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Oswald Chambers “In His Presence”

100 years ago today, teacher and evangelist Oswald Chambers passed away while serving as a chaplain in Egypt during World War I. Chambers was born  on July 24, 1874, to Clarence and Hannah Chambers in Aberdeen, Scotland. Chambers’ best known work, My Utmost for His Highest, has stayed in print since its first publication in Britain in 1927.  It has been translated into over forty languages and ranks in the top ten of religious bestsellers in the United States with millions of copies in print—becoming a Christian classic.

In October 1915 Oswald traveled to Cairo, Egypt to work with soldiers through the YMCA.  Two months after Oswald’s arrival, his wife, Biddy and two-year old daughter, Kathleen joined him and together they began a ministry among the thousands of soldiers stationed there.  While in Egypt Chambers served the soldiers as a counselor, pastor, and teacher.  He was available daily to meet with them and held daily bible studies.

Though there were others from the YMCA assisting in the work, it was demanding and took a toll on Chambers’ health as can be seen by his tired and drawn appearance.  One comfort was that Biddy and Kathleen were in Egypt with him.  On October 29, 1917 Oswald was taken to a Red Cross hospital in Cairo with severe pains in his abdomen.  An emergency appendectomy was performed that evening, and Oswald began to recover.  A week later he suffered a series of relapses from a blood clot in his lung, and he died on November 15, 1917.  Word was spread to England and abroad by cable that read “Oswald in His Presence.”

One friend wrote in his diary that he was shaken by Oswald’s death, not with “hopeless sorrow or resentment, but sheer staggerment.”  100 soldiers were a part of the funeral cortege while Samuel Zwemer, a missionary to Muslims, spoke at his graveside service.  His life was described as the “finest commentary on the Sermon on the Mount.”

Those assembled at the grave sang Psalm 121 from the Scottish Psalter:

I to the hills will lift mine eyes
From whence doth come mine aid.
My safety cometh from the Lord,
Who heav’n and earth hath made.
Thy foot he’ll not let slide, nor will
He slumber that thee keeps.
Behold, he that keeps Israel,
He slumbers not, nor sleeps.
The Lord thee keeps, the Lord thy shade
On thy right hand doth stay:
The moon by night thee shall not smite,
Nor yet the sun by day.
The Lord shall keep thy soul; he shall
Preserve thee from all ill
Henceforth thy going out and in
God keep for ever will.

In many ways, Chambers’ death should have been lost to our memories amidst the staggering losses of World War I.  But this is not the case.  Though an accomplished teacher his writings and name are more known today than when he was alive.  All of the published writings of Oswald Chambers come from the sermons and lessons he gave, which Biddy took down verbatim in pitmanic shorthand (up to 250 words a minute) and then transcribed after she and Kathleen returned to England.  The vast majority were published posthumously.

Special Collections, Buswell Library received the Oswald Chambers Papers from the Oswald Chambers Publications Association in England in 2002.  The archive consists of 50 boxes of materials, books and photographs primarily gathered by David McCasland during his research for writing the biography, Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God.  The collection includes Oswald’s published writings, correspondence, samples of Biddy’s shorthand notes and other materials relating to his education, growth and years of Christian ministry.  Of special interest are the class notes and personal diaries of Eva Spink—a student of Chambers’ at the Bible Training College in London and a co-worker in Egypt.

First Ladies of Wheaton College

The presidents of Wheaton College are lauded for their leadership, guiding the institution through the decades, holding close its motto, “For Christ and His Kingdom.” But leadership is usually a partnership; and surely every man would respectfully defer to the invaluable contribution of his wife. Ruth Cording, former archivist at Wheaton College, composed a booklet, Romance, Roses and Responsibility, celebrating the lives of these faithful women. Cording profiles the following: 1. Mary Blanchard, wife of founder Jonathan Blanchard. 2. Margaret Ellen Milligan, first wife of second president Charles Blanchard, who died during her early motherhood. 3. Amanda Jane Carothers, second wife of Charles Blanchard, died from scarlet fever. 4. Frances Carothers, third wife of Charles Blanchard, who was a physician and wrote a biography of her husband. 5. Helen Spaulding Buswell, wife of J. Oliver Buswell, third president of Wheaton College. 6. Edith Olson, wife of V. Raymond Edman, fourth president. 7. Miriam Bailey, wife of Hudson Armerding, fifth president. 8. Mary Sutherland, wife of Richard Chase, sixth president. 9. Sherri Elizabeth, wife of Duane Litfin, seventh president.

