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John Knox is a weird figure. He was fierey and feirce, often praying for death and removal of enemies to the Gospel, such as bloody Mary. Making him even stranger is the fact that we don't know his birthday or even the year of his birth, though it is estimated between 1505 and 1514.

Mystery Man
We do know he was born about 15 miles from Edinburgh in a place called Haddington, but apart from that his early years are somewhat of a mystery. Historians disagree on a lot about Knox, and even details of his conversion is debated in speculation. So I think it's best to leave his myserious youth and find the man we do know about.

There is a record of him asking his wife to "read where [he] first cast [his] anchor" and she read from John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
This is probably the most we will truly know about this man's conversion to Christ.

Sixteenth Century Scotland
Reformed theology was sweeping through Scotland with Bibles being smuggled in and reformed theology entering universities. People were singing of God's grace and there were aleady a few notible preachers by the time of Knox.
In contrast the church was hanging people for such things as praying in Christ's name instead of Mary's, refusing to pray to saints or for breaking lent in an attempt to put down reformed theology. At the head of this was David Cardinal Beaton of St. Andrews.

Discipliship, Preacher & Slave
Knox was mentored by a guy called George Wishart, also serving as his protector. Wishart took Knox's broadsword off him after receiving information that he was to be arrested, ordering Knox to return home as Wishart's sacrifice 'should be enough'.
After his death, other supporters of Wishart managed to take revenge on Beaton for the burning of their mentor, and while he wasn't there at the killing Knox soon joined them only to be attackedby the queen's regent army. The men in the castle begged Knox to become their preacher and finally he accepted. For 1 year he preached to them as they held off against the queen's assaults but on 31st July 1547 they surrendered and were taken in chains to Rouen, before being sentenced to life as a slave on a ship.

Freedom & Fleeing
After Henry VIII's death Edward VI took the throne and his court negotiated the release of men like Knox. Back in England men like Hugh Latimer were preaching redemption by Christ alone and soon Knox was invited to preach for King Edward VI in Windsor Castle. After London he moved to Berwick-on-Tweed which was known as a sinful and corrupt city. Thus Knox moved away from friends of influence and the royal court.

this move did however bring him into the circles of Cuthbert Tunstall, the bishop who so vehemently hated William Tyndale and who had even burned English Bibles outside St. Pauls. Needless to say it wasn't a circle of friendship but of hostility.
This along with Edward VI's death and the coronation of Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary), meant that Knox had to flee Britainand found himself in Geneva and became a disciple and friend of John Calvin.

Back To Scotland / Back to Geneva / Back to Scotland
280 Christians were killed by queen Mary, many personal friends of Knox. But in 1555 the year Latimer & Ridley were burned, John Knox returned to Scotland with the goal of preaching Christ. During his time fearlessly preaching in Scotland he married Marjory Bowes. His time in Scotland didn't last long and soon he had to return to Geneva, where he stayed alongside Calvin from 1556-1559, when he returned once again to Scotland in boldness.

At this time, under his preaching many converted to Christ and statues of saints and of Mary were broken down. And the church declared that he was to be shot on sight if he kept preaching. He carried on regardless and the reformed truths swept across Scotland. Priests and peasants alike were repenting of sins and coming to faith in Jesus.

Old Age & Death
In old age he remarried after the death of his beloved wife. He preached his last sermon on November 9th 1572 when he was carried to the pulpit because he was to weak to walk. Two days after asking his wife to read from John 17 he was buried. Today if you go to the south side of St. Giles Cathedral's car park to number 23, you will be parking you car on top of his grave.

John Bunyan is most known for his work 'The Pilgrim's Progress'. But his testimony is also pretty interesting and gives a great insight into the man who wrote one of the greatest stories of English fiction.

Early Life
John was born in Bedford on 28th Nov 1628 to Thomas & Margaret. While he was 'schooled' we don't really know to what extent, but he took the career path of becoming a 'tinker' which was a semi-skilled job and was often a job that brought a lot of travelling around. Basically a tinker mended pots. Tinkers back then were regarded much like gypsies and travellers and held in low esteem; even while most people would be queing up with broken and damaged pots.

