A Sketch Of The Life And Labors Of George Whitefield (book review)

A Sketch of the Life and Labors of George WhitefieldI recently read a fascinating book about the intertwining lives of Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield. In some follow up reading, I was somewhat shocked to discover how many people in the church vilified Whitefield! In less than a century following Whitefield’s death, many pastors in the Church of England were badmouthing him.

J.C. Ryle, and eminent scholar, theologian and pastor, decided to take another look at Whitefield’s life and ministry, to try to offer an unbiased view. Whitefield died in 1770, and just 77 years later Ryle presented a paper, later turned into the book A Sketch Of The Life And Labors Of George Whitefield, which explored the evangelist’s life and lasting impact.

Ryle was no Whitefield apologist, but when he calmly and rationally presented the facts of what God had accomplished through Whitefield’s tireless ministry, Ryle concluded: “After calm examination, I have come to the conclusion that Whitefield was one of the most powerful and extraordinary preachers the world has ever seen. My belief is, that hitherto he has never been too highly estimated, and that, on the contrary, he does not receive the credit he deserves.” And, “The plain truth is, the Church of England of that day was not ready for a man like Whitefield. The church was too much asleep to understand him.”

This is not a very lengthy book, but it is a very enjoyable read. History buffs—especially those who enjoy church history—will find much to like in this brief study.

Links & Quotes

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“Reading the Bible is a good preparative for prayer, as prayer is an excellent means to render reading effectual.” —George Whitefield

“God would have remained hidden afar off if Christ’s splendor had not beamed upon us.” —John Calvin

“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect [party] of the candidate—look to his character. … It is alleged by men of loose principles or defective views of the subject that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men ‘who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.’” —Noah Webster

“During the gold rush, the people who made the most money were the ones selling the shovels.” —Russell Brunson

Husbands, here are 8 things your wife should expect from you.

James Madison & the Bill of RightsMurray Vassar has another great cartoon. Click the picture or here to see the rest…

Seth Godin always makes me think. Like this post called Opposition

The opposite of creativity is fear.
And fear’s enemy is creativity.
The opposite of yes is maybe.
Because maybe is non-definitive, and both yes and no give us closure and the chance to move ahead.
Perfect is the enemy of good.
Us is not the enemy of them. Us is the opposite of alone.
They can become us as soon as we permit it.
Everything is the opposite of okay. Everything can never be okay. Except when we permit it.
The right is not the opposite of the left. Each side has the chance to go up, which is precisely the opposite of down.
Dreams are not the opposite of reality. Dreams inform reality.

[VIDEO] John Maxwell makes me think, too. Here he does it with a bit of humor—

Tears And Humility

History of ReshJust has God sent His holy Son “below the line” to rescue us, so we who are in Jesus have been sent below the line to those who are staggering to death. If we are going to be effective rescuers, what must our attitude be?

John Bradford, when he saw a convicted criminal on his way to the gallows said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” He also said to those who questioned his deep emotional response when preaching, “You blame me for weeping, but how can I help it when you will not weep for yourselves, though your immortal souls are on the verge of destruction?”

Isn’t a humble, empathetic rescuer going to be more effective in reaching those staggering to their eternal demise than one who stands aloof, saying, “You got yourself into this mess”?

Resh (Psalm 119:153-160) shows us our posture: It signifies a head bowed; it means we are confidently humble. Confident that God delivers us, defends us, redeems us, preserves us, and saves us (vv. 153-154); but humble enough to know that we could never have earned this!

We have to have this confidently humble posture in order to be effective as His holy rescuers. We grieve for those who are without God because of what they face—

  • “Salvation” is only gibberish to the wicked because they’ve never looked it up in Your dictionary. (v. 155, MSG)
  • They don’t know His compassion is great (v. 156), nor how great is Your tender mercy and loving-kindness (AMP).
  • They become the foes who persecute Christians (v. 157). How they will grieve on Judgment Day, if they don’t repent!
  • Their actions are loathed (not them as a person!). What God said of the Israelites who went into captivity will be true for those who don’t accept Jesus before they die—Then in the nations where they have been carried captive, those who escape will remember Me—how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. (Ezekiel 6:9, emphasis added)

Tears and humility will keep us in the proper position to reclaim these lost treasures for our King! 