Commenting on her use of the rose motif, Cording writes:

Mary Blanchard brought her roses from Cincinnati when she and her husband, Jonathan, Wheaton’s first president, came to Knox College in 1845. Those rose bushes were then transplanted to their home on South President Street when the Blanchards moved to Wheaton, In 1863 the bushes were moved to the college and planted in front of Blanchard Hall near the east door. Some of the bushes were also planted, at the request of Jonathan Blanchard’s granddaughter, Geraldine Kellogg Dresser, and when she died, former president V. Raymond Edman referred to the “heritage of roses,” stating that she “passed the Blanchard heritage to us with roses.” In 1984 I noticed that the roses in front of Blanchard Hall were just about ready to go into pink bloom, but that the remodeling of the front of Blanchard would threaten their blossoms. The college gardener was alerted and all the remaining bushes were moved to the front of Westgate, the current home of the Wheaton College Alumni Offices. They are now appropriately marked with plaques, showing that they were originally brought to Wheaton by Mary Bent Blanchard – 150 years ago!

The Orange and the Blue

Like any campus, Wheaton College proudly displays its colors. Orange and blue. Visiting, you will encounter orange and blue t-shirts, pennants, banners, posters, jackets, flags, blankets; and, during athletic events, energetic, noisy fans displaying bright orange and blue facepaint. Why these colors? The origin dates to Jonathan Blanchard, the founder of the school. Historian W. Wyeth Willard writes in Fire on the Prairie – The Story of Wheaton College:

Like his parents and all true New Englanders [Charles Blanchard] was proud of his ancestry. “My father and mother were Vermonters. There can be no better blood; it seems to me, than that of the English Pilgrims and Puritans.” In many of the Blanchards’ published addresses this note comes out time and again, along with mention of Plymouth Rock. But that did not prevent the Blanchards from admiring people of other ancestries. Jonathan wrote concerning the Swedes, “the merging of northern steel with Anglo-Saxon iron.” And he suggested that the College colors be orange and blue — orange after that great Dutch patriot, William of Orange, and blue for loyalty.

Identity

Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Former Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies Nancy L. Calvert (who taught at Wheaton from 1990-1997) was featured in the Spring 1996 issue.

Come late June, I’ll be getting married. It’s a big step, and I’m taking it later in life than most. David, my fiance, and I are glad to have found each other. We sense God’s timing in bringing us together in the midst of our busy lives and careers.

Yet each of us finds that we harbor some fearfulness about joining our lives. We have each established personal and professional identities. Getting married will involve sacrifice–but how much of our respective identities are at stake?

My approaching marriage has prompted me to examine the source of my identity more closely. I imagine that I am not alone when I admit that the person I have become is partially a result of my seeking the approval of others.

By taking on characteristics, however, that are deemed important by another person, or by performing according to someone else’s perceived standard, it is as if you and I believe that we are valued only if we can somehow earn another’s respect and love.

If this approval-based mindset is central to our identity, it can render us oblivious to the wonder of how God created us and to his purpose for our lives. It allows others to gain control of our lives–a control that ultimately belongs to God. In his book, A Pretty Good Person, Lewis Smedes wisely states, “One way to get in control of one’s life is surrender to unconditional love…I have to get back to that surrender now and then or I lose control again to the demon of other people’s approval” (p. 110). If our identity depends on others’ approval and not on God’s unconditional love, chances are that we will never fully discover what makes us able to serve God in our unique way.

Another source of self-identity is our life experiences. Yet at times, our experiences can become like prisons. It may be too threatening to actually discern what in our past shackled us to a certain perception of our world, ourselves, or God. But unless we are willing to name, evaluate, and revise the ways we perceive the world, we cannot freely embrace the life God has so graciously granted us.

In recent years, many scholars have examined the apostle Paul’s call to preach to Gentiles (one example is Krister Stendahl’s Paul Among Jews and Gentiles). In his providence, God gave Paul the background to succeed in his ministry to Gentiles. Paul was familiar with Hellenistic ways and philosophies, and Jewish culture and theology. He was also fortunate enough to be a Roman citizen, But in that dramatic encounter with the living Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul was blinded and his whole world turned upside down. He discovered that the very man whose followers he had been persecuting was actually the Messiah.

Once the Lord broke through his prison of misconceptions, Paul found his identity in Christ and his life’s focus in fulfilling God’s new purposes for him. He neither sought to gain the approval of devout Jews who knew him in the years before his calling, nor of those who believed that Gentile believers must take on the Mosaic law.

