Monday, December 19, 2016

The wonder of Christmas morning

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John Chrysostom preaching in Constantinople 

This year Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. We pray your Christmas is awesome this year. Here is an excerpt from a Christmas morning sermon about the 4th or 5th Century by John Chrysostom (c.349-407), Archbishop of Constantinople:

"What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of Days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infant's bands.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Seven things sin does to us

Isaiah 64:5-7 teaches several things about the nature of sin and the way it affects us. 

The modern critic says, “How can God judge so brutally? How can he trample men like grapes?” 

But Isaiah counters, “How can we be saved?” These verses contain a complete description of the impact of sin on human beings.

First, sin arouses the anger of God and directs it against us (Isaiah 64:5). "You are indeed angry, . . . And we need to be saved."

Second, sin is habit-forming: We continue to sin against God’s ways (Isaiah 64:5). "for we have sinned—/ In these ways we continue"

Third, sin is defiling, making it impossible for us to approach Him (Isaiah 64:6, 7). "But we are all like an unclean thing, . . . For You have hidden Your face from us"

Fourth, sin so corrupts our character that even the best we can do is fouled by base motives (Isaiah 64:6). "And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;"

Fifth, sin is destructive, shriveling us up from within and creating circumstances that sweep us away (Isaiah 64:6). "We all fade as a leaf, / And our iniquities, like the wind, / Have taken us away."

Sixth, sin alienates us from God, creating a distaste for the Lord that keeps us from calling on His name (Isaiah 64:7). "And there is no one who calls on Your name, / Who stirs himself up to take hold of You"

Seventh, sin causes God to hide His face from us and to judge us (Isaiah 64:7).  "For You have hidden Your face from us, / And have consumed us because of our iniquities."

In view of all that sin has done to us, it is no wonder Isaiah cries out, “How then can we be saved?” 

The answer is in Isaiah 64:8. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

SITS November Top 10

The top 10 posts on this blog of the last month:
(BTW - This is the 2000th published post for SITS).


716

316

159

156

Jul 29, 2012 
112

106

69

46

45

Jul 22, 2012 
37

Thursday, October 27, 2016

How to vote in the election

VOTE on Tuesday, November 8, 2016

How to Effectively Cast Your Ballot
1. Pray first.
2. Do your research on the candidates.
  • Check to see what their platform is.
  • Consider their character.
  • Examine their actions.
  • Remember that you are voting for policies, not personalities.
3. Search your conscience.
4. Search the Word and determine if your conscience is aligned with the Word.
5. Pray and Vote. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Isaiah 63:7-17 - The Trinity

Shamrock
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

Nineveh

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.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

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" (loc.org)
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

O Joy! Being a pastor 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. Alas, similar attitudes are around today. The more things change, the more they stay the same! 
        The new 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, so 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,