From 1644-1647 during the civil war, John served in the Parliamentary army but afterwards returned to tinkering. In his autobiography Bunyan writes that this period of his life was full of sin, and John often considered that he had been so abandoned to sin that he was concerned he may have already committed the unpardonable sin.

Around the age of 20/21 John married (we don't know her name) and went on to have 4 children; Mary, Elizabeth, John & Thomas. Mary was born blind which added a burden to him and was a huge concern during his imprisonment.

"Such treasure by the roadside!" Thats how William H. Harding describes what took place in Bedford as John Bunyan listened into the conversation of a group of women. Bunyan said of this:

"Their talk was about a new birth, the work of God in their hearts; also how they were convinced of their miserable state by nature. They talked how God had visited their souls with His love in the Lord Jesus, and what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and supported against the temptations of the devil.
And methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance of gracein all they said, that they were to me as if they had found a new world
And methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance of grac ein all they said, that they were to me as if they had found a new world..."

While The Holy Spirit had been working in Bunyan prior to this, Bunyan's life took a new course under the influence of Pastor Gifford and furthered by Luther's Comments on Galatians.
In 1655 a preacher was born.

England in this era had different laws, and one such was a need for a licence to preach the Bible. John did not have one, and it would be 17 years before he was granted one. But he was popular and hundreds would come to hear his expounding of Scripture. When one of his contemporaries, John Owen, was asked by King Charles why he, a great scholar, went to hear an uneducated tinker preach, Owen said, "I would willingly exchange my learning for the tinker's power of touching men's hearts."

When he was 30 His wife died, but one year later he remarried. Yet one more year after that he was arrested. Elizabeth, his 2nd wife miscarried under the stress of his arrest but over the next 12 years cared for her step children alone as though they were her own.

Bunyan was constantly plagued by guilt and worry and often considered signing an agreement that he would never preach again so that he could go home and provide for his family. He wrote:

The parting with my Wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as the pulling of the Flesh from my bones; and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great Mercies, but also because I should have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries and wants that my poor Family was like to meet with should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all I had besides; O the thoughts of the hardship I thought my Blind one might go under, would break my heart to pieces.

But he chose a clear conscience and to follow the call of God upon his life rather than freedom with a soiled conscience.

He was finally released in 1672 and was given a licence to preach as the pastor of the church in Bedford. This is where he faithfully ministered for another 16 years, until his death.
In 1675-1676 he was imprisoned again, and it was at this time he penned The Pilgrim's Progress, a book that has had a huge influence on Christians since then. After his release he was never imprisoned again, even though his church was continually raided and members of his congregation were arrested again and again.

In 1688 at age 60 John fell sick and died.

His last sermon had been preached on 19th August 1688 just 12 days before his death. And his last words from the pulpit were "Live like the children of God, that you may look your Father in the face with comfort another day."

One of the guys from Church History that I've loved has been Hugh Latimer (1485 - 1555), who was bishop of Worcester. Today I thought I'd give a quick overview of this mans life.

His Conversion
Hugh Latimer was a very zealous roman catholic who strongly opposed any Lutheran or reformed teachings.
In 1524 a protestant by the name of Thomas Bilney (who afterwards was martyred for his faith) took a strange liking to Latimer & on one occasion asked Latimer to 'hear' his confession.

Thinking that he was going to see the victory of bringing such a man back to the roman catholic church, Latimer accepted the invitation & met up with Bilney. Thomas Bilney basically knelt in front of Latimer and gave his testimony of Christ.
Speaking of this occasion Latimer writes:

"By his confession I learned more than before in many years. So from that time forth I began to smell the word of God, and forsook the school-doctors and such fooleries."

