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The Smith Wigglesworth devotional is a book comprised of some of the greatest messages Smith preached from the 1900s to the 1940s. One of those messages is featured below just the way he wrote it. It’s the story of Berry the Hangman: he was an executioner in a small town in England. Here’s the story in Wigglesworth’s own words:
There was a notable character in the town in which I lived who was known as the worst man in town. He was so vile, and his language was so horrible, that even wicked men could not stand it.
In England, they have what is known as the public hangman who has to perform all the executions. This man held that appointment, and he told me later that he believed that when he performed the execution of men who had committed murder, the demon power that was in them would come upon him, and that, in consequence, he had been possessed by a legion of demons.
His life was so miserable that he decided to kill himself. He went down to a certain train depot and purchased a ticket. English trains are much different from American trains. In every coach there are a number of small compartments, and it is easy for anyone who wants to commit suicide to open the door of his compartment and throw himself out of the train. This man purposed to throw himself out of the train in a certain tunnel just as the train coming from the opposite direction would be about to dash past; he thought this would make a quick end to his life.
There was a young man at the depot that night who had been saved the night before. He was all on fire to get others saved, and he purposed in his heart that every day of his life, he would get someone saved. He saw this dejected hangman and began to speak to him about his soul.
He brought him down to our mission, and there he came under a mighty conviction of sin. For two-and-a-half hours he was literally sweating under conviction, and you could see a vapor rising up from him. At the end of two-and-a-half hours, he was graciously saved.
I said, “Lord, tell me what to do.” The Lord said, “Don‘t leave him. Go home with him.” I went to his house. When he saw his wife, he said, “God has saved me.” The wife broke down, and she, too, was graciously saved.
I tell you, there was a difference in that home. Even the cat knew the difference. Previous to this, the cat would always run away when that hangman came through the door. But the night that he was saved, the cat jumped onto his knee and went to sleep.
There were two sons in that house, and one of them said to his mother, “Mother, what is up in our house? It was never like this before. It is so peaceful. What is it?” She told him, “Father has gotten saved.” The other son was also struck by the change.
Collected from the writings and teachings of Smith Wigglesworth, these daily devotions bring you right to the heart of God. The simple yet inspiring words of this well-known evangelist offer a dynamic message for each day of the year--a message of fullness of divine power.
I took this man to many special services, and the power of God was on him for many days. He would give his testimony, and as he grew in grace, he desired to preach the Gospel. He became an evangelist, and hundreds and hundreds were brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through his ministry.
God saved Saul of Tarsus at the very time he was breathing out threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, and He [had now] redeemed Berry the hangman. He will do it for hundreds more in response to our cries.
Thought for today: The grace of God is sufficient for the vilest, and He can take the most wicked men and make them monuments of His grace. (Devotional: September 9th.)
Born in the 1850s, Smith Wigglesworth started his preaching career around the turn of the century in Britain. He became Americanized in the 1920s and continued his pursuits as an ordained Assemblies of God minister. He is considered as one of the pioneers of the Pentecostal movement.
A MIRACULOUS CONVERSION
(James) Berry The Hangman
Fred Rogers was the man behind Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, a 1960s children’s program. Although Rogers was an ordained minister, he didn’t want to be a preacher. He had a steadfast love for young children and once said, “One of my main jobs is to help children through some of the difficult modulations of life.” That was his motivation and he believed children deserved more from television than was available at the time. He felt strongly called to minister to them.
Growing up, Rogers had every childhood disease on the planet. That resulted in many lonely hours spent in his bed, recovering. He was lonely for other reasons, too. He grew up in a home where showing one’s emotion or true self was frowned upon. He had to hide his fears, anxiety, and anger. So he turned to music as his first language. He learned to express his feelings through “piano fingers”.
Later, Rogers attended seminary. He had come home from school at one point, before beginning his senior year. That’s when television had just come out. It was new and it impressed him so much that he paused his education for awhile and went into show business. He started a show called The Children’s Corner. After a season, he became dissatisfied with it and headed back to finish school and get his ordination.
Rogers then began the program, Mister Rogers, on CBC Canada in 1962. And by 1968, he moved his program to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and called it Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
The “neighborhood” Fred created was a place of safety, acceptance, and understanding for children. And out of that came a true sense of relationship and community for children everywhere. But the program did not reflect a fantasy world of “happily-ever-afters.” Rogers introduced current day conflicts into his scripts like the Viet Nam war, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, and the segregation of blacks. These were very real and scary subjects but Rogers brought them to light to help children deal with these issues in positive ways. His message was always peace, love, kindness, or triumph.
As Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was up and coming, so was the Public Broadcasting Network, (PBS), who’s mission was dedicated to “enriching man’s spirit”. But in 1969, Nixon took office and wanted to cut PBS funding in order to pay for the Nam war. He also threatened television stations with contrary political views. So Rogers went before Congress to fight for twenty million dollars for educational television. Instead of lobbying with boring statistics and philosophical speech, he shared the lyrics from one of the children’s songs he wrote. When he had finished, Senator Pastore said, “That is wonderful . . . you got your twenty million dollars.”
Rev. George Wirth said of Fred Rogers that he communicated love right into children’s hearts without ever preaching a sermon or announcing that he was a minister. He practiced a “living Christianity” and modeled the idea of loving your neighbor and loving yourself.
Released June 2018
Runtime: 94 minutes
For over 30 years, Fred Rogers,
an unassuming minister, musician, composer, puppeteer, writer and producer, was beamed into homes across America in his beloved show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Watch this fascinating account
of his career.
(Click image to rent or purchase.)
I Rogers said this about love: “Everyone has inherent value . . . I think those who make you feel less than who you are: I think that’s the greatest evil . . . Love is at the root of everything. All learning, all parenting, all relationships. Love or the lack of it. And I don’t think children can grow unless they’re accepted exactly as they are.” He felt this was the most deeply spiritual assignment he could have because he was shaping the minds of young children to accept values–biblical values–that would establish them for life. That was Rogers’ core message throughout the 1765 shows that he wrote and produced.
Fred Rogers was asked to address the events of 911 to help people grieve through what had just occurred. He said, “No matter what our particular job [is] . . . we all are called to be . . . repairers of creation. Thank you for what ever you do, where ever you are, to bring joy, and light, and hope, and faith, and pardon, and love to your neighbor and to yourself.”
Jesus said there are only two commandments we should follow. First, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself’,” (Mark 12:30, 31; NIV). Fred Rogers lived that love every day of his life. What about you?
Ravi Zacharias is considered to be one of the greatest intellectual minds in Christian thought and apologetics, yet he describes his early life as having been “punctuated by failure.” And he said one of his greatest downfalls was that he didn’t like to study! How can that be?
Growing up, Ravi did not lack in material things. His father was a well positioned senior employee of the Indian government in New Delhi. He was prominent, influential, and powerful. But like some higher class people in society, there were unspeakable things going on in Ravi’s home that bred discouragement in him. And so Ravi became poor in spirit.
It all started when Ravi was born. His father was away in England for months and didn’t see his new son until Ravi was almost a year old. In an interview with Youth For Christ, (YFC), in 2014, Ravi said his dad “. . . had very little time for us kids. It’s not that he didn’t care. It was just his personality.”
By the time Ravi became a teenager he knew he didn’t like studying and he didn’t like books. All he wanted to do was play Cricket and Tennis. But India is a very competitive society. High schools and colleges publish test scores in the newspapers for all to see. So those who have not done well academically are publicly shamed. That’s why India has the highest rate of suicide in the world
Of course Ravi’s father was very displeased, thinking Ravi would bring disgrace to the family. Because of his uncontrollable temper, Ravi was constantly being beaten and thrashed for his under-performance. His brothers and sisters would say, “Ravi, I don’t know why Dad has it ‘in for you.’” His siblings and mothered suffered under his dad’s heavy hand, too, but Ravi got the worst of it; in fact, his dad almost permanently crippled him at one point in his life.
By age of seventeen, Ravi had had enough. He pocketed some poison one day, that he had snatched from the science lab at school. The next day, his family had left the house and he found himself alone except for the household servant. He shut himself in the bathroom and blended together a potion. As the mixture frothed in the glass he gulped the whole thing down. He started vomiting almost immediately and in that moment, he let out a desperate cry that reached the ear of the servant. Ravi doesn’t remember the rest, but he says he woke up in the hospital, fighting for his life.
At that time, Ravi’s parents were “nominal, non-practicing Christians.” He said, “We were Christian but it didn’t mean a thing.” Now a few months before this suicide attempt, Ravi’s sisters invited him to a Youth for Christ rally. He didn’t want to go but he did because he heard there was food there.
The speaker that night, Sam Wolgemuth (President of YFC), spoke on John 3:16. Ravi said “He looked like a man I wished I were like.” His saintly qualities impressed Ravi. There were hundreds there when the invitation was given, but only Ravi went forward. He felt alone. And he felt confused even after speaking to the altar counselor. None-the-less, he knew something spiritual was stirring within him. And when asked why he came forward, Ravi said, “I want what that man (Sam) has.”
