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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

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Our Christmas Doll!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Chanukkah! God Keeps His Promises!

This year our family decided to celebrate Chanukkah. With a little help from a local synagogue, we were able to learn about how Jews celebrate this holiday. We believe that it is good and right for Christian's to celebrate Hanukkah because it is an holiday that celebrates the precious truth that God keeps His promises against all odds!

We invite you to read the following article written by brother Craig Hartman who is an ambassador of Jesus the Messiah to Jews in New York City:

“And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.”
John 10:22

Jesus the Messiah made some amazing statements concerning the believer’s assurance of salvation in John 10:23-30. The backdrop to these statements is verse 22 where we learn that Jesus was speaking at the “feast of the dedication (Chanukkah).” Unlike the seven feasts of Israel, which God gave to the Nation in Leviticus 23, Chanukkah is a man-made holiday commemorating an important event in Jewish history. This event took place in the year 165 B.C. during the intertestamental period; the 400 “silent” years covering the time between the writing of the last book of the Old Testament and the first book of the New Testament. Chanukkah was, however, prophesied in the Tanach (Jewish Scriptures)!

In Daniel 8:1-14, the Bible describes a vision Daniel had. He saw a ram with two horns overtaken by a goat with one horn. The horn on the goat was broken off and replaced by four horns. From one of the four horns came a “little horn” that grew very great. This little horn began to magnify himself and to attack the Jewish people, causing the Temple sacrifices to cease and the Temple itself to become desolate. According to Daniel’s prophecy, the Temple was to remain in this condition for exactly 2,300 days (v. 14). The angel Gabriel explained the symbols to Daniel in verses 19-25.

We know from secular history that the Kingdom of Greece (the goat) replaced the Kingdom of Media-Persia (the ram). We also know that the first king of Greece (the horn on the goat) was Alexander the Great. At the zenith of his power, Alexander died. Two of the four kings who replaced him were from the Ptolemaic dynasty based in Egypt and the Seleucid dynasty based in Syria. Toward the end of the Greek rule, Antiochus IV (the little horn) arose from the Seleucid dynasty. He declared himself Antiochus Ephiphanes (“God Manifest”). Behind his back, he was called “epimanes,” meaning “madman.” During the years 171–165 B.C., he perpetrated a holocaust against the Jewish people. He outlawed Judaism, ended the Temple sacrifices, and in 168 B.C. committed an abomination of desolation against the Temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar and by erecting an image of Zeus, which looked very much like Antiochus himself!

Not being satisfied with this step, his forces spread out all over the country, forcing the Jewish people to sacrifice swine and punishing with the penalty of death any who would even circumcise their children. It was in a town called Modin, just south of Jerusalem, where there lived an aged priest named Mattathias with his five sons. When the forces of Antiochus came in, they demanded that Mattathias sacrifice a pig. Mattathias, being a righteous man, simply refused. As a crowd gathered, the tensions built up to the boiling point. Then, out of the throng, came a Jewish man who was willing to sacrifice the pig just to placate the enemy and to relieve the tension. Mattathias was so angry at this treachery that he killed the man and with his five sons killed the henchmen of Antiochus. Mattathias then bade “all who are zealous for God” to follow him. With that, Mattathias and his sons went into the surrounding hills and began a guerilla war, which lasted several years. In the process of time, Mattathias died. His eldest son, Judah, known as the “maccabee” (lit. “hammer”) for the way he fought, took over as the leader of the group, which henceforth would bear this moniker. Incredibly, in the face of vast superior forces, the Maccabees routed the Syrians and drove them away. In 165 B.C., they liberated Jerusalem and began to cleanse the Temple.

On 25 Kislev 165 B.C., Judah and his brothers rededicated the Temple to the God of Israel. Counting the time from the beginning of the persecution of the Jewish people by Antiochus in 171 B.C. to the rededication in 165 B.C. was exactly 2,300 days. God kept His promise to the day! Judah and his followers declared this to be an eight-day feast and to celebrate it annually. Rabbinic tradition tells us that Chanukkah was declared to be an eight-day feast due to the fact that one day’s provision of oil burned for eight. While we cannot disprove this, the actual reason that Chanukkah was set as an eight-day feast was because the holiday that the Jewish people had just missed celebrating was Tabernacles (Lev. 23:33-43), an eight-day celebration. In fact, in the early days of its celebration, Chanukkah was referred to as “Second Tabernacles.”

