Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Circle of Prayer

— Brandon Speak pastors the Lockhart, Mississippi Church of God (Holiness) and serves in the Department of Devotions on the Harmony Hill Youth Council.

The Youth Council members who were in attendance at the Minister’s Prayer Retreat knelt, and a group of pastors gathered around us and cried out to God for the youth of our churches and prayed for the blessing of God on Harmony Hill Youth Camp.

As I reflect on the more than twenty years I have been associated with Harmony Hill Youth Ministries in some form or another (which is a pretty big chunk of my life since I am only thirty), whether that was attending Boy’s Camp or Youth Camp or now that I am on the Youth Council, I have seen the impact this ministry has on lives. It had a profound impact on my own life, and I am thoroughly convinced it is because there is a group of people who love the youth of every generation and who stand behind the efforts of Harmony Hill Youth Ministries to share the truth of the love of God with the current generation.

We still need that support. We still need to be surrounded by the prayers of those who care for the youth of this generation. That group of pastors lifted up the needs of Harmony Hill, and I challenge all of you to lift us up before God in your prayers. Ask God to bless today’s youth. They are already an important part of what God is doing in our churches and not too many years down the road they will be the pastors of our churches. God cares about teenagers, and we at Harmony Hill care about them. God is raising up leaders for generations to come, and He does it on the Hill. Please take the cue from these ministers and surround us with your prayers.

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Why We Call A Bad Day Good

— By Michelle Avery, Editorial Assistant at Herald and Banner Press, Inc.

In December of 1776, a commander of the United States revolutionary forces wrote to his brother, “I think the game is pretty near up.” His men were sick, ill-equipped, despairing, and retreating in sub-freezing temperatures. This commanding officer feared their noble cause was lost.

But the commander was General George Washington, and he knew he had to try again. His plan was to take his quickly dwindling army across the icy Delaware River and surprise the Hessians in their warm quarters in Trenton on Christmas Day. The battle was a success for the American forces, and although it did not end the war immediately, it stopped the British advance toward Philadelphia and restored hope to the revolutionary forces. British Field Commander Charles Cornwallis told Washington at the end of the War for Independence, “This is a great victory for you, but your brightest laurels will be writ upon the banks of the Delaware.”

During the First World War an equally horrendous situation presented itself in the Argonne Forrest. General John J. Pershing had committed his untested troops to what was looking like an unwinnable battle. The fight for the first day’s stated objective took three weeks and cost more than 100,000 American casualties. The “Iron General” was beginning to melt.

Then one of Pershing’s officers demanded time to rest and regroup his men. A fresh division was brought forward, and for ten days they attacked the opposing forces. In those ten days the tired soldiers collected themselves and the officers corrected their strategies. When they attacked, they drove back the enemy so quickly it had no chance to regroup. American soldiers overran each new post before it could be secured. Ten days later, at eleven o’clock on the morning of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Armistice went into effect. The Great War had been won.

Long before either of these battles, another army faced a turning-point battle when all seemed lost. Approached by an overwhelming force, every man but their leader fled in terror. The commander was captured, interrogated, tried, and sentenced to death. His men returned slowly, but still fearful, they hung back and made no rescue attempts. Their dreams of victory and freedom died with their leader. It must have been the worst day of their lives.

They passed the  next day in hiding. They dared not go out into the city where they would surely be hunted down and executed as their leader had been. Their confidence had led to no plan for defeat, so they did not know what to do. Then Sunday dawned and some of the soldiers quietly walked toward the grave where their leader had been laid to rest. They would honor his tomb, then retreat and try to reclaim whatever life had been left to them.

But something was wrong. The grave had been robbed during the night! Their fear forgotten in surprise, they dashed forward to investigate then stopped suddenly at the appearance of an angel.

“Be not affrighted:” he commanded, “Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”

Suddenly all fear was gone. The enemy had been forever defeated! The worst day of their lives became good!

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Timid Faith

— W. H. Graef served as editor of The Church Herald and Holiness Banner from 1940 to 1948 and from 1952 to 1957.

We get a mental picture of those faithful women as they traveled toward the tomb where Joseph and Nicodemus had hurriedly placed the body of Jesus on the day of the crucifixion. They were filled with fear and questions as to who should roll away the stone from the door of the tomb. Despite their fear and doubt, they gave evidence that their hearts had been touched by the Master. No doubt their approach was gloomy, but they did have a secret, inner hope, though their faith was timid.

Great faith did not make Easter possible. God’s great love did.

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A Significant Sign

— Ray Crooks is a Church of God (Holiness) minister who lives in El Dorado Springs, Missouri.

Leaving the Jerusalem temple compound area containing the Muslim mosque, El Aqusa, and the beautiful memorial in the center of the square, the Dome of the Rock, I walked up and down the street called the Via Dolorosa. Passing the Fortress Antonia where part of Jesus’ trial took place, I continued down the narrow, cobblestone street toward the massive Damascus Gate, passing dozens of little shops on either side. No vehicles were seen there, but Jews, Arabs, and tourists jammed the street, making even walking slow.

After passing through the gate, which still stands tall and proud much like the Crusaders built it hundreds of years ago, I left the old city of Jerusalem behind. Just across the road from the gate I started up a wider street, crowded not with pedestrians but with sightseeing busses for tourists. Just a couple of blocks from the Damascus Gate, I turned up a dead-end street toward the destination I had dreamed for many years I would one day get to see.

To the left, down a few steps, a path led to a rectangular hole in a rock wall about a hundred feet away. That opening was pointed out as the entrance to the tomb, so I began to walk slowly toward it. There was no special decoration; no blaring speaker announcing the world-shaking event that took place here. Not even a big sign to declare the merits of the garden, the wall, or the tomb.

It was then, as I approached the opening, that I saw it. Ahead was a simple little sign to the left of the walk — I would have to get close to read the small lettering. When I could finally read the message on the sign it was as though an archangel himself spoke directly to me.

The little sign by the side of the pathway simply declared, “He is not here. He is risen, as He said.”

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Whose Standard?

— Mark Avery is General Manager and Editor at Herald and Banner Press, Inc.

Probably every fisherman has seen one. It is a twelve inch ruler that fits neatly in a tackle box. On the reverse of the ruler is another measure; it shows thirty equally divided units. A person using the wrong side might claim his fish is thirty inches long when really it is only twelve.

Somewhere we need a standard. That standard is held and maintained by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. We would have a difficult time if everyone set his own standard. As far back as Old Testament times, the Scriptures instructed justice and equity in units of measure. God warned against using dishonest weights in buying and selling.

The New Testament emphasizes godliness of character. Yet who is to say what is godly and what is not?

Jesus was and is the standard by which we measure our spiritual well-being. Height, weight, age, and appearance are of little importance. What really matters is how we measure up to the moral character of Christ.

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The King James Version

— Robert Thompson, Jr. is pastor of the Church of God (Holiness) in Red Bay, Grand Cayman.

I have looked at the history of the King James Version and marvel that it survived its infancy. I do not believe any version had the scholastic setting of the foremost English universities at a time English was producing some of its most well known literary giants (William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon). Although they did not work in this translating of the Bible, the language evolution was prevalent. The forty-seven men who did the work were High Church to Puritan in their church positions and lively debates were common. The work of revision and spelling, printing techniques and punctuation all made the process far from automatic. Thank God we have His Word preserved to us in the KJV.

God used the English and American missionary movement to evangelize around the globe. The KJV was the standard text for 250 years for the English speaking peoples and basis for almost all the commentaries of those years. I have worked most of my ministry outside of the USA and find the KJV is still a standard. The great revivals of this era had the KJV.

In closing I must thank God for giving us His Word, and as an English speaker I am thankful I have the privilege of reading and hearing the KJV.

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An Authorized Standard

— Michelle Avery is the Editorial Assistant at Herald and Banner Press, Inc.

One year into his reign, King James I of England convened a conference of the leading Church of England ministers and Puritans to discuss things thought amiss in the church. Among the topics discussed at the conference was the concern of the clergymen with the quality of the Bible translation available to them and their congregations. They were not asking for just another translation. In the past fifty years they had seen more than seventy English translations of the Scriptures. What they needed was a scholarly, accurate, and authoritative translation that would stand the test of time.

Before King James’ translation of the Bible, William Tyndale’s work was the longest standing of the English translations commonly in use, though during Tyndale’s lifetime the work was banned by the government and Tyndale was burned at the stake for this contribution to Christianity. With his final words, Tyndale cried out one final prayer. “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes!” Another king and three queens would sit on the throne of England before this prayer was answered.

King James was the right man for them to approach. The education he had received as a youth had not stopped with the political sciences. He was fluent in at least half a dozen languages, including Greek, and was considered one of the most learned ever of Europe’s kings. Also, he considered the Bible more than a necessary part of the church; he agreed with Tyndale’s belief that every English plowman should be allowed access to and understanding of the Scriptures.

The King James Version was finished in 1611 and is more than just another English translation of the Bible. It changed the world. English missionaries carried it throughout the world spreading both the gospel and their native tongue. Linguists continue to reference the work of the translation team King James selected. The language itself is still studied in literature classes even in non-Christian institutions. Most of all, ensuring that every Englishman, even down to the plowmen, could own and understand the Bible, and allowing that to spread to other English-speaking countries, has changed the world.

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The Press

“Religious truth is captive in a small number of little manuscripts which guard the common treasures, instead of expanding them. Let us break the seal which binds these holy things; let us give wings to truth that it may fly with the Word, no longer prepared at vast expense, but multitudes everlastingly by a machine which never wearies to every soul which enters life.” — Johann Gutenberg

Johann Gutenberg is best known for his invention that made the printing press more practical and books less expensive — the movable-type printing press. The first book he printed was a Latin translation of the Bible which was finished in 1523.

Centuries later we still have Gutenberg to thank for the access to such vital information that we have today.

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