In Walking From East to West, Zacharias invites you to follow him on a journey through his life: to see and smell the neighborhood in India where he grew up, to feel a mother’s love and the consternation of a harsh father … and the lure of a rebellious soul. He has traveled from the East to the West, and then back again to answer skeptics’ penetrating questions about the meaning of life and the existence of a God who is there for his children. He explains how Jesus Christ is the one who came to give you life to the fullest.
So now fast forward to his hospitalization. While laying in his room, a man stepped in to visit him. It was the YFC singer, Fred David, from the rally, months ago. He handed a Bible to Ravi’s mother and told her to read from John, chapter fourteen. “Jesus said, ‘Because I live, you shall live also,’” (verse 19). Ravi cried out in desperation: “Jesus, if you are who you claim to be, take me out of here. I will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of truth.” That moment changed his life. He said, “After I prayed that prayer, I walked out of that hospital room five days later, a totally different man . . . it was an eternal transaction . . . anybody who knew me said, ‘What on earth happened to that man.’ [Even] his father couldn’t explain it.”
It is wonderful to know, that during Ravi’s father’s senior years, he became dramatically changed through his profession of faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. And he also apologized to Ravi for all of the hardship he had caused him. Only Christ has the power to truly change lives. Where do you stand with Him today?
WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR
Last week we told you about Roy Rogers and Dale Evans; about their lives and how they met and married. Now Dale was a believer in God when she married Roy, but he was not. The Bible does not support believers marrying unbelievers, but Dale only used the Bible for emergencies so she thought she was “off the hook”. She had met Jesus when she was ten years old, but had not submitted to His Lordship.
Shortly after they married, a crisis arose. Roy's children were rejecting her as their new mom. On top of that, Republic Studios told her she could no longer star with Roy because they were married. Dale knew how to turn to God in a crisis but failed to carry through. When Dale shared her problems with her adult son, Tom, he suggested she go to church and bring the children with her, so she did.
The sermon that Sunday was "The House That Is Built On the Rock." The message spoke to Dale's heart as God began to draw her to Him. She returned home to find Roy gone on a hunting trip. That night while alone, the pressure built until she bowed her knee to God, confessed all of her sins, and submitted to His will. She told God she would give her life to Him the next time the church doors opened. The following Sunday, she met God at the altar, and rededicated her life to Christ.
Roy noticed the difference in Dale and asked her what had happened. She told him about her renewed life in Christ. She knew he was not a believer but she didn't pressure him.Instead, she and the children set an example. The household was soon filled with praying and hymn- singing. The girls noticed that Roy didn't say grace, and Linda, age six, asked him, "Don't you know how to talk to God, Daddy?" Roy was the odd man out in his own family.
One night at a home party for Roy's movie crew, some of the women noticed a change in Dale and asked her about it. She explained she now had new responsibilities in the Lord. Roy came in half way through the conversation and misunderstood. He thought she was complaining about the late night party. He told her bluntly, "If you have a problem, this is no place to talk about it!"
She was hurt and later cried, and Roy felt guilty that he had stained their relationship. He had a lot to think about as he stood looking out the bedroom window. It occurred to him that his money may be gone one day and the fame of being a movie star wouldn't last forever. He wanted his kids to remember him for things that mattered. He said, “I want to be the daddy who took them to church on Sundays and helped them learn how to live a good Christian life.”
The next morning Roy announced, "If you are going to church, I’m going with you." Later in the service, he was moved about the decision he needed to make. At the invitation, he turned to Dale and said, "Mama, I'm going down there.” At that point, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were featured in over a hundred movies and had the Roy Rogers Show on radio and television from 1951 to 1957. Roy was billed as "King of the Cowboys" and Dale as "Queen of the West." They had a loyal following of 1.75 million boys and girls registered in their fan club. They had over 360 types of Roy Roger's merchandise, and sold two million comic books and records. Roy was a big name business tycoon, who was second in sales only to Walt Disney.
Roy and Dale had a daughter, Robin, born August 26, 1950. She was born very weak, with health problems including a congenital heart defect. Robin died two years later. After her death, Roy and Dale decided to adopt children rather than have anymore. They touched many lives with their benevolence and kind Christian walk. (They wrote a book about the precious daughter they lost, called "Angel Unaware"; see above).
Rogers died of congestive heart failure on July 6, 1998; he was 87. Evans died of congestive heart failure on February 7, 2001. She was 88.
JUST A POOR INDIAN BOY