God & Charles Dickens: Recovering the Christian Voice of a Classic Author.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Like many people at Christmas, I’m fond of Charles Dickens’ stories, especially “A Christmas Carol.” I even adapted Dickens’ story for a Christmas production that ran for over 10 years, involved over 20 churches and raised money for a Christian retreat center.

I knew that Dickens had a strong faith in Jesus Christ, and that he often referred to “real Christianity” as those who modeled Jesus’ life. 

A helpful, scholarly book has come out describing how Dickens faith contributed to the long lasting message of his books. It is titled, ”God and Charles Dickens: Recovering the Christian Voice of a Classic Author” and available from the usual online sources.

Below is an interview with the author. I found especially memorable the following paragraphs:

Scholar and author Dr. Gary Colledge has studied the legendary 19th century English writer extensively. The Akron, Ohio, native even studied in the United Kingdom, earning a Ph.D. at the prestigious University of St. Andrews for his work on the faith of Dickens.

“That’s what’s going to be prevalent in anything we read by Dickens — that idea that ‘real Christianity,’ and Dickens uses that term ‘real Christianity’ a number of times in letters and in his writing,” Colledge told CBN News. “‘Real Christianity’ is being like Jesus.”

God and Scrooge: Finding the Faith of Charles Dickens

By Mark Martin, CBN News, 12/24/19.

…Scholar and author Dr. Gary Colledge has studied the legendary 19th century English writer extensively. The Akron, Ohio, native even studied in the United Kingdom, earning a Ph.D. at the prestigious University of St. Andrews for his work on the faith of Dickens.

“That’s what’s going to be prevalent in anything we read by Dickens — that idea that ‘real Christianity,’ and Dickens uses that term ‘real Christianity’ a number of times in letters and in his writing,” Colledge told CBN News. “‘Real Christianity’ is being like Jesus.”

Lessons from Scrooge

During his research, Colledge discovered that Dickens was a Christian and his faith in Jesus Christ surfaces throughout his works — in the themes and characters.

Colledge read a letter from Dickens to one of his critics:

“‘All my strongest illustrations are derived from the New Testament. All my social abuses are shown as departures from its Spirit. All my good people are humble, charitable, faithful, forgiving, over and over again. I claim them in expressed words as disciples of the Founder of our religion.'”

Read the full interview here… https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2012/december/god-and-scrooge-finding-the-faith-of-charles-dickens

FORGIVENESS & Catherine Marshall on the Aughts and the Anys of Matt. 18:18.

“I’ll Forgive You, If …” by Anne Ferrell Tata, CBN, 2017.

…Catherine Marshall in her 1974 book, Something More, wrote a chapter titled “Forgiveness: The Aughts and the Anys.” The Chapter references Matthew 18:18…

The chapter addresses our need as Christians to fulfill Christ’s expectation to forgive, period. Like many of us, Catherine Marshall admits to attaching conditions to her forgiveness. She says, “if the other person saw the error of his ways, was properly sorry, and admitted his guilt, then yes, as a Christian, I was obligated to forgive him.”

She soon discovered Jesus’ words in Mark 11 said something entirely different. Jesus said,

“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 (KJV)

“Any” meant anybody and everybody. Catherine Marshall’s commentary on this truth is fascinating as she unpacks the notion of our prayers being hindered by our un-forgiveness.

She references South African-born minister David du Plessis’ explanation of the Matthew 18 verse. He explains that when we hang on to judgment of another person, we bind that person to the very conditions we want to see changed. By our un-forgiveness, we stand between that person and the Holy Spirit’s work in convicting and ultimately helping him. 

Dr. du Plessis says, “By stepping out of the way through releasing somebody from our judgment, we’re not necessarily saying, ‘He’s right and I’m wrong.’ Forgiveness means, ‘He can be as wrong as wrong can be, but I’ll not be the judge.’ Forgiveness means that I’m no longer binding a certain person on earth. It means withholding judgment.”

A Biblical example is from Acts 7 when Stephen was being stoned to death. Saul of Tarsus stood watching, holding the garments of the witnesses. The Bible tells us Stephen’s response to his attack is one of forgiveness,

“Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” Acts 7:60 (HCSV).

Just two chapters later, Saul is on his way to Damascus when he encounters Jesus, and his world is turned upside down. Stephen, by releasing the group from his judgment stepped out of the way, therefore allowing the Holy Spirit to work. 

Read more at …


BIBLE & What the Bible says about fear (and how we should react)

by Jay Lowder, Christian Broadcasting Company, 10/27/18.

