Thursday, December 31, 2009

Francis Asbury

The following excerpt is taken from Methodist Heroes of Other Days by Samuel Gardiner Ayres, first published in 1916. The electronic version of this work has been produced by the Holiness Data Ministry and is represented by the Wesley Center Online. The entire work can be read there or purchased in CD format.


Chapter 1


An English lad, whose principal "foible" was a love of play, and whose young apprentice manhood was pure and good, showed no particular sign that he was to act the great part which he did in later life. When but a mere lad he began to preach in England. He was not as closely attentive to his duties as he should have been, as is witnessed by a letter of reprimand written to him, and still preserved.

When only a little past twenty-six years of age he voluntarily left his native land and came to America and became a true American. From then on to the end of his career his was a life filled with pain and suffering. No year passed without his having a hurt or ailment of some sort. Sometimes he had to be lifted on and off his horse and put to bed like a child. At other times, with little strength to spare, he sat in his chair and preached to a small or a large congregation. He addressed a dozen or five thousand, as opportunity offered.

In 1772 Wesley appointed this handicapped young man of twenty-seven the superintendent of all the churches in America. He was only one of nine preachers, and there were only three hundred and sixteen members in all the American colonies, and so it did not seem such a great undertaking; but before John Wesley died he became almost jealous of Francis Asbury, so great had the work grown to be. When Francis Asbury died there were no less than six hundred preachers and two hundred and fourteen thousand members.

We have mentioned the personal physical hindrances which were always a thorn in the flesh. To these we must add the times of discouragement, which must come to every sick man. He had his sleepless nights over the state of the church, the debt on Cokesbury College, the indifference of the people, and the backslidden state of many members. He toiled over bad roads in winter, cold and heat, snow and rain, through swamps and over mountains, making the rounds of the Conferences and charges. At the beginning his tours extended to two thousand miles a year, and later they exceeded five thousand miles and even reached six thousand miles in eight months. He visited the South thirty times in thirty-one years. In some sections the houses were filthy and the fare poor. He shared the poverty of the people or enjoyed being entertained "like a President."

He and his companion frequently rode twenty-five, thirty, and even thirty-five miles in a day without food for man or beast. "I find it hard to ride eight or nine hours without any other nourishment but a little bread and tea," he remarks; but on one occasion he returns thanks over a handful of nuts, and on another over a crust of bread for two. He tells how he enjoyed some potato and bacon after a ride of twenty-seven miles without food. On one occasion the lunch was a peach pie. Of course he was tired. He records in his Journal: "Rest, rest, how sweet! Yet how often in labor I rest, and in rest labor!" After a hard ride of three days he records a poor time in preaching. He earned it. Sometimes he slept on the ground in the woods without even a tent over him, or, again, on the floor in a log cabin on a deerskin filled with fleas. He was glad when he had a bed, even if the snow or the rain came through the broken, leaking roof. He was sometimes obliged to associate with drunken and profane men. He was in dangers oft, yet he never ceased to do his duty, and his everlasting cry was for the souls of men, and no pain he had was so great as the heartache caused by the fall of a member of the flock.

His prayers as recorded in his Journal would make a book. One has a particularly pathetic note: "Lord, remember Francis Asbury in all his labors and afflictions." And who shall say that this prayer was not answered? So often he records his belief in a Divine Providence: "I can say hitherto the Lord hath helped us through deeps, deserts, dangers, and distresses. I have told but a small part of our labors and sufferings; let the great day of eternity reveal the rest." But this was only the setting for a life in which many hours were sweet and happy in praise and service: "O what sweetness I feel as I steal along through the solitary woods! I am sometimes ready to shout aloud and make all vocal with the praises of His grace who died, and lives and intercedes for me." "I have suffered much -- I am pained and sore, and poor Jane stumbled so often! but my limbs and my soul are safe. Glory! Glory!" "The prospects of doing good are glorious." "I groan one minute with pain, and shout glory the next." "The Lord was my helper and my mind was in peace." "I began and ended the day with God." There are other references, which might be quoted, showing the sweetness of his soul. All the time he was seeking the best and highest experience, and he finally found it in 1803: "My mind is in a great calm after the tumult of the Baltimore Conference . . . in addition to the charge of the superintendency to feel and to live in perfect love."

