Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Boreham on the Deck of Cards

Helen, a regular reader of this site has alerted me to an interesting Boreham angle.

In Dr Boreham’s book, ‘The Drums of Dawn’, there is an essay entitled ‘Second Husband’ about a man named Curley. This man, Boreham said, used playing cards as his bible and his calendar.

Helen goes on to write about an old time ‘singing cowboy’, named Tex Ritter, who made a record about an American GI, during WWII, using a deck of cards in chapel for a bible and calendar. The title of the record was ‘Deck of Cards’.

A quick Google search of the Internet has revealed numerous sites (see one below) explaining how one can use playing cards to speak about the Christian message. It also gives information on the singing cowboy’.

One story on this site says that a young soldier was in his bunkhouse all alone one Sunday morning over in Afghanistan. It was quiet that day, the guns and the mortars, and land mines for some reason hadn't made a noise. The young soldier knew it was Sunday, the holiest day of the week. As he was sitting there, he got out an old deck of cards and laid them out across his bunk.

Just then an army sergeant came in and said, "Why aren't you with the rest of the platoon?" The soldier replied, "I thought I would stay behind and spend some time with the Lord." The sergeant said, "Looks like you're going to play cards." The soldier said, "No sir, you see, since we are not allowed to have Bibles or other spiritual books in this country, I've decided to talk to the Lord by studying this deck of cards." The sergeant asked in disbelief, "How will you do that?"

"You see the Ace, sergeant, it reminds that there is only one God.
The Two represents the two parts of the Bible, Old and New Testaments.
The Three represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
The Four stands for the Four Apostles: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The Five is for the five virgins that were ten but only five of them were glorified.
The Six is for the six days it took God to create the Heavens and Earth.
The Seven is for the day God rested after working the six days.
The Eight is for the family of Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives, in which God saved the eight people from the flood that destroyed the earth for the first time.
The Nine is for the lepers that Jesus cleansed of leprosy. He cleansed ten but nine never thanked Him.
The Ten represents the Ten Commandments that God handed down to Moses on tablets made of stone.
The Jack is a reminder of Satan. One of God's first angels, but he got kicked out of heaven for his sly and wicked ways and is now the joker of eternal hell.
The Queen stands for the Virgin Mary.
The King stands for Jesus, for he is the King of all kings.

When I count the dots on all the cards, I come up with 365 total, one for every day of the year. There are a total of 52 cards in a deck, each is a week, 52 weeks in a year.
The four suits represents the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.
Each suit has thirteen cards, there are exactly thirteen weeks in a quarter.

So when I want to talk to God and thank Him, I just pull out this old deck of cards and they remind me of all that I have to be thankful for."

The sergeant just stood there and after a minute, with tears in his eyes and pain in his heart, he said, "Soldier, can I borrow that deck of cards?"

There are many variations on how these cards can be used. We may not find the entire card commentary to our theological taste. But it is an interesting way of using familiar symbols and charging them with a deeper meaning.

When I worked for several years in a Prison one of my guests who came inside to assist me with a worship service used the cards in a similar way. I was amazed at the impact his illustrated talk had on that captive audience.

Geoff Pound

Thanks to Helen for the inspiration for this posting.


Image: Playing Cards

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

So This Is Boreham: Part Ten

This brings to mind a story Boreham shared. A minister was leaving his church for another charge, when a church member approached him at a farewell reception and said, "Sir, I am sorry to see you go. I never had but one objection to you; your preaching was always too horizontal!" Boreham ties in this parishioner's brutal honesty with the words of Henry Jowett: "We must preach more upon the great texts of the Scriptures; we must preach on those tremendous passages whose vastnesses almost terrify us as we approach them!"

If you are looking for unexcelled conversion testimonies, his Great Texts series is a necessity. Some of the best devotional thoughts penned anywhere can be found in The Tide Comes In. Boreham delves into the Beatitudes in The Heavenly Octave and sheds light upon Luke 15 in The Prodigal. Mrs. Ruth Graham Bell was influenced by The Prodigal and includes a wonderful Boreham story of Dostoyevsky's death-bed scene in her book, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them.

Finally, in one of his rarest and earliest writings, Whisper of God, Boreham reminds the preacher that he must have a vision of Deity before he steps into the pulpit. Preaching must flow from the wellspring that has as its source a personal relationship with Almighty God. Says Boreham, "A man who has no personal experience of the presence and power of God cannot possibly impress others with the august and intense reality of things eternal."

He reminds us of how this truth permeated the thoughts of our preaching forefathers. Boreham shares the words from the journal of an old Puritan divine: "'Resolved that, when I address a large meeting, I shall remember that God is there, and that will make it small. Resolved that, when I address a small meeting, I shall remember that God is there, and that will make it great.'

It is said that, when Chrysostom was composing his sermons, he was wont to fancy that the communion rails around the pulpit were crowded with listening angels. It was splendid inspiration. But the truth is greater still. Dr. Gordon dreamed that, when he preached, the Christ sat in the pew. It is verily so. The preacher needs a vision of Deity as will fill his whole horizon with the grandeur of the Divine, and assure him, in the hours of loneliness and listlessness, of the stupendous fact that God is his witness and Co-worker."

Where do you begin? Just like the rest of us who love Boreham's writings--on your hands and knees scouring second-hand book shops. Be warned! His books are not easy finds, but when one is discovered, the recipient is awash with a sense of instant gratification and accomplishment of a job well done. Those of us in the ministry need that from time to time! Then the reward: relax in a comfortable chair, pour a cup of coffee, (Boreham would prefer that you imbibe with a cup of tea), and settle back. Happy hunting!

