Sunday, September 16, 2018

By Faith

 By Faith 
Keith & Kristyn Getty
“By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation’s grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight

By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God’s own hand
A place where peace and justice reign

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death
And rise triumphant from the grave

By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight

By faith this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight ”


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Katherine Parr: Reformation Queen of England and Ireland

 "To be useful in all I do.”
Queen Katherine Parr
Sixth and last wife of King Henry VIII

The year was 1512.   Michelangelo’s magnificent Sistine Chapel frescos were unveiled.  Twenty-nine year old Martin Luther earned his Doctorate in Theology at Wittenberg U,  but had not yet to come an understanding of justification by faith.     And a precocious three year old named Jehan Cauvin  was  busy exploring his world in northern France.  God was setting the stage for a Reformation that would soon rock the world.

Sir Thomas Parr  and  his wife Maud Greene,  a prominent couple from Westmoreland,  welcomed  their  baby daughter  into the world that  year.  Katherine, named after King Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon,   received a fine education learning several languages fluently.    But by the age of twenty-one,  she had lost both parents and her first husband.  

The Parr family was acquainted with some of  the early Reformers and Katherine  zealously embraced this  “New Religion”.
"[Catherine] lamented the fact, that she had once been an enthusiastic  Papist.  ‘I sought’,  she confessed,  ‘for such riffraff as the Bishop of Rome had planted in his tyranny and kingdom,  trusting with great confidence by virtue and holiness of them to receive full remission of sins.’  … That she underwent conversion, as all the first generation of Reformers did is clear.”1 
Devoted wholly  to Christ,  Katherine’s  life  motto  became  “to be useful in all I do”,  even if it meant sacrificing her own happiness.   


After losing a second husband,  Katherine’s piety  caught the attention of King Henry.   Denying her heart’s desire to marry  Sir Thomas Seymore,  Katherine accepted the King’s marriage proposal.    On July 12, 1543   the attractive  31 year old widow became the sixth and  last wife of King Henry VIII.    Without  fanfare   Katherine  was proclaimed  Queen at Hampton Court Palace.     Her affection for Henry was sincere,  although the prospect of marrying a man who had sent two of his wives to the scaffold must have been terrifying!    Just months before the marriage, a plot  to execute Reformers in Henry’s household had been underway at the  behest of  Stephen Gardiner,  bishop of Winchester.
Henry remained Catholic after breaking from Rome to form the Church of England when the Pope  refused to grant him an annulment from his first wife.   Desiring a wife who could produce a male heir to the throne the King set his sights on the captivating  young  Evangelical,  Anne Boleyn. 
“Anne understood her providential mission to be this: to bring the Reformation to England and to employ every single instance of patronage and influence to that end. … In fact it was through Anne that the New Religion entered England.”2 
Anne Boleyn,   the most controversial of Henry’s wives, was  beheaded on  trumped up charges of adultery, incest, and  treason,   leaving behind her little daughter Elizabeth. The new Queen’s kindness and motherly affections  endeared her to Henry and  his children; Mary, Elizabeth,  and young Edward.
“besides the virtues of the mind,  she was endowed with very rare gifts of nature, as singular beauty,  favor  and  comely personage,   being things wherein the king was greatly delighted.”3 
But Katherine would not allow herself to be caught off guard by Henry’s affections as  he was a fickle man,  sending both  Catholics and Protestants alike  to the Tower  for  execution—Catholics  for treason and Protestants for heresy.

While Henry turned a blind eye,  his wife hosted  Bible studies and prayer meetings  at court.   Katherine’s guests included influential  preachers and numerous high ranking women including  Anne Askew  and the young  Lady Jane Grey.


In an attempt to destroy the Queen,   Katherine’s  Catholic enemies  had  Anne Askew arrested and tortured.    Their attempts  to get her to implicate the Queen for heresy failed  and Anne was burned at the stake for denying the literal presence of Christ’s body in the Mass.    

Stephen Gardiner's  evil intentions were not about to be thwarted.    As Henry’s health declined his legs became severely ulcerated and Katherine  would minister to him in  his chambers.   She used these opportunities to bring up spiritual matters and on one occasion when Gardiner was present   Henry became angry.  
 “A good hearing it is when women become such clerks  [clergy];  and a thing much to my comfort to come in my old days to be taught by my wife!’” 4  
Gardiner seized the opportunity  to fan the fires  of suspicion by suggesting  those who would dare to  argue with the King verbally might also overthrow him by their actions.    Henry’s heart was turned against  the Queen and orders were drawn  up  to send  Katherine and three of her ladies to the Tower for execution.   