Only the year before his translation he said: "My mind enjoys great peace, and divine consolation. My health is better, but whether health, life, or death, good is the will of the Lord. I will trust him and will praise him. He is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. Glory! Glory! Glory!" And this he said when he resigned to younger hands the burdens of his work, but he ceased not to toil until the last. He preached his last sermon in Richmond, Virginia, March 24, 1816, from the text: "For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth." He sat on a table prepared for him and preached for nearly an hour "with much feeling." He was carried from the church to his carriage. It is not the end of his journey, for he travels Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. He came to the home of Mr. George Arnold and rested on Saturday, and on Sunday, the 31st day of March, 1816, he took his last long journey to the land of rest.

His legacy was a great one -- a life filled with toil and sacrifice, not devoid of faults, 'tis true, but ever striving for the best. He traveled about one hundred and fifty thousand miles in the thirty-seven years of his life as bishop, preached more than nineteen thousand times, ordained, appointed, and loved one thousand ministers, served four generations of laymen, winning fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for the kingdom of God. The number he won for the kingdom can never be told. He was the real founder of the Methodist Episcopal Church of America, and to him and his care it owes more than we can record. His triumph never ends.

I'm not sure what to make of this item. Rick Warren and his Saddleback Church in Orange County, California (one of the richest places in the world) is coming up short this year, $900 thousand short to be more accurate. Apparently giving is down among affluent church goers and the church went on a fund raising effort over the past couple days to meet the shortfall. I don't know yet how they made out but I have to ask myself a question. What in the world does a pastor do with all that money? Something strikes me as being a disconnect here. Churches used to serve a community or a neighborhood of like minded believers. One of the more precious places I remember from years ago was the small white frame church down the road that served as a backdrop for not just Sunday services but for community meetings, volunteer efforts and a host of fellowship activities geared for the service of Christ. There was community, there was personal acknowledgement. There was a sense of purpose that money cannot purchase. What has happened to the pastor and his church that it cannot exist except for being wallowed up in "big money"?

Rick Warren Looks For a Lot of Money By Year End

Update: It looks like the Mega Church might just be able to pull it off. The world awaits ...

Can they?

Growing Strong Opposition to Public Funding of Abortion

A contentious issue of abortion can always be expected to cause stirs among the American public but with the recent health care funding debate across the land, the funding of abortion is back at center stage. Contrary to liberal proclamations of support, a new poll by the Quinnipiac University shows strong opposition to any public funding. 72% of Americans are opposed to any public funding of abortion by the federal government. This is a good sign in the fight for the rights of the unborn.

See the story here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sheep stealing …

God so loved a very few of His creation and knowing every man is totally corrupt He would unconditionally elect those few individuals to a certain salvation. Having already elected these few souls, He sent His own Son to die a death on the Cross at Calvary that would only be intended for those elect souls. Nobody else could ever benefit given God predestined the lost souls for the purpose of damnation. That atonement saves those elected to salvation and seals the condemnation of those predestined to damnation. This expressed grace of God cannot be resisted by those He elected nor can it be frustrated. For those whom God elected and Christ died for, they are dragged willingly into the Kingdom of God and persevere eternally. ... you sir might be one of those few that God loves.

Of course such a message cannot really be preached effectively because there is nothing of the LORD in it yet these thoughts comprise the Gospel for many Calvinists once they have been indoctrinated into their sect. Having been brought into the Kingdom via the Gospel preached by most in Christ, the new bought Christian soon falls prey to teachings that rub harshly against the grain of the very Gospel preached to them in the first place. I can't count the number of times I have heard or seen Calvinists claim to have been saved in an Arminian church setting but once they started to read their bibles they became Calvinists. Why is it that the LORD would see fit to bring souls into His Kingdom by the preaching and ministry of lovers of the LORD only to later through gnosis to reveal to them that the real truth lies down the road at the "other" church? I think it is merely the flesh of intellectualism that seduces souls away from their first love.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Message From Our President (tongue in cheek)

Have a Merry Government-Regulated Christmas

Courtesy of Frank J. Fleming at Pajamas Media

The following is the transcript of the speech President Barack Obama gave for this holiday season.