I will be continuing our series on Psalm 119 in our P119 Spiritual Workout next Sunday. Hope you can join me!

If you are interested in watching the entire message, the video is below—

Links & Quotes

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“‘And Enoch walked with God’ [Genesis 5:24]. If so much as this can be truly said of you and me after our decease, we shall not have any reason to complain that we have lived in vain.” —George Whitefield

“A neglect of secret prayer has been frequently an inlet to many spiritual diseases, and has been attended with fatal consequences.” —George Whitefield

“You have heard many men’s dying words, and these are mine: A life spent in communion with God is the pleasantest life in the world.” —Matthew Henry, to a friend when near his death

Sgt. Jason Kelley is a wonderful asset to my hometown, and our surrounding area. So I couldn’t be happier that he has been named Kent County Deputy of the Year!

We are losing a pastor who has been so involved in our city. Pastor Tom Holloway is moving to South Carolina, and I am going to miss him.

A U.S. Army chaplain has found an innovative way to water baptize soldiers. Love it!

Eric Metaxas asks, “How can anyone defend Planned Parenthood after the sickening video came to light this week?” Check out his insightful answer.

[VIDEO] Here is the video from another Periscope broadcast I did about handling fear—

14 Quotes From “The Printer And The Preacher”

The Printer And The PreacherI loved this book! It’s a great historical story of how Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield’s lives intertwined at such a pivotal time in history. America exists the way it does politically and religiously today because of the influence of these two titans. You can read my full book review here. Below are a few quotes from this remarkable book.

“The Faith you mention has doubtless its use in the world…. But I wish it were more productive of good works than I have generally seen it: I mean real good works, works of kindness, charity, mercy, and public spirit; not a holiday-keeping, sermon-reading or hearing, performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers. … Your great Master thought much less of these outward appearances and professions than many of His modern disciples. He preferred the doers of the Word to the mere hearers…and those who gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, raiment to the naked, entertainment to the stranger, and relief to the sick.” —Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to pastors

There are many who “perhaps fear less the being in Hell, than out of the fashion.” —Benjamin Franklin

“The alteration in the face of religion here is altogether surprising. Never did the people show so great a willingness to attend sermons, nor the preachers greater zeal and diligence in performing the duties of their function. Religion is become the subject of most conversations. No books are in request but those of piety and devotion; and instead of idle songs and ballads, the people are everywhere entertaining themselves with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. All of which, under God, is owing to the successful labors of the Reverend Mr. Whitefield.” —Benjamin Franklin, in a newspaper article

The Body of
B. Franklin
Printer;
Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be wholly lost:
For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more,
In a new& more perfect Edition,
Corrected and Amended
By the Author. —Benjamin Franklin, the Epitaph he wrote for himself at age 22

“I have seen your Epitaph. Believe on Jesus, and get a feeling possession of God in your heart, and you cannot possibly be disappointed of your expected second edition finally corrected, and infinitely amended.” —George Whitefield 

“You blame me for weeping, but how can I help it when you will not weep for yourselves, though your immortal souls are on the verge of destruction?” —George Whitefield

Those who hear the gospel “have more need of heat than light. Would to God we had as much warmth in our hearts, as light in our understandings!” —George Whitefield

“If we are truly converted, we shall not only be turned and converted from sinful self, but we shall be converted from righteous self. That is the devil of devils: For righteous self can run and hide itself in its own doings, which is the reason self-righteous people are so angry with gospel preachers.” —George Whitefield

