Wednesday, March 17

Letting the Terrorists Win

Al Qaeda got exactly what it was after this week in Spain. They won. They killed hundreds of innocent people, brought an entire nation to its knees, and overthrew the government all in one fell swoop. Osama and his wicked minions attained a perverse victory. Spanish voters decided to join the French and the Germans in allowing the Pagan enemies of law, order, civilization, and freedom to dictate the future course of men and nations. As Chuck Colson asserted in his BreakPoint commentary yesterday, "There is a white flag blowing in the breeze over the beautiful city of Madrid. Muslims, who once fought a bloody war to occupy much of Spain--which they did for centuries, have now done it with a few bombs, an ominous portent indeed."

The American response to this delterious turn of events ought to take at least two forms: on the one hand we ought to grieve for Europe's surrender to the barbarian hoard of Islam; on the other hand, we ought to give thanks that our own leaders have not bowed the knee to fear and intimidation--at least, not the leaders we presently have. Let us pray that in the upcoming election cycle we do not go the way of Spain in capitulating to the demands of Muhammed's pious monsters.

Talking Lessons

Mark your calendar now: on Friday and Saturday March 26 and 27 in Franklin, Tennessee, the amazingly gifted public speaking coach, Nate Larkin, will offer his seminar How to Talk to a Crowd. If you ever have to do public speaking, you won't want to miss this one. Nate will teach you how to overcome stage fright. He will teach you how to organize your thoughts. He will teach you how to make audiences, laugh, cry, and most importantly, listen. He will teach you how to do all this and more while still just being who you are, what you are, and how you are. Sign up online now simply by visiting the website.

St. Paddy and St. Tom

While St. Patrick's Day is certainly worth celebrating, I have to confess that around our household March 17 is more than just a remembrance of the death of Ireland's great patron in 461. It is also the birthday of my theological hero and the inspiration for much of the work I do in our local church, at our classical school, through our missions organziation, and at King's Meadow.

The great Scottish pastor, social reformer, educator, author, and scientist Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) was born on this day 1780 at Anstruther on the Fife coast. During the course of his long and storied career he served as the pastor of three congregations, taught in three colleges, published more than thirty-five best-selling books, and helped to establish more than a hundred charitable relief and missions organizations. He practically reinvented the Scottish parish system as well as the national social welfare structure. He counted such luminaries as the Duke of Wellington, Sir Walter Scott, King William IV, Thomas Carlyle, William Wilberforce, and Robert Peel as his friends. Indeed, he was among the most influential and highly regarded men of his day.

In 1809, having already made his mark as a brilliant professor of mathematics at St. Andrews and serving a small rural parish, he underwent a spiritual transformation following an extended illness. Afterward, he completely abandoned himself to his little covenantal community. He married and had his first children there. He established a classical school at the heart of the parish. He set about a reform of the ministry to the poor, the widows, and the orphans. He established a pioneer missionary society and a Bible society. In addition, Chalmers began his prodigious and prolific publishing career.

Chalmers went to Glasgow at the invitation of the Magistrates and Town Council in 1815. He served first in the Tron Church until 1819, and then, he was transferred to the newly-created parish of St John’s, a poorer parish with a very high proportion of factory a workers, where he had the freedom to develop ministry to the poor and needy.

From the beginning of his ministry in the city his preaching was fully appreciated, and many attended from throughout Glasgow, but Chalmers was concerned that his ministry should first and foremost be to the parish--where some eleven or twelve-thousand people lived and worked. He commenced a program of visitation from house to house which took two years to complete. He organized the eldership to cooperate in this task and developed Sabbath evening schools. He undertook care of the poor, education of the entire community, and reform of the local political economy. In addition, he became a popular author, at times even besting his friend Walter Scott in sales.

In later years, he prepared others for a similar impact in ministry at St. Andrews University and the University of Edinburgh--always modeling mercy himself. He helpoed to launch the modern missions movement as he mentored the best and the brightest with a worldview perspective that sent them out into the midst of the world. He was ardent in evangelsim. He was active in politics. He was involved in the promotion of the arts and sciences. In 1843, he led the Evangelicals in the establishment of the Free Church--a new denomination intent on living out the full implications of Bibilical discipleship. And in 1846 laid the cornerstone for its New College.

Thomas Carlyle said of him “What a wonderful old man Chalmers is. Or rather, he has all the buoyancy of youth. When so many of us are wringing our hands in hopeless despair over the vileness and wretchedness of the large towns, there goes the old man, shovel in hand, down into the dirtiest puddles, cleans them out, and fills the sewers with living waters. It is a beautiful sight.” By the end of his life, Chalmers had changed his land like no other since Knox.

So on this day, celebrate with me the legacy of both St. Paddy and St. Tom!

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