My fellow Americans, as you spend time with your family this holiday season, I have an important proposal for you all to consider. Many of you like to celebrate Christmas. Children love to wake up Christmas morning and go see all the presents waiting under the tree. But what about the children who don't get any presents? What happens with them? The United States Marines have their Toys for Tots program but that just attacks the symptom. We need a real solution, and that means tackling what is at the heart of the problem: Santa Claus.

For too long, present-giving has been held hostage by the whims of this single man who is accountable to no one. Bearded, obese, and probably mentally unstable, Santa is someone we obviously don't want near our children. He's even somehow associated with known malcontent Jesus Christ (I'm not quite sure who he is, but I remember Jeremiah Wright mentioning him once or twice so I assume he has something to do with the creation of the AIDS virus).

Every year, Santa engages in some sort of domestic spying program, watching our children like a pedophile in wait, and he determines which children are "naughty" or "nice." His methods for determining this are unknown; we also can't know whether there is a racial disparity in these lists. He then makes his presents for the select few using non-union elf labor and comes to our neighborhoods in an unregistered sleigh pulled by disease-bearing caribou. Then Santa breaks into our houses and engages in his personal form of justice, leaving presents for the children he arbitrarily deems "good" and coal for the children he labels "bad." This is the worst form of vigilante justice — even worse than anything Batman would do — as it targets children.

Some would say we are helpless to fight the tyranny of Santa and must do nothing, lest he harms our kids; others say we must end Christmas and abolish all gift-giving. This is a false choice. We can have Christmas and presents, and we can be free of the judgmental madman known as Santa. What we need is a government takeover of the Christmas business.

Read the rest of this wonderful satire here.

My Fifty Second Christmas

Christmas this year in the Mallett household is a little different than in past years. We have focused on giving gifts to the grandchildren within the family. A couple of reasons drove this decision. Certainly financial reasons come into play as my wife and I have three of our adult children and our youngest grandchild living with us this season. We have also made a particular decision to try to downsize our lives financially and bring a greater simplicity to our days here. The second driver for this is really simple on my part. Christmas with all its commercial trappings appeals less and less to me. The television starts before Halloween in some cases. The Christmas exploitation runs strong to the point of nausea. While I didn't this year, my inclinations are moving more toward pulling my pots and pans together and putting my modest culinary interests to work for those in greater need. I am not one to make New Year's resolutions but if I were that might be my focus for 2010.

Christmas is not grounded in scripture but in tradition and perhaps it is time to establish new traditions. Our children are grown now. The grandchildren are still sure to receive plenty from Papa and Nana but something is missing for me. There isn't a sense of contribution that settles my soul. I look out on my front lawn and I see a blowup tall toy soldier, lots of lights, strands wrapped around a Palm. We are baking in the kitchen today which is a joy for me. Three more of our grandchildren arrive tomorrow and we will enjoy a family get together. Yet … I want to do something different for next year and I think I'll enjoy the preparation.

Wesley’s Eighty Sixth Christmas

Friday, December 25.--(Being Christmas Day.) We began the service in the new chapel at four o'clock, as usual; where I preached again in the evening, after having officiated in West Street at the common hour. Sunday, 27. I preached in St. Luke's, our parish church, in the afternoon, to a very numerous congregation on "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come" [Rev. 22:17]. So are the tables turned that I have now more invitations to preach in churches than I can accept. – December 25th, 1789 entry in John Wesley's Journal

Sunday, December 06, 2009

How Does A Christian Ever Justify Being Episcopalian?

The Episcopal Church seems to have driven another apostate nail into its side with the recent election of an openly homosexual woman to the position of assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. If confirmed this would be the second bishop in service with the Episcopal Church living in an outward and open reprobate lifestyle. While I have never had any interest in participating in this liberal and fallen organization, I have been curious to observe the parallels between this Anglican organization and the Presbyterian liberal factions noted most perversely among the PC-USA sect. I suppose it demonstrates that regardless of Calvinist or Arminian leanings, apostasy can gain a footing in any organization. Prayer for these souls is essential.

