From Disgrace to Amazing Grace

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The hymn “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. Written by John Newton as a personal poem of conversion, it is sung annually at an estimated 10 million times. It reminds each and every one, that each and every day that God has given us Grace through His Son Jesus that we might turn from our disgrace and embrace the grace which lies in Christ. Enjoy the rest of the reading of the autobiography of John Newton.

According to the Dictionary of American Hymnology, “Amazing Grace” is John Newton’s spiritual autobiography in verse. In 1725, Newton was born in Wapping, a district in London near the Thames. His father was a shipping merchant who was brought up as a Catholic but had Protestant sympathies, and his mother was a devout Independent unaffiliated with the Anglican Church. She had intended Newton to become a clergyman, but she died of tuberculosis when he was six years old. For the next few years, Newton was raised by his emotionally distant stepmother while his father was at sea, and spent some time at a boarding school where he was mistreated. At the age of eleven, he joined his father on a ship as an apprentice; his seagoing career would be marked by headstrong disobedience.

As a youth, Newton began a pattern of coming very close to death, examining his relationship with God, then relapsing into bad habits. As a sailor, he denounced his faith after being influenced by a shipmate who discussed Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, a book by the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, with him. In a series of letters he later wrote, “Like an unwary sailor who quits his port just before a rising storm, I renounced the hopes and comforts of the Gospel at the very time when every other comfort was about to fail me.” His disobedience caused him to be pressed into the Royal Navy, and he took advantage of opportunities to overstay his leave and finally deserted to visit Mary “Polly” Catlett, a family friend with whom he had fallen in love. After enduring humiliation for deserting, he managed to get himself traded to a slave ship where he began a career in slave trading.

Newton often openly mocked the captain by creating obscene poems and songs about him that became so popular the crew began to join in. He entered into disagreements with several colleagues that resulted in his being starved almost to death, imprisoned while at sea and chained like the slaves they carried, then outright enslaved and forced to work on a plantation in Sierra Leone near the Sherbro River. After several months he came to think of Sierra Leone as his home, but his father intervened after Newton sent him a letter describing his circumstances, and a ship found him by coincidence. Newton claimed the only reason he left was because of Polly.

While aboard the ship Greyhound, Newton gained notoriety for being one of the most profane men the captain had ever met. In a culture where sailors commonly used oaths and swore, Newton was admonished several times for not only using the worst words the captain had ever heard, but creating new ones to exceed the limits of verbal debauchery. In March 1748, while the Greyhound was in the North Atlantic, a violent storm came upon the ship that was so rough it swept overboard a crew member who was standing where Newton had been moments before. After hours of the crew emptying water from the ship and expecting to be capsized, Newton and another mate tied themselves to the ship’s pump to keep from being washed overboard, working for several hours. After proposing the measure to the captain, Newton had turned and said, “If this will not do, then Lord have mercy upon us!” Newton rested briefly before returning to the deck to steer for the next eleven hours. During his time at the wheel he pondered his divine challenge.

About two weeks later, the battered ship and starving crew landed in Lough Swilly, Ireland. For several weeks before the storm, Newton had been reading The Christian’s Pattern, a summary of the 15th-century The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. The memory of the uttered phrase in a moment of desperation did not leave him; he began to ask if he was worthy of God’s mercy or in any way redeemable as he had not only neglected his faith but directly opposed it, mocking others who showed theirs, deriding and denouncing God as a myth. He came to believe that God had sent him a profound message and had begun to work through him.

Newton’s conversion was not immediate, but he contacted Polly’s family and announced his intentions to marry her. Her parents were hesitant as he was known to be unreliable and impetuous. They knew he was profane, but they allowed him to write to Polly, and he set to begin to submit to authority for her sake. He sought a place on a slave ship bound for Africa, and Newton and his crewmates participated in most of the same activities he had written about before; the only action he was able to free himself from was profanity. After a severe illness his resolve was renewed yet he retained the same attitude about slavery as his contemporaries. Newton continued in the slave trade through several voyages where he sailed up rivers in Africa — now as a captain — procured slaves being offered for sale in larger ports, and subsequently transported slaves to North America. In between voyages, he married Polly in 1750 and he found it more difficult to leave her at the beginning of each trip. After three shipping experiences in the slave trade, Newton was promised a position as a captain on a ship with cargo unrelated to slavery, when at thirty years old, he collapsed and never sailed again. – exerted from autobiographies of John Newton @ wikipedia.com

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Awaken

__________________________________________________________________You awaken me

Definition – Rouse from sleep, to stir the interest of; exite

Ephesians 5:14-18 “For anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “awake, O sleeper & arise from the dead & Christ will shine on you.

Romans 13:11 – Besides this you know the time that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For, Salvation is nearer to us now than we first believed.

As the days have been passing by, I hear the spirit pressing on my heart “Behold, I am coming soon” a reminder of how close we are to His coming. For to be a spotless bride without blemish or wrinkle. Let us get ready, in preparation of our Groom, Jesus Christ. And to let this World our community, our town, our friends that do not know the Lord that there is not much time, An awakening must occur.

~ Diluting the Truth ~

In 2001, a Kansas City pharmacist was charged with diluting the cancer treatment drugs Taxol and Gemzar to make a profit. After pleading guilty, the pharmacist, Robert Courtney, was sentenced to thirty years in prison. Judge Ortrie D. Smith told the man, “Your crimes are a shock to the civilized conscience.” Judge Smith also ordered Courtney to pay $10.4 million in restitution and a $25,000 fine. In his plea agreement, Courtney admitted diluting drugs for profit since 1992, affecting as many as 4,200 patients.