Providentially,  the papers  sealing  Katherine’s fate  fell  into  the Queen’s hands, unbeknownst to Henry.    The  discovery  caused   Katherine to  have a nervous  breakdown.    The  King  had  confided in his  physician the plan to execute  his wife and when  Henry  learned that Katherine had become ill,   he sent Dr. Wendy to check on her.   The doctor was fond of the Queen and secretly advised her to play ignorant  and try to dissuade her husband.

Wise as a serpent and harmless as dove,  Katherine  refused the temptation  to engage in religious discussion when Henry  brought up the subject.    Instead,  she  stated  that  her opinions as a woman were   inferior and  unimportant,  and declared Henry to be her “only anchor,  Supreme  Head and Governor here on earth,  next under God.”5     Convincing  her husband   that she had merely  argued  religion with him in order  to divert his attention away from his physical suffering,  Henry forgave her and  their disagreement ended  with a kiss.

When Henry’s henchmen  came  to arrest Katherine  they were raked over the coals,  while Katherine responded graciously in their defense.   This  wise and humble woman showed  “no limit of self-denigration, and self-disparagement.”


Katherine was as talented in literary endeavors as she was generous in spirit. Proving  the pen can be mightier than the sword,  Katherine’s  books—Prayers or Meditations  (1546)  and The Lamentation or Complaint  of a Sinner (1547) became instant successes,   making her the first English Queen to publish an original work under her own name.    Additionally,   Katherine financed the English translations of  Erasmus’  Latin Paraphrases of the  Gospels, which were important texts for  Reformed scholars. 
[Katherine] championed the language of the people, encouraged academia to put Christ before Plato, urged Henry to bring England closer to the Reformation,   commissioned scholarly translations of Erasmus, and brought a royal English family together.   In Katherine’s day, her books became examples of the bold Reformation spirit.   Her brilliant mind captured the souls of her people and the respect of the Reformers themselves"7 
During Christmas of 1546  the King became  terminally ill  and  isolated himself  at Whitehall to make final preparations.   The historian John Foxe (1516-1587)  records that Henry made peace with God in the end.   Henry ignored Stephen Gardiner in his Will,  sent the Duke of Norfolk and his son to the Tower for treason,  and then  called  for the  Reformer  Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.   Unable to speak,   Dr. Cranmer exhorted Henry  to put his faith in Christ alone by showing—
“…some token with his eyes, or with hand, as he trusted in the Lord.  Then the King holding him with his hand, did wring his hand in his, as hard as he could, and so shortly after departed,” 8 
On January 28, 1547 King Henry VIII  was dead.   Though leaving his wife generous  provisions of wealth and honor,  the King  did not appoint her  as  Queen Regent. 

Finally free to pursue her own happiness, Katherine  hastily married Thomas Seymore.  Tragically, her marital bliss ended abruptly when Thomas made advances towards  Katherine’s teenage  stepdaughter,  Elizabeth.      After three childless marriages  Katherine  bore a daughter before  the last enemy struck again.    On September 5, 1548,  four days  after  giving birth,  Katherine  developed  puerperal fever and died at the age of 36.   

Like Priscilla (Rom. 16:3-4), Queen Katherine was a true servant and a scholar who was willing to take great risks for the furtherance of the Gospel.   As a result, God used Katherine's  determination “to be useful in all I do”   to profoundly  impact on the advancement of the English Reformation.   
“The fact that the Reformation was preserved in England can be attributed to the amazing presence of mind, and maturity of Katherine Parr.” 9

  1. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey;  HarperCollins Publishers; 2003;  pg. 701.
  2. Five Women of the English Reformation by Paul F.M. Zahl; William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI. 2001; pg. 26
  3. John Foxe-The Acts of the Monuments
  4. ibid.
  5. ibid
  6. Five Women of the English Reformation by Paul. F. M Zahl;  Eerdman’s Publishing; 2001; pg.45
  7. Katherine Parr: A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought by Brandon G. Withrow - Stephen J Nichols editor P&;R Publish
  8. John Foxe -The Acts of the Monuments
  9. Five Women-Paul F.M. Zahl; pg.40 
Lady Jane Grey: 9 Day Queen of England  by Faith Cook;  Evangelical Press 2004   
Women of the Reformation in France and England by Roland H. Bainton;  Fortress Press; 2007;    
Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey;  HarperCollins Publishers; 2003;   
A Lamentation or Complaint of a Sinner (1547)  by Queen Katherine Parr   
Katherine the Queen;  by Linda Porter;  St Martins Griffen; NY  
The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation, by Michael Reeves B & H Academic,  2010   
The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century by Roland H. Bainton; Beacon Press; 1963 
Katherine Parr image:  National Portrait Gallery - London
©Diane Bucknell 2015- originally posted at  Out of the Ordinary - Oct. 28, 2015

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Here is Love Vast as the Ocean

   Here is Love Vast as the Ocean
This moving hymn came out of the Welsh Revivals 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Anne Askew: The Extraordinary Life of a Reformation Martyr

