Friday, November 9, 2012

Big Time Wrestling!

Yes, when I was young my family was greatly into "Big Time Wrestling."  I remember at seven and eight years old going to my grandmas and great grandmas and hearing them yelling at a black and white television screen to "pound their heads," "give it up," or the classic "1...2....3!"
My dad and I went to many "Big Time Wrestling" events while growing up in Dayton, Ohio.  Many times we went to Hara Arena or University of Dayton Arena to watch the likes of Rick Flair, Hulk Hogan, and the Legion of Doom.
I don't do the wrestling thing now.  After going to college and living apart from all these things for four  years, you will be amazed how wicked it "suddenly" got while you were gone. The nakedness, immorality, cursing, drinking, drugs, and such have become what "Big Time Wrestling" is all about.  We've come a long way from "To all my little Hulkamaniacs, say your prayers, take your vitamins and you will never go wrong."  Enough reminiscing....
I have however learned, that we are all engaged in some "Big Time Wrestling."  The Scriptures read:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Eph. 6:13
When I became a pastor, one of the first things that I realized was the reality of a spiritual warfare going on all around me.  The Devil is fighting and fighting hard.  The Devil hates a Christian's life and testimony, the Gospel being preached, a Godly family, and God honoring churches.  He seeks to destroy them, and we are engaged in a big time wrestling match.   At least, we should be.

I fear that too many Christians are "George South" Christians.  George South was a wrestler 'back in the days' who was every heroes punching bag.  I remember groaning every time he was introduced as an opponent.  I think I personally saw Rick Flair put George South in the figure 4 100 times.  The script was for the hero to beat around on George South and then 'make that mistake.'  George South would then get the upper hand on Rick Flair for a moment.  Enough for the crowd to get mad at him.  He would do his patented "stick the tongue out" at the fans and miraculously just about then the hero would arise from defeat and defeat George South.
I see so many Christians today who just expect to lose.  Their mentality and attitude is one of defeat.  For a moment in their life, when all is going well, they make a lot of noise and get all excited about God, and even "stick their tongue out" at the Devil and as soon as that pride shows itself, they fall and fall hard.

We are to be engaged in this spiritual wrestling match, and the great part is, we are victorious.  Our victory is promised when we fight this battle through our Lord Jesus Christ.  At the moment, we may have to endure some afflictions. As I sit and write this, my heart is so heavy for so many.  It seems as if the last month has been filled with news of brothers and sisters in Christ, churches, and pastors and their families under oppression and attack.  Just this week, a pastor called to ask for prayer as his family is under attack and being divided.  How my heart aches for these I love.  Yet, we understand, that while on this earth we saints will experience “hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”  We will be at war and must be “a soldier.”  Peter speaks of these seasons of “heaviness through manifold temptations” we will face in his epistle.  So what are we to do?

The answer you will find in 2 Timothy two and 1 Peter one and throughout God’s Word is “endure.”  To endure means to hold fast, bare bravely and calmly on the shoulders.  Peter says that while enduring we can “greatly rejoice.”  How?  Because “the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  Paul tells Timothy we endure because of “salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”  In other words, “It Will be Worth It All When We See Jesus!”

Paul uses in 2 Timothy the example of Christ in 2:8, as does Peter in 1:11.  To what are they referring?  Hebrews 12:2-3 gives us our example.   He “endured the cross, despising the shame…” for the “joy that was set before Him.”  The Lord may allow seasons of trials into our lives, but they are just that-seasons.  They will not last forever.  They are for our strengthening and sanctification.   We must recognize that enduring is required and when a man has made up his mind that there is nothing he cannot endure, his fear leaves him.

The Devil is seemingly pounding down on my family, our missionaries, so many in our church, and other good families in solid churches.  If we are not careful, we will start to think that the Devil is winning and is going to win.  But I feel like the old school Hulk Hogan.  Just when you thought he was down and out, he would raise that fist and begin to rise from the mat.  In just seconds, everything turned around and he soon was pinning his opponent to a cheer of "1...2....3!"  

