The Curse of the Black Spot

The Curse of the Black Spot

For a pirate, receiving the dreaded “black spot” spells certain doom. The death notice mark appears in pirate lore from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel “Treasure Island” to Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean,” as well as countless other pirate tales. When a pirate receives the black spot, its Davey Jones’ locker for him.

In chapter three of Treasure Island a sinister pirate, disguised as a blind beggar, delivers a black spot to Captain Billy Bones at the Admiral Benbow Inn. With the black spot in hand, the sea-weathered pirate drops dead. Later in the story the mutinous crew slips John Silver the black spot in an effort to depose him. They inscribed the summons on a page torn from a Bible that belonged to one of the pirate crew.

While the black spot of the pirates exists as a fictional literary device, the Bible speaks of an actual black spot carried by every human without exception. When our first human parents, Adam and Eve, rebelled against their creator a curse came upon the entire human race. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)

You have received the black spot. You prove that you possess the death mark every time you break God’s law. The Ten Commandments reveal God’s eternal moral standards. The Bible says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Have you ever lied? The Bible says, “Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain.” Have you ever spoken God’s name blasphemously? God calls the breaking of his moral law “sin.” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and “the wages of sin is death.” Much worse than walking the plank or the hangman’s noose – the curse of physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death rests upon you because of your sin against God. “The soul that sins, it must die.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

You choose to ignore the black spot at your own peril. The curse of the black spot can not be hidden, forgotten, or absolved, but here is the good news, it can be transferred. God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Born sinless, the curse of Adam did not rest upon Him. When Jesus died on the cross, as the perfect substitute, He took the curse upon himself for all who would repent of their sin and turn to him in faith. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” (Galatians 3:13) “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Repent of your sin and trust in Christ. “Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,” (Acts 3:19) “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)

“In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)

L. L. Langstroth on Preventing Birds from Eating Your Bees

Birds and Bees

In the chapter on Requisites, I have spoken of the ravages of the mouse, and have there described the way in which my hives are guarded against its intrusion. That some kinds of birds are fond of bees, every Apiarian knows, to his cost; still, I cannot advise that any should, on this account, be destroyed. It has been stated to me, by an intelligent observer, that the King-bird, which devours them by scores, confines himself always, in the season of drones, to those fat and lazy gentlemen of leisure. I fear however, that this, as the children say, “is too good news to be true,” and that not only the industrious portion of the busy community fall a prey to his fatal snap, but that the luxurious gourmand can distinguish perfectly well, between an empty bee in search of food, and one which is returning full laden to its fragrant home, and whose honey-bag sweetens the delicious tit-bit, as the crushed unfortunate, all ready sugared, glides daintily down his voracious maw!

Still, I have never yet been willing to destroy a bird, because of its fondness for bees; and I advise all lovers of bees to have nothing to do with such foolish practices. Unless we can check among our people, the stupid, as well as inhuman custom of destroying so wantonly, on any pretence, and often on none at all, the insectivorous birds, we shall soon, not only be deprived of their aerial melody, among the leafy branches, but shall lament over the ever increasing horde of destructive insects, which ravage our fields and desolate our orchards, and from whose successful inroads, nothing but the birds can ever protect us. Think of it, ye who can enjoy no music made by these winged choristers of the skies, except that of their agonizing screams, as they fall before your well-aimed weapons, and flutter out their innocent lives before your heartless gaze! Drive away as fast and as far as you please, from your cruel premises, all the little birds that you cannot destroy, and then find, if you can, those who will sympathize with you, when the caterpillars weave their destroying webs over your leafless trees, and insects of all kinds riot in glee, upon your blasted harvests! I hope that such a healthy public opinion will soon prevail, that the man or boy who is armed with a gun to shoot the little birds, will be scouted from all humane and civilized society, and if he should be caught about such contemptible business, will be too much ashamed even to look an honest man in the face. I shall close what I have to say about the birds, with the following beautiful translation of an old Greek poets address to the swallow.

“Attic maiden, honey fed,
Chirping warbler, bear’st away,
Thou the busy buzzing bee,
To thy callow brood a prey?
Warbler, thou a warbler seize?
Winged, one with lovely wings?
Guest thyself, by Summer brought,
Yellow guest whom Summer brings?
Wilt not quickly let it drop?
‘Tis not fair, indeed ’tis wrong,
That the ceaseless warbler should
Die by mouth of ceaseless song.”
(Merivale’s Translation.)