"But as concerning your mass, as it is now used in our days,   I do say and believe it to be the most abominable idol that is in the world:  for my God will not be eaten with teeth, neither yet dieth he again.  And upon these words that I base now spoken, will I suffer death." 1   Anne Askew  (1521 - July 16, 1546) 

Many of us celebrate Reformation Day every October 31st.  When we consider today's Evangelical climate we should pause to remember those who were willing to die for doctrines that many of us might view as non-essential. 
The most common reason for execution during the early years of the Reformation had to do with a refusal of  the Catholic Mass.    That is, the false belief that the literal body and blood Christ resides in the bread and wine administered by the priests, and that Christ’s once for all atonement is repeated over and over again with each Mass.   These heroes of the faith understood the necessity of drawing lines in the creedal sand and would rather die than acquiesce to this idolatrous teaching known as  transubstantiation.  

J.C. Ryle wrote:

“The principal reason why they were burned, was because they refused one of the peculiar doctrines of the Romish Church.   On that doctrine,  in almost every case,  hinged their life or death.   If they admitted it — they might live;  if they refused it — they must die!   The doctrine in question was the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the consecrated elements of bread and wine in the Lord's Supper. 2

 One such martyr of the early Reformation was Anne Askew,  a  highly educated  young English woman who was an anomaly amongst  her peers.    Critics viewed her as  a truculent fanatic while supporters saw her as a courageous heroine.


Anne was born in 1521 to  Sir William Askew of  Lincolnshire and his wife Elizabeth Wrottesley four years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to The Castle Church door at Wittenberg, Germany.     We don’t know when Anne was converted to the “New Religion”, but we  know the early years of the Reformation knit together a tight band of advocates to which her family had ties.  

Anne was forced into an unwanted  marriage  with Thomas Kyme, a wealthy landowner and Catholic who had been engaged to her deceased sister Martha.    The constant friction  over Anne’s Protestant beliefs lead Thomas  to throw her out.    One of the accusations against her was  ‘that she was the devoutest woman he had ever known,  for she began to pray always at midnight, and continued for some hours in that exercise.' "3     Anne petitioned unsuccessfully for  a divorce and had  to leave her two  young children behind.    
 Resuming her maiden name,  Anne handed out tracts and literature  and  became known as a “Gospeller” for the  public speeches she gave  in London.    She debated doctrine with the local priests  and was “seen daily in the cathedral reading the Bible, and engaging the clergy in discussions on the meaning of particular texts,”4


Sir William had been knighted by King  Henry VIII and Anne’s  youngest brother Edward  served as the King’s cup-bearer.     The family connections at court presented the opportunity for Anne to become  one of the ladies-in-waiting to the Evangelical  Queen Katherine Parr,  Henry’s sixth and last wife.   While the King  looked the other way,  this close knit group of women , which included the young Lady Jane Grey,  met regularly to pray,  study the Scriptures,  and to hear from the Evangelical preachers Huge Latimer and Nicholas Ridley who  were later martyred.

The Reformation was as much about politics  as it was about  faith.   The self indulgent nominally  Catholic King was an equal opportunity tyrant and Catholics were just as likely to be executed for treason as were Protestants  for heresy.

When the Queen’s enemies noticed  her religious influence over others they plotted against her.   Worried that the Protestants would gain power when Henry died  Stephen Gardiner,  Thomas Wriothesley,  and Edmund Bonner  struck circuitously at Katherine's brightest lady, hoping she would implicate the Queen. 

  “Not daring to strike at the throne directly they found an easier target:   Anne Askew, bright, articulate and fearless, was a lady-in-waiting to the Queen.   Had she not been diligently promoting the spread of evangelical literature amongst the London apprentice boys?   She had even been heard to say ‘I would sooner read five lines in the Bible than hear five masses in the church’.   Such words were heresy in Catholic eyes.   Anne was seized, imprisoned and interrogated cruelly by Bonner” 5


Anne’s first arrest and  interrogation  took place  in March of 1545  and she was jailed for 12 days.    She wrote detailed accounts of this and her second “examination” in June of 1546 which were edited and published separately by Bishop John Bale and  martyrologist John Foxe.  Anne's replies are spirited and articulate:

"As for that ye call your God, it is a piece of bread.   For a more proof thereof... let it but lie in the box three months and it will be mouldy and so turn to nothing that is good.  Whereupon I am persuaded that it cannot be God" 6