I believe we are in the last days and not making light of things, but towards the end of the match, the wrestling gets much more intense.  We as children of God are going to need to show what we are made of.  We are going to have to endure, to fight, and keep on doing what is right.  This fight is not flesh and blood, but it is real, it's Big Time Wrestling!  Just an inside scoop though, it's all fixed.  The good guys always win.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finally Done

After seemingly forever, Pastor Carr and I have finally finished our book and it has been printed and is available immediately.  I will be sending out a copy to each church which helped in having their teens answer the survey questions which helped compile the information for this project. 

After growing up in a youth pastor's home, serving seven years as a youth pastor, and now pastoring, I have watched a terrible epidemic take place in our independent Baptist churches.  At an alarming rate, we are losing our young people to the world and false churches.  It was our intentions after prayer and study to share what the Lord has taught us concerning this matter.

We make sure your young people attend every service and activity, have them involved in every extra-curricular we can get our hands on, and believe they are just fine.  In reality, all we have done is help them put on the mask that is hiding the real spiritual life. 

If you are interested in this book, you can order using paypal through the link to the right, or you can email me with how many copies you would like to obtain.  The cost is $10 per book to cover the expenses in this 310 page book.

May God use it for His glory and in helping us as parents truly training them in the way they should go.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cold Spring Baptist Church and First Baptist Church

 Cold Spring Baptist Church
1684 - 1702

In the history of Pennepack we saw that Elias Keach was led to the Lord and baptized by Thomas Dungan of the Cold Spring Baptist Church. Cold Spring Baptist Church was located on a farm owned by the Dungan family. On this farm was a spring that supplied water for the family and neighbors all around. It is believed that the area derived its name from that cold spring. The  present day spring is pictured on the left.  As far as history can tell, the church never met in a meetinghouse built for the purpose of church services. It is believed that the church met in the Dungan log cabin or in the barn.
The first and only pastor of the church was a man named Thomas Dungan.  Local records of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, show that Thomas Dungan’s son, William, came to Cold Spring in 1683.  The father came the next year and settled on a two hundred acre grant of land received from William Penn.  It was almost all wilderness at that time.  We know from history Thomas Dungan had fled to America from Ireland because of the persecution of the Baptist. When arriving in America he joined himself to the First Baptist Church in Newport, Rhode Island, where John Clarke was the pastor. We find the following in a book, The Historical Sketch of the First Baptist Church, Newport, Rhode Island written in 1876, by C.E. Barrows, who at that time was pastor of the church: “The first Baptist minister in the Province ‘now the state of Pennsylvania’, was Thomas Dungan, who was dismissed from this church and went to Cold Spring, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, about the year 1684.”
Cold Spring Baptist Church, a church started out of First Baptist Church, Rhode Island, was short lived yet had a great impact on history.  Thomas Dungan died in 1688 and Cold Spring Baptist Church dissolved in 1702 when many of the remaining members joined the Piscataway Baptist Church. Cold Spring Baptist Church left a legacy.  She gave birth to Pennepack Baptist Church, which became known as the mother of all Baptist churches in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania.

