Friday, April 28, 2006

Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 - "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Romans 8:28 is an anchor of hope for the Christian that someone has called "a soft pillow for a tired heart." This verse alone will take a lifetime for us just to begin to comprehend it. Here are four implications about God that must be true in the light of Romans 8:28. I believe the rest of the Bible will bear them out as well.

1. God is immutable (unchanging), for if He were constantly changing how could we "know that all things work together for good."

2. God is sovereign and all-powerful, else He could not work all things together for good.
3. God is compassionate, else He would not work all things together for good.
4. God is determinate (having a definite counsel and purpose), else He would not work all things together for good to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Saints above and saints below

"To live above with saints in love, O that will be the glory. But to live below with saints we know, O that's a different story!" -- author unknown

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

This day in 1800

On this day, April 25, 1800, William Cowper, a brilliant English poet, passed from the walks of this life. He who wrote lines that move us in many ways. One of his most famous is:

"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;"

His mind was oft troubled. He wrote these lines "Damned below Judas; more abhorred than he was", "during a period of insanity".

Though distressed with frequent periods of melancholy, he had a humorous side as well:

"Hair, wax, rouge, honey, teeth, you buy,
A multifarious store!
A mask at once would all supply,
Nor would it cost you more."

Other of his great poems include:

"There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins"

"Oh! for a closer walk with GOD,
A calm and heav'nly frame"

Monday, April 24, 2006

On April 24 in 1649

On this day in 1649, the assembly of the province of Maryland passed the Maryland Toleration Act. From our vantage point in 2006, the "Toleration Act" seems pretty intolerant! While this law made it a crime to jeer or ridicule others "in a reproachfull manner relating to matter of Religion", the death penalty could be enforced on anyone who denied the Trinity. Nevertheless, in its day the "Toleration Act" offered more religious freedom to the citizens of Maryland than possessed by those in England.

*Note: Yale's Avalon Project gives the date as September 21st.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Saturday, April 22, 2006

King David goes to Keilah

I Samuel 23:1-14 (excerpts in order to save space) - Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah...Therefore David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. And David's men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines? Then David enquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand. So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah...And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars...Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard?...And the LORD said, He will come down...And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up. Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go...And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.

During the period in which David was avoiding King Saul, David received a message that the Philistines were attacking the city of Keilah (a city of the tribe of Judah, David's tribe; Josh. 15:44). David inquired of the Lord whether to go up and fight against the Philistines. God gave a definite message that he should go. So it is quite evident that the action of David and his men to go to this city and fight was the will of God. David was doing God's will. The events that follow teach us some lessons about doing God's will.

Verse 3 - Doing God's will does not guarantee fearlessness. Though the men of David knew it was God's will, they were still afraid. They needed reassuring (v. 4).

Verses 3,4 - Doing God's will does not mean we will go where we want to go. Sometimes faith requires us to step out and go places that would not be those of our preference.

Verses 7-13 - Doing God's will does not exempt us from problems and troubles. David and his men had just fulfilled what God told them to do. Then they heard that Saul knew they were shut up in a city and was planning to come after them.

Verse 12 - Doing God's will does not mean we will be appreciated. Though David and his men had just delivered the citizens of Keilah (of his own tribe) from the Philistines, these same citizens would have no qualms about delivering them up to Saul.

Verses 5,14 - Doing God's will DOES promise us ultimate success. David was never captured by Saul and God set him on the throne as He had promised through His prophet Samuel. (cf. I Samuel 16:13; II Kings 2:11; Romans 8:28; et al.).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

That Old Time Religion

The following is an excerpt from an article by Mike McInnis in Issue 14 of Volume 4 of the Grace Gazette, found on Grace Chapel of O'brien, Florida web site.