… The Bible speaks quite a bit about fear – more than 700 times to be exact. 2 Timothy 1:7 says,

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)

… I believe fear is one of his enemy’s primary tools used against believers to create doubt and faithlessness. Even Jesus said in Matthew 10:28,

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (NKJV)

… In Judges 7, as Gideon is preparing to battle the Midianites, God makes it clear He wants the Israelites to credit Him for the victory. So, God decides to wean Gideon’s army. The first cut? Any man who is afraid (Judges 7:3). With that, 22,000 men packed their bags and went home out of fear.

… We all have fear. The enemy wants to paralyze us with it, but God wants us to walk by faith and instill courage in us to follow Him. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6,

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (NKJV)

Copyright © 2018 Jay Lowder. Read more at … http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/what-are-you-afraid-of

FORGIVENESS & Can We Afford Not To?

by Martha Noebel, CBN, n.d.

…The definition of forgive is to … no longer blame others or are angry at those who did us wrong.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14, Matthew 6:15, NIV)

God tells us that forgiveness is not an option if we want God to forgive us. We are not perfect; we all make mistakes. We will not all agree on everything all the time. We must understand that and learn to forgive those who intentionally or unintentionally hurt us. Yes, we may have a moment of anger, but we must not become slaves to anger. We need to repent for harboring bad feelings against others so that we can be set free.

The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 16:7 that the Lord looks at the heart. What does He see when He looks at our hearts? We want to have clean hearts and hands when we stand before God. Look at what the psalmist David said:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

“Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure…” (Psalm 24: 3, 4a, The Book)

We want to stand before God and know that He is pleased with us. We don’t want to carry the sin of unforgiveness in our hearts. When we pray, we want to know that God will answer our prayers. We certainly don’t want this willful act to hinder our prayers.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25)

If we continue to have bitterness in our hearts and lives, we do not show the love of God. The Word of God tells us that we cannot even say we love God if we have hate toward someone else. (1 John 4:20)

So what must we do? Colossians 3:12 tells us to “clothe yourselves with compassion.” Philippians 2:4 says to “look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Galatians 6:2 instructs us to “carry each other’s burdens.” Ephesians 4:32 declares, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Read more at … http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/Forgive-Can-We-Afford-Not-To

NEED MEETING & Find a Need and Fill It – The Erstwhile Motto of a Mega-Catastrophe

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  “While probably not the originator of the phrase “find a need and fill it,” this was the principle that built The Chrystal Cathedral (formerly Garden Grove Community Church) in its early stages before other (and less organic) building and media emphasizes became the foci. In his book, “Your Church Has A Fantastic Future” (1986) Robert Schuller tells of planting a church in Southern California on the principle of: “find a need and fill it.”  This attention to “need-meeting of non-churchgoers” grew the church.  One day their usual rented space was no longer available to them and they had to temporary use a outdoor movie theatre.  The media soon latched on to this emerging church seeming to play to the California image of automotive worship. Though fame and notoriety ensued, this interview with Robert Schuller shows he still credits “find a need and fill it” as the reason for the church’s growth (not the attractional lure that most people associate with it).  Read this interview to learn more.

Dr. Robert Schuller: A Legacy of ‘Power’

By Cheryl Wilcox and Michael Little
The 700 Club

CBN.com He is known all over the world as a possibility thinker. Robert Schuller was ordained in 1950 by the Reformed Church of America. In 1955 he headed west at the urging of his pastor and mentor Norman Vincent Peale. Schuller set his sights on California.

He preached his first Sunday service to 100 people all sitting in their cars. With only $500 to begin his ministry, Schuller rented out the Orange Drive-in Theater to have Sunday services. The location was affordable, available, and unconventional. It was perfect – church at a drive-in under the canopy of the California sun. Heaven smiled on their inauspicious beginning.

Fifty years later the sun is still shining on the believers worshipping at the Crystal Cathedral. The future holds great promise as the ministry team of Schuller and Schuller, father and son, work towards an eventual leadership transition.

Michael Little (CBN President): What is the key to your success?

Robert Schuller, Sr.: Anybody who succeeds is helping people. The secret to success is find a need and fill it; find a hurt and heal it; find a problem and solve it.

Little: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn in 50 years?

Schuller, Sr.: The hardest lesson is to continue to stay focused on the emotional needs of the non-believers…

Little: You’ve been the friend of many presidents of the United States along with heads of corporations? Has power been a temptation?

Schuller, Sr.: Oh no. Only if I need it to achieve my goal. Keep your eye on your goal and if you’re a Christian, as I am, then for God’s sake — literally, not profanely — you ask, ‘What is my calling?’ And then ‘What am I to do? What do I have to do?’ I want to build friendships. I want to come across as being a good illustration of what Jesus is like…

You can read more of this interview here by clicking:  http://www.cbn.com/700club/Guests/Interviews/Robert_Schuller050505.aspx