“Let your practice correspond to your profession.”—George Whitefield

“Oh pray, dear Mr. H., that God would always keep me humble, and fully convinced that I am nothing without Him, and that all the good which is done upon earth, God doth it Himself.” —George Whitefield, in a letter to Gabriel Harris, when his popularity was growing

“Will it not in the end destroy brotherly love, and insensibly take from us that cordial union and sweetness of soul, which I pray God may always subsist between us? … How glad would the enemies of the Lord be to see us divided? How many would rejoice, should I join and make a party against you? And in one word, how would the cause of our common Master every way suffer by our raging disputes about particular points of doctrines? … I write not this, honored Sir, from heat of spirit, but out of love. At present, I think you are entirely inconsistent with yourself, and therefore do not blame me, if I do not approve of all that you say.” —George Whitefield, in correspondence with John Wesley over doctrinal differences

“I find that you grow more and more famous in the learned world. As you have made a pretty considerable progress in the mysteries of electricity, I would now humbly recommend to your diligent unprejudiced pursuit and study the mystery of the new-birth. It is a most important, interesting study, and when mastered, will richly answer and repay you for all your pains. One at Whose bar we are shortly to appear, hath solemnly declared, that without it, ‘we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.’ You will excuse this freedom. I must have aliquid Christi [something of Christ] in all my letters.” —George Whitefield, in a letter to Benjamin Franklin

“satan is angry. I am now mimicked and burlesqued upon the public stage. All hail such contempt! God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of Jesus Christ.” —George Whitefield, in a letter after a play was produced in London making fun of him

“Whitefield and Franklin were not just the two most famous people in America in their time—they were also the most significant. The effects of their lives and their work are still being felt today … If America was born as a Christian nation, it’s because many of its people were genuinely, powerfully Christians. It had less to do with the language in any founding documents and more to do with the fact that George Whitefield had been tromping from town to town, inviting people to hear the call of God. It had even less to do with church membership. God was grabbing lives. People’s hearts were flying open. No one was imposing Christianity on society. The power came from within.” —Randy Peterson

The Printer And The Preacher (book review)

The Printer And The PreacherRandy Peterson has written an amazing story of the unlikely friendship between two men who loom large in history: Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield. The book is called The Printer And The Preacher: The Surprising Friendship That Invented America.

These men were arguably the first celebrities in the American colonies. They each achieved their level of fame in totally different professions, and yet their paths continue to cross time and time again, until a 30-year-long friendship ensued. Each of them was instrumental in sharpening the other in their craft, promoting their pursuits, and defending each other’s reputations. And perhaps most notably, together they became pivotal in the build-up to America’s independence both politically and religiously.

In concluding this very enjoyable book, Peterson writes—

“Like George [Whitefield], we are, as a nation, very religious. Like Ben [Franklin], we like to make up our own beliefs. About half of Americans call themselves evangelical, children of the Great Awakening. Many even use George’s favorite term: born again. But others do not share this faith. Many, like Ben, are scientific in their outlook. They take an ‘enlightened’ approach to life, focusing on the natural world, not the supernatural.

“We are George and Ben.

“Thanks to Ben and others, we have religious liberty carved into our Constitution. We have freedom to be religious or not to be. We can be Methodists, Calvinist, Catholic, deist, Pietist, or all of the above. No authority can coerce us to believe anything or force us to say we do. Spiritual life is a personal matter, a transaction between us and God. George and Ben both taught us this.

“We are still figuring out how religious freedom works. As a nation, we seem to vacillate between Ben and George, skeptic and zealot, the right to doubt and the right to believe. The question in our deeply divided country is how to preserve the freedom to live without a vibrant Christian faith as well as the freedom to choose something else. The relationship between these two forefathers points to an answer.”

This book will appeal to so many people: history buffs, pastors, scientists, leaders, politicos, and biography readers. I highly recommend it!

I am a Thomas Nelson reviewer.

