a preacher’s prayer at sunrise on Sunday

 

Father, who will give attention to you this morning? And should you allow me the privilege once more to speak of you, who, I ask, will hear you through my feeble, fumbling words? Will it be those who have heard many times before? Let them not be indifferent or complacent through familiarity. Will it be some who have never heard you before? Do not allow any of us to not encounter you. Work out my words, work through my words, work despite my words this morning – just work what you will in the moment, Father.

Give us your attention, Lord, even as we ask your help in our giving you our own; give us audience as we seek you. Take us by our hands to the Father and plead our need with your outstretched hands. Open our minds and break open our hearts, shining all you are on all that we are that we might change more into the likeness of you. Let us be all about you – entralled and enraptured with you, adoring you and freshly committing ourselves to emulating you.

Spirit holy, your ways and words are beyond our grasp, and yet, it is your words and words that must touch us, stir us, trouble us, settle us, and teach us. And so, I pray you will handle us and hold us this morning, working into each spirit present things far beyond what any of us can see and hear with our eyes and ears. As you have arranged for this time and place, our providential meeting with you in the presence of others, do walk among us and talk to us.

Begin this work with me, I pray. Where I need to tremble afresh, make me tremble. Where I need to rest confident in you, please plant me there. In all things today, work through me for the blessing of others and so bless me to that end.

In the name of my Savior, with trust, I come asking.

Amen.

prayer for a small child in surgery

 

Great Physician you have healed and raised little ones. You help those who hurt and you defeat disease. As you are the same yesterday, today, and forever, you will not rest until all that is unhealthy for your creation is taken away.

And so, as you encourage the little children to come to you, hear me as I ask this of you – go to this one. Stand beside Little Javie. Use every person and instrument you would in your kindness and care to bring him through this surgery well. Recover him and bring him through to a complete recovery.

Then let his newfound wellness be a strong, unquestionable testimony to your love and power.

Amen.

prayer on the 2nd day of school

 

Father, I pray with thanksgiving for every child who had a good first day of school yesterday. Thank you for your grace, your love, your care. You bless and bless and bless, over and over again.

However, today, Father, I pray for all of those who did not have a good first-day experience. Today I pray:

  • for those who are disrespected, used, or bullied … and for those who have disrespect, use, or bully others;
  • for those who are overly anxious, truly fearful, intimidated, or shut down;
  • for those who feel alone, overlooked, shunned, or pushed off to the side;
  • for those who feel drawn to hang with fellow students who, nevertheless, chip away at and erode their faith or values;
  • for those who have a teacher or staff member that is working them misery, not serving with the student’s best interest in view;
  • for those who carry with them trouble from their home life that clouds and burdens their experience at school;
  • for those who are sick or struggling with some physical ailment, whether temporary or chronic;
  • for those who act up and act out, unaware of the link between stress factors beyond their control and not of their own creation, and their disruptive ways;
  • for those who simply don’t want to be at school and yearn to be home;
  • and for those who wish school could last longer and that they didn’t have to go back home.

Father, in Christ’s name, I ask that you bless these with what they need. May their day not just go better today, or their week, but their year.

Amen.

a prayer of thanksgiving for the distant, but very close friend

 

Father God, thank you for my friend who is especially dear to me, but who is far removed from me in terms of place. And that you know their name and care for them even far, far more than do I, I am very thankful.

Though we rarely speak, when we do so, we pick up the conversation as though we have been together every day all along. I know this is a great and precious gift from you, Father. Thank you.

It has been many years since we have been able to simply be in each other’s presence, but Father, I sense that we are ever present with each other in ways that far transcend geography. This is your work, Father, not mine, and I thank you.

Though we were made of very different material, long ago you wove our lives together. In that apparent weakness, somehow you made great strength. Thank you for gifting us so.

Decades distant you bonded us to each other, closer than brothers. And decades later the bond remains, undiminished, yes, even stronger than ever. Such kinship is rare and so, I know you have given us a special grace.

You have spared their life all this time, given them all of the time they have enjoyed, and so I pray, Father, for them, and I confess for myself, give them still yet much more time here on this earth. Thank you for every drop of time, every ounce of time we know that we are not alone, Father, and remind so with such friendship as this.

