Columba – Arrival at Iona

This is the day that … Columba landed on the tiny isle of Iona off the northwest coast of Scotland in the year AD 563.

Columba had been a monk in Ireland … and had surreptitiously copied a Book of Psalms belonging to the Abbot.  When this was discovered, St Finnian demanded the copy be given to him, and Columba refused.  The High King of Ireland at Tara even decided that the copy belonged to the Abbot, but Columba was not going to give up without a fight.  Literally!  A fierce battle took place – both sides had gathered armies – and “the king’s forces were severely defeated” (The Man with the Coracle, by M. Backer-Benfield, page 6).

F.F. Bruce, in The Spreading Flame, also refers to this incredible war that took place over the Book of Psalms – “Some accounts represent Columba as vowing he would not return to Ireland until he had won as many pagans for Christ as had fallen in the battle – 3000 all told!” (page 387).

So to Iona he journeyed, and there founded a monastery.  “From this primitive abbey went missionaries who carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to Scotland, then to England, to France, Germany and all of Western Europe.”  Iona became “a lighthouse to the Dark Ages” (Decision  Magazine, March, 1975).

And it was Columba who first reported seeing the Loch Ness monster!  In 565  (The People’s Almanac, Volume 2, page 1278).

And Columba’s copy of the Book of Psalms is still to be seen at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin (National Geographic Magazine, May, 1977, page 626).

John Charles Ryle

This is the day that … John Charles Ryle was born in Macclesfield, England, in 1816.

As Bishop of Liverpool from 1880 to 1900 he became “one of the greatest and most influential Anglican evangelicals of all time”.

Educated at Eton and Oxford, where he showed prowess as a fine sportsman, his thoughts turned to the ministry after a very real conversion experience.  He was 21 years of age at the time and had attended a parish church.

It was not the sermon that influenced him, but the second reading of the Scriptures.  It was from Ephesians chapter 2:  “By grace are ye saved, through faith …” “It was in the simple hearing of those words of Scripture that he grasped the secret of the Gospel” writes Marcus Loane (J.C. Ryle, page 32).

For a while he worked in his father’s bank.  But by 12 December, 1841, he was ordained a clergyman in the Church of England.  Various ministries followed.

He married in 1845 … was widowed in June, 1847;  married again in 1850, widowed again ten years later; and remarried in October, 1861  (J.C. Ryle, by P. Toon, pages 42, 44, 52).

Ryle was not a good mixer – the two places where he was “genuinely happy” were in his pulpit and when he was “in his study surrounded by books” (ibid, page 43).

Thirty books came from his pen, including a vigorous defence of Anglican theology – Knots Untied.  And a classic work on “Holiness”, from a Reformed perspective.  His commentaries on the four Gospels are still in print.

In his preaching “he was at heart an evangelist whose sermons always sounded the note of a singularly clear call to forgiveness of sin and acceptance with God” (Loane, page 105).

This great Bishop heard his Master’s “Well done!” on 10 June, 1900.

Kenneth Taylor

This is the day that … Kenneth Taylor was born, in 1917.

It was at family devotions that one of his children asked him the meaning of a verse in the King James Version of the Bible.  When he had explained it the children retorted:  “Well, Daddy, if that’s what the verse means, why doesn’t it say so?

As a result Kenneth Taylor would sit in the Chicago-bound train day after day armed with Bible, notebook and pencil.  And in 1962 he had paraphrased the Epistles.  He called his book Living Letters, and took it to a publisher.  And another.  And another.

Their refusals did not dampen his enthusiasm.  He took out a bank loan and published it himself.  It sold slowly at first – and then Billy Graham decided to give it free to those who wrote in to his telecasts.  Half a million copies were printed and sent to viewers.

Taylor then tackled the Gospels … and the rest of the New Testament … and the Psalms.  And kept on going.

In 1971 The Living Bible was published by Tyndale House, his own book company.

“In the first 27 months Tyndale House sold 13 million copies of The Living Bible.”

In 1986 Moody Monthly reported that 33 million copies had been sold, and “profits go largely to fund paraphrases in other languages.”

Kenneth Nathaniel Taylor died at age 88, on June 10, 2005.

Personal Note from Chris – My dad used Living Letters because he loved the idea that God’s Word could be made accessible. However there were many nay-sayers. Some questioned how a Bible could use the word ‘boomerang’ and be taken seriously.

When I turned up at church with a Living Bible I was asked, “What do you feed it?” I didn’t get the joke.

I loved the sense of God’s Word being so easy to read.
Then came all the talk about how a ‘paraphrase’ was not a REAL Bible.
Now, everyone takes for granted their easy access to so many translations. Enjoy the privilege. It did not come easy.

Andrew Fuller

This is the day that … Andrew Fuller died, in 1815.

The son of an English Baptist farmer, and a “powerful wrestler in his youth”, Fuller was to become the greatest original theologian among 18th century Baptists” (Dictionary of the Christian Church, page 395).

At the age of 14 he came into “rest for my troubled soul”.  He tells us, in his own account of that conversion, how the example of Esther inspired him to approach the Saviour.