Lorenzo L. Langstroth, “On The Hive and The Honey-Bee: A Bee Keepers Manual” 1853 (p269-270)

Southern Baptist Resolutions on The Lord’s Day

1845 - SBC Augusta, Ga

The Southern Baptist Convention has a long history of observing, promoting, and protecting the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath. Numerous resolutions from the floor of the SBC indicate that Southern Baptists have historically believed that the Lord’s Day deserves and requires special consideration.

1992: Resolution On Keeping The Lord’s Day

Indianapolis, Indiana

WHEREAS, The Creation account recorded in Genesis 2:1-13 states that God completed His work of Creation in six days and rested on the seventh day; and

WHEREAS, The Fourth Commandment recognizes the importance of keeping one day holy; and

WHEREAS, Jesus by example and teaching kept one day for worship; and

WHEREAS, Since much of the moral breakdown in our society has come since keeping the Lord’s Day holy has been largely disregarded.

Therefore, Be it RESOLVED, That this 135th session of the Southern Baptist Convention affirms the biblical teaching concerning the Lord’s Day as a matter of faith and practice; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptist churches to teach the importance of the proper use of The Lord’s Day to strengthen families and give proper recognition to God as Creator; and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists express concern over the continuing secularization of the Lord’s Day.

1982: Resolution On Keeping The Lord’s Day

New Orleans, Louisiana

WHEREAS, Baptists traditionally have believed in and espoused the biblical teaching of the Lord’s Day and

WHEREAS, The truth is evident that society, the family, and the church fare better observing the Creator’s principle of cyclic work and rest, and

WHEREAS, The erosion of the Lord’s Day as a special day for worship and rest is constantly on the increase.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That this session of the Southern Baptist Convention strongly affirm the Judeo-Christian teaching of the Lord’s Day and encourage local congregations periodically to focus special emphasis on the meaning of keeping the Lord’s Day.

Be it further RESOLVED, That this session of the Southern Baptist Convention express concern over any move which further erodes the place of the Lord’s Day.

1976: Resolution On The Lord’s Day

Norfolk, Virginia

WHEREAS, The Lord’s Day commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should be observed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, with a wholesome use of the day, by resting from secular employments with the exceptions of work of necessity and mercy.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we encourage supporting and strengthening the observance of the Lord’s Day as a day of unique religious experience and significance and keeping alive an awareness of the “first day of the week” as the Lord’s Day and the importance of keeping it “as unto the Lord,” and (1) to use it as a day of worship, religious instruction, of family culture, and of service to others, and as it strongly contends against the adverse influences that threaten the integrity of this blessed day, and (2) that we make a strong appeal to all of our churches and people to call our generation back to the proper observance of this fundamental order of Christian faith, that all people may enjoy one day out of seven as a day of rest and worship.

1973: Resolution On The Lord’s Day

Portland, Oregon

WHEREAS, We are seeing an accelerated secularization of Sunday in America, we reaffirm our belief that, for Christians, Sunday should be the Lord’s Day, a day for worship, spiritual renewal, and family life, and

WHEREAS, Many deacons, choir members, Sunday School teachers, and others of our people, including our youth, are facing, or may soon face, the need for choosing between their Sunday worship and Sunday work, we reaffirm our belief in each individual’s right to a time for worship according to the dictates of his conscience, and

WHEREAS, As Christians, we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection on this Day, and

WHEREAS, Sunday as a day of rest has made a unique contribution to our nation’s strength and life.

Therefore, Be it RESOLVED, That we humbly petition the governing bodies of states and municipalities to take primary responsibility for preserving the unique character of Sunday as a day for rest and human welfare, and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we urge all pastors, teachers, and leaders to provide instruction as to the true significance of this day, in its spiritual values, in its proper use, and in the abiding obligations we have under God’s moral law, and

Be it therefore further RESOLVED, That we instruct all agencies, boards, and committees to make due efforts to protect Sundays from scheduled activities and employ on Sunday only those personnel needed to carry on only absolutely necessary activities.

