Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Divided by Jesus

Exodus 8:23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people...

Luke 12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:

We often speak of the unity Jesus brings while failing to speak of the division.

There was division over who Jesus was.
John 7: 40-43 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him.

There was division over what Jesus did.
John 9: 15-16 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

There was division over what Jesus said.
John 10:17-19 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.

Monday, November 19, 2018

A New Generation, and other music links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

He sent his word

“He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” Psalm 107:20
What an effect a word from God can produce! Be it in reading; in hearing; on the knees; or in secret meditation; when a word drops from the Lord’s mouth with any divine power into the soul, what a change it produces! And nothing but this divine power can ever bring a poor sinner out of his miserable condition. When this comes, it does the work in a moment; it heals all the wounds which sin has made, and repairs all the breaches in the conscience that folly has produced. One word from God heals them all.
J. C. Philpot (1802 – 1869)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pearly White City

The words and music of The Pearly White City were written in 1902 by Arthur Forrest Ingler (1873-1935).[i] The hymn paints a wonderful picture of heaven from the book of Revelation – a “holy and beautiful” place for which the God’s people long. Biblical references or allusions include Revelation 1:9; 5:8-10; 14:13; 21:2; 21:4; 21:18; 22:3-5; and 22:15. According to some sources, this song was first introduced at the Metropolitan Church Association in Chicago, Illinois. The Metropolitan Church Association was a Holiness reaction within the Methodist Church against the move toward the Social Gospel.  The hymn looks to heaven, the holy city that John saw—the city of God, rather than the cities of the earth.  The rich and satisfied may find their delights in the cities of this earth, but the poor and afflicted saints of God find their joy in “watching, waiting, and longing, for the white city that’s soon coming down.”

1. There’s a holy and beautiful city
Whose builder and ruler is God;
John saw it descending from heaven,
When Patmos, in exile, he trod;
Its high, massive wall is of jasper,
The city itself is pure gold;
And when my frail tent here is folded,
Mine eyes shall its glory behold.

In that bright city, pearly white city,
I have a mansion, an harp, and a crown;
Now I am watching, waiting, and longing,
For the white city that’s soon coming down.

2. No sin is allowed in that city
And nothing defiling nor mean;
No pain and no sickness can enter,
No crepe on the doorknob is seen;
Earth’s sorrows and cares are forgotten,
No tempter is there to annoy;
No parting words ever are spoken,
There’s nothing to hurt or destroy.

3. No heartaches are known in that city,
No tears ever moisten the eye;
There’s no disappointment in heaven,
No envy and strife in the sky;
The saints are all sanctified wholly,
They live in sweet harmony there;
My heart is now set on that city,
And some day its blessings I’ll share.

4. My loved ones are gathering yonder,
My friends too are passing away,
And soon I shall join their bright number,
And dwell in eternity’s day;
They’re safe now in glory with Jesus,
Their trials and battles are past.
They overcame sin and the devil,[ii]
They’ve reached that fair city at last.

[i] The Pearly White City appeared as No. 14 in Burning Bush Songs, No. 1 (Chicago, IL: Metropolitan Church Association, 1902), under the title The City That’s Coming Down. “Rev. 21:2” was referenced under the title. Ingler was the musical editor of this book, and had other songs in it. The Joy-Bells of Canaan: or, Burning Bush Songs, No. 2 (Waukesha, WI: Metropolitan Church Association, 1905) contains at least nine songs written or arranged by Ingler.
[ii] Usually “tempter” in most modern printings.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The way is short

Below is an almost unreadable epitaph on a tombstone at the Isabell (Isbell) Chapel Cemetery at Sand Hill, Rusk County, Texas. The name on the tombstone is no longer visible.

The way is short, my friend,
That reaches out before us,
God’s tender heavens above us bend,
His love is smiling o’er us.
A little while is ours,
For sorrow or for laughter;
I’ll lay the hand you love in yours,
On the shore of the hereafter.

When I searched online to see if I had deciphered the reading correctly, I found it was part of a poem written by Mary Clemmer. The first four lines are on the stone at Isabell Chapel, and I found the four lines that come after.

Friday, November 16, 2018

In memory of Adelaide Vaughn (1915-2018)

Yesterday I moved my Mother’s name from next year’s sick and shut-in list – that I try to keep up for the East Texas Sacred Harp Convention – over to the Deceased list. “There is no discharge in that war” (Ecclesiastes 8:8).

Funeral services for Mrs. Adelaide Chapman Vaughn, 103, of Laneville, will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, November 17, 2018, at Smyrna Baptist Church with Brothers Charles Williams and Matthew Gholson officiating. Burial will follow in Holleman Cemetery under the direction of Crawford-A. Crim Funeral Home in Henderson. Family will receive friends 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, November 17, 2018, at Smyrna Baptist Church.

