The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:42 am Friday, December 27, 2019

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“Circuit-Riding Preachers”

By Linda H. Barnette

Circuit-riding preachers were clergymen who were assigned certain areas in which to preach the gospel in the early days of our country before churches were built everywhere. They were often members of the Methodist Episcopal denomination, although a few other denominations did this to a lesser degree.

Francis Asbury, who was ordained as a traveling preacher by John Wesley in England in 1767, was sent to America in 1771 to preach the gospel here in the Colonies.  He and Thomas Coke were both appointed as bishops by Wesley.  Asbury wrote in an autobiography that during his ministry he traveled more than 270,000 miles on horseback and preached 16,000 sermons.  He established the precedent for circuit-riding, a concept that he brought from England, where churches were generally in groups and ministers were appointed to the group, or circuit, not to a certain local church.

In his book Asbury describes his life as being very difficult. Like the modern mail carrier, the itinerant preacher rode his faithful horse companion through all kinds of adverse weather conditions, climbed mountains, forded rivers and streams, to get to the people in need of hearing his message.  He often slept with his horse’s saddle for a bed and his saddle bags for his pillow. Sometimes he was lucky enough to be invited for a meal and an overnight visit with a settler and his family.

These preachers preached anywhere they could find people: in cabins, courthouses, fields, basements, camp meetings, and any other places where they could gather a few people together to listen. They were always on the move, needing 5 or 6 weeks to cover the longest routes.  Their activity made Methodism the predominant denomination in the Colonies with 14,986 members and 83 traveling preachers by 1784 and even more before this practice of circuit-riding ended in the late 1800’s.

As you can imagine, this type of life was hard on the minister’s family. The wife and children were alone much of the time and had to learn to be self-sufficient.  They also spent much time waiting for their husband and father to come home.

So it’s obvious that we owe these people much for their help in establishing our churches as we know them today.  As Asbury pointed out, “A Methodist preacher, when he felt that God had called him to preach, hunted up a hardy pony and some traveling apparatus, and with his library always in his hand, started on his mission.”

“Are You Ready for Jesus”

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Thanks to my Bible study friend, Carolyn Jones, for sharing a recent conversation.

She asked a customer, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

He replied, “Really, the question should be, ‘Are you ready for Jesus’?”

The interrogatory is broad with many questions within one.

But, first, a quote from Paul Little’s book, What and Why Book, that reads, “The greatest favor we can do for any human being is to introduce them to Jesus Christ.”

For those readers who don’t know Jesus, I’d like to share with you the true meaning of Christmas, a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ, our Redeemer and Savior.

Why do we need a Savior you might ask? The answer to that lies in the fact we are all sinners and lost. We must recognize this and accept our individual need for His saving grace.

Through the death of Jesus, a propitiation was made, which served as payment for our sins. Have you ever tried to help a friend but your friend wouldn’t accept the help?  In much the same way, we can’t receive God’s free offer of eternal life unless we trust Christ alone to save us.

When we trust in Christ and His finished work on the cross, we are speaking to God and recognizing that His son is our only hope of salvation and without Him, we are lost.

John 3:36 says, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” I

All through the New Testament, John speaks on behalf of God as a dying man to dying men. Very simply, the message is this: The moment you come to God in faith, you stand before an almighty and an all-knowing God and are reconciled to Him and redeemed.

So how about you? As a person who is dying, I say to you, another who is dying, where are you in your spiritual relationship with God?

Are you ready for Jesus?

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