God may not use visions and blindness to bring us to a better understanding of his purpose for our lives. But he often uses events or people to get our attention, to help us better understand who we are and how we can serve God in our own unique way.

As David and I enter marriage, we must remember that our identities are ultimately rooted in Christ–though the counsel of others may be important. Together we must work in such a way that God can best fulfill his own unique purposes for us in the arenas of our professional and married lives. Doing so won’t be easy; we may have to expose one another’s shackling misperceptions from time to tune. Our identities will probably be remolded to some degree. But it would seem that only in this way can we even begin to find the joy of living together according to God’s loving guidance.

———-
The following statement was included at the time of publication:

Dr. Calvert is assistant professor of New Testament studies. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield, England, her M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and her B.A. from Wheaton. She is an ordained Presbyterian minister (PCUSA) and serves as parish associate at the First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn. In her spare time she likes to listen to classical music, read, watch “Frasier” and films remakes of Jane Austen novels. But mostly she corresponds with her fiance via e-mail.

Malcolm Muggeridge and the Iron Lady

As English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge aged, he embraced increasingly conservative principles. Moving from atheism to theism to Catholicism, he adjusted his views, publishing books and articles reflecting his ideology. Enjoying an extraordinary network of friends and acquaintances, Muggeridge interacted with the prominent voices of his day, including authors, films stars and politicians like U.S. President Ronald Reagan, with whom he shared a contempt for abortion.

Malcolm Muggeridge connected with other conservative politicians, as well. In 1978, he evidently encouraged Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Britain (who died at 87 on April 8, 2013) to accept an invitation to speak at Pepperdine University. At this time, Thatcher was still a Member of Parliament. Unable to attend due to prior commitments, she sent gracious responses to both H.A. White, president of Pepperdine, and Muggeridge.

Dr. Mal Couch

Dr. Mal Couch died on February 12, 2013, age 74. Born and raised in Dallas, attending Scofield Memorial Church where he heard such preachers as Harry Ironside, Lewis Sperry Chafer, V. Raymond Edman and Carl Armerding, perhaps it was inevitable that he would find himself immersed in dispensational theology and its accompanying prophetic emphasis. After earning his B.A. from John Brown University, he returned to his hometown where he attended Dallas Theological Seminary, earning his Th.M in Systematic Theology. Aside from ministry, he supported himself in the television and film industry, editing news broadcasts and documentaries, keeping him close to current events. On November 22, 1963, Couch, a senior at DTS, was assigned by Channel 8 to film John F. Kennedy’s fateful Dallas visit, riding in the motorcade a few cars behind the President.

As shots rang out from Texas School Book Depository, he saw the rifle barrel drawn back into the sixth floor window. Couch was responsible for filming the brief footage of bystanders dropping to the grass at Dealey Plaza. His eyewitness testimony is documented in the Warren Commission. “One thing that impressed me in the days that followed the assassination of President Kennedy,” he told an interviewer, “was that so many people appeared confused and lost at that moment. They walked around the city in a daze. They had no connection with life, it seemed. For me, my personal faith in Jesus Christ and in a God who controls the affairs of men, did not change a bit. In fact, it gained deeper roots.”

Moving north to Chicagoland, he worked a part-time editor for Moody Monthly while also serving as pastor of Naperville Bible Church (now called Gracepoint Church). At his 1966 installation ceremony, the Invocation was presented by Dr. Merrill Tenney of Wheaton College; the Charge was delivered by Dr. John Walvoord, president of Dallas Theological Seminary. Busy with ministry, Couch also attended Wheaton College graduate school. “I can think of no better place for training Christians in the art of communicating the message of scripture,” he wrote on his application.

Couch taught at Philadelphia School of the Bible, Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary, specializing in the fields of systematic theology, history, Biblical Hebrew and New Testament Greek. Recently, he was president of Scofield Ministries in Clifton, TX and Pastor of Clifton Bible Church.

A man of many abilities, Mal Couch was a photographer, radio talk show host and a licensed pilot. Using his directing and editing skills, he produced The Occult with Hal Lindsay, The Temple with Zola Levitt and Someone Cares with Charles Colson. He was also a prolific writer, including Inerrancy, Titus and the Birth of the Nation of Israel. One of his final titles was Going Home: Our Blessed Hope of Heaven and Eternity, written with his wife, Lacy.

Dr. Howard Hendricks

Howard G. Hendricks, longtime professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, died on February 20, 2013, at age 88. In addition to writing, classroom teaching and conference speaking, he mentored such Evangelical leaders as Tony Evans, Joseph Stowell, Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah and Erwin Lutzer.