First Baptist Church
1638/1644 – present  

“I will either make them of conform, or I will harry them out of my kingdom.” King James I of England spoke these words with deep conviction.  He ruled over England from 1603 until 1625. King James I believed strongly in the Divine Rights of Kings, and believed in the use of force for defense of those rights. Though the Lord did use him in giving to us the King James Bible in the English language, he was not a friend to those who would challenge his authority in religious matters. For this reason many fled to Holland where they found the surroundings in the Netherlands were not favorable to them. Their writings tell us they found the language harsh, the weather undesirable and their environments were not satisfactory in many ways. So they came to America and settled at Plymouth. In 1630 many Puritans (Puritans were not looking for religious freedom for others but desired to purify the Church of England) fled England to come to America and settled in Boston, founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Such were the conditions into which John Clarke was born. In a book written by Wilbur Nelson, The Life of John Clarke, we find the following statement:  “John Clarke was born at Westhorpe, Suffolk County, England, October 8, 1609. His father’s name was Thomas Clarke. His mother’s maiden name was Rose Kerrich. He was one of eight children, six of who came to America and settled in different parts of New England.”
There seems to be very few records of the early life of John Clarke. As time continues on history continues to reveal glimpses into his early life. We know by his writing and his skill as a doctor that he received a formal education. Records show that he graduated from the University of Lyden in Holland. We know he came to America in 1637 along with his wife Elizabeth.  Upon their arrival he used his skills as a physician to minister to the needs of the people. Soon after his arrival in Boston the “magistrates law” was passed and people could only worship in approved churches. The Redwood Library in Newport, Rhode Island, lists the following accomplishments of John Clarke during his lifetime.
“Physician, minister, statesman and pioneer of religious liberty, he was one of the cofounders who purchased this island from the Indians on March 24, 1638, he signed the agreement on April 28, 1638, thus marking the establishment of Newport….
“Dr. Clarke was responsible for the first written constitution guaranteeing the right to religious freedom as the author of the Charter of Rhode Island of 1633; he secured it with the signature and the seal of King Charles II on July 8, 1663. It stipulated that this colony would be known as ‘The Colony of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations’…
“On April 20,1676, the day Dr. John Clarke died, he wrote his will which, in part, asked that a trust be created for educational purposes…
“Currently, the John Clarke Trust is the oldest educational fund in the U.S. The original document has been preserved by the Newport Historical Society.”
The First Baptist Church in Newport, Rhode Island, was the first Baptist church in America started between 1638 and 1644. We know that it existed in infancy stage in 1638. In the winter of 1638 John Clarke, his family and eighteen other families began their travels in search of religious freedom. This group left Boston where they were persecuted for their Baptist faith and traveled to New Hampshire where they found the freedom they desired. There is no written record of church services being held here, it is hard to accept that those who were fleeing persecution for their faith would neglect the command found in Hebrew 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Upon their arrival in New Hampshire they soon realized the winters were too severe for them to survive; therefore in the middle of the winter they were once again on the move. This time they moved southward and then into the Narragansett Bay where they lodged with the sympathetic Rodger Williams.  At this time is when they decided to come to rest on the island of Aquetneck.
There are many historians and the website of United John Clarke Memorial Baptist Church (New name of First Baptist Church of Newport) who date the founding of the First Baptist Church while they were in Portsmouth in 1638. The date of their founding will always be a question. We do know that there were no records of any other Baptist church at this time. There are many who lay claim that Rodger Williams started the first Baptist church in America. We know Rodger Williams leaned toward Baptist tendencies he had learned over time and that he started his church by allowing Ezekiel Holliman to administer baptism to him.  He in turn baptized Ezekiel Holman.  This is not the pattern set forth in the New Testament. After watching a baptism administered by John Clarke, he said he believed it was the closet thing to scriptural baptism he had seen.
John Clarke and Obadiah Holmes pastored the church until the death of John Clarke on April 20, 1676.  
As the colony grew, the influential John Clarke was very active in civil government. He traveled several times for long lengths of stay to England. During his absences from the church, Obadiah Holmes pastored the church. After the death of John Clarke, Obadiah Holmes pastored until his death in 1681. In his last will and testament, John Clarke left his land on Tanner Street (now Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland Boulevard) for the use of the church as a burial ground. There are many pastors who are buried there; Dr. Clarke, John Calendar, and Michael Eddy are among those buried there.  In 1707, the first meetinghouse in Newport at Green End was sold and another built on land on Tanner Street, given to the church by John Clarke.  The church on Tanner Street was sold, and in 1737, Hezekiah Carpenter and Josiah Lyons donated land on Spring Street to the church.  A building was erected on this site the following year.  In 1771 plans were made and the building was enlarged.  
“In 1778, this building was occupied by British troops.  The structure was moved to front on Sherman Street in 1846, and was eventually demolished in 1929.”  In 1846, the present building of the United Baptist Church was built on the Spring Street site.  Until 1946, it was known as the First Baptist Church (John Clarke Memorial).
On one of John Clarke’s trips to England there was a division in the church.  Twenty-one members left and formed the Second Baptist Church. In 1847 there was a division in the Second Baptist Church.  Forty-three members left and started the Central Baptist Church.  Then in 1906, the Central Baptist Church consolidated with the Second Baptist Church. On May 2, 1946, the First and Second Baptist Churches voted to unite into a single church.  The new congregation was called the United Baptist Church, John Clarke Memorial. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Piscataway and Pennepack