This man held life-saving power in his hands and for the sake of greed and personal gain diluted it to the point where it could not help people. We can do the same with God’s life saving truth.  – “30-year sentence for Druggist,” The New York Times (December 6, 2002)

“Let God awaken us to the reality of His Truth.”

As we all are praying that God would awaken this country, this World, His people to the saving power of Christ. As the Truth is being watered down to the secret sensitive mega sized congregations who have itching ears for the false prophets to stand and proclaim the social drinking, use of tobacco and the profanity that comes out of the mouth tolerable. To have the programs that entice men and women to join by having so called groups “Steaks & Stogies” etc. is disgusting. These messages and group gatherings have become a stench in the nostrils of God. Letting sin overtake a life by never allowing it to be convicted of the Holy Spirit. Being led the wrong way the churches of America are being led by the World instead of the Cornerstone, Jesus Christ.

“so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:27 

“As the pulpit goes, so goes the nation”

To gain influence over the people, most want the fame. To not tell the Truth, Truth hurts, and most times we are led by our feelings instead of a circumstance where we need to be led of the Spirit.

Jeremiah 5:31 “the prophets prophesy falsely,

    And the priests rule at their direction;

 My people love to have it so,

    But what will you do when the end comes?

The Jewish nation at the time of Jeremiah’s reign was given strict warnings of the destruction that was going to happen if they did not repent. The people were being misled by the false prophets, yes their mouth was praising God, but their hearts were far from Him. How different is it today in America than it was in the days of Jeremiah, no different. God never changes, His plan never changes and to see His plan for this country is for the church to wake up, to not put on sackcloth and ashes (not to be sorry) for their mistakes but to repent, to take a change of course!

“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” – 1 Peter 4:17

“An awakening must start with the church, His bride, to perfect us. Holiness is the key to having a pure life before God.”

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”

My short time of ministering to the clients of the Farmington AA Clinic, also known as Aquinas; I had seen the full effect of tolerable sin take place over so many lives, ranging from the age of 17 all the way up to the 90’s of men and women who have been a victim of the bite.

~ The power of the Bite ~

I would hear stories of their life before their addiction of drugs and other habits of the flesh that took a hold of them. I referred to it as a baby wolf. Every creature on this Earth has to be fed in order to grow, and just like sin, it takes one look, one taste, one experience and you’re hooked onto the ever so dangerous downward spiral in a person’s life. We may tolerate it, thinking that it’s okay, but one day that wolf (pet sin) will outgrow you to the point where it overtakes you.

~ No grey area’s ~

“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”

Rev. 3:16

“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not. Do you not fear me? declares the Lord. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.  But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away.  They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’  Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you. – Jeremiah 5:21-24

God has set boundaries for us to live by, commandments to follow by, teachings to learn from. But we see how far we can go without Him knowing it, (so we think). “If we are hiding in God, we don’t have anything to hide”. We can fool the preacher, the teacher, but we can’t fool God.

~ Getting back to Holiness ~

While God commanded that His chosen nation of Israel be a holy nation, we also find that those called and chosen in New Testament times, including our day, are also to be holy: “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

“When things are made holy, when they are consecrated, they are set apart unto purity. They are to be used in a pure way. They are to reflect purity as well as simple apartness. Purity is not excluded from the idea of the holy; it is contained within it. But the point we must remember is that the idea of the holy is never exhausted by the idea of purity. It includes purity but is much more than that. It is purity and transcendence. It is a transcendent purity.

In today’s society mentioning the word Holiness is briefly described as being a lunatic or some kind of legalism pushed onto someone else for not wearing the proper attire. Holiness happens within the heart. The primary meaning of holiness is defined as separate, It comes from an ancient word that meant, ‘to cut,’ or ‘to separate.’ Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase ‘a cut above something.’ In todays churches and many lifestyles It has taken a backseat by complacency. God commands holiness in a believer’s life, without it we cannot see God —“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. Matthew 5:8

“do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,”

1 Corinthians 6:19

We are made holy when God calls us out of this world and gives us of His Holy Spirit in order to live as He does. His Holy Spirit gives us understanding of God’s purpose for creating us, and sets us on the road of overcoming the carnal way of life and living His way in obedience to Him.

~ Striving towards Perfection ~

Who said were perfect? None, except the only person who can help us strive towards the prize which is in Jesus Christ.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” – Phil 3:12

Who said were righteous? Without Christ we are as filthy rags.

“We have all become like one who is unclean,

    and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

 We all fade like a leaf,

    and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” – Isaiah 64:6

But one thing must happen before there is a change. By allowing God to change us, baptize us in anguish, having the heart of God, not to be led by our emotions or concerns, but in anguish. Habakkuk, one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament, Habakkuk had one question for God, as he labored in prayer for Judah; His country.

Hab. 1:1-4

1 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,

    And you will not hear?

2 Or cry to you “Violence!”

    And you will not save?

3 Why do you make me see iniquity?

    And why do you idly look at wrong?

Destruction and violence are before me;

    Strife and contention arise.

4 So the law is paralyzed,

    And justice never goes forth.

 For the wicked surround the righteous;

    So justice goes forth perverted.

~ Voice of One ~

“I am  the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,”

John 1:23

The voice of one, the body of Christ; The head, we the body that make up the church

“so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another”

Romans 12:5

Where are the John the Baptist’s? Where are the men and women of God who say yes to holiness, no to complacency in order for God to baptize the heart of the believer with His anguish, His love for His people, to bring them back to the Cross?

~ Be Ready, Stay Focused, & Never Look Back ~