Adelaide Chapman, daughter of Robert Lee Chapman and Mariah Loutisha Holleman, was born on April 6, 1915 in the community of Oak Flat, Rusk County, Texas. She was the youngest of ten children. She joined Smyrna Baptist Church by profession of faith in 1933 and was baptized in the Stockman Spring by Elder W. G. Griffith. Adelaide married Charlie Leroy Vaughn on January 9, 1937 in Laneville, Rusk County, Texas. She passed away Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at her home. According to her hopes and desires, she avoided the nursing home and dodged the winter she hated to see coming.

Adelaide grew up on a farm, and knew the cotton culture all too well. As children “How tedious and tasteless the hours” was sometimes drafted by her and a sister to service their complaint of the thankless task of chopping cotton (and other like duties). She graduated from high school (11th grade) in 1934, married, raised children, kept grandchildren, sewed for various people, as well as her children and grandchildren. She was handy at many crafts and was an excellent cook. Her chicken-and-dressing was a notable favorite at local homecomings. Crosswords and Sudoku became favorite pastimes. She loved to read widely, from history to poetry, and often quoted poetry she had memorized in school. Her favorite poem was “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She could recite it verbatim until she was 101 years old. After that, she began to miss some words and phrases now and then!

Mother was born to singers, lived in a singing community, married a singer, and gave birth to singers. Her Great Uncle Joe Chapman (her grandfather’s brother) was a leading figure in the community Sacred Harp singings and keyed the music until his health no longer permitted him to participate. Her Uncle Joe Chapman (her father’s brother) was an active singer who also served as an area agent for the early Cooper editions of The Sacred Harp before his early death in 1912. “Daddy Bob” Chapman (her father) was also an active singer in his younger years, though some circumstances of his later life seem to have driven his primary singing venue to his front porch! Mother attended singings (Sacred Harp and “Little Book”) almost all her life, supported and cooked for singings – but never was a singer herself. She was hard of hearing at least from in her 40s, which progressively got worse. She wore hearing aids. At singings she was always a listener, and a pretty inconspicuous one at that. If you didn’t know her, you may gone to singings with her and never knew it.

When Mother was a young girl, her father would lay on the porch, leaning against an upended straight-back chair, singing Sacred Harp songs. He made some effort to teach her, but she said she just wanted to run and play. She was the “baby” of the family likely a little bit “spoiled.” Not paying attention as a girl, not singing as an adult, nevertheless the notes one of her favorite songs – one that her Daddy tried to teach her and probably never knew he accomplished, Return Again, No. 335 in The Sacred Harp – were indelibly etched in her memory. She might not sing at the singings, but she could (and would) sing at home “fa-fa-la-la-fa-fa-sol-fa-la; fa-fa-la-sol-fa-fa-fa” from memory into her 100s. She and I sang it together (words, too) at her house several times, sitting side by side in the easy chairs.

Mother’s three song choices for her funeral reflect some of the spectrum of her musical preferences and interest. A grandson will sing The Pearly White City. The congregation will sing What a Great Day, a song written by her late husband and daughter. Those in the congregation who know the “4-notes” will sing the notes of Return Again, and all the congregation will be invited to sing the words.

All who come will be welcome and appreciated. Those who can’t come will be respected and appreciated. We thank you all for your prayers and well wishes.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Good for Evil, Evil for Evil

In reference to Nabal, David almost rewarded evil for evil. (25:3-39)
Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb...Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him...Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good...And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the Lord, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil:

In reference to Saul, David rewarded good for evil. 1 Samuel 24:11-17 
Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it...And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.

Reward good for evil.
Psalm 38:20 They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.
Psalm 35:12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.
Proverbs 17:13 Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
1 Peter 3:9 not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
Matthew 5:44-46 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

Do not avenge. Leave that to God, who does not err in doing so.
Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

After GOD’S Own Heart

1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.[i]

Israel clamored for a king “like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5), and God gave them one – one after their own hearts. 1 Samuel 12:13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you.[ii] While waiting in Gilgal for Samuel, Saul began to lose hope, lose heart, and stood in the priest’s place to offer a burnt offering (1 Samuel 13:9). He later excused himself – Samuel didn’t come on time, the people were scattering, the Philistines were coming – so he “forced himself” and offered a burnt offering (13:11-12). Samuel the prophet pronounced against the kingdom of Saul. His kingdom would not continue (1 Samuel 13:13-14). God rejected Saul from being king (1 Samuel 15:10-23).