Accused of Heresy & a Recanting
Even as quick as one year after his conversion to Christ, Latimer was investigated by the bishop of Ely who suspected him of having Lutheran tendencies He was reassessed again in 1531 & in 1532 was again accused of heresy & only escaped the heretic's fate by a full recantation.

Back to Preaching the Reformed Faith
His recantation didn't last long & when under King Edward VI the church in England became protestant, Latimer began preaching twice every Sunday. In his 1st sermon he hit on a theme that was to be his main call to England through the remainder of his life; a cry to London to repent of covetousness.
During this time Latimer was often to be found preaching before King Edward, for whom he did not water his messages down.

His Sermon StyleLatimer's sermons were talked, and since he would preach for a couple of hours he would use humour to help both himself & his hearers. He is said to have been simplistic & direct with burning zeal & humanity, along with an inexhaustible supply of funny stories & incidents that he noted down throughout his life among people.

His Martyrdom
Edward's reign lasted only six years and when he died, 'bloody Mary' took the throne, undone Edwards protestant reforms & began exterminating protestants, killing more than 300 men, women & children over her short 5 year reign.
Their crime was simply that they held the reformed faith; that justification was by faith alone, apart from works & mass etc...

Latimer who had been in & out of prison many times was arrested, imprisoned, & questioned often by roman catholic committees to which he continually responded with the Word of God.
He did not recant this time even under the threat of death, and on 16/10/1555, alongside Nicholas Ridley, he was brought out to be burned at the stake. As the flames were lit Latimer spoke his famous words:

"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man: we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

Both men died martyrs for Jesus, faithful & worthy to receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

My laptop has been woeful the past few days, crashing and freezing and so I was mid-backing-everything up getting ready to do a system restore when i noticed the available update to Windows 10 Anniversary. And figured lets go for it.

It downloaded no problem but once i hit the restart of the laptop to install it, things got worryingly slow.

For 3 hours it sat with the wee dots spinning in a circle telling me that it was installing updates and not to switch off - but stayed at 0%. Finally it moved to 1% and then hour after hour up to 8% before I went to bed. This was from roughly 4pm - 11:30pm

Anyway I briefly considered switching it off and hoping for the best but at the install point i figured no way, i could be left with a blank chunk of plastic. So I went to bed!

Wake up the next morning and it is all updated fine and dandy! Working brilliant and so far smooth as my father in laws baldy head.

If you are updating and it is slow hang in there and just go to bed.

I read somewhere about cleaning drivers and multiple other things to do before running the update, all after i'd started mine. So maybe it may be a good idea to google someone more tech savy and see what they say...

I think it was 2 years ago I surprisingly ended up in my old primary school. It had been shut down years ago and used to store equipment in the main hall. The rest of the rooms however had fallen to vandalism and disrepair.

I didn't overly enjoy my primary school days, spending most of them being bullied and put down by pupils and teacher(s) alike. So if i'm honest the images I took while back in the building probably ring more true to my experience attending there as a child almost 20 years ago.
Thankfully my experience was mostly verbal, however i know others were locked in cupboards and some even beaten by the then headmistress.

No child should be picked on, certainly not by teachers. No child should have a teacher call them to the front and mock facial features or ridicule them for having a soft nature. So walking around brought back memories. yeh that's how to describe it - memories!

In contrast the building is now owned by the Boys Brigade an organisation I did love at primary school age and met life long friends there. It is great to pass it and see what they have done with the place and that it is being used to build young boys and men up rather than cripple their souls...

All kids are very different, but given the similar backgrounds that brothers and sisters have you would think there'd be huge similarity between them. But most parents will hugely disagree.

Take my 4 for example in them you will find a mix of timidness, selfconfidence, sensitivity, cheek, messer, adventurer, careful, careless, lazy, energetic, quietness, loudness... and a bunch of other characterisitics i would love to mix up and share out evenly across them all.

We are all different and that's a great thing. The differences make life interesting, they certainly make the home interesting, but the one trait I would love to drum into my children's heads and into my own is 'to be nice to one another'.