1968: Resolution On The Lord’s Day

Houston, Texas

WHEREAS, There is a growing disregard of Sunday as the Lord’s Day, and

WHEREAS, There is under consideration in the Congress of the United States a bill to fix certain national holidays on Monday, and

WHEREAS, Such a bill, if passed, will encourage further disregard of Sunday as the Lord’s Day,

Therefore, Be it RESOLVED, That we appeal for a proper and faithful Observance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day by our people.

1962: Resolution On Lord’s Day Observance

San Francisco, California

WHEREAS, There is a wide tendency in many communities toward a seven-day business week;

WHEREAS, The Supreme Court of the United States has recently made a far-reaching decision supporting the legality of a law setting aside a day of rest; and

WHEREAS, There are requests for the designation of Sunday as a day of worship by the laws of the land

THEREFORE, The Southern Baptist Convention requests the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs to assemble and disseminate full information on the developments and the values in this matter, and that it encourage a broad study and discussion of this information in the Convention so as to clarify the meaning of Baptist concern for religious liberty as it applies in this area; and that the Baptist Sunday School Board and the Christian Life Commission give attention as to the religious and ethical implications of this problem.

1936: Resolution On The Christian Sabbath

St. Louis, Missouri

1. That we renew our efforts to preserve the Christian sabbath and urge our people everywhere to abstain from purely secular and worldly engagements on the Lord’s day.

2. That we especially deplore the wide use of the radio for advertising and for flippant jazz entertainment on the Lord’s day, and we would favor legislation to prevent all Sunday advertising over the radio and all cheap vaudeville programs on Sunday.

1934: Resolution On The Lord’s Day

Fort Worth, Texas

The Southern Baptist Convention hereby reaffirms its devotion to the sanctity of the Christian Sabbath as a day of rest and worship, to be faithfully observed by all Christians in keeping with their Christian privileges and obligations, and to the civil Sunday as a day of rest and quiet for man and beast. The Convention would urge upon our people to “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy,” to abstain from secular employment and to assemble regularly and faithfully in the Lord’s House for worship, and would urge upon all public officials and private citizens for necessity and obligation for the enactment, maintenance and enforcement of all legislation necessary, as a matter of public morality, to safeguard Sunday against commercialization and to preserve Sunday as one of the most distinctive and most necessary features of our civic life.

1920: Resolution On The Lord’s Day

Washington, D.C.

WHEREAS, There is no Sunday closing law in Washington City; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention, in meeting assembled, requests its membership over the South to press upon their Congressmen the vital importance of observing the day as a civil institution in this critical period of our national history, and urging legislation on this pressing question in the District of Columbia.

1915: Resolution On The Lord’s Day

Houston, Texas

WHEREAS, At the meetings of this Convention from year to year there is a fearful exodus of messengers on the Lord’s day, crowding stations, filling trains and otherwise breaking up the rest and worship of the day for themselves and also for others; therefore,

RESOLVED, That it is the sense of this Convention that no messenger to this body should depart from its session on the Lord’s day, set apart by the Christian conscience of the centuries, the law of our country and the Word of God as a day of rest and religious worship.

Resolution On The Lord’s Day
Atlanta, Georgia – 1892

RESOLVED, That in the judgment of this Convention the opening of the Columbian Exposition on the Lord’s day would be an outrage upon the Christian sentiment of America which should be resisted by all proper influence and effort.

That a copy of this resolution be sent by our Secretaries to the Congressional Committee having the matter in charge.

1891: Resolution On The Lord’s Day

Birmingham, Alabama

WHEREAS, Great pressure is being brought to bear on the management of the World’s Fair to openly and officially desecrate the Lord’s day in full view of the whole world; therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptists, in convention assembled, representing a constituency of 1,235,765 Baptists, respectfully petition to the World’s Fair management to close its gates on Sunday, thus giving due respect to the God of nations and to that Christian sentiment that underlies our civilization.

RESOLVED FURTHER, That a copy of this preamble and resolutions be cordially forwarded from this Convention to the managers of the World’s Fair.