'I heard a song on the radio just the other day which said, "I’d rather be an old time Christian, than anything I know." It reminded me of another song which seems to be popular from time to time among many which says, "Gimme’ that old time religion, gimme’ that old time religion, gimme’ that old time religion, it’s good enough for me". Most people pat their foot and sing along as their mind travels back to some pleasant memory of childhood. Maybe they remember some all day meeting or dinner on the grounds or some such fond reminiscence. Such recollections may be precious but are generally only an exercise of the flesh. Man’s religious mind can be easily stirred by such nostalgic thoughts and his desires for "old time religion" most often are fulfilled by recreating such exercises or revisiting the sites where such memories were given birth...Here in the south, (the Bible belt if you will) religion of one sort or another has always played a big part in people’s lives. Why almost everybody, in past generations, was raised to go to church on Sunday: especially Easter Sunday. It is such a warm tradition that causes the minds of the more mature folk to be drawn back to a simpler place and time. Sadly, many confuse such traditions and memories with the reality of following CHRIST. When they desire "old time religion" they only desire to go back a certain number of years. Some are satisfied with the forties, some the nineteenth century, or some who really desire to go back may define "old time" as coming from the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. But in reality the basis for the faith once delivered to the saints must go back two thousand years.'

I don't think I've read anyone who puts it exactly this way before. Perhaps it is true that more of our thoughts of "that old time religion" are just good and fond memories of the past rather than a real desire for the faith that is built on the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets. That's something to think about! To read the entire article
click here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Preach the Word

II Timothy 4:2 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."

Preach the word with confidence, because it is inspired. II Timothy 3:16,17

Preach the word with fear, because we must answer to God. II Timothy 4:1
Preach the word with power, because evil times will come. II Timothy 4:3,4

Monday, April 17, 2006

Pine Grove Sacred Harp Singing

When: Sunday, April 23, 2006

Where: Pine Grove Church
County Road 364
Henderson, Texas

Time: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Dinner on the ground)

2000 Cooper Revision

For more info:
John/Emmie Morris

For a map: click here

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A King's Prayer

II Chronicles 14:11 And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. [Read verses 9 through 12 for the context.]

Asa's prayer was fervent and sincere, he "cried unto the LORD his God." Asa's prayer was personal, "unto the LORD his God" and not directed somewhere else or to someone else. Asa's prayer was specific, "help us, O LORD." Outnumbered two to one, he didn't beat around the bush. Asa's prayer was believing: "for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God..." Asa's prayer was answered: "So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled (v. 12)."

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Jesus is risen. He's alive!

Jesus was killed on a cross, sealed in a tomb, but not stilled! He is alive. He is risen.

Upon the cross Christ hung and died,
And poured on us blood from His side.
He died to save us from our sin,
And make us clean and pure within.

Three hours of darkness veiled the land;
The temple's veil was rent in twain.
Christ died a-shouting victory,
"Tis finished" -- redemption's complete.

They placed Him in a borrowed tomb,
And sealed Him for His final doom.
The stone and guards were but in vain,
For they could not God's Son contain.

Jesus fulfilled three nights and days,
Then He arose and left the grave.
"He is not here," the angel said,
"Why seek ye Him among the dead?"

He's seated now at God's right hand;
Waiting 'til He shall come again.
He's interceding for us there,

And helps us with our feeble prayer.

Long Meter. (© 1993, by author) permission granted for use with proper credit of author and a suggested mention of this site.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Inter-church fellowship

The salutations found in the closing verses of several New Testament epistles should inform some of our understanding of inter-church fellowship. I cannot help but be impressed with the Christians' knowledge of one another across the Roman empire (without planes, trains, automobiles or telephones, television, and the internet) -- and beyond that, the affection they had for one another and the esteem in which they held one another. Contrast that with the apparent complacency and indifference in our modern churches, often found within no more distance than one county, when people in "sister" churches across town don't know one another -- sometimes even within a local church if it is a large one.

Romans chapter 16 is filled with greetings. We cannot help being amazed by Paul's acquaintance with all these people. But we might fail to grasp that the persons mentioned must have also been well acquainted with one another. These different ones that Paul, Peter and others saluted and wanted to salute others apparently made connections in person, for they were to greet one another with a holy kiss. Phebe was a servant of the church at Cenchrea, yet she probably missed a lot of her own church's services while carrying a letter to the saints at Rome (Romans 16:1). Certainly she was engaged in the work of the Lord, but she also was "away from her post" at her home church. To me these examples and the practice of the New Testament church do not fit well into the "you must always attend your own church services" model that some strenuously advocate. Surely this is the norm -- service to the Lord through our local assembly. But if we draw up within ourselves -- and many of us have -- we won't look like the New Testament churches and we won't know anyone to greet!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

I had thought to write something on the so-called "Gospel of Judas", but haven't gotten to it. In the mean-time, I found two blogs that seem to give some good information about it.