Today, Jewish people celebrate Chanukkah by lighting the nine-branched Chanukkah menorah each night. The center candle, called the shammash (lit. “servant”), is lit first and is then used to light the others. Since the Pharisees survived the Temple’s final destruction in 70 A.D., it is the Pharisaic custom of adding one candle each night until all are lit that is employed to this day. During Chanukkah, foods such as potato latkes are eaten since these are fried in oil, thus harkening back to the “miracle” of the oil when the Maccabees rededicated the Temple. Parents also give their children gifts—some even give them a gift on each of the eight nights! Children also play a traditional game called Spin the Dreidel. The “dreidel” is a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side. The letters represent the first word in the sentence “A great miracle happened there.” In Israel, the last letter is different, spelling out “A great miracle happened here.”

Jesus’ statements in John 10 were made during Chanukkah. As Jesus walked in Solomon’s porch, a place for rabbis and their students to gather and learn, the Jewish people asked Him to declare whether He was the Messiah. Jesus told them that the reason they were asking such a question was not for a lack of evidence from what He already had told them and due to the miracles He had performed right before their eyes. Rather, the problem was that they were not His sheep, for “my sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

Don’t miss the point—since Jesus is the eternal God, all who are His sheep are eternally secure. Jesus made these promises to the believer during the time when the Jewish people were celebrating their deliverance from the hand of Antiochus. Just as God’s promise to the Jewish people that the Temple would be rededicated was fulfilled exactly to the day, God’s promise of eternal security to all who believe is also sure. This fact means that if you are a blood-washed born-again believer, you needn’t worry about your salvation. Your salvation is as sure as the promises of God!

Since Chanukkah is the only Biblically significant day that occurs in December, we should rejoice in our salvation when we look upon the Chanukkah menorahs in the windows of Jewish homes. We should also have a burning desire to reach them with the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus, our “great shammash,” is the only One who can light a darkened heart and make it burn with the brightness of eternal life.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Church that Defied Two Laws

The First Baptist Church of Boston.

Due to unbelievable Boston traffic and shortage of time, we were not able to stop at the Church building, but we pray that you will be challenged by the founders of this church who sought to "obey God rather than men!"

In 1665, two women and seven men organized a Baptist church based on their strong commitment as disciples of Jesus Christ and their determination to worship God with freedom of conscience (soul liberty). They organized this church, the third church of any kind to be founded in Boston and the fifth Baptist church in all America, on June 7th, 1665. The first pastor, Thomas Gould, and three others were baptized on that day, the others having been baptized in England.

The Church was formed in defiance of two laws, passed by the General Court: (1) That all persons wishing to form churches must first obtain consent of the "magistrates and elders of the greater part of the churches within this jurisdiction." (2) That "if any person or persons within this jurisdiction shall ... condemn or oppose the baptizing of infants... such person or persons shall be subject to banishment."

In the years that followed, many were punished for trying to practice the Baptist "heresy." They were arrested, jailed, publicly beaten, fined, and often were not allowed to speak in their own defense. Obadiah Holmes was one of these, and was publicly whipped on September 5, 1651.

At first, the group met in homes, usually at the home of Mr. Gould in Charlestown. Later, he built a house on Noddle's Island (now the location of Logan Airport, in East Boston) and the members rowed out to the island where they could meet in secrecy and relative security.

In 1679, the group built a meetinghouse in the North End of Boston, at the corner of Salem and Stillman Streets. It was a modest wooden building resembling a house. One Sunday in 1680 the worshippers found the doors nailed up by order of the General Court, the following notice (see copy in narthex) posted:

"All persons are to take notice that by order of the Court the doors of this house are shut up and that they are inhibited to hold any meeting therein or to open the doors thereof, without license from Authority, til the General Court take further order as they will answer the contrary at their peril, dated in Boston 8th March, 1680, by order of the Council."

Undaunted, they met outdoors in the cold and rain. But the following Sunday, inexplicably, the doors were found open and they were never again closed by the authorities.


Disclaimer: We do not know exactly where this church stands doctrinally today. Sadly, it is affiliated with The American Baptist Churches which no longer stands uncompromisingly upon the Bible. This should encourage each one of us to hold fast to the inspired, infallible Word of God as our sole authority.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Thankful for Neighbors

This past Thanksgiving Day we delivered ten loafs of homemade bread to ten of our neighbors. We included a picture with a short note and a Gospel tract. Some of them we were able to visit with for a few minutes.