Hendricks, interviewed by The Dallas Morning News in 2003, remarked, “You’re looking at a completely fulfilled human being. If I died today having produced some of the people God has given me the privilege of shaping, it will have been worth showing up on the planet.” He earned his bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in 1946 and a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1950, joining its faculty a year later. Known as “Prof” to generations of students, he remained until 2011, when health issues forced him to retire.

During his years at Wheaton, Hendricks roomed with three other male students in “Peterson’s Palace,” a privately owned home near campus. He was a member of the Beltionian Society.

Howard Hendricks, top row, second from right, 1945

If Mugg Were Pope…

Evidently, no one asked Malcolm Muggeridge what he would do were he suddenly elevated to the papal throne; nonetheless, the indomitable journalist, not even Catholic at the time, offers his fantasies on the prospect. “If I Were Pope…” appeared in The National Review, June 9, 1978, the so-called “year of three popes,” during which Pope Paul VI died, Pope John Paul I was elected and reigned for one month before dying, and Pope John Paul II was elected to an influential 27-year papacy. As Pope Francis begins his pontificate after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, perhaps it is appropriate to revive Muggeridge’s conservative ruminations on a few ecclesiastical matters.

Summarizing his points:

1) Locating a private, quiet retreat, perhaps Castel Gondolfo, Pope Malcolm would “…meditate upon the Church’s extraordinary survival through the twenty centuries of Christendom despite every sort of abomination committed by, or under the auspices of, my predecessors…”

2) Considering the ramifications of Vatican II, he would “…meditate upon the Church’s present circumstances, so full of confusion, strife and lunacy following Pope John’s Vatican Council and the amazing decision resulting therefrom to have another Reformation, just when the former one – Luther’s – seemed finally to have run into the sand.”

3) Not embracing complete isolation, he would “…have Mother Teresa and some of her Sisters of Charity with me at my retreat, her cooperation having been a precondition of my accepting the pontifical appointment in the first place…Her extraordinary influence and clarification are conveyed, not so much by words or exhortation, as by the love she radiates, shining out from her visibly, like light.”

4) Leaving the serenity of his retreat to address a troubled society, he would “…reissue Humanae Vitae in a greatly simplified form, reinforcing its essential point than any form of artificial contraception is inimical to the Christian life.”

5) Next, “…I should suspend the prohibition of the Tridentine Mass and the traditional Latin liturgy, which would henceforth be permissible whenever and wherever there was an appreciable demand for it. The disco-style vernacular worship, with its sadly banal words, which has come to take the place of the traditional liturgy would be allowed to go on, but I should secretly hope that, as fashions changed, it might wither away.”

6) Muggeridge would tighten the noose in other ways, as well. “Imagining myself sitting in the Vatican, or strolling up and down the Vatican garden, I feel sure I should be assailed by the temptation to do a bit of excommunication and anathema on my own account as and when the opportunity presented itself. Freedom-fighting prelates, liberated nuns, Marxist-dialoguing Jesuits, and other such ribald clerical phenomena of our time, along with the accompanying literature, would be, for me, tempting targets.”

7) Thus empowered, he would also “….prepare the way for an underground Church to go on functioning when the open one has been either forcibly disbanded, or so corrupted and disoriented from within that it can no longer fulfill its traditional role…What I have in mind would be a Christian maquis or clandestine Catacombs Order, whose superior and members would be chosen with the utmost care for their abiding faith, mystical insight and love for the Church and its orthodoxy.”

“That would be a papacy indeed!” he concludes. “Perhaps – who can tell? – some unexpected papabile is even now being divinely groomed to take it on.”

Muggeridge joined the Catholic Church in 1982. He died in 1990. His papers (SC-04), comprising manuscripts, correspondence, videos and memorabilia, are archived at Wheaton College Special Collections in Wheaton, IL.

What a Privilege

by LTC Randy Carey (ret.)

Adam Smith asked, “What can be added to the happiness of a man who is healthy, who is out of debt, and who has a clear conscience?”

I can think of at least another thing: the privilege of coming alongside someone and encouraging him on his journey through life. This will be my last opportunity to do that at Wheaton College in my current capacity, as I begin my fourth and final year serving as the College’s professor of military science for Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps–or ROTC. However, my wife, Beth, and I look forward to another year of meeting more Wheaton College students, engaged couples, and ROTC cadets experiencing God in their own unique ways.

The opportunity to mentor someone is one of the greatest privileges we have. Although I am often discouraged by my own sinfulness and feelings of inadequacy, I am energized by those who have a hunger to grow in the ways of the Lord and are eager for someone to encourage them along the way.