“Then the bishop’s chancellor rebuked me, and said I was much to blame for uttering Scripture. For St. Paul, he said, forbade women to speak or talk of the word of God.  I answered him that I knew Paul’s meaning as well as he, which is, in I Cor. xiv, that a woman ought not to speak in the congregation by way of teaching: and then I asked him how many women he had seen go into the pulpit and preach?  He said he never saw any.   Then I said he ought to find no fault in poor women, except they had offended the law.”7
Anne was taken to the Tower of London and  tortured on the Rack  until  her bones were pulled out of joint and she fainted.    Anne's tenacious  loyalty to her friends could not be broken even by such cruel attempts to get her to divulge names.   
A  final refusal to recant her beliefs  landed Anne a conviction  of heresy for denying the doctrine of transubstantiation and she was sentenced to death.   Unable to stand, she was carried on a chair to Smithfield just outside the London  Wall.     She was fastened to the stake by a chain wrapped around her waist to hold her up and then burned alive alongside three fellow martyrs.    These men were so greatly comforted by Anne’s  “invincible constancy”  and persuasions  that “they did set apart all kind of fear.”8 
Whatever one’s opinion about this extraordinary woman might be,  her courage and determination to be true to Christ and the Scriptures in the midst of adversity cannot be argued.   Anne has left behind a legacy of encouragement  to live, and if necessary, to die for Christ with the utmost zeal.

"And thus the good Anne Askew, with these blessed martyrs, … having now ended the long course of her agonies, being compassed in with flames of fire,  as a blessed sacrifice unto God, she slept in the Lord A.D. 1546,   leaving behind her a singular example of Christian constancy for all men to follow.” 9

A Prayer of Anne Askew

 “Lord,  I heartily desire of thee,  that thou wilt of thy most merciful goodness forgive them,  that violence which they do, and hath done, to me.   Open also thou their blind hearts, that they may hereafter do that thing in thy sight, which is only acceptable before thee, and to set forth thy verity aright,  without all vain fantasies of sinful men.  So, be it, O Lord, so be it!
By me,  Anne Askew “10

1. Select works of John Bale D.D. Bishop of Ossory: edited by Rev. Henry Christmas
2. Five English Martyrs by J.C. Ryle 
3. Memorials of Baptist Martyrs; J. Newton Brown; 1854
4. The Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 2  By Sir Sidney Lee; Macmillan, 1885;  pg. 190
5. Lady Jane Grey: 9 Day Queen of England  by Faith Cook;  Evangelical Press 2004  page 47
6. The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe:  Rev. George Townsend;  1837-41
7. ibid.
8. ibid. 
Additional Sources 
Five Women of the English Reformation by Paul F. Zaul; Eerdmans Publishing; 2001
Women of the Reformation in France and England by Roland H. Bainton; Fortress Press; 2007
The Book of the Church by Southey, Esq. LL.D;  1823
Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey;  Harper Collins Publishers; 2003;

This article has been revised and was first published at Out of the Ordinary on October 13, 2015   
 ©2018 Diane Bucknell

Monday, September 3, 2018

When Your Husband Leaves the Ministry

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”

The church in North Idaho was filled with an air of expectancy as we waited to hear the last guest speaker that evening.   Missions conferences were popular events in the 70's and our church was growing with enthusiastic new converts eager to hear how God was working in the world.   A revival was sweeping across the country in those days and the Lord had saved me and my husband three years earlier.   

Reports from foreign missionaries had captivated us all week as the man from the Africa Inland Mission wrapped things up.   Robert and I were just sure he was looking right at us when he pointed at the congregation and thundered,   “If not you, who?  If not now, when?”    We were ready to grab the baby and head straight to Africa but our pastor explained that it didn’t work that way.    Robert had two years of undergraduate studies but would need to get additional training at a Bible college.  Six months later we moved to Spokane and started classes at Moody Bible Institute (formerly IESB).

While my husband worked ridiculously long hours plodding through four more years of college,   I attended part time, took care of babies, and learned to squeeze a nickel till it bled.   We were excited about serving the Lord and eager to see where He would lead us.  
At first we seriously considered New Tribes Missions and visited their training camp in Oregon.  But then the Lord opened a door for us to work with an inner city mission church and we ended up staying in the states.   
In the long run, things didn't turn out quite the way we had hoped.  Twenty years and three senior pastorates later, my husband wrestled with the toughest decision he had ever made and resigned from the ministry. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

3,000 Men Singing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"
The Shepherds' Conference – Sun Valley, CA

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Making the Most of Mid-Life

“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years… So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Ps. 90:10,12

I’ll never forget the sense of disbelief I felt the day my husband turned 40.     A woman at the church he was pastoring made a passing remark that we were “middle-aged”.   At first I begged to differ with her, until I did the math.  Psychology Today defines middle age as being between 40-65. 
Just recently, incredulity struck again when I heard a news story about someone who was arrested for “elder” abuse.   The victim was younger than I am.
Time has such a mysterious way of slipping away before we realize it.   It just keeps moving along as the glorious old hymn says, “Time like an every rolling stream bears all its sons away”