1680 – present

In 1689, the Piscataway Baptist Church of Shelton, Middlesex County, New Jersey was organized as an independent church. Until that time it had been a branch of the Lower Dublin Baptist Church (later called Pennepack Baptist Church) under the ministry of Elias Keach. Very little is known of the church’s early life.
History tells us that the residents of this area had emigrated from Piscataqua District in the province of Maine and that they gave the same name to the district settled by them in the province of New Jersey.  In early writings we find the same name spelled two ways:  Piscataway and Piscataqua.
We learn the origin and the history of Piscataway Baptist Church from the records of churches that were started in the area around her.  No records exist of this church until 1781. The records were destroyed over time.  It is believed that there are two reasons for the church having none of their records.  First, British soldiers destroyed many records during the Revolutionary War while they were in control of New Brunswick. It is also believed a disgruntled church clerk destroyed the records.
We have learned from the history of Pennepack Baptist Church that after her first pastor Elias Keach resigned, he was very active in starting churches all around New Jersey.  At that time, Pennepek claimed to be the mother of all New Jersey churches.
            In his book Historical Sketch of the Lower Dublin (or Pennepek) Baptist Church, published in 1869, Horatio Jones gives the following account of the formation of the Piscataqua Baptist Church:  “These, were such other Baptists as he found among the new immigrants joined the Pennepek Church, so that, at one time, all the Baptists of Pennsylvania and New Jersey were regarded as general members of this church.”  We know from other readings that the church would have general meetings so that all the Baptists of the area could come to partake of the Lord’s Table and to conduct business.  “As the number of baptized believers increased in places at a distance from Pennepek, it was considered best to form separate churches:  and, hence, in New Jersey, the following were constituted, viz:  Middletown, in the winter of 1688: Piscataqua in the spring of 1689; and Cohansey in the spring of 1690.”
            The first pastor of Piscataway Baptist Church was Reverend John Drake.  The Baptist History Homepage tells us this about Reverend John Drake:  “Mr. Drake was ordained as pastor of the church at the time of its organization, and continued to occupy this relation til his death in 1739, a period of 50 years.  Nothing definite is known of Mr. Drake’s ministry or the condition of the church during his pastorate.”
The following paragraph, taken from the website of the Shelton Baptist Church (the new name of the Piscataway Baptist Church):  “…the Shelton Baptist Church is in Edison, New Jersey.  It is the second oldest Baptist church in New Jersey and the tenth oldest in the United States…among its original members was the Steele family, after whom the Stelton section of Edison, New Jersey is named.  Up until 1875 the church was known as the First Baptist Church of Piscataway.  The land occupied by the church and cemetery was purchased in April of 1731.  The first church was erected in 1748 and that building was taken down and rebuilt in 1825.  This building was destroyed by fire on New Years Day; January 1, 1851…The building which took its place was destroyed in a fire in 1924.  The present building was erected in 1925.”