After this God told Samuel “fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.” (1 Samuel 16:1) The Lord said unto Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Saul was “from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” and “he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward” (1 Samuel 9:2; 1 Samuel 10:23). David was “the youngest, and… keepeth the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:11).

So God chose David “his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78:70-72).

David had a brave and courageous heart, one that trusted the Lord.

The oldest brother of David – Eliab, the one upon whom Samuel looked favorably and God first said this is not the one – accused David of “naughtiness of heart.” Even though Jesse sent David, Eliab thought him an unruly youth with officious intent. Soon, though, David was exhorting against faintheartedness, trusting the Lord to take the battle in hand and deliver the victory. His heart was able to embrace God in faith.

1 Samuel 17:28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
1 Samuel 17:32 And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. (Is there not a cause?...The Lord will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine…the battle is the Lord’s)

Do not I love Thee from my soul?
Then let me nothing love:
Dead be my heart to ev’ry joy,
Which Thou dost not approve.

Be dead my heart, to worldly charms,
Be dead to ev’ry sin;
And tell the boldest foe without
That Jesus reigns within. (Philip Doddridge)

David had a listening or attentive heart, one that could receive wise counsel.

When David’s heart was stirred within him to avenge himself of the churlish Nabal, Nabal’s wife Abigail approached him humbly with wise counsel. David received her blessed advice.

1 Samuel 25:31 that this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.
1 Samuel 25:32-33 And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: and blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.

Then shall I share a glorious part,
When grace hath well refined my heart,
And fresh supplies of joy are shed,
Like holy oil, to cheer my head. (Isaac Watts)

David had a tender, approachable, and contrite heart, one that could be smitten with grief and respond with repentance.

Whether a small incident like cutting off the bottom of Saul’s skirt, to the larger sins of numbering Israel, adultery with Bathsheba, and the of Uriah, David’s heart showed the capacity of contrition, godly sorrow, and repentance.

1 Samuel 24:5 And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.
2 Samuel 24:10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
2 Samuel 11:27 …But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. Psalm 51:3-4 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

O that I could repent!
With all my idols part,
And to thy gracious eye present
An humble, contrite heart.

A heart with grief oppressed
For having grieved my God,
A troubled heart that cannot rest,
Till sprinkled with thy blood.

Jesus, on me bestow
The penitent desire;
With true sincerity of woe
My aching breast inspire.

With softening pity look,
And melt my hardness down,
Strike with thy love’s resistless stroke,
And break this heart of stone! (Charles Wesley)

David had an abiding heart, one that accepted God’s decision and held its peace.

David wanted – had it in his heart – to build God a house, but he accepted God’s will and held his peace when he was not allowed to do so. He “abode” in the calling wherewith he was called and did not stubbornly rush ahead of God. He found contentment in the accomplishments of others (in this case Solomon).

1 Chronicles 28:2-3 Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: but God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name…

Oh, that my heart might dwell aloof
From all created things,
And learn that wisdom from above
Whence true contentment springs. (Frances Maria Cowper)

Concluding thoughts

Unlike his predecessor Saul, David had an open or receptive heart. In it, he could receive faith, trust, hope, counsel, rebuke, postponement, and rest in the will of God, the state in which he found himself.

We begin with a heart the Lord opens (Acts 16:14), a heart that believeth unto righteousness (Romans 10:10).

Oh, for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free;
A heart that’s sprinkled with His blood,
So freely shed for me.
Oh, for a heart submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer’s throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.

Oh, for an humble, contrite heart,
Believing, true, and clean,
Which neither life nor death can part
From Him that dwells within.
A heart in ev’ry thought renewed,
And full of love divine;
Perfect, and right, and pure, and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine. (Charles Wesley)

[i] Biblically, the heart denotes a person’s “center” – the locus of the moral, emotional, and intellectual activity.
[ii] Even after this, to the people Samuel said, 1 Samuel 12:20 “And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; … 24 only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.” (Cf. also Hosea 13:11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A man after his own heart

Q. What does God mean in describing David as a man after his own heart?

A. This phrase is mentioned in two texts of the Bible, one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.

1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

It seems many are troubled by the concept of David being “a man after God’s own heart” when they consider the grievous sins to which he succumbed. The phrase, though, is not a contrast between sinlessness and sinfulness – rather, it is primarily a scriptural contrast between Saul and David. Notice in each place, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, the context is the cancellation of Saul’s kingdom and God raising up David as king. Israel wanted a king “like all the nations,” in effect, one after their own heart. Saul stood head and shoulders physically above the rest of the people, and was literally a man they could “look up to.” When he was rejected from being king, God emphasized to Samuel that he was not choosing a man bases on his countenance, the height of his stature, or the outward appearance, “but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:1-13).