Please pray that the Spirit of God would work in each one's heart and life and that the grace of God that bringeth salvation will shine forth. Pray that the love of Christ will flow through us freely!

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First President of Harvard "Fired" for Baptist Beliefs

"And that is why I refuse to present my child for baptism." With those words of explanation Henry Dunster sealed his fate as president of Harvard.

Henry Dunster was born in 1612 [the actual year was 1609*] in England. He arrived in Boston in 1640 and was given the job of establishing Cambridge College which later became Harvard. He was one of the greatest masters of the Oriental languages in his day. When he arrived in the New World he was a Congregationalist. The arrest of Pastor Clarke, Mr. Crandall, and Mr. Holmes for Baptist beliefs in 1651 challenged him to study the truth of scriptural baptism. The fact that the State clergy refused to answer Pastor Clarke caused many in the New World to wonder why they were afraid of these men. After careful study Henry refused to have his child baptized and thereby set off a controversy. He then stood in the Congregational Church of Cambridge and explained from Scripture his convictions. Henry said that infant baptism "Is not according to the institution of Christ...That there were such corruptions stealing into the Church, which every faithful Christian ought to their witness against." His arguments were so powerful that the pastor of the church was visibly shaken and testified that he was "strangely confused and sickly of spirit." The whole community was in an uproar but nobody came forth with any Biblical arguments. However, that explanation was the beginning of the end of his presidency of Harvard. He was compelled to resign in 1657. After being forced out of his position he moved to Scituate in Plymouth Colony and was driven to a Baptist position by studying the scriptures. He passed away in 1659.

Little did Holmes, Crandall and Pastor Clarke realize their testimonies would bear such fruit! Henry Dunster served with great distinction at Harvard and was only removed because of the bigotry against the Bible. But he stood faithful!

Written by Doug Hammett

Special Note: This month marks the 400th birthday of Henry Dunster.

*The plaque (dedicated in 1993) on Dunster grave has the incorrect year of his birth. The correct year is 1609 (America's Oldest Corporation and First CEO: Harvard and Henry Dunster 2008, pp. 23-25).

Keep following the Baptist Freedom Trail! Next Stop: The Church that Defied Two Laws!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Obadiah Holmes, "Ye have beaten me as with roses"

Born 1606 in Reddish, Lancashire County, England. Obadiah was the son of Robert and Catherine Johnson Homes. In 1638, Holmes came to New England. Settling first in Salem, and later in Rehobeth, Massachusetts.

While in Rehobeth, Holmes attained the status of Freeman. Which gave him voice and vote as a citizen. It was also in Rehobeth that Holmes attained freedom in his soul. After his conversion, Holmes united with the Baptists and moved to Rhode Island in search of religious liberty.

In 1651, Holmes accompanied John Clarke and John Crandall to Lynn, Massachusetts to worship in the home of William Witter. This trip would yield one of the greatest contributions to religious liberty in American history!

On July 20, 1651, while Clarke preached, the three were arrested and charged with "seducing and drawing aside others after their erroneous judgment and practices." They were fined and if the fines were not paid they were to be well whipped. Holmes viewed the payment of the fine as a admission of guilt and chose instead to suffer for conscience sake.

On September 5, 1651, Holmes was led to the post in Boston and there, with his blood, he sealed what he believed. He was given thirty lashes with a three-corded whip, the executioner using all his strength. Holmes said, "As the man began to lay the strokes upon my back, I said to the people, though my flesh should fail, yet God will not fail. So it pleased the Lord to come in, and fill my heart and tongue as a vessel full. And with audible voice I break forth, praying the Lord not to lay this sin to their charge. And telling the people I found he did not fail me, and therefore now I should trust him forever who failed me not. For in truth, as the strokes fell upon me, I had such a spiritual manifestation of God's presence as I never had before, and the outward pain was so removed from me, that I could well bear it. Yea, and in a manner felt it not, although it was grievous."

When he was released from the post, he said to the Magistrates, "Ye have beaten me as with roses."

Holmes was the second pastor of the Baptist Church in Newport. He and his wife, Catherine Hyde, were blessed with ten children. Their posterity includes Abraham Lincoln and the "Browns of Providence Plantations."

He died October 15, 1682.

For this is thankworthy. If a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 1 Peter 2:19

Marker placed by the Baptist History preservation Society - May 6, 2003
Location: Calvary Baptist Church, 4 Ludlow Terrace, Middletown, RI

Holmes was beaten behind the Boston Statehouse, pictured above.

We had quite an adventure finding Obadiah Holmes' grave site since it had no definite "address." We finally found it on Summerfield Lane just behind 178 Vaucluse Lane in Middletown, RI. For those interested here are the coordinates +41° 30' 40.98", -71° 14' 33.72"


Monday, October 26, 2009

Boston, MA Trip

Stephen had a business trip to Boston last week. During his off hours, we were able to enjoy the sights and adventures of Boston with Jonathan and Bethany and their two boys. Following the Boston Freedom Trail and seeing the other sights of Boston with two strollers, two young boys, and a baby was quite an adventure!

This week was also our first wedding anniversary. We celebrated it over the weekend by finding and following the "Baptist Freedom Trail." The Baptist History Preservation Society is a church ministry that traces Baptist history in the United States and they graciously provided us with information regarding places of interest.

Religious persecution was prevalent in the early days of America. The religious liberty that we enjoy in this nation today was spearheaded by Baptist ministers who believed in individual soul liberty. Some even shed their own blood to secure our religious liberty.

Over the next few weeks, we invite you to follow our blog as we follow the Baptist Freedom Trail and tell the little known history of religious liberty in America.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fear & Faith - Elisha's Invisible Army Chalk Talk

The city of Dothan was surrounded by an army from Syria. Their mission had one single purpose--the capture of Elisha the prophet. When Elisha's servant rose early that morning and saw the situation of the city, he was afraid and cried to Elisha, "Alas, my master! How shall we do?" He had great FEAR! Elisha, however, was not afraid, but had peace and confidence in God. He said, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them."

Then Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see!"

"The Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."

This history teaches us a valuable lesson on fear. It is a sin for the Christian believer to have fear. Jesus said in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

We are faced with the temptation to worry or be afraid often. So how do we find victory? Isaiah 12:2 tells us how to prevent fear: "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation." You do not ever need to be afraid! Fear can be prevented by trusting in the Lord.

Sometimes fear overcomes us. How do we conquer fear? The psalmist said, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee" (56:3).

The only way to prevent or conquer fear is to trust in the Lord. He has a plan for each of our lives! Let us just trust and obey!

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Your pastor is awesome!"

Recently, Evelyn and I were able to bring a sixteen year old young man to church with us. As we were driving home he said, "Your pastor is awesome! He actually preached right out of the Bible!"

I never thought of it quite that way before, but he was right! It is awesome when the Bible is preached as the Word of God!

  1. Please pray that God would give us more preachers that will proclaim His Word boldly!
  2. Praise the Lord for this young man's interest in spiritual things; pray for his salvation.
  3. Pray that God would grant me wisdom in properly answering the scores of questions he has asked!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Family Picture





Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thomas was Baptized

We are rejoicing over news from Taiwan. Here is an excerpt from last week's Delaney Missionary Newsletter:

"GOOD NEWS! Rejoice with us! Thomas was baptized on Sunday morning, and his unsaved mother agreed to come and witness this special event. You may recall that Thomas is the young man whom Brother Tad Wychopen and our son befriended while playing basketball one afternoon in early January. That same day Thomas came to church, and he has never stopped coming. Thomas is 17 years old, and he trusted the Lord as his Savior during the special meetings in May, when Stephen Wesco came and conducted his chalk drawings. Thomas is an only child from a single-parent home, and his mother needs the Lord. Please pray for the continued spiritual development of this young man."

Click here to read about the day Thomas trusted Christ >


Friday, August 21, 2009

The Birth of Faith Anna Wesco

Faith Anna Wesco was born at home this past week. She weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and measured 21 inches long. She is truly a precious gift from God!

Faith—We pray that our daughter will grow and put her personal faith in her Creator God the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that throughout all her life she would walk by faith fully depending upon God for His grace and mercy.

Anna—We pray that our daughter will follow the example of the biblical Anna in Luke 2:36-38 who waited faithfully for the redemption of the Lord and proclaimed the Savior when she met him. We pray that our precious little girl will faithfully proclaim the Saviour to the world!

The name “Anna” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Hannah” which means “grace.” Our little girl’s name is a constant reminder that “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Thankful Mommy and Daddy with Faith shortly after delivery.

Happy Grandparents!

Faith with Grandma & Grandpa Wesco and Great Grandma & Great Grandpa.