On this date, March 5, 1558, Thomas Von Imbroek was beheaded. He was a printer and helped plant congregations of believers who were no longer part of the established church. Why was he beheaded? He would not baptize infants. Believing that baptism was a sign of what Christ had done and that infants were unable to identify with that.
Here are some his famous last words.
“I am willing and ready, both to live or to die. I do not care what happens to me. God will not let me down. I am comforted and in good spirits while yet on the earth. God gives me friendly assurance, and my heart is encouraged through my brothers. Sword, water, fire, cannot frighten me. All the persecution in this world shall not be able to separate me from God.”
On this date, March 4, 1906, Franz Delitzsch died. You may have never heard of him, he was a great Old Testament Scholar. In fact, he collaborated with J. F. Keil to create the Keil and Delitzsch Old Testament commentary.
“We see in essence not with two eyes but with three: with the two eyes of the body and with the eye of the mind that is behind them.”
On this date, March 3, 1870, Lettie Burd began to date Charles Cowman. They were later married in 1889. Have you read Streams in the Desert? It is one of the most popular devotionals and is full of poignant truths. When her husband began to die, she began to write thoughts and compile poems and brief writings that were an encouragement to her and later was published as Streams in the Desert. She didn’t despair when life was handing its worst to her. Rather she made the best out of it.
This quote comes from her entry on March 2.
“The morning watch is essential. You must not face the day until you have faced God, nor look into the face of others until you have looked into His. You cannot expect to be victorious, if the day begins only in your own strength.”
On this date, March 2, 1938, the trial of Martin Niemoller by the Nazis concluded. Niemoller was very outspoken agains Adolf Hiler and the Nazi regime.
This poem circulated during WWII, is often attributed to him.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
On this date, March 1, 1534, William Farel preached for the first time in a church in Geneva. Never heard of William Farel? He was converted in France and became a preacher during the Reformation period.
Some in the Catholic church despised his teaching, so he always was the recipient of persecution, but he continued to preach. Historians tell us that his preaching and persecution inspired other notable leaders in the Reformation including John Calvin.
On this date, February 28, 1784, John Wesley formally chartered the movement known as Methodists. Historically, this movement swept across England, jumping the Atlantic and ignited a revival in the colonies. And it was established by a few individuals who were completely sold out to God.
What would God do in the world today if a few individuals were completely sold out to Him?
On this date, February 27, 1838 in Duncannon, Pennsylvania William Kirkpatrick was born. He wrote the tunes to many favorite hymns, among them Jesus Saves, Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus, Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It, and one of my favorites, He Hideth My Soul.
He also wrote both words and music to the song
Lord, I’m Coming Home
. Through the years, this song has been one of the most powerful invitation songs.
I’ve wandered far away from God, Now I’m coming home
The paths of sin too long I’ve trod, Lord, I’m coming home.
Coming home, coming home—never more to roam
Open wide thine arms of love, Lord I’m coming home.
On this date, February 26, 398, John Chrysostom “golden tongue” became the bishop of Constantinople. Known for his oratory, he is considered one of the church fathers. His writings on the Lord’s prayer are tremendous; here is a quote from that.
“Consider how Jesus Christ teaches us to be humble, by making us see that our virtue does not depend on our work alone but on grace from on high. He commands each of the faithful who prays to do so universally, for the whole world. For he did not say “thy will be done in me or in us”, but “on earth”, the whole earth, so that error may be banished from it, truth take root in it, all vice be destroyed on it, virtue flourish on it, and earth no longer differ from heaven.”
On this date, February 25, 1536, Jacob Hutter is hunted down and burned to death in Austria. Before killing him, in an attempt to mock baptism, he is tortured and immersed in freezing water.
With news of Christians being executed in our days, men like Jacob Hutter serve as part of the great cloud of witnesses who have gone on before us. When persecution comes our way, may we be as bold as individuals like Jacob Hutter were.
On this date, February 24, 303 the emperor Diocletian decreed that all Christians where forbidden to meet for worship. Later he decided that wasn’t enough. He also decreed that all Christian teachers be imprisoned, tortured and killed. Historians write that he later issued a third decree making Christians sacrifice to gods, or suffer and die.
Though they faced certain persecution, devout Christians refused to worship and offer sacrifices to pagan gods. Some were crucified, some had their skin scraped off and others had their limbs ripped off. In the midst of this persecution, Christianity still grew like wildfire.