Episcopal Church Elects Second Homosexual Bishop

Wesley on the Creation of Man

John Wesley, when commenting on Gen 1:26-27, offers a well thought out discussion of what is entailed by the creation of man in the image of God. There are attributes, characteristics, that define us as something unique from the rest of creation. We are more than the sum of physical creation… in Wesley's words


We have here the second part of the sixth day's work, the creation of man, which we are in a special manner concerned to take notice of. Observe,

  1. That man was made last of all the creatures, which was both an honour and a favour to him: an honour, for the creation was to advance from that which was less perfect, to that which was more so and a favour, for it was not fit he should be lodged in the palace designed for him, till it was completely fitted and furnished for his reception. Man, as soon as he was made, had the whole visible creation before him, both to contemplate, and to take the comfort of.
  2. That man's creation was a mere signal act of divine wisdom and power, than that of the other creatures. The narrative of it is introduced with solemnity, and a manifest distinction from the rest. Hitherto it had been said, Let there be light, and Let there be a firmament: but now the word of command is turned into a word of consultation, Let us make man - For whose sake the rest of the creatures were made. Man was to be a creature different from all that had been hitherto made. Flesh and spirit, heaven and earth must be put together in him, and he must be allied to both worlds. And therefore God himself not only undertakes to make, but is pleased so to express himself, as if he called a council to consider of the making of him; Let us make man - The three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, consult about it, and concur in it; because man, when he was made, was to be dedicated and devoted to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
  3. That man was made in God's image, and after his likeness; two words to express the same thing. God's image upon man, consists,
  4. In his nature, not that of his body, for God has not a body, but that of his soul. The soul is a spirit, an intelligent, immortal spirit, an active spirit, herein resembling God, the Father of spirits, and the soul of the world.
  5. In his place and authority. Let us make man in our image, and let him have dominion. As he has the government of the inferior creatures, he is as it were God's representative on earth. Yet his government of himself by the freedom of his will, has in it more of God's image, than his government of the creatures.
  6. And chiefly in his purity and rectitude. God's image upon man consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, Ephesians 4:24; Col 3:10. He was upright, Ecclesiastes 7:29. He had an habitual conformity of all his natural powers to the whole will of God. His understanding saw divine things clearly, and there were no errors in his knowledge: his will complied readily and universally with the will of God; without reluctancy: his affections were all regular, and he had no inordinate appetites or passions: his thoughts were easily fixed to the best subjects, and there was no vanity or ungovernableness in them. And all the inferior powers were subject to the dictates of the superior. Thus holy, thus happy, were our first parents, in having the image of God upon them. But how art thou fallen, O son of the morning? How is this image of God upon man defaced! How small are the remains of it, and how great the ruins of it! The Lord renew it upon our souls by his sanctifying grace!
  7. That man was made male and female, and blessed with fruitfulness. He created him male and female, Adam and Eve: Adam first out of earth, and Eve out of his side. God made but one male and one female, that all the nations of men might know themselves to be made of one blood, descendants, from one common stock, and might thereby be induced to love one another. God having made them capable of transmitting the nature they had received, said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth - Here he gave them,
  8. A large inheritance; replenish the earth, in which God has set man to be the servant of his providence, in the government of the inferior creatures, and as it were the intelligence of this orb; to be likewise the collector of his praises in this lower world, and lastly, to be a probationer for a better state.
  9. A numerous lasting family to enjoy this inheritance; pronouncing a blessing upon them, in the virtue of which, their posterity should extend to the utmost corners of the earth, and continue to the utmost period of time.
  10. That God gave to man a dominion over the inferior creatures, over fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air - Though man provides for neither, he has power over both, much more over every living thing that moveth upon the earth - God designed hereby to put an honour upon man, that he might find himself the more strongly obliged to bring honour to his Maker.