You still powerfully speak to me through the memory of their ways that were good, even though I remain ignorant of many of their good ways are today. That you continue to use them to carve indelible marks into my mind through the instrument of yesteryears, well Father, I am deeply indebted to you.

And so, in the name of your Son, Jesus, I would ask. May you give them every good thing that you would give them in your love, Father; lavish your goodness on them. May they always seek you and grow to know you better each day; may their gratitude for you swell with the years. May we never leave each other, Father, and may we ever be grateful, together, Father, for what you have done, and are doing, and will do. Give us this grace and mercy, Father, to spend forever together in your presence.

Amen. And amen.

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage history: May 31 – June 7

Among the things that happened this week in American Restoration Heritage history:

May 31

May 31, 1858 – Today, the cornerstone is laid for a new, main building for Bethany College (the old building having burned down not quite six months ago on December 10, 1857). Alexander Campbell and son-in-law W.K. Pendleton (W.K.’s first wife, Lavinia, Campbell’s daughter, died in 1846) had set out on a tour of the South in January to do fund-raising for the building’s construction. However, due largely to effects of the run up to and recovery from the Civil War, it takes fourteen years to complete the building (1872). However, this structure still stands today and, referred to as “Old Main,” is on the National Register of Historical Places.

June 1

June 1, 1823 – Today (or very close to it), a young Hispanic teen by the name of José María Carbajal, having been mentored by Stephen F. Austin,  arrives in Kentucky and soon comes under the influence of Alexander Campbell.

During the winter of 1822/1823 in San Fernando de Béxar (what will in future years become known as San Antonio, Texas), Stephen F. Austin befriends a young Hispanic widow, María Gertrudis Sánchez Soto. Austin arranges for one of her sons, José María Carbajal, to go to Frankfort, Kentucky with Littlebury Hawkins and learn the trade of tanner. Carbajal lives with his instructor in leather-working, a brother-in-law of Hawkins, a “Mr. Blanchard.” However, after two years, young Carbajal has had enough of Mr. Blanchard – Carabajal says “him and I could not agree” – and so, leaves him and winds up under the care of a “Peter Hedenbergh” in Lexington, Kentucky. Hedenbergh teaches him saddle-making and Carbajal enjoys it. Those who know him take a shine to him and speak well of him. The local postmaster, a “Mr. Ficklin,” describes young Cabrajal’s conduct as “affectionate and praiseworthy” and that such “endeared him to his acquaintances.”

While in Lexington, Carbajal leaves his Catholic faith behind and is baptized in the Baptist church. In 1826, he hears Alexander Campbell, Sr. preach in the Baptist church and winds up going back to Bethany, Virginia with Campbell. He lives with the Campbell family for two years. Selina Campbell, reminiscing in her later years of this time and Carbajal, writes:

“… he was very bright and prepossessing in his manners. He was a member of the church, and quite consistent as such. He became a great reader of Mr. C’s writings, and when he returned home [to Texas in 1830] he took many of them with him.”

In the spring of 1830, at about the age of twenty, Carbajal makes his way back to Texas. He is engaged in selling Spanish Bibles. However, through his continued connections with Stephens F. Austin, his life is soon swept up in the whirlwind of political and military activity of the time and place. After briefly working as a land surveyor (he laid out the city of Victoria), Carbajal works his way through several government positions and becomes increasingly sympathetic to those who want to separate the region from Mexico. Arrested in 1835 by Mexican authorities as one trying to stir up rebellion, Carbajal manages to escape and becomes something of a force with those seeking revolt. However, his loyalty is ultimately misunderstood and through the course of complicated events, Carbajal and his family, as well as his wife’s family (the powerful De Leon family), are ejected from their property in Victoria in July 1836 by Thomas Jefferson Rusk. Needless to say, this burns Carbajal’s toast with the newly formed Republic of Texas.

