Thomas Chisholm Fragile Poet

This is the day that … Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born, in a log cabin in Kentucky, USA, in 1866.

Largely self educated, young Tom found himself at age 16 as the schoolteacher in the same country schoolhouse he had attended. Then at the age of 21 he became associate editor of a weekly newspaper.

And it also was around this time when he responded to the claims of Christ, under the old-fashioned gospel preaching of Dr Henry Clay Morrison, one of America’s outstanding evangelists.

Chisholm moved to Louisville to become Morrison’s office manager and editor for the publication the Pentecostal Herald. Chisholm was later ordained to the Methodist ministry, but could not maintain his post due to poor health, which had troubled his whole life.

In Louisville he sold insurance, married – and began writing religious verse.

In the following 30 years 1,200 hymns came from his pen. Many were set to music and sung in the great Billy Sunday revival meetings across America, including –
Living for Jesus a life that is true,
Trying to please Him in all that I do …

And perhaps the best-loved of all is that well-known hymn based on Lamentations 3:22-23 :
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee …

Thomas O. Chisholm passed to his reward in New Jersey, 1 March, 1960 at 93 years of age.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Choosing a Source

In previous discussions I raised the issue of who we look to as our source. I can’t get past how important this issue is so my mind has thrown up various illustrations to tease it out. What else should I do with something like that, but to Blog It! So now I can foist it onto you. I pray these thought bring truth alive in your own experience.

I once read of a thriving Christian ministry which relied on hundreds of faithful back office people to process mail, take bookings and so on. A large team of ladies came in each day, often having to work back very late, struggling to get things processed, especially before a big event.

Because these were volunteers they were never remunerated or rewarded for their dedicated service. It was their choice to become servants of the ministry, whatever their personal motivation may have been. Some adored the main ministry people. Others believed that God wanted them to give their time and talents to serve that ministry. Some others were pressed by the need itself to come in and tackle the overwhelming mountain of paperwork, etc.

Now, in the case I am thinking of, the ministry came to an end, with the death of one of the leaders. Sadly the assets of the ministry were grabbed by some people who came on the scene at a late hour. Those new controllers of the ministry used the assets for their own benefit. The hundreds of faithful helpers were given nothing, despite their years of sacrificial investment into making the ministry successful.

But for the purpose of my illustration, let’s imagine that some of the ladies were kept on for another year, maybe because computerisation made it possible to function with less staff. Then, as the ministry closed, the small group who were retained were given a parting gift, say $1,000 each, for helping the ministry.

What we have now is a perfect environment for people’s hearts to be sorely tested. A sense of injustice is created. Some people will quickly become offended and resentful, even on behalf of others when they were not personally involved themselves.

Now, I’m getting close to my starting point – so stay with me. Imagine two ladies who worked together over the years and both made huge personal sacrifices to support the ministry through its most needy seasons. They are sent off with many others as the ministry is winding down. Then, a year later they both learn that the few who were kept on have just been paid several thousand dollars for their voluntary services. How do these two ladies react?

One is upset and joins with others who voice complaint to the ministry. They demand that they, too, be given something for their sacrificial input over the years. When nothing is given them, the lady becomes bitter and resentful. She stops going to her church, because her minister fails to understand her right to be upset. For the rest of her life she never again makes any contribution to a Christian ministry. She brings up her offence everywhere she goes, even to people for whom the whole thing means nothing.

The other lady quietly gets on with her life. She turns down her friend’s persistent calls to join in legal action against the ministry. She never speaks about the compensation issue, but does often speak about what a joy it has been to serve the ministry. She occasionally meets people who were touched by the ministry and she always enjoys those encounters.

When she is asked to explain why she is not bitter like many others she worked with, she simply explains that her service was for the Lord. He is her master. She never expected any reward and that gave her the joy of giving up hours and even years of her life as a gift to Him. If she were to now seek compensation she would lose the joy of having given herself to God in loving service. She would also be putting a cheap dollar value on her life and her time. She explains that she would much rather receive eternal rewards of immeasurable worth, than a few measly dollars here on earth.

By that heart attitude this woman is choosing her source to be God. Her friend chose human institutions as her source. When we look to man to meet our needs, to compensate us or to give us value, we miss the wonderful delight of being given value by God, Himself.

I am endorsed by God. I am His servant. He pays my bills. He provides my right to minister. If He needs me to minister into some context where I do not have the privilege of entry, then that is His problem. If He wants me to get a certain qualification or endorsement, then I will do it as an act of worship to Him.

Every time you are tempted to complain that man has not done for you what you hoped or expected them to do, take a moment to consider whether you are not selling yourself short and making man your highest reference point. If you choose to trust yourself to God, instead, then you can receive from God things that no man will ever be able to give you.

J S Bach the Believer

This is the day that … Johann Sebastian Bach died in 1750.

He was taught violin by his father, became a choirboy at St Michael’s Church, then organist … and so his musical career began to flourish.

He has been described as “the outstanding member of the greatest musical family the world has ever known” (A Gift of Music, by Smith & Carlson). Over 50 musicians bearing that name are remembered by musicologists today” (The Spiritual Lives of Great Composers, by P. Kavanagh).

“I have read countless books and articles,” continues one biographer, “discussing the mystery of Bach’s greatness, and the authors rarely mention his self-acknowledged indebtedness to his Lord and Saviour.”

