were attended by 400 people, including 25 area ministers. As could be expected, the rites included an organ rendition of “The Old Rugged Cross.” Today, Reed City is home to the Old Rugged Cross Historical Museum, which is visited by thousands of people every year.   

There is a nice website featuring details of Mr. George Bennard’s minitry: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/99999999/FAMOUSIOWANS/41011002