“In this precious volume…is told the noble, simple story ‘of Plimoth Plantation.’ In the midst of suffering and privation and anxiety the pious hand of William Bradford here set down in ample detail the history of the enterprise from its inception to the year 1647. From him we may learn ‘that all great and honourable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both enterprised and overcome with answerable courages.'” (Roger Wolcott, Governor of Mass., 1897)
What American isn’t familiar with the story of the Pilgrims? Well, I think MANY Americans don’t know the whole story, and some people nowadays talk as if it’s nothing but a legend or exaggeration of what really happened. Of Plymouth Plantation is an account that should be required reading in every American high school, as well as one that every American Christian should be familiar with.
There are only two primary sources which give firsthand accounts of the landing of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving: Bradford’s History (written in 1647) and Mourt’s Relation, attributed to Edward Winslow (published in 1622). Mourt’s Relation (named after the publisher) describes only the events of the first year, from the landing at Cape Cod in November 1620 until the following November. It’s interesting to look at this comparison of the two accounts we have of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth.
“I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.” (Corrie ten Boom)
“If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love. We must find the way, you and I, no matter how long it takes…” (Betsie ten Boom)
At my recommendation, the ladies book club at my church recently read and discussed The Hiding Place. While about half of us had read it before, for most of us it had been a long time (20 years for me), and I was glad to create an opportunity for the others (mostly the younger women) to read it for the first time. One of the gals commented, “At first I wondered why we chose to do a book that so many women had already read. But now that I’m into it, I totally get it!” This is one of those classic works that I believe every Christian – strike that – every person should read.
“Throughout the prophecies of this wonderful book Christ is pictured as the Victor, the Conqueror… He conquers death, Hades, the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, and the men who worship the beast. He is victorious; as a result, so are we, even when we seem to be hopelessly defeated.“
Have you ever been reading the last book of the Bible and found yourself scratching your head, wondering, What is this actually talking about? Or maybe you’ve just sort of avoided reading it, thinking it’s too hard to understand, or not important or of practical use to your life? I have felt like this at times, and after acquiring a copy of William Hendricksen’s book had always intended to read it sometime. Then when my pastor announced he was starting a sermon series preaching through the book of Revelation, I thought it would be a good time to start it.
The last book of the Bible has been approached and interpreted in many ways, and is often considered to be one of the most difficult and cryptic books in all of Scripture. Yet, the book of Revelation comes with the promise of a blessing to all who read it:
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near (Rev. 1:3).
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
What an insightful, helpful little book! Randy Alcorn points out that most Christians struggle with balancing two traits of Christ-likeness: grace and truth (John 1:14). Either we have no problem being bold in standing for and sharing God’s truth with others, yet often lack grace, love, and compassion when doing so. Or we are readily loving, accepting, and compassionate toward others, but neglect speaking the truth regarding doctrinal matters, sin, or repentance. If you’re honest with yourself, you will probably admit that you have a tendency to fall into one of these two camps. I know which one I fall into!
At my church we sing hymns, specifically those found in the Trinity Hymnal (Baptist Edition). The original edition was published by a Presbyterian church in 1961. The Baptist edition was published in 1995 as a collaborative effort of several Reformed Baptist churches to make minor revisions in order to accommodate Baptist congregations. Having been a member at my church for about 25 years (not to mention my husband being the pianist and the one primarily responsible for making the weekly song selection), I am very familiar with its contents. I think it is really sad that in so many churches, hymns have fallen by the wayside, being replaced with praise songs and trite, repetitive ditties.
If you want hymns that contain solid doctrine, this is the hymnal for you. The Baptist edition contains 774 hymns, each one with a scripture printed in the heading. It also includes the full text of the London Baptist Confession of Faith (which replaced the Westminster Confession of Faith that was in the original edition). There are many classics and tunes that will be very familiar to those who have been in evangelical churches for any amount of time, but some not so much, and some, to be honest, are not easy or “catchy” tunes. But the purpose of singing hymns is primarily to worship and praise our God, to extol His person, word, and works, and to instruct us in his truths. Of course for the most part, hymns began as poems, then had a tune added to them. Some of the most well-known hymn writers are found here: John Newton, Isaac Watts, Charles & John Wesley, Martin Luther, William Cowper, Fanny Crosby, Frances Havergal, and Augustus Toplady.
“Pursue holiness…without which no one will see theLord (Hebrews 12:14).
“The pursuit of holiness must be anchored in the grace of God, otherwise it is doomed to failure.”
“There is no higher compliment that can be paid to a Christian than to call him a godly person. He might be a conscientious parent, a zealous church worker, a dynamic spokesman for Christ, or a talented Christian leader; but none of these things matters if, at the same time, he is not a godly person.”
Author, teacher, and speaker Jerry Bridges (1929 – 2016) served in ministry with the evangelistic organization The Navigators for over 50 years before he passed away in 2016. He authored about 20 books, the first and one of his best-known being The Pursuit of Holiness, published in 1978. I read this book many years ago, but my church has just started going through it in our men’s and ladies’ monthly breakfasts, so I am looking forward to reading it again. In The Pursuit of Holiness, Bridges talks about the importance of striving after holiness in obedience to God (“Be holy, for I am holy, says the Lord.”), that we are to be making the effort to not be in conformity to this world, and to be putting off the old self and putting on the new (Eph. 4:22-24). This is not something that is just done once when we are first saved; it is ongoing throughout our lives. Bridges suggest three main reasons that Christians struggle with what it means to be holy and why it is so important:
Our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered.
We have a misunderstanding of what it means to “live by faith.”
There is some sin that we don’t identify as sin and/or don’t take seriously. (For more on this, I highly recommend Bridges book Respectable Sins)
I recently reread The Practice of Godliness, the companion book that followed The Pursuit of Holiness about 5 years later, and found it very profitable, helpful, and convicting. Bridges explains at the beginning of the book that the process of sanctifying, which begins at regeneration, is initiated and carried out by God the Holy Spirit. He gives this helpful definition of sanctification: