Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Isaiah 63:7-17 - The Trinity

The situation seemed hopeless. No one wanted to go there. It was a land of deep spiritual darkness and strong demonic forces. The high priests of witchcraft actually held more power over politics than the tribal kings. But there was one man who knew he was called to this land and this people, a runaway slave. In fact, he had fled enslavement by this very people group.

God had called him to this dark nation in an astonishing vision when he saw a man from that people group bringing him letters. The first one read, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come home and walk among us.” That was all he could read. He was overcome, and he immediately made plans to take the Gospel to the very people who had enslaved him.

When this pioneer missionary arrived among this violent, rough people in the profound bondage of paganism, the name of Jesus had never been heard among them. Pat brought that message to them, energetically traveling all over the countryside, sharing the Gospel and preaching with courage. Bitter enemies undermined Pat’s message, and he received death threats regularly, especially from the highly educated priestly class who practiced black magic and controlled the kings.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

John 3:22-36 - The Humility of John the Baptist

John the Baptist

Dr. George Washington Carver said, "When I was young I was walking along a dusty dirt road. I said to God, 'God, tell me the mystery of the universe.' But God answered, 'That knowledge is reserved for me alone.' Then on that dusty road I kicked a peanut. So I said, 'God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.' Then God said, 'Well, George, that's more nearly your size.' And he told me." The young African-American scientist went on to develop hundreds of useful products from the peanut.[1]

M.R. DeHaan, the founder of Radio Bible Class and co-editor of the daily devotion Our Daily Bread, used to say, “Humility is something we should constantly pray for, yet never thank God that we have it," because then we would have to repent for pride! Tonight, I have been assigned to preach on humility, and I suppose the Lord knew I need a lesson on it most of all. Our lesson tonight focuses on the humility of John the Baptist. We will give a sketch of his life but focus on a moment in John’s life when his humility was most on display – the day he realized it was time for him to step out of the spotlight.

Monday, March 28, 2016


Excavator Sir Henry Layard imagined Nineveh at its zenith
Nineveh had been the capital of Assyria for about a hundred years, but it had existed since at least 5000-4000 BC (Genesis 10:11). It was the greatest of four cities established by Tower of Babel builder Nimrod (Genesis 8:8-12; 11).

excavations of Nineveh
Layard's excavations of Nineveh
By the time of Jonah and Nahum, the city was the not only the capital of the Assyrian Empire, (Genesis 10:11-12) it was one of the greatest  world-class cities.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

David Fanning: SC Loyalist in Backcountry Revolution

DAVID FANNING was North Carolina's most notorious Tory. He lived for a time as an Indian trader on Raeburn's Creek in Laurens County, SC. For his terrible atrocities, Fanning was excepted from a general pardon by the US government after the Revolution and had to flee to Nova Scotia.

There was born in Johnston county, N. C, in 1756, one of the boldest men, fertile in expedients and quick in execution, that ever sprang from North Carolina parentage. He was a poor boy, obscure, humble and unlettered. He was apprenticed to Mr. Bryant, from whom, on account of harsh treatment, he ran away when about fifteen years of age. His miserable condition secured him temporary home with Mr. John O. Deneill, of Haw Field, in Orange county, but in the course of two or three years he went to South Carolina and engaged in trafficking with the Catawba Indians, and settled on Raeburn's creek, branch of Reedy river, in Laurens district in upper South Carolina. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

A man angry at Jesus' authority (Luke 4:31-37)

The Byzantine-era synagogue at Capernaum (Photo: Gene Brooks)
In our last post, we saw anger in Nazareth's synagogue at Jesus' authority. In this post, we see anger in Capernaum's synagogue, but the outcome is different.

Anger flared a second time in a synagogue in Luke 4, this time at the village of Capernaum Luke 4:31-37; || Matt 4:13-16). This time it came from just one man and the spirit resident in him. Literally, he was “having a spirit of an unclean demon”[1] (Luke 4:33-34). In a dramatic display of the fulfillment of Isaiah 61 in their hearing, a demon cried out, “Ha, What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A congregation angry at Jesus' authority (Luke 4:21-30)

Jesus teaching in the synagogue
Just after the "Temptation of Jesus" passage in Luke 4, there is the tale of two synagogues. The first is Nazareth, found only in Luke, and the second Capernaum
The Nazareth synagogue was where Jesus learned Torah as a boy, a poor Jewish village of between sixteen hundred and two thousand inhabitants. Nazareth's residents referred to him as "Joseph's son," not with the grand hospitality feted on a visiting rabbi, indicating that the small town was not open to thinking about him as more than a carpenter's son (Luke 4:22).[1] Still, Luke says that the congregation “spoke well of him” and were “amazed at his gracious words” (Luke 4:22). They were polite. They were properly religious. 

After reading from the scroll at Isaiah 61 in his hometown synagogue, Jesus explained the passage, pointing to something controversial, albeit true. What was it?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Methodists and kin of Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC

Church of the Epiphany (inactive during Reconstruction)
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction looks at Methodist and Episcopal life during that era.

The white Methodists in Laurens had a wooden white building with green blinds. They were part of a preaching circuit begun in 1825 under the legendary circuit rider Rev. Barnett Smith. The black Methodists led by Rev. Child built a church meeting house by subscription in 1870 on land donated by "C. Martin Mills, colored." Hopewell Methodist in the Hopewell Community, which goes back to Bishop Francis Asbury, and Harmony Methodist have no records of the Reconstruction period. Harmony’s records were destroyed in a fire. Hopewell apparently didn’t keep any. The Clinton Methodists organized a Clinton circuit in 1868

Friday, December 04, 2015

Black Baptist church planters in Laurens County, SC

Brush arbor similar to those used in planting churches
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction explores the work of Rev. June Kennedy and other emerging leaders among black Baptists.

            Freed slave June Kennedy was a remarkable and important figure in the history of black Baptist churches in Laurens County. Personal information is not available, but Kennedy’s name is connected with the formation of many early Baptist churches. What we do know is that even though Kennedy was unable to read, he went regularly to sympathetic white believers who provided the Biblical teaching to help him organize and lead many new churches of freed slaves across Laurens County.[1]
            Another former slave named Thomas Hood was well known for his singing, and June Kennedy for his itinerant preaching. Martin C. Cunningham meanwhile started prayer meetings at his home near Clinton, and the numbers grew.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rise of Black Baptist churches in Laurens County, SC

"A Negro Camp Meeting in the South" (
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with the remarkable rise of Baptist churches led by African American freed slaves.

Baptists also found themselves in the midst of the massive post-War social upheavals of the period. Out in the Beaverdam community of Laurens County, Beaverdam Baptist Church for example, organized in the early 1800s, had in the year the War ended, 1865, the largest colored membership in its storied history – seventy-six black members. No longer enslaved, black members of Baptist churches soon began withdrawing to form separate fellowships, motivated by their new opportunity for a voice and a vote in church affairs. Their white brethren, who believed in congregational church government, encouraged and supported their believing former slaves demonstration of their own leadership in their own local churches.[1] 
But there were other, less altruistic, outside political forces fueling the departure of black members from churches as well.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Baptists of Reconstruction Laurens County, SC

Langston Baptist Church, oldest continuous
Baptist church in Laurens County, SC
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with an introduction to Baptists in Laurens County, SC.
The Baptists in Laurens County, SC, were a peculiar people, distinct in their ecclesiology and their method of adult believer's baptism by immersion. The Hurricane or Harrykin Baptists between Clinton and Martin’s Depot (today's Joanna) were very sensitive to their method of baptism by immersion. Warrior Creek Baptist Church continued to carry on strict and public church discipline, holding strongly to the Baptist doctrinal ideal of a regenerate church membership as a core aspect of congregational government. Regenerate church membership means that

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Joys of Pastoring in Laurens County, SC

Clinton, SC, Presbyterian Church organized 1855
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with the fun that W.P. Jacobs had pastoring his Clinton, SC, Presbyterian flock.
Being a pastor in Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC, must have been quite an experience. On the other hand, perhaps a pastor of any denomination can probably recognize similar attitudes and actions today. Alas, some things never change!
        When the pastor of the Presbyterian church in Clinton, SC, Dr. William Plumer Jacobs, discovered to his surprise that the Presbyterian Church was no longer popular in the Clinton, SC, area of his time, he asked people why. His number one answer: All the members were hypocrites. Number two: There was continuing resentment that the 1855 organization of the Clinton church had about broken up Duncan's Creek Presbyterian Church as they had lost thirteen members to the new Clinton church. Dr. Jacobs noted, “"It would seem to indicate that the Duncan's Creek Church was almost broken up already."[1]

Dr. Jacobs provides a number of examples of the joys of pastoring in Laurens County, SC. For example, when Dr. Jacobs offered to preach to the young people at night providing they buy the candles and oil, the session complained that the teenagers would not pay the bills and the church would go into debt over candles and oil. Mr. Phinney volunteered to buy the items and light them himself so that the church would not be in danger of fire.
            Prayer meeting did not go over well either. The very idea was considered absurd.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Presbyterians of Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC

Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church, oldest church in Upstate
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with a sketch of Presbyterianism in the county.
Because of the heavy Scots-Irish settlement of much of Laurens County, the Presbyterians early on had the preeminence in terms of numbers and influence. Dr. Jacobs came in 1864 to pastor the Clinton Presbyterian Church. At the end of the war in 1865, the church had thirty white members, only a few colored, no Sabbath school, no choir, no prayer meeting, no church collection, no officer's meetings, no ladies' society, and only two services a month.[1]

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thornwell: A home for War orphans

William Plumer Jacobs
William Plumer Jacobs
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with an home for War orphans in Clinton.
In the midst of Reconstruction Laurens County, SC, Dr. William Plumer Jacobs was sensing God’s leadership in other new areas. Seeing the great need of post-War orphans abounding across the South, Jacobs wrote in his diary in July 1872, " If one dollar is offered me for the Home of the Fatherless this month or one child is tendered me I will take it as God's call to this work, and if I enter upon it then my lot is fixed for life in Clinton."

Jacobs did not come to this matter of establishing an orphanage haphazardly or suddenly. It was the product of a long period of God’s preparatory work in his life.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Rise of Black Churches in Laurens County, SC

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with the rise of black churches.
Bethel AME in Laurens. Built by freed slave Columbus White. Razed 2008.
Christians of African descent in Laurens County, SC, during the era of Reconstruction saw it as a duty to form their own churches, and white Christians felt a duty to help them. Leaving the white churches was "self‑inspired secession." In the white churches the Negro had no "voice in the government of his religious organization. At first the whites opposed the negroes' leaving, but the Baptists with their tradition of religious freedom "were the first to sanction and even encourage such separation."[1] The first South Carolina African Methodist Episcopal "Conference resolved that a separate religious organization was necessary for the Negro. Leaders argued that prejudice ruled out both races worshiping at the same altar.[2] Morgan Scurry, born a slave near Chappells in Newberry County, thought everybody should belong to the church and be a Christian. He added his thoughts to the racial separation of the churches many years later in the Slave Narratives,

Friday, September 25, 2015

Church life in Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with a vignette of church life.
Dr. William Plumer Jacobs
            "The spirit of the christian religion teaches that men should be to each other forgiving and merciful. But such I think is not the spirit of the present day," wrote Thomas Workman on September 16, 1875. He was quite concerned about religion and how it fit into life. "I hope though that things will take a turn for the better before long, at least that is to be expected."[1] Dr. William Plumer Jacobs of Clinton desired to do great things for God. What Dr. Jacobs found when he arrived in Clinton back in 1864 was not what he had expected.
            In Charleston where Jacobs grew up, the Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists were all against the Episcopalians and Catholics. But in Clinton, he wrote, "the various churches interpreted literally the saying of St. Paul, 'Fight the good fight of the faith.'" These people majored on

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Laurens County, SC, schools during Reconstruction

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with a survey of education and institutions for children during the period.
Though privately tutored education was more emphasized than public education before the War Between the States, some poor schools and academies were in operation in Laurens County. The first public school in Laurens County, the Wadsworth poor school, was established in 1805 as a free school or “poor school” for anyone who wanted an education. [1] The first school house in Laurensville was later on Reedy Fork Creek near the residence of Colonel Ball, and its first teacher was Charles Stone. But there were others. Laurensville Male Academy was established in 1848 and stood on the corner of Main and Academy Streets. Frank Evans was its principal[2] as it focused on a classical form education.[3]
One of the more well known institutions of learning across the state was Laurensville Female College,

Friday, September 04, 2015

Thomas M. Workman, genius inventor of Laurens County, SC

Sanctuary of Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with a genius inventor living between Laurens and Clinton.


Out in the Rocky Springs community, a young genius named Thomas Madison Workman (1847-1921) was writing and thinking ahead of his time. He wrote in his unpublished diary, "I believe this country needs some efficient means of irrigation." He proposed such ideas as windmills to fill above‑ground cisterns placed on a hill in order to power the water through pipes across the fields. The cistern could also be used for "raising fish, ducks, and many other things that would be desirable." Plus, telegraph wires could be run along the pipes and one could "be in constant communication with anybody."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Economic crises and Christ's redemption

Tyre harbour
Tyre harbor today (Wikipedia)
Isaiah shows that God's control of financial systems points to the redemption found only in His Son Jesus Christ (Isa. 23:15-18).
Financial systems globally are in turmoil, this time in response to  currency devaluations and slowdowns in the Chinese economy, the world's largest. But the prophet Isaiah, who deals with financial downturn across the system as a result of the decline of the commercial heavyweights Tyre and Sidon, shows us good news from Isaiah 23:15-18. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Global economic forces and God's purposes

The Triumphal Arch in Tyre, Lebanon
Tyre's Triumphal Arch (Wikipedia)
Isaiah shows that God controls financial systems for His purposes

We are in the midst of a lot of global economic changes. We are hearing in the media about what the experts call a "correction." Does the Word of God have anything to say about global economies? Yes, in fact, Isaiah 23 tells us that the Lord uses global economic forces to bring forth His purposes (Isa. 23:10-14)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Global economics and God's glory

Satellite caption of the Mediterranean Sea.Image via Wikipedia
The Mediterranean: Tyre controlled the seas
This is the first of three posts on the economic mayhem going on across the globe. Tune in for the next two in order to get a full picture. 

All economies make corrections from time to time. We are experiencing another one. Hopefully, it is not a catastrophic correction. Our world's economies are more interconnected now than ever. As Greece teeters near default, the European Union shudders at the ramifications of yet another bailout. When China devalued it currency again recently, shock waves are being felt across stock exchanges and global food and petroleum markets. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Laurens County (SC) living in 1872

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with life in 1872 Laurens County.
Clinton (SC) Presbyterian Church built 1855
         As Laurens County, SC, dealt with the Conspiracy Arrests in 1872, the doctrine of human depravity continued to show itself elsewhere in the county as well. The Laurensville town council warned robin shooters in March, 1872, that because of careless and reckless shooting, the ordinance against discharge of firearms would be strictly enforced. Also the corncrib of the widow Mrs. Minerva Dial was robbed of twenty‑ five bushels and her house of a sum of money. These were days when, "it is necessary in these times to sleep with one eye open, and your shot gun well loaded."

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Primer on South Carolina's Reconstruction

A view of SC's Reconstruction General Assembly
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with a primer on SC Reconstruction history. 

In order to better understand Laurens County’s role in South Carolina Reconstruction history, a short overview of Reconstruction across the state may be helpful.
        After the Confederacy fell in April 1865, SC Governor A.G. Magrath was removed by the victors and sent to Federal prison. U.S. President Andrew Johnson, who was taught to read and write in Laurens County many years earlier by a young sweetheart, pardoned most of those who had taken part in the war. He also appointed Benjamin F. Perry of Greenville as provisional governor. Perry was a Unionist who had opposed both nullification and secession, but he also held the respect of many South Carolinians. Perry immediately

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Laurens and Clinton Conspiracy Trials

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with the 1872 Conspiracy trials in response to the Laurens Riot of 1870. 
The prisoners from Laurens and Clinton lived quite a hard life in the Columbia jail. They were attended by the Presbyterians of Columbia, "and representatives from almost every class of the old regime kept dropping in upon us." Soon they were hailed as moral heroes instead of alleged Ku Klux prisoners. In four weeks in prison, they never had the prison food. Instead, they were brought food from the outside. The prisoners ate better than boarders in "any hotel in Columbia."[1] 

On their first Sunday in prison, the local Columbia ladies brought "turkey and roast pork with all the necessary trimmings, rice, chicken salad, tea and coffee, etc." Dr. William Swan Plumer brought "the largest tin bucket in his hand with 'soup for the prisoners.'" Colonel John S. Preston sent them "a ten gallon keg of beer, which was opened and enjoyed by all."[2] 
           There was a continuous stream of visitors, among them many ministers. They received two sermons on Sunday and nightly devotions from local pastors,

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Laurens County Conspiracy Arrests

The W.D. Simpson house in Laurens, SC,
as far as J.N. Wright ventured into Laurens
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with the response to the Laurens Riot of 1870 with the surprise Federal arrests of leading men in Laurens and Clinton at the end of March 1872.

Laurens County folk did not know what new things were in store for the New Year 1872, and it was to be a year to remember. The Laurensville Herald reported the local hunting news on March 1, 1872: 
"WILD CAT - A party of the chase‑loving gentlemen in the lower part of this District, a few days since, captured a well‑grown specimen of this primitive animal, on the plantation of Captain William Young, south fork of Duncan's Creek. More are supposed to be in the vicinity.

By the end of the month in Laurens County, some of these “chase-loving gentlemen” would themselves become the chased. And Joseph Crews would be the hunter. His long awaited revenge for the Laurens Riot and its aftermath was about to be unleashed.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Legal Fallout from the Laurens, SC, Riot

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues, with a description of the legal fallout in the wake of the Laurens, SC, Riot of 1870Racial and political tensions in post-War South Carolina continued to boil over in the Upstate. The first round of arrests and trials began. Here is the story:

The fallout came quickly from the Laurens and Clinton Riots and the successive dark and violent days of 1870. In January 1871, several Laurens and Clinton men were arrested by the State Constabulary and indicted under the Enforcement Acts. 

They were hauled before the federal Grand Jury in Columbia. By blackmailing the wealthiest in the county, "it was thought that these gentlemen, with the prospect of the penitentiary immediately before them, would 'pay out' handsomely."

Monday, July 06, 2015

Joseph Crews' escape from Laurens, SC

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with the aftermath and fallout of the Laurens Riot of 1870, including the ignoble escape of the infamous Joe Crews from town.
An antebellum-style handcar in New Bern, NC
In the wake of the Laurens Riot, rumors flew of groups coming to burn Laurens, that Governor Scott was sending a complete regiment of black militia, that the President was going to declare martial law, and the superstitious were pointing to the bright appearance of the aurora borealis every night. Patrols were detailed every night for the protection of the citizens.[1]
            Four days later the contingent of US Regular troops arrived in Laurens in response to the riot under command of Captain Estes who garrisoned his men in the abandoned railroad depot. Then six days after their arrival, on October 30, 1870, Joe Crews appeared before Captain Estes demanding U.S. protection and safe conveyance out of the county. He looked so haggard from ten days on the run that the Captain agreed to help him, and

Friday, June 26, 2015

Days of Terror in Laurens County, SC

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues, with a description of the days of terror in the wake of the Laurens, SC, Riot of 1870.

The Laurens Riot took place October 20, 1870, the day after the general election, and racial and political tensions in post-War South Carolina were bound to boil over somewhere. The account of the Laurens Riot is found here, but the aftermath was even darker. Here is the story:

By nightfall the whole thing seemed to be over, that is until riders from surrounding counties and outlying areas came into Laurens and into the barrooms in Clinton,[1] having heard the rumors flying of race war.