Understand that Carbajal is his own man. Referring to himself as “a true Mexican,” he has no use for either the Mexican dictatorship of Antonio López de Santa Anna, the advance of the interests of the United States government, or now, the Republic of Texas. Carbajal believes the best way forward is the establishment of a new republic in northern Mexico, independent of those three governments: the Republic of Sierra Madre. He spends the remainder of his life serving in whatever capacity he can, to further that interest, which gets him in trouble with the authorities on a number of occasions. For example, in one instance, Carbajal is arrested by Juan Davis Bradburn and brought to Anahuac (in what is now Chambers County, Texas). Relating something of Carbajal’s actions and his response to them, Bradburn writes to Commandant General Vicente Filisola of the Eastern Interior States, Republic of Mexico:

“Carbajal, speaking English, promoted discord and absolute disobedience among the colonists. In my opinion, this was the only certain way to insure tranquillity there, and also to protect against an attack on the small military troop under my command. These events resulted in continuing ill feelings towards the General Government by many of the settlers. My conduct in this affair was approved by His Excellency, Señor General Don Manuel Mier y Terán and the General Government.”

And yet, over a decade later in the mid-1840’s, Carbajal supports the Mexican Army in its fight against the United States in the Mexican-American War. In time, Carbajal is twice arrested by U.S. authorities, but twice he is released. He spends nearly the last thirty years of his life (1846-1874) in a variety of military and political posts, always seeking the way of “a true Mexican.”

Little is known of Carbajal’s involvement with faith after he gives up selling Spanish Bibles in Texas in 1830. We do know that during the American Civil War, Carbajal enrolls two of his sons, Antonio and Joseph, in Bethany College and these young men live with Alexander & Selina Campbell, the older of the two actually graduating from Bethany College.

What might have been for the Restoration Heritage had Carbajal given over his intellect and passion for independence for his people not to the forces of politics and military service, but to the Christ of the cross! If so, it would not be hard to imagine Carbajal having become something of “a Hispanic Alexander Campbell” to the people of Mexico.

June 2

June 2, 1828 – In today’s issue of the Christian Baptist, Alexander Campbell speaks with unrestrained excitement over how he perceives God at work in tearing down denominational walls.

“This is one of the most momentous and eventful periods of the history of christianity since the commencement of our recollection of the religious world, and, we think, from the commencement of the present century. All religious denominations are shaking. Christians in all parties are looking with inquisitive eyes into the sacred books, and examining the platforms of their respective schismatical establishments. Many run to and fro, and knowledge is increasing. What religious sect is not at this moment waking from its slumber? Even the establishments of Rome, of England, of Scotland, fed and feasted as they are with political patronage, and bolstered up with their charming antiquity, are not likely long to retain their place in the veneration of their own children. The peaceful Quaker and the dogmatical Presbyterian, the zealous Methodist and the orthodox Baptist, together with the little hosts of more recent origin, are all on the tiptoe of expectation, and the cry of ‘Reform!’ is now loudest and longest which falls upon the ear from all the winds of heaven. …

“The Bible, the fountain of religious light, is more generally distributed and more generally read now than at any former period. Even the measures often designed to uphold religious sects, are becoming battering rams to break down the walls of separation. Every day’s report brings to our ears some new triumph of light over darkness – of truth over error – and of liberal minds over the enslaved and enslaving genius of sectarian despostism. …

“… of all the good means which can be employed to promote peace on earth and good will among men, which have any influence to destroy sectarianism, or when are at all adapted to introduce the Millenium, there is none to compare with the simple proclamation of the ancient gospel. … Whatever real good is now done in the world is now done by the simple narration of God’s love of men, and all the mischief is done by the dogmas of human speculation or the regulations of schismatical establishments.If the former is universally attended to and the latter abandoned, all christians would be one in name, in affection, in faith and hope. …

“Many hundreds [in Ohio recently] have have received the ancient gospel within a few months, and have been immersed for the remission of sins, and have been filled with joy and peace in believing. Some of all religious parties embrace it and turn unto the Lord, and it has wrought effectually in the hearts of all to produce the same benign and cheering influences. …

“All sects that believe in revivals have then occasionally. The Lord is supposed to grant them. If then the Lord bestows these favors indiscriminantly upon all the sects, does he not pour contempt upon all their little shibboleths by breaking through the cobweb fences when about to bestow his benefits? If the Lord makes no difference between the Presbyterian, the Methodist, and the Baptist, in these special interpositions, why should they keep up those schismatic walls when God overleaps them in his distributions?”

Campbell pens these words on the sixteenth anniversary (1812) of his immersion for the remission of sins by Matthias Luse.