1882: Resolution On Sabbath Observance

Greenville, South Carolina

The Committee to whom was referred the communication from the Southern Presbyterian Church, touching the desecration of the Sabbath day, submit the following;

We have considered the subject of the communication and recommend that the Secretary of this Convention reply to the same, assuring that body,

First. That we in common with all law-loving, law-abiding, and Christian people, deprecate the widespread desecration of the Sabbath, as a day of physical rest and spiritual culture, and hail with pleasure all proper efforts to secure a better and a more general observance of the day.

Second. That when the proper time shall come we will recommend our people to unite with all law-abiding citizens in seeking, as citizens’ for such legislative enactments as will guarantee to all classes of society, the Sabbath as a day of recreation; and will give such protection as will enable all who may desire on that day to worship in forms and ways of their own choosing without hinderance or molestation.

Louisiana Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1860

It is our bounden duty either in times of prosperity or adversity, to bow down in humble submission to the chastening manifestations and decrees of Divine Providence, and to acknowledge the inscrutable wisdom and justness of His decrees — it now becomes us, after a season of general good health and comparative prosperity to recognize the same All-wise power and the Supreme Source of all blessings and enjoyments.

And as it has been customary in this State to observe a day of public Thanksgiving, therefore, I have thought proper to recommend that Thursday, 29th Day of November next, be set apart for that purpose, and suggest to persons of all creeds and denominations, the propriety of suspending on that day their usual business avocations, that it may be dedicated exclusively to the worship of Almighty God.

Given under my hand and the seal of the State, this 17th day of October, 1860, and of the Independence of the United States of America.

Thomas O. Moore.
Governor of Louisiana

The Infidel’s Sermon to the Pirates

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) spins an interesting tale of an Infidel, masquerading as a minister of the gospel, constrained by an island of pirates to preach a sermon. The Word of God proves “sharper than any two edged sword.” The story reminds me that the Bible’s unfailing truth does not depend on the skill of the speaker. The gospel itself stands as the “power of God unto salvation.”

A native of Sweden who had imbibed infidel views, had occasion to go from one port to another in the Baltic Sea. When he came to the place whence he expected to sail, the vessel was gone. On inquiring, he found a fishing boat going the same way, in which he embarked. After being for some time out to sea, the men observing that he had several trunks and chests on board, concluded he must be very rich, and therefore agreed among themselves to throw him overboard. This he heard them express, which gave him great uneasiness. However, he took occasion to open one of his trunks, which contained some books. Observing this, they remarked among themselves that it was not worth while to throw him into the sea, as they did not want any books, which they supposed were all the trunks contained. They asked him if he were a priest. Hardly knowing what reply to make them, he told them he was; and at this they seemed much pleased, and said they would have a sermon on the next day, as it was the Sabbath. This increased the anxiety and distress of his mind, for he knew himself to be as incapable of such an undertaking as it was possible for any one to be, as he knew very little of the Scriptures; neither did he believe in the inspiration of the Bible.

At great length they came to a small rocky island, perhaps a quarter of a mile in circumference, where was a company of pirates, who had chosen this little sequestered spot to deposit their treasures. He was taken to a cave, and introduced to an old woman, to whom they remarked that they were to have a sermon preached the next day. She said she was very glad of it, for she had not heard the Word of God for a great while. His was a trying case, for preach he must; still he knew nothing about preaching. If he refused, or undertook to preach and did not please, he expected it would be his death. With these thoughts he passed a sleepless night; and in the morning his mind was not settled upon anything. To call upon God, whom he believed to be inaccessible, was altogether vain. He could devise no way whereby he might be saved. He walked to and fro, still shut up in darkness striving to collect something to say to them, but could not think of even a single sentence.