Links & Quotes

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“Sing, O heavens! and rejoice, O earth! Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” —George Whitefield

“Health for sick humanity! Medicine for a diseased world! A Physician for a dying race! Such are the messages which we bring. All of them overflowing with God’s great love to sinners.” —Horatius Bonar

TAKE ACTION: House Democrats have introduced a bill to force American taxpayers to pay for the murder of children! Contact your House representative to encourage them to vote NO.

This is very clever: Gregg Farah summarized every chapter of the Bible in two words or less.

So excited for our local high school teacher Dave Stuart, who is a finalist for Teacher of the Year!

Patrick Morley has a great suggestion for making deposits in your spouse’s emotional bank account.

Links & Quotes

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“You have heard many men’s dying words, and these are mine: A life spent in communion with God is the pleasantest life in the world.” —Matthew Henry, to a friend when near his death

“By the serpent’s seed, we are to understand the devil and all his children, who are permitted by God to tempt and sift His children. But, blessed be God, he can reach no further than our heel.” —George Whitefield

Anyone working with youth should keep close tabs on what Dr. Tim Elmore has to say, as he is very tuned-in to the youth culture. Parents / coaches / teachers / youth pastors, check out 7 Shifts As Generation Y Becomes Generation Z.

3 reasons why heterosexual married sex is better is a good read. But I would add a fourth reason: Because this is the way God intended it to be, so it carries His blessing!

Pastor and church leaders, here is a helpful article from Richard Hammer, lead counsel for the Assemblies of God, following the Supreme Court’s wrongheaded decision on the issue of homosexual “marriage.”

Trip Lee talks about help for people battling a struggle with pornography. Trip discusses this in more depth in his outstanding book Rise. Check this out—

7 Quotes For Preachers

PreachingI love getting counsel from been-there-done-that people, because I’m always looking for ways to grow and improve. I was reading these quotes for myself, but I thought my fellow pastors might enjoy them as well.

“A sermon is not like a Chinese firecracker to be fired off for the noise which it makes. It is the hunter’s gun, and at every discharge he should look to see his game fall.” ―Henry Ward Beecher

“That is not the best sermon which makes the hearers go away talking to one another, and praising the speaker, but which makes them go away thoughtful and serious, and hastening to be alone.” ―Gilbert Burnet

“Great sermons lead the people to praise the preacher. Good preaching leads to people to praise the Savior.” ―Charles G. Finney

“The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it, with the jargon of Plato, or Aristotle, and other mystics, would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime Preacher of the Sermon on the Mount.” ―Thomas Jefferson

“The sermon edifies, the example destroys. Practice what you preach.” ―Abbé de Villiers

“Once in seven years I burn all my sermons; for it is a shame if I cannot write better sermons now than I did seven years ago.” ―John Wesley, in his journal

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” ―George Whitefield

Links & Quotes

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In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has one demon giving advice to his young protege demon. This is profound wisdom: “You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” —C.S. Lewis

Two surveys seem to be related: First, “Fifty-four percent of U.S. teens 15-to-17-years-old do not live in a home with their married mother and father.” Read more in this post. (2) Lee Strobel reports on some findings from a Barna Group survey he commissioned: “Two findings emerged in a new national poll that I commissioned on fatherhood and faith: the younger the generation, the more people report having difficult relationships with their fathers. At the same time, the younger generation reports the highest percentage of people who are struggling with belief in God.” You can read Lee’s thoughts on this in Fathers & Faith.

Frank Viola shared this great story—In light of their doctrinal disagreements, someone once asked George Whitefield if he thought he’d see John Wesley in heaven. Whitefield replied, “I fear not, for he will be so near the eternal throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get sight of him.”

“Grace is simply another word for God’s tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection. Grace comes to us not occasionally or miserly but constantly and aggressively, wave upon wave. We’ve barely regained our balance from one breaker, and then, bam, here comes another.” Read more in Max Lucado’s post Grace—A Never Ending Supply.

Astronomers are perplexed by the size of a black hole. Apparently it is challenging their views on the origins of the universe. Perhaps there is a better explanation….

Very moving—

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