June 3

June 3, 1863 – Today, a large army sets out on an invasion and we follow the life of one of those men.

On June 3, 1863, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by General Robert E. Lee, sets out on its invasion of the North. The CSA, 4th Georgia Infantry Regiment makes up a portion of Lee’s men. One of the 4th’s men is 4th Corporal Alexander C. Lloyd of Company D (aka: “West Point Light Guards”). Company D is composed of men recruited from Troup County, Georgia, located on the western edge of central GA. Lloyd is a seasoned veteran, being one of the first to enlist in the 4th GA. He has fought in many a bloody battle, among them Gaines’ Mill, Malvern Hill, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and, most recently, Chancellorsville.

However, on this particular march, near a small town in Pennsylvania called “Gettysburg,” Lloyd finds himself not only engaged in combat, but as ultimately a prisoner of war. Though it certainly must not have seemed like it at the time, in becoming a POW Lloyd is one of the fortunate ones. This is true in at least two respects. First, fifteen percent of the 4th GA’s 341 engaged at Gettysburg fall as casualties there. Second, the 4th GA is decimated the year following in especially vicious hand-to-hand combat at the “Mule Shoe” during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 1864). Lloyd remains a POW for a year and a half, but is paroled at Point Lookout, Maryland in mid-January 1865, a little less than four months before the war’s end.

Now despite the fact that more than one generation of Lloyd’s family are members of the Spring Road [Christian] Church in West Point, GA, during the course of the war Lloyd is not a Christian. However, in rather short order following the war’s conclusion, Lloyd bows his knee to King Jesus and begins to follow him. Except for his obituary (which appears in the November 17, 1927 issue of the Gospel Advocate) – and the fact that Christian faith his found in several generations of his direct descendants – we know little of the specifics of Lloyd’s life following his conversion. His death notice reads:

“A. C. Loyd (‘Un’ Sandy’) died in the ninetieth year of his life here below. He entered the army of the South in the early part of the Civil War, from the State of Georgia. He was a soldier his comrades were proud of. He was captured at the battle of Gettysburg. He was a Mason in good standing. He located near Bridgeport, Ala., after the war and was married to Miss Tennie Johnson. To this union ten children were born, five sons and five daughters, all living except two, and all are Christians. He knew that being a Mason or a soldier would not save him; so he became a member of the church soon after the war, at Rocky Springs, where he served as long as he lived. He was a peacemaker, always helping to adjust troubles when they would arise among his neighbors. He was affable, hospitable, and always took an interest in having the gospel preached. He was a strong believer in helping the needy. Throughout his life he was an active and busy man. I talked to him much in his last sickness. He talked with intelligence, retaining his mental faculties to the end. He said he was ready to go, and was buoyant in hope and strong in faith till the end. He had forty-two grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren. Several of these he helped to rear. Funeral services were conducted at the Rocky Springs Church [Jackson County, Alabama] by Brother Charles Holder and myself in the presence of a large crowd. – R. W. Jernigan”

Two incidental notes. First, the Rocky Springs Church claims to be the oldest Restoration Heritage church in the state of Alabama, dating its beginning back to the early 1800’s. Second, I have been unable to determine if the “C” in Alexander Lloyd’s middle name is “Campbell’, but I strongly suspect it is just that. At least one other young contemporary of Lloyd’s in the Spring Road Church is named after Alexander Campbell, Sr. (Alexander Campbell Lanier).

June 4

June 4, 1827 – If you ever used a “handle” on a CB radio or if your e-mail address today utilizes some moniker other than your name, then you can appreciate today’s blast from the past as Alexander Campbell reveals the identity of one who has been writing in his paper under a pseudonym. In a section of the Christian Baptist (CB) noting three new publications to watch (Barton W. Stone’s Christian Messenger, a Mr. Saxton’s The Inquirer for Truth, and Walter Scott’s The Millenium Herald), Campbell writes:

“Mr. Walter Scott, now of Steubenville, Ohio, has issued proposals for publishing a monthly paper, at one dollar per annum, to be entitled The Millenium Herald. The best recommendation we can give of the probable ability with which this work may be edited, and of its public utility if suitably encouraged, is, that brother Scott is the author of those essays signed ‘Philip,’ in the Christian Baptist. The first number to appear in July next, is suitably encouraged.”