I relish the opportunity to explain to a young man or woman who is considering serving his or her country that the military is desperately in need of godly leaders. Students often do not consider the military as a mission field, so I tell them the Army is in need of leaders who can share the gospel of grace with their fellow officers and soldiers all over the world.

Beth and I have made some lasting memories with students who have befriended us. We try to encourage them as they prepare for an uncertain future. And although we may think we know the right answer for some dilemma, instead of telling them directly, we try to guide them through the process, letting them figure it out.

As Beth and I have opened our home to students, we have found that regardless of what we feed them, they are quite content just to be in a family environment. I say it is Beth’s gourmet cooking they enjoy, but she says it’s because they just want a home–cooked meal.

We have been blessed through our facilitating the engaged couples’ seminar alongside Dean of Students Rich Powers and his wife, Jennifer. It is so gratifying to see young people work out their plans to make a lifelong commitment to a future mate. Another opportunity for mentoring has come during the gatherings of Women Who Make a Difference, a group that meets twice a semester and allows women of all generations to come together with women students for fellowship.

This Puritan prayer has helped to guide me for many years, and I pray it will be the heart–cry of my students:

Thou hast given Thyself for me,
may I give myseif to Thee;
Thou has died for me,
may I live to Thee,
in every moment of my time,
in every movement of my mind,
in every pulse of my heart.
May I never daily with the world and its allurements,
but walk by Thy side,
listen to Thy voice,
be clothed with Thy graces,
and adorned with Thy righteousness.

—–

Twenty years ago, the Wheaton Alumni magazine began a series of articles, titled “On My Mind”, in which Wheaton faculty told about their thinking, their research, or their favorite books and people. Former Professor of Military Science, Randy Carey (who taught at Wheaton since 1996-1999) was featured in the Autumn 1999 issue.

The following statement was included at the time of publication:

Lieutenant Colonel Randy Carey has been Wheaton’s professor of military science since 1996. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University in business administration, an M.B.A. from the Florida Institute of Technology, and an M.A. in theology from Wheaton. He was commissioned in the artillery in March 1978 and was assigned to Germany. His last assignment before coming to Wheaton was in the Pentagon, working for the Chief of Staff of the Army. LTC Carey also was an assistant professor of military science at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He and his wife, Beth, have three sons: Ryan (12), Tyler (10), and Max (4).

John A. Huffman, Minister-at-large

Dr. John A. Huffman Jr., pastor and author, recently published his memoir, A Most Amazing Call, chronicling the ups, downs and byways of his extraordinary life. Born in Boston, he earned his undergraduate degree at Wheaton College, his graduate degrees from Princeton Seminary. While studying at Princeton, he served as an assistant under Norman Vincent Peale, pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. “My life ever since,” Huffman writes, “has been so much richer for the opportunity of knowing him as both a friend and a mentor.”

After serving other pastorates, Huffman was called in 1978 to assume leadership at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California. Exploring wide-ranging interests involving the Christian life, he has published nine books, including The Family You Want and Forgive Us Our Prayers. He has served on the boards of several influential evangelical organizations, including Christianity Today, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, World Vision and the National Association of Evangelicals.

Away from his pulpit, Huffman has served several sports chaplaincies, including the Miami Dolphins (1969-73), the visiting NFL teams (1973-78) and the PGA Senior Golf Tour (1973-78).

Huffman attended both Wheaton Academy and Wheaton College. Reflecting on his schooling he writes:

There were also great professors who opened to me new horizons intellectually, politically and spiritually; too many to list in this space. They helped me integrate the world of ideas with my Christian faith….In particular, I will be forever grateful to the chairman of my history department, Earl Cairns, who shaped my philosophy of history…And I was exposed to many outstanding chapel speakers such as Vernon Grounds, Leighton Ford, Richard C. Halvorson, Robert Boyd Munger, Bill Bright, Harold Ockenga, V. Raymond Edman, Hudson T. Armerding and Billy Graham — all whose friendship and counsel I have valued through the years.

Retiring from St. Andrews in 2009, he considers his life of service:

As I have now concluded my first 70 years, I move into a new era. My title is “honorably retired.” My 47-year call to local church ministry is now complete. From now on I will simply endeavor to do whatever the Lord lays on my heart as literally “minister-at-large.” What I hope to do with the rest of my life is to continue to lead men, women and children to a personal saving faith in Jesus Christ…

Huffman and his wife, Anne, have three daughters.