Rev. Jeffrey S. Cranston is Senior Pastor of LowCountry Community Church, Hilton Head Island/Bluffton, South Carolina, USA.

This is the final instalment of So, This is Boreham. Many thanks Jeff for your permission to publish it here on The Official F W Boreham Blog Site (GP).

Benson, Irving C. "Dr. Frank W. Boreham--The Man and the Writer." In The Last Milestone, F.W. Boreham, London: The Epworth Press, 1961.
Boreham, Frank W., Jr. Personal correspondence with the author, 01 February 1997.
Boreham, F.W. Cliffs of Opal. Wheels Within Wheels. London: The Epworth Press, 1940.
________. Cliffs of Opal. So This is Moody!. London: The Epworth Press, 1940.
________. Faces In the Fire. The Baby Among the Bombshells. London: The Epworth Press, 1941.
________. My Pilgrimage. London: The Epworth Press, 1940.
________. A Temple of Topaz. London: The Epworth Press, 1928.
________. Whisper of God. The Seer. London: Arthur H. Stockwell, 1902.
Crago, Rev. T. Howard. "Tribute to Dr. F.W. Boreham." The Australian Baptist, May 27, 1959.
The Australian Baptist. "Death of Dr. F.W. Boreham", May 27, 1959.
The Victorian Baptist Witness. "New Mission Centre is Dedicated". July 1995, p. 3. page ________. Scholarships and New Courses. December 1996, p. 14.
Wiersbe, Warren. Walking With the Giants. Chicago: Moody Press.

Image: F W Boreham with his son, Frank, circa 1958 (GP). Frank, Jnr died about three years ago and he with his wife Betty, was very helpful to all those who were seeking to learn about their famous father.

Monday, April 24, 2006

So This Is Boreham: Part Nine

In his essay entitled, “Wheels Within Wheels”, from his book, Cliffs of Opal, Boreham writes to a young man, the son of a ministerial colleague. The young minister had just been ordained and the reader senses a veteran Paul addressing a greenhorn Timothy. Boreham tells our young friend that preaching has "three distinct values." Preaching, he says, should have an entertainment value. This is not to be confused with what comes through our television cable boxes that some call entertainment. Preaching should be of entertainment value in the regard that the preacher should, "at every art of his command...capture and hold the attention of his hearers.

It is not enough that [the preacher] should say what it is his duty to say in the first words that happen to come. He must arrange his matter so attractively, and present it so effectively, that the most listless and languid will be compelled to follow him. There is no earthly reason why actors, [lawyers] or statesmen should state their cases more attractively, more convincingly, or, if you like, more entertainingly, than the preacher.

The art of the art of compelling the congregation to listen to your message; and you can only be sure that they will listen if you make it worth their while to listen. The Master preachers - Jesus, Paul, Wesley, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Moody and the rest - knew that they had something to say that was well worth saying."

With a rather unique analogy, Boreham continues, "You will never attract or arrest your hearers by an elaborate display of theology. The prominence of theology in a sermon suggests a slipshod preparation. Theology is what ladies call a foundational garment: it imparts shapeliness and affords support to the drapery of your utterance without itself becoming visible. It is very noticeable that Jesus Himself seldom or never became theological." Preaching should have an entertainment value and therefore, force the listener to pay attention.

Boreham also believed that preaching should have an educational value. It "fill[s] the hearts of people, with thoughts and emotions that were startlingly and sensationally new to them."

"And, as an inevitable climax, [preaching] has evangelistic value." In everything the preacher does - from prayer to preparation to delivery - "it [leads] his hearers to the feet of God."

Jeff Cranston

Image: Another photo that FWB took, this one of the inside of the Hobart Baptist Tabernacle on the day of the Sunday School Anniversary. This is a good reminder of Boreham's ability to speak attractively, educationally and evangelistically (GP).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

So This Is Boreham: Part Eight

Boreham preached in numerous pulpits, to a variety of crowds, over the course of six decades. Nuggets for the preacher are buried just below surface level throughout his writings.

One fine day, while on a bush walk in New Zealand with a very eminent preacher, young Boreham was asking advice from the seasoned preacher regarding the art and calling of preaching. His walking partner turned to him, looked him squarely in the eye, and remarked,

"Keep up your surprise power, my dear fellow; the pulpit must never, never lose its power of startling people!"

Let's have Boreham mine the ore and extract the gold: "Is it enough for a preacher to preach the truth? In a place where I was quite unknown, I turned into a church one day and enjoyed the rare luxury of hearing another man preach. But, much as I appreciated the experience, I found, when I came out, that the preacher had started a rather curious line of thought. He was a very gracious man; it was a genuine pleasure to have seen and heard him. And yet there seemed to be a something lacking. The sermon was absolutely without surprise. Every sentence was splendidly true, and yet not a single sentence startled me. There was no sting in it. I seem to have heard it all over and over and over again; I could even see what was coming."

"Surely it is the preacher's duty to give the truth such a setting, and present it in such a way that the oldest truths will appear newer than the latest sensations. He must arouse me from my torpor; he must compel me to open my eyes and pull myself together; he must make me sit up and think. 'Keep your surprise power, my dear fellow,' said my companion that evening in the bush, speaking out of his long and rich experience. 'The pulpit,' he said, 'must never, never lose its power of startling people!' The preacher, that is to say, must keep up his stock of explosives. The Bishop of London declared the other day that the Church is suffering from too much 'dearly beloved brethren.' She would be better judiciously to mix it with a few bombshells."

Jeff Cranston

Image: Boreham, the church planter. Laying the foundation for the Moonah Baptist Church in Hobart, I think from memory, 1908. FWB is in the front (GP).