1688 – present

We learned in our last chapter that the church at Piscataway was started out of the Pennepack Baptist Church now known as the Shelton Baptist Church. In his book America in Crimson Red, Brother Beller makes the following statement regarding the work done by Pennepack Baptist Church:  “However the Baptist of America do have a place where they first steadied their ship, got their bearing, and sailed off to save souls. That place was Philadelphia.”
We now look into the history of the Pennepack Baptist Church. One of the most known Baptists in all of England was a man named Benjamin Keach.  Benjamin Keach had a son, Elias Keach who has been described as “a wild scamp” who came to Pennsylvania in 1688. He came pretending to follow in his father’s footsteps. Because his father was well known in America, he was able to draw a crowd. While preaching in the town of Pennepack, he was so overcome with conviction that he immediately confessed to the crowd that he was not saved and threw himself on their mercy asking forgiveness.  The crowd recommended he go talk to a pastor who was at a nearby church named Thomas Dungan. Mr. Dungan met with the young man, led him to Christ and baptized him.  He immediately returned to Pennepack and continued preaching with great power and boldness. Souls were saved, people were baptized, and a church was constituted in 1688.
The Lord greatly used the church at Pennepack to evangelize the area. The Lord not only added to the church through deep-water baptism but many who came to Pennsylvania seeking religious freedom were already Baptist who had great zeal for the Lord.  In his book A History of the Baptist Thomas Armitage records the following accounts of some of these people. He recorded a group from Wales. “By the good providence of God, there came certain persons out of Radnorshire, in Wales, over into tills Province of Pennsylvania, and settled in the township of Dublin, in the county of Philadelphia, namely John Eaton, George Eaton, and Jane, his wife, Samuel Jones and Sarah Eaton, who had been baptized upon confession of faith, and received into the communion of the Church of Christ meeting in the parishes of Llandewi and Nantmel, in Radnorshire.”  There was also a record of a man who came from Ireland. “John Baker, who had been baptized, and a member of a congregation of baptized believers in Kilkenny.”
In their early records we also find a man who came from England, Samuel Vans.
Along with this group of mature believers and the new converts, the church evangelized and baptized so many in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that it was said that all Baptist in these areas were members of the Pennepack Baptist Church except for the members of Cold Spring Baptist Church. As the groups in these different areas of the state grew, they were organized into independent churches.
The Pennepack Baptist Church is still in existence today. At first they took turns meeting in the homes of their members. In 1707 Samuel Jones gave a plot of land to the church, and they erected their first house of worship.  This was a very simple structure being only twenty-five feet square. It was enlarged to thirty by forty feet in 1774. The size increase, along with the addition of pews and a stove, made it much more comfortable for the members. The present building was built in 1805 and is still standing today. In 1885 the church moved from their location to a new meetinghouse in the Village of Bustleton under the name Lower Dublin Baptist Church. In 2006, because of decline in attendance and funds being low, the decision was made to move back to the building that was built in 1805 and revert back to the name Pennepack Baptist Church.  From the inception of the church in 1688 until the present time the church has had forty pastors and three interim pastors.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Scotch Plains Baptist Church

In 1747, there were fifteen members of the Piscataway Baptist Church living in the area now known as Scotch Plains, New Jersey. The conditions of the land made it very hard for these members to travel from Scotch Plains to Piscataway. The area was still under the dominion of the King of Great Britain.  (The people may have owned the land, but Great Britain still reserved the rights of all property for anything that could be used for the good of Great Britain.) The area of Scotch Plains had just begun to be settled.  There were still no railroads, no post offices, no telegraphs and no stagecoaches as means of communication and travel. For these reasons, the above mentioned sent a request to their church requesting to be dismissed from Piscataway to form a church in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. The following is a resolution adopted by Piscataway Baptist Church.
“Whereas in the course of Divine Providence there is necessity of a church to be constituted at the Scotch Plains, in the county of Essex, in the East New Jersey, and some of the members of the Baptist Church at Piscataway in the county of Middlesex and the Providence aforesaid, having their dwelling at and near the said Scotch Plains, and having made application to us, and obtained a grant for permission from us, in order to incorporate themselves into a church; this may certify that William Darby,  Recompense Stanberry, John Lambert, John Dennis, John Stanberry, Henry Crosby, John Sutton Jr., Isaac Manning, Mary Brodwell, Mary Green, Mary Dennis, Tabitha Sutton, Catherine Manning, Sarah DeCamp, and Sarah Perce, when they are regularly constituted into a church according to the gospel order are given themselves up, in a church fellowship are fully and freely dismissed from our church.”
With the permission of the mother church, these early pioneers on August 5, 1747, met for the purpose of incorporating themselves into a church. All of the above mentioned members from Piscataway are believed to have joined themselves with this church, but there seems to be no evidence of Mary Dennis and Sarah Perce becoming members.
The organizational meeting also addressed the need of a church clerk and elders, Samuel Drake became the first clerk, William Darby and Recompense Stanberry were the first ruling elders and also served as deacons.
Shortly after the organization, the church extended a call to Benjamin Miller, a member of Piscataway, to become their first pastor. Bro. Miller accepted the call and was ordained by the Piscataway Baptist Church.  By July 31, 1765, the church had grown to the point that the deacons could no loner properly fulfill their duties. The church added two more deacons, Cabriel Ogdin and Samuel Brooks to aid the other deacons.  Bro. Miller led the church from 1747 until his death in 1781. 
Bro. Miller and his family are buried in the church graveyard on the same grounds as the church house today. Including Bro. Miller, there have been thirty-three pastors along with several men who supplied the pulpit between pastors.