Wednesday, June 22, 2011

COOL STUFF FROM LIBRARY BOOKS, Entry #8: "The Hands Of GOD" by Dean Burgon-- from Spurgeon's TREASURY OF DAVID

In Bisbee, AZ's historic Public Library, there is an ancient set of Charles Spurgeon's great commentary on the Book Of Psalms, entitled THE TREASURY OF DAVID.  The librarian there once told me that this particular set is over 100 years old and is now part of the non-circulating "special collections" section, reserved for books still remaining from old Territorial Cochise County Library [Arizona became a state in 1912 so these books are very old indeed!]

Although I own my own set in a much later edition [passed down from my mother, RIP] I really enjoyed looking at these old volumes... my mind imagining the solace and comfort they may well have given to some miner, rancher, or cowboy a long, dry century ago.  [The photo below is from a set currently on eBay, but it looks exactly like the Bisbee set... I am sure it is the same or very nearly the same edition...]

If you're not familiar with Spurgeon's masterpiece, let me just say that it is truly a a commentary unlike any other, as it contains a wealth of illuminating extracts and quotes from literally hundreds of commentators-- both contemporaries of Spurgeon as well as the great Puritan expositors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Preachers and teachers have long appreciated the homiletical hints on almost every verse, concise sermon outlines, and provocative seed thoughts.  If this sounds interesting to you, get a copy at once.  I am told it is now a popular e-book item for Kindle readers.

Just recently I was struck by this extract written by Dean John Burgon [1813-1888], the great Bible Scholar and early defender of the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament and its Authorized Translation into English. In this amazing excerpt, Burgon comments on Psalm 138:8,

"The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands."

"'Thine own hands!'    Let us consider:

"His creating hands formed our souls at the beginning;

"his nail pierced hands redeemed them on Calvary;

"his glorified hands will hold our souls fast and not let them go for ever.

"Unto his hands let us commend our spirits, sure that even though the works of our hands have made void the works of his hands, yet his hands will again make perfect all that our hands have unmade."

--J.W. Burgon.


from Spurgeon, Charles H. "Commentary on Psalms 138:8". "C.H. Spurgeons's The Treasury of David," first published 1865-1885.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

COOL STUFF FROM LIBRARY BOOKS, Entry #7: "The Thrill Of It All!"

If you love old B-westerns like I do, I sincerely hope your public library is like mine and has a copy of this old book:

"The Thrill Of It All!"
by Alan G. Barbour

[subtitled "A Pictorial History of the B-Western from the Great Train Robbery and Other Silent Classics to the Color Films of the Genre's Last Days of Glory in the 50's"]

200 pages, Collier Books, New York, first edition, 1971.


Although I didn't actually live through the original era of the American B-Western [generally gauged as running from the early 1920s thru the mid-'50s], I still have fond, fond memories of enjoying the exciting '40s and '50s "horse operas" every Saturday morning at my Aunt Hope's house in Patagonia, AZ circa 1975-78.  A Phoenix station called KPHO [the legendary channel 5!] would play about 3 of these movies, back to back, and I would sit spellbound...  great times spent with Hoppy and Mesquite, Buck Jones, Johnny Mack Brown and Lash LaRue [just to name a precious few!]

Looking back, I think that I connected with these movies not only because of their endearing simplicity, their marvelous western scenery [Lone Pine, CA!], and their vigorous, sometimes truly remakable stunt-work, but also because of their rollicking and jolly attitude: their blissful and downright libertarian world-view.  In the world of these "shoot-em-ups" [as my Dad always labeled them] the chief villian was always some kind of a collectivist control-freak-- drawing our free-wheeling hero reluctantly into action, usually in defense of a small business concern of some kind.  [And did that rancher, store-keeper, or newspaper editor always seem to have a pretty and conveniently motherless daughter to serve as innocent and pure eye-candy?  A beautiful silk-bloused cow-lass who would never be kissed but only hugged cautiously?? Yup... almost always... lol] 

Only years later would I question the strange set-up of this bizzarre-- yet pleasing-- alternate universe... and by then I could fully enjoy-- as fully as few other 21 year olds could have-- the devastatingly perfect satire of the 1985 classic film RUSTLER'S RHAPSODY! [Favorite line: "Boss... I'm tired of gettin' shot in the hand!"... lol ]  For the pre-adolescent time at hand, however, I was hooked.

Yessir, the B-western will always be a part of me... for better or worse.

Well... One day, while "sleuthing through the stacks" at The Sierra Vista Public Library, I discovered this invaluable tome, still considered the the most comprehensive single book on the subject.  Within minutes I was lost in it's 200 amazing photo-filled pages...  expertly captioned with fun information about every  memorable cinematic "White Hat" player [and a bunch of the "Black Hats," too!] 

For anyone who has ANY recollections of these movies, this book is no less than a joyous treasure trove! Surely and sadly out of print now, it can still be found at public libraries like mine [God love them!] or from many electronic book sellers. I have seen copies on line for as little as 5 bucks! 

The book itself is made up almost entirely of photos-- both publicity stills and classic movie posters like the one above.... but what a photo document they make!  Really, there is only about two pages of well written and informative text per "chapter," so this stands as a truly archival photo history of a unique and un-justly neglected part of American entertainment history.

If it isn't everything you need to see and read about the American B-western, then God help you, partner-- you're as much of a fanatic as Albie The Good is! :)

In any case, if i just described you, dig up a copy pronto!  You will NOT be sorry.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

COOL STUFF FROM LIBRARY BOOKS, Entry #6: Ethan Allen's Daughter

The following illustration about Revolutionary war hero, farmer and Patriot Ethan Allen (1738-1789) is taken from a book simply called Anecdotes, first published in 1838. This little anonymous booklet was composed to teach about the Christian life through a series of memorable vignettes.  The haunting example copied for you here is a sobering and unforgettable anecdote, to say the very least!  When push comes to shove, it's all about an inevitable and individual eternal destiny.

 Ethan Allen's Daughter

In the United States of America, infidelity found an active champion in the well-known Colonel Ethan Allen, who made an open profession of his disbelief in revealing religion. It happened that a daughter of the colonel's, to whom he was very much attached, fell sick. During the progress of her illness, Dr. Elliot was one day dining with the colonel, and, after having adjourned to the colonel's library, some infidel and deistical publications were introduced by the colonel to the doctor's notice. While they were occupied in looking at them, a servant came to announce to the colonel that an alarming change had taken place in his daughter and that his presence was required in her bed-room. Thither he went, accompanied by Dr. ElIiot. As he approached her bedside, she took his hand and said, 

"Father, I feel that my end is drawing near. Tell me, I entreat you, am I to believe what you have taught me, or what I have learned from my mother?" 

Her mother was a sound and sincere Christian, and had spared no opportunity of instilling Christian truths into the mind of her child. The father paused for a moment; he fixed his eyes on his dying child; his countenance changed, his frame was observed to be convulsed to its very centre; while his quivering lips could scarce give utterance to the words, 

"Believe, my child, what your mother has taught you."

Elisabeth Elliot: "Whatever Happened to Hymns"

Elisabeth Elliot (born 1926), famed as a great Christian writer, missionary and the widow of Martyred missionary Jim Elliot (1927-1956), wrote this little article in her newsletter back in 1999.  I think it says a lot about our contemporary style of worship and what we may have lost in some respects.  I hope you find it a blessing as I did.  Albie


Many of the churches my husband Lars and I visit on our travels seem to know nothing of the great old hymns that have instructed, comforted, and enriched the church for centuries. Hymns constitute a crucial part of worship, but not by any means the whole. In churches which use almost exclusively what are called "praise songs," that part of the service is usually referred to as "Worship," as though prayer, preaching, offering, and listening were something else. May I lodge a plea to those who use overhead projectors to make sure that some great hymns are displayed in addition to the praise songs? Hymns will get you through the night.
In January of 1956, when five women were waiting with bated breath to find out whether our husbands were dead or alive, I lay in bed in Nate Saint's home, my little daughter Valerie sick in a crib beside me. The hymn "How Firm a Foundation," with those magnificent words taken from Isaiah 43:1-2, sustained me, especially stanzas 2, 3, and 6, memorized when I was a child in our daily family prayer time:

"Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trials to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake!"

Everywhere I go I try to point out what a tragic loss is the disappearance of these powerful aids to spiritual stamina. A true hymn has rhyme and meter, a logical progression from the first verse to the last, and I feel like jumping up and down and "hollering" to get my message across, but I try to keep it to merely begging and imploring folks to get their hands on a good hymnbook. Where to find them? they ask. Perhaps they are moldering in the church basement. More than likely they've long since been dumped - "Young folks don't like hymns," we're told. But of course they don't like them - they don't know them. Alas!

May I suggest that you keep a good hymnal with your Bible wherever you've arranged your quiet time?

Elisabeth Elliot

"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Eph. 5:19

Saturday, June 4, 2011

COOL STUFF FROM LIBRARY BOOKS: Entry #5: "The Story Of Daniel Nash"

Daniel Nash--Prevailing Prince Of Prayer

By J. Paul Reno

Daniel Nash pastored a small church in the backwoods of New York for six years, and traveled with and prayed for a traveling evangelist for seven more years until his death. As far as we know, he never ministered outside the region of upstate New York during days when much of it was frontier. His tombstone is in a neglected cemetery along a dirt road behind a livestock auction barn. His church no longer exists, its meetinghouse location marked by a historical marker in a corn field; the building is gone, its timber used to house grain at a feed mill four miles down the road.

No books tell his life story, no pictures or diaries can be found, his descendants (if any) cannot be located, and his messages are forgotten. He wrote no books, started no schools, led no movements, and generally, kept out of sight.

Yet this man saw revival twice in his pastorate, and then was a key figure in one of the greatest revivals in the history of the United States! In many ways he was to the U.S. what Praying Hyde was to India. He is known almost exclusively for his powerful prayer ministry.

The great evangelist, Charles Finney, left his itinerant ministry for the pastorate within three or four months after this man’s death. Finney never counted on his theology, messages, preaching style, logic, or methods to save souls. He looked rather to mighty prayer and the resulting powerful work of the Holy Spirit to sweep in with great conviction on his audience, that his conversions might be thorough. This may well explain why 80 percent of those converted in his meetings stood the test of time. Years later Moody followed a similar pattern but without such a prayer warrior. He saw perhaps 50 percent of his converts last.

Today, a well-known evangelist (well-financed and highly organized) recently stated that he would be delighted if 20 percent of his converts were genuinely converted. In this day of apostasy with many decisions but few true conversions, with many programs but little prayer, with much organizing but little agonizing, we would be wise to learn lessons from the past. One of our godly forefathers whose life can teach us such is Daniel Nash....

Nash’s labors did not take the form of personal evangelism or of evangelistic preaching. Instead he began one of the greatest ministries of prayer evangelism recorded in history. This rejected and broken former preacher gave himself to a labor that would influence praying people to this day.

Charles Finney’s labors in evangelism began in the region of Evans Mills, New York, and here Daniel Nash headed to start his special prayer ministry. When he arrived, Finney stated, "He was full of the power of prayer." The two men were drawn into a partnership that was ended only by Daniel’s death seven years later. Their goals were stated simply in a letter as follows:

"When Mr. Finney and I began our race, we had no thought of going amongst ministers. Our highest ambition was to go where there was neither minister or reformation and try to look up the lost sheep, for whom no man cared. We began and the Lord prospered...But we go into no man’s parish unless called....We have room enough to work and work enough to do."

This evangelistic team operated on the basis of prayer being essential for the preparation of an area for evangelism. This idea was so strong that Finney often sent Nash to an area to prepare the place and people for his coming. Often it would take 3 or 4 weeks of prayer to get the area ready. Let us examine a little more closely just how such a thing was accomplished.

When God would direct where a meeting was to be held, Father Nash would slip quietly into town and seek to get two or three people to enter into a covenant of prayer with him. Sometimes he had with him a man of similar prayer ministry, Able Clary. Together they would begin to pray fervently for God to move in the community. One record of such is told by Leonard Ravenhill:
 "I met an old lady who told me a story about Charles Finney that has challenged me over the years. Finney went to Bolton to minister, but before he began, two men knocked on the door of her humble cottage, wanting lodging. The poor woman looked amazed, for she had no extra accommodations. Finally, for about twenty-five cents a week, the two men, none other than Fathers Nash and Clary, rented a dark and damp cellar for the period of the Finney meetings (at least two weeks), and there in that self-chosen cell, those prayer partners battled the forces of darkness."

Another record tells:

"On one occasion when I got to town to start a revival a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house. She said, ‘Brother Finney, do you know a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten a bite of food. I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn’t know what to do. Would you please come see about them?’

"‘No, it isn’t necessary,’ Finney replied. ‘They just have a spirit of travail in prayer.’

"Charles Finney so realized the need of God’s working in all his service that he was wont to send godly Father Nash on in advance to pray down the power of God into the meetings which he was about to hold."

Not only did Nash prepare the communities for preaching, but he also continued in prayer during the meetings. "Often Nash would not attend meetings, and while Finney was preaching Nash was praying for the Spirit’s outpouring upon him. Finney stated, ‘I did the preaching altogether, and brother Nash gave himself up almost continually to prayer.’ Often while the evangelist preached to the multitudes, Nash in some adjoining house would be upon his face in an agony of prayer, and God answered in the marvels of His grace. With all due credit to Mr. Finney for what was done, it was the praying men who held the ropes. The tears they shed, the groans they uttered are written in the book of the chronicles of the things of God."

It is said of Finney that "his evangelistic party consisted of prayer partners, who went before him and sought the Lord in some secluded spot. And when Finney was preaching, Father Nash and Mr. Clary were hidden away somewhere praying for him. No wonder cities were stirred and a vast harvest of souls reaped." This concept of an evangelistic party made up of praying men has nearly been lost in these days of organizers, promoters, big names, etc. Such praying men not only sustained Finney’s ministry, but explain the power in preaching and long-lasting results....

Oswald J. Smith explains the importance of such strivings in prayer during Finney’s ministry: "He always preached with the expectation of seeing the Holy Spirit suddenly outpoured. Until this happened little or nothing was accomplished. But the moment the Spirit fell upon the people, Finney had nothing else to do but point them to the Lamb of God. Thus he lived and wrought for years in an atmosphere of revival...."

Praying with Others

As has been mentioned previously, Nash customarily sought for a few others to help carry the load in each of the places he went to minister in prayer. Many times he had as a partner Abel Clary who was gifted and exercised in a similar fashion. This praying together multiplies prayer power: "One [shall] chase a thousand and two [shall] put ten thousand to flight" (Deut. 32:30). The efforts of several with such a burden for victory greatly increases the power of prayer.

Focusing in Prayer
 Strong praying must be effectual praying. There must be a desired effect. This effect must be definite and clear to the one praying. This effect will fill the mind of the saint and be a focus of thought, concern, and prayer. Scattered praying in general directions is of little value. A list is a starting point in this matter, yet the items on the list must be focused on one by one if we are to expect results. Hear Finney tell of Nash’s way in this matter:

"I was acquainted with an individual who used to keep a list of persons for whom he was especially concerned; and I have had the opportunity to know a multitude of persons, for whom he became thus interested, who were immediately converted. I have seen him pray for persons on his list when he was literally in an agony for them; and have sometimes known him call on some person to help him pray for such a one. I have known his mind to fasten thus on an individual of hardened, abandoned character, and who could not be reached in an ordinary way."

Such praying required mental effort to aim at the proper effect with true soul struggle. To move from real burden to solid faith often requires the path of soul agony. We are too committed to cop out with fatalism, unconcern, or shifting the responsibility to the lost. It may require a wrestling in prayer until we obtain the desired blessing. This is on a far higher plane than the physical. These struggles of soul and spirit may produce more than weariness in the physical realm. But the body agony is but a result of such prayer, and not an integral part. Some would counterfeit this soul struggle by physical manifestations. They may fool man but such hypocrisy is of no help in the courts of Heaven.

Prayer of Faith

Nash was convinced that we have a responsibility for the destiny of souls. He felt that God has committed great tools to us, and the use or disuse of them was a serious matter for which we would have to give an account to God. His ministry of prayer had this as a basic premise.

Copyright 1989, Revival Literature, Asheville NC 28816 U.S.A.

POEM by Dave Hunt: "Love In Sandaled Feet"

"Love in Sandaled Feet"

Love invaded space and time and history,
Hung the stars in place, stooped down a man--O mystery!

Chose no palace, but a stable for his lowly birth:
Love in sandaled feet had come to walk this earth.

Strange new words were spoken by a bearded Jew:
"Do unto others as you'd have them do to you.

Love your enemies; and you must be born again."
Love in sandaled feet had come to talk with men.

Love in sandaled feet, sweaty, muddy feet,
God and man at last could meet,

Having been so long, so very long apart.
Tired legs, a throbbing human heart,

Stagger up a lonely hill to die.
Pounding nails and quivering flesh--a cry!

"Forgive them, Father, no one understands."
Love in nail-pierced feet and bleeding, outstretched hands.

Those who fled in fear returned to say, "He lives!"
Millions hear, receive the life and peace He gives.

Hate is turned to love and enemies are brothers--
Love in sandaled feet lives now in many others.

--Dave Hunt

I like this poem by Christian apologist and writer Dave Hunt (born 1926).  I saw this great man of God speak at a Baptist church in Mesa, AZ in about early 1998.  He was powerful, dynamic and humble all at once.  He shared that his favorite book, besides The Bible itself, was Absolute Surrender by old time preacher Andrew Murray (1828-1917).  I believe Brother Dave has been so blessed for so many years in a difficult and under-valued type of ministry [what you might call "apologetics" or perhaps "discerment of falsehood"] because of this personal surrender to The Lord Jesus Christ.

Hunt is an inspiration who makes me want to do better things with my own life. I hope that his poem is a blessing to you.

"Lord, I believe... help thou mine unbelief!"