“I was not then aware that any poor sinner had a warrant to believe in Christ for the salvation of his soul”.  But just as Esther entered the king’s presence unbidden and under sentence of death, so Fuller tells us:  “like her I seemed … impelled by dire necessity to run all hazards, even though I should perish in the attempt …”

Wonderfully converted, and self-taught, Fuller became a Baptist minister, first at Soham (1775) and later at Kettering (1783).

He found himself involved in controversy with hyper-Calvinists (Fuller can be described as an evangelical Calvinist), Universalists, and with Arminians.

He was a profound influence upon William Carey, indeed it was Fuller’s snuff box that was used for the first offering of the newly formed Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Heathen (the first of the great foreign missionary societies in the United Kingdom).

His book, The Gospel Worthy of all Acceptance (1785), was a milestone in creating an evangelistic and missionary spirit in the non-conformist churches of the UK.

He died at the age of 61, listening to his congregation singing in the meeting-house adjoining his home.  Bedridden, he turned to Sarah, his daughter:  “I wish I had strength,” he said. 

“To do what, father?” Sarah asked.

“To worship”- and with that he joined the ransomed above … and did worship!  (Men Who Were Earnest, page 301).

The New Dreaming

While Dreamtime and Dreaming are part of Australia’s ancient indigenous mythology the New Dreaming represents today’s departure into fanciful thought and abandonment of facts and reason.

Australian Aboriginals refer to “Dreamtime” as the earliest times, when spirit beings formed the world. They also refer to the “Dreaming” to identify their localized myths, legends, fairytales and folklore, accounting for formation of animals, geographical features and the like.

What makes these forms of ‘dreaming’ significant is how they give a notion of ‘reality’ to a people group. Dreamtime is a mythological and magical time in which amazing supernatural processes took place to form natural phenomena. Dreaming, then, continues the process of applying imagined forces to validate current tangible reality and to assert personal value in the broader context.

It could be said that ‘dreaming’ represents the chosen beliefs of a group of people from which they gain their identify and validate their place in the world. It does not matter if the ‘dream’ is ridiculous or practical, because its role is not scientific, but personal. It often defies logic, but it speaks to the heart of a people, conferring on them a sense of identity and shared values.

So now, enter the New Dreaming. Today otherwise perfectly rational and logical people abandon their common sense to embrace a whole new set of ideas and values, without regard for reality. We live in a generation where people embrace personal and group beliefs with the fervour of a tribal community. People now find identity in their chosen mythology, even to the point of alienation from those who do not share their folklore.

Populist causes abound and are asserted and defended with zeal. Ideas have become tenets of faith. Things that defy definition and proof are taken as gospel – from big bangs, to black holes and impossible evolutionary miracles. If a mind such as that of Hawkins conceives a thing, then many take the resultant idea to be as good as proven. Meanwhile world leaders and popular figures have become high priests of ideas that informed scientists decry as folly.

Of the many reasons for such a state, one is that people have chosen to ‘dream’ rather than to live reality. “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream”, has become the option of choice for the children of yesterday’s thinking populace. It is as if logic and empirical realities are deliberately abandoned in an intellectual protest movement. Intellectual suicide is the sport of the nations and a fad of compelling proportions. So allow me to make a few observations about this state of affairs.

Dreaming has never created reality. Sweet as the dream may be, we wake to the cold light of day. Those who seek the dream must lose their life to do so, for they cannot live in today’s reality and also live their dream. Reality does not bow to silly notions. Even if the entire world were to believe nonsense, that cannot make the idiot idea real. Gravity will still be gravity, human life will still be mortal and God is still God.

What makes Dreaming a matter of concern, is that the world has taken to it with enthusiasm. Those who see clearly find many around them walking in a dream. Vain people are building their lives on holographic images projected before them by people intent on beguiling the gullible. The populace has become fodder for the peddlers of peculiar ideas.

We came to this place by abandoning foundations. People have long followed the piper’s tune, lured from logic and even common sense. Now, lost in the woods of competing and un-provable notions, they have forgotten that there ever were foundations on which to stand. They apply the dream to their strained situation, as salve and solace to insecure souls.

Three millennia ago the Psalmist asked, “If the foundations be destroyed, what will the righteous do?” Today we might well ask, if the foundations are abandoned, just how far from reality can we go?

Two thousand years ago the Christian zealot, Paul the Apostle, spoke of a spiritual reality causing this very problem. He said that the God of this world, a fallen angel we call the devil, has blinded people’s minds. Paul was commissioned through a divine visitation from the resurrected Jesus Christ, to turn people from demonic blindness to the truth. The need to continue that endeavour is as real today as it has ever been.

Dreaming is a demonic seduction. It is not the next step in our evolutionary journey, but a step back to the dark ages, fostered by a spirit being that is keen to steal man’s freedom and kill our potential. Thank God Jesus has defeated the devil and Christians have authority to resist him.

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of the Living God, I take authority over the lying and seducing spirits which pull today’s world into the stupor of dreaming sleep. I bind the power of the lie and it’s anaesthesia and I break its right to exalt itself in the nations. I declare that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and I exalt Him over the nations. I release the glorious light of the gospel over the nations of the earth and I banish all that beguiles and deceives. I break the power of the lie and I exalt the one who is the Truth, in and of His own being.

I invite you to join me in rescuing the nations of the earth from sleep walking toward the abyss. The truth sets people free, so let us proclaim it and turn people back from the brink.