When the appointed time for the service arrived, he entered the cave, where he found the men assembled. There was a seat prepared for him, and a table with a Bible on it. They sat for the space of half an hour in profound silence; and even then the anguish of his soul was as great as human nature was capable of enduring. At length these words came to his mind: “Verily, there is a reward for the righteous: verily, there is a God that judgeth in the earth.” He arose and delivered them; then others words presented themselves, and so on, till his understanding became opened, and his heart enlarged in a manner astonishing to himself. He spoke upon subject suited to their condition; the reward of the righteous, the judgments of the wicked, the necessity of repentance, and the importance of a change of life. The matchless love of God to the children of men had such a powerful effect upon the minds of these wretched beings, that they were melted into tears. Nor was he less astonished at the unbounded goodness of Almighty God, in thus interposing to save his spiritual as well as his natural life; and well might he exclaim, “This is the Lord’s doing and marvellous in our eyes.” Under a deep sense of God’s goodness, his heart became filled with thankfulness, which it was out of his power to express. What a marvellous change was thus suddenly brought about by Divine interposition! He who a little while before disbelieved in communion with God and the soul, became as humble as a little child; and they who were so lately meditating on his death, now were filled with love and goodwill towards each other, particularly towards him; manifesting affectionate kindness, and willing to render him all the assistance in their power.

The next morning they fitted out one of their vessels, and conveyed him whither he desired. From that time he became a changed man; from being a slave to the influence of infidelity, he was brought to be a sincere believer in the power and efficacy of the truth as it is in Jesus.

[How marvellous the providence of God, and the sovereignty of his grace! Who is he that has stepped beyond the range of Almighty love? or has sinned too much to be forgiven? Reader! are you an infidel? What would you do in a similar situation? What other doctrine than that of Scripture would benefit pirates? Certainly not your own. What would you like to teach your own children? Certainly not your own sentiments. You feel that you would not wish to hear your own offspring blaspheming God. Moreover, forgive us, if we declare our opinion that thou knowest that there is a God, though with thy lips thou deniest him. Think, we beseech thee, of thy Maker, and of his Son, the Saviour; and may Eternal love bring even thee to the Redeemer.

-By Charles Spurgeon

The Church Book

“I can worship God on my own,” he said. “I do not need the church as a crutch to help me in my spiritual life. If I want to know what God says, I have the Bible right here. I do not need anyone telling me what the Bible says. I can read it, study it, and learn it on my own. I have a personal relationship with Jesus.”

I do not know how many times I have heard this idea expressed by those who shun church attendance and corporate worship. The idea runs contrary to the Bibles teachings. Those who say they can read the Bible on their own, and do not need the church, must not be doing so. If they did, the Bible would drive them to church. The Bible is a church book.

If you open the Bible to the gospels and read the words of Jesus himself, you will see that the Son of God says, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) The entire Book of Acts stands as a testimony to the growth of the church as it spread from “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). You can’t read the Book of James and adhere to its words without the church (James 5:13). When you open the Bible, the church spills out.

The majority of the New Testament is comprised of letters written by the Apostle Paul to churches. In the opening of several of these letters he explicitly names the church to whom he addresses. For example, “The Church of God that is in Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2 & 2 Corinthians 1:2), “The Church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thessalonians 1:1 & 2 Thessalonians 1:1), and the “Churches of Galatia” Galatians 1:2. When Paul closes the letter to the Romans, he sends a greeting from “the whole church” (Romans 16:23). Even in Paul’s short little letter to Philemon, he specifically addresses the church that meets in his house (Philemon 2).

When Paul writes to individuals, Timothy and Titus, the full content of the letters involves the operation of the church. He tells Timothy, the pastor of the Church in Ephesus, how important it is for a pastor to care for “God’s Church” (1 Timothy 3:5) and gives him explicit guidelines on how to do so. Paul’s letter to Titus reads like a church planting instruction manual as Titus oversees the planting of new churches on the island of Crete (Titus 1:5).

When Paul writes to the Church at Ephesus, he explains that God’s plan of self revelation floes through the church (Ephesians 3:10). When he writes to the church at Philippi he commends and thanks the church for their partnership (Philippians 4:15). When he writes to the Church at Colossae he reminds them that Christ is the head and the church is his body Colossians 1:18. So seeking a relationship with Christ apart from the church is like trying to decapitate Jesus.

The entire Bible speaks of believers in community with others. The author of the Book of Hebrews writes, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) So like author Wayne Mack said, “Attempting to grow in Christ outside the church is like trying to swim without ever getting into the pool.”

The Bible ends with The Book of Revelation which is written to seven churches (Revelation 1:4) and in the last chapter Jesus says, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches.” (Revelation 22:16) The Bible, from beginning to end is a church book. How could anyone claim to read the Bible, and walk away without hearing the Word of God pointing him to the church?