Though it seems, at best, a bit odd to us today, it was not at all unusual for writers in the nineteenth century to sign their work with a “fake name.” Whether to avoid having to deal directly with fallout from a piece, attempt to gain a fair hearing on a particular point, to add a bit of mystery and literary interest or wit, or just for the sheer fun of it, a number of writers, especially in Campbell’s Christian Baptist and Millennial Harbinger made use of such. And, just as you might have multiple e-mail addresses today, or once used different handles on different channels on the CB back in the day, Restoration Heritage writers of the 1800’s sometimes utilized a variety of pseudonyms.

Of course, in some instances we know today who wrote what under what pseudonym (e.g. – Walter Scott being known as “Philip”). However, as we might also expect, we remain clueless as to the identity of others. Following is a list of some of the pen-names several authors within the Restoration Heritage made use of in the 1800’s:

  • Alexander Campbell – Bonus Homo, Candidus, Clarinda, Reformed Clergyman
  • Thomas Campbell – T.W.
  • Isaac Errett – Eusebius
  • Philip S. Fall – Querens
  • Archibald McKeever – Christianos
  • Robert Richardson – Alumnus, Disciplus, E, K, L, Luke, R, Silas, U
  • Walter Scott – Partenos, Philip
  • Joseph Thomas – The White Pilgrim

June 5

June 5, 1826 – Today, a preacher reminds us that it is unhealthy to concern ourselves with, or engage in speculation about, things not explicitly revealed in Scripture, and that Scripture’s objective is for us to behave differently. Or, to put it another way: when the Bible is silent about something, that silence says something, and when the Bible speaks of a matter, it is to be acted upon. What God has revealed is for our living out, not merely knowing about.

Today, in the Christian Baptist, in part two of an article series entitled “Christian Morality,” Alexander Campbell writes:

“There is as much wisdom exhibited in concealing some things as there is in revealing others. Parents, in relation to their own children, have incontestible proofs of this, if they are parents of discernment. Our heavenly Father in revealing himself and his designs to the children of men, has purposefully concealed many things which it would have been unwise in relation to all ends and results to have discovered. …

“… the inference is unavoidable, viz: – That the Bible is designed for, and adapted to, the children of men in their present circumstances, to improve their condition here, and to fit them to become members of a pure, refined, and exalted society hereafter.

“Curiosity has prompted a thousand queries to which the Bible designs no reply. And why? because if answered, they would contribute nothing to the purification of the heart, or to the reformation of the life – God’s sublime and glorious scheme of ameliorating and reforming the world is predicated upon the actual condition of man. And as intelligence, purity of heart, and rectitude of life, are as inseparably connected with present and future happiness, as ignorance and guilt are with bondage and wretchedness both here and hereafter, the Bible is prepared, was bestowed, and is adapted, to the promotion of intelligence and purity, as prerequisites, as indispensibles, as a sine qua non to happiness. … Intelligence, purity of heart, and uprightness of life are the sole objects for which the Bible was bestowed on the world. …

“Christians then eggregiously mistake, who value themselves on the account of their superior intelligence; or who pursue information in the things revealed, merely for its own sake. Unless this knowledge is conducive and allied to the art of living well, it merely puffs up and avails nothing. … In fact, a man who glories in his intellectual attainments in the Bible (and of this class there are not a few) and pursues the knowledge of volume for its own sake, resembles a foolish husbandman who boats of his thousand measures of wheat, and his thousand measures of corn, who, as yet, has ploughed his fields, and intends nothing more until harvest.”

June 6

June 6, 1800 – Today, Thomas Campbell prays to Jesus and writes it down. From an entry in his diary we read of his emotions in the moment as well as his prayer:

“Spent this day in study, with great barrenness; little spirituality or love; feel a sense of deep depravity of my heart before God. I desire to lie in the dust at his feet, and even to feel his precious mercy lifting me up. That, I may be low in mine own eyes, and forever ascribe free, saving, abundant mercy unto my God, Lord Jesus reveal thyself in me, manifest thyself to me; make me strong through thy strength. I do heartily and forever resign myself to thee, as the fruit of they purchase.”