He was “the greatest organist, not only of his own time, but of all time,” writes another. And as a composer “his lofty genius was wholly consecrated to the service of God in the church that held his heart, and what Palestrina was to the Roman Church Bach became to Protestantism” (Handbook to Church Hymnary, page 257). He was a devout Lutheran.

Some consider his name to be “the greatest in all the history of music, whether sacred or secular.” Whilst he was recognised as the outstanding organist of his day (and many would say “of all time”), it is as a composer that he is now acclaimed.

During his lifetime only ten of his compositions were published, and it was not until a century after his death that the greatness of his musical composition was acknowledged.

Many of his melodies and arrangements are to be found in our hymnals, and his cantatas are still sung by many a church choir, including Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.

Blind, and on his deathbed, he dictated to his son-in-law, his final chorale, Before Thy Throne I Come…!

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Rudyard Kipling Defines a Man

Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If”, brandishes Kipling’s own bold definition of manhood. The poem is a powerful and strident call upon the human soul. Men and women have been stirred by it’s uncompromising standard.

Through history many Britons were inspired by Kipling’s clarion call to unswerving manhood. It is suggested that the poem, written in the early 1900’s, was inspired by Kipling’s friendship with such men as Sir Cecil Rhodes (after whom Rhodesia was named), Lord Milner and Dr Jameson. Derek Prince’s father, a military man himself, drew from the poem to inspire his young son to the stoic qualities Kipling defined.

So, let me remind you of this poem and encourage you to consider its implications for a true definition of manhood. You might like to compare Kipling’s vision of manhood with the testimony of Job, in Job 29:1-25.

“If” by: Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run —
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man my son!

Note how Kipling celebrates self-discipline here.
Mastery of the human soul gains Kipling’s adulation, where self-control is his abiding principle prize.

Yet a greater mastery transcends this worthy call.
It is not to master, but to be mastered.
Not to harness all, but to yield even more.
Not to hold oneself, but to lose oneself.
Not to excel all others, but to excel in love for others as Christ loves you.

Yes, be master of your realm.
Hold the reins in calm and meek command.
But hold them not for yourself or human purpose, but for the prize of yieldedness alone.
Hold yourself, as a servant holds his tongue and steadies his hand.
Hold yourself as a surgeon presses past duress to save the mangled life at ebb before him.
Master who and what you are, not for your father, your station or your nation – but for the one who is Master of all.

Stand before Him, without fear or shame.
Stand before Him, whether He smile or rebuke.
Stand before Him, unwavering.
So eternity is yours, and, what’s more my son, you will be a Man!

So here is “If continued” …. by Chris Field

If you can stand before the eternal throne
Unflinching in the face of God’s command
And occupy that space as if your own
And there before his searching gaze still stand;
If you can stay your heart from fear or shame
And yield yourself before His awesome will
Unflinching in the fire of holy flame
Determined to be faithful still;

If you can master self not for your own
And stay yourself – thus on the altar stay
And hold yourself for yieldedness alone
If you can live under His sceptre’s sway;
If you can find yourself, yourself to lose
Excelling in your love, as is God’s plan;
If giving all to Him is what you choose,
Eternity is yours and you’re a Man!

A.T. Pierson, Spurgeon’s Choice

This is the day that … Dr A.T. Pierson was almost drowned. It was on Vineyard Lake, 1877.

Arthur Tappan Pierson was born on 6 March, 1837, reared in a godly home, and converted during “special revival meetings in the Methodist church”.

At the age of 23 he was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry, and married Sarah Benedict the same year.

It was during his second pastorate that the boating accident occurred. As the boat in which they’d been fishing sank, Pierson and his three small children found themselves in a desperate situation. He could swim … the children could not, at least, not the distance to the shore. For half an hour they clung to the upturned boat, crying to any who might hear them – and committing themselves to God’s keeping. “Finally a woman heard their calls for help and came to the rescue. She had never handled oars and Mr Pierson, with his head just above water, had to direct her how to use them” (Speakers’Bible, “Judges”, page 392).

Safe home Dr Pierson wrote a “Promise to God”, thanking Him for the deliverance and promising to serve Him henceforth. The three children signed it.

In the years that followed Dr A.T. Pierson became a well-known Bible teacher on both sides of the Atlantic.

When Spurgeon took ill in 1891, it was Dr Pierson he requested to fill the Metropolitan Tabernacle pulpit. This he did … and continued to do so for a time after Spurgeon’s death.

This ministry came to a rather bitter conclusion as the congregation was divided as to whether Pierson should continue as pastor (he had submitted to believer’s baptism in the meantime), or whether Spurgeon’s son, Thomas, should come and minister. “The rift in the ranks of the membership went deep,” writes W.Y. Fullerton, “even to the severing of family relationships and sundering lifelong ties” (Thomas Spurgeon, page 155). Dr Pierson was outvoted, three to one.

Back in USA, Dr Pierson lectured at Moody Bible Institute, was a contributor to the notes in the Scofield Reference Bible, editor of the Missionary Review, author of numerous books (including the famous biography of George Mueller), and in demand as a convention speaker.

He was one of the few Americans invited to speak at the Keswick Convention in England.

The story is told of Dr Pierson collecting funds for a special object … and a wealthy man said to him, “If I had to preach your funeral sermon I would take as my text: “And the beggar died,” to which Dr Pierson replied, “I would not object to that … as long as you finish the verse, ‘And he was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom’” (Luke 16:22).

On 3 June, 1911, the angels did just that!

For more detailed information about Dr Pierson go to: http://www.reformedreader.org/rbb/pierson/mrphiladelphia.htm

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.