The Gospel of Judas et al.---Part One

The Gospel of Judas--- Part Two

Saturday, April 08, 2006


"When we hold to a strict ‘one true church’ principle some inconsistencies arise. We are forced to draw up detailed lists of what is acceptable doctrine and practice and what is not. Obviously some things are clearly un-Biblical and should not be tolerated in the Lord’s house. But many things are not so clear. For example: how do we determine that feet washing is optional and acapella singing is not. How do we decide when to declare non-fellowship with a group of churches and then some time later drop the bars and receive each other again. If we are true to the ‘one true church’ principle many ordinations, constitutions, and baptisms would have to be re-examined..."

I found the above thought-provoking comments on another blog, and am posting here for you all to think on.

I'm posting a link, but I hoping for comments on the part posted above rather than the entire blog:

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Myth, Mystery and Madness

According to Harlan Coben, New York Times bestselling author, "Dan Brown is my new must-read. I loved this book. The Da Vinci Code is fascinating and absorbing-perfect for history buffs, conspiracy nuts, puzzle lovers, or anyone who appreciates a great, riveting read." Collin Hansen says that with the Da Vinci Code, Brown "captured the coveted number one sales ranking at, camped out for 32 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller List and inspired a one-hour ABC news special." A film based on the book, starring Tom Hanks, is scheduled for release in May 2006.

The Wikipedia online encyclopedia states, "The Da Vinci Code is a novel written by American author Dan Brown and published in 2003 by Doubleday Fiction…The plot of the novel involves a conspiracy by the Catholic Church to cover up the true story of Jesus. This implies that the Vatican consciously knows it is living a lie, but does so to keep itself in power. The novel has helped generate popular interest in speculation concerning the Holy Grail legend and the role of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity. Fans have lauded the book as creative, action-packed and thought-provoking. Critics have attacked it as inaccurate and poorly written, and decry the many negative implications about the Catholic Church." Michael Gleghorn further enlightens us: "The story begins with the murder of the Louvre's curator. But this curator isn't just interested in art; he's also the Grand Master of a secret society called the Priory of Sion. The Priory guards a secret that, if revealed, would discredit biblical Christianity. Before dying, the curator attempts to pass on the secret to his granddaughter Sophie, a cryptographer, and Harvard professor Robert Langdon, by leaving a number of clues that he hopes will guide them to the truth…in Brown's novel, the [Holy] Grail is not the cup allegedly used by Christ at the Last Supper. It's rather Mary Magdalene, the wife of Jesus, who carried on the royal bloodline of Christ by giving birth to His child! The Priory guards the secret location of Mary's tomb and serves to protect the bloodline of Jesus that has continued to this day!

The book might be riveting as a mystery fiction, but it appears that Dan Brown has also been trying to "sell" it as truth. Some of the things for which Brown seems to claim historicity are: A marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene; The superiority of the Gnostic Gospels over the Canonical Gospels (Matt, Mark, Luke, John); That Jesus' earliest followers did not believe He was divine; The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were changed under the command of Constantine; The deity of Jesus was devised by the Council of Nicea in the fourth-century. Someone said that according to Brown, "almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false!"

Early copies of the Gospels - as much as a hundred years before the council of Nicea - do not show evidence of the supposed embellishment. AND early copies of parts of John's Gospel are available. John's gospel has strong declarations of Jesus as God - significantly before the council of Nicea or before Constantine had an opportunity (supposedly) to tamper with the Gospels. Pre-Nicene church fathers affirm the deity of Christ. For example, Ignatius wrote of "our God, Jesus the Christ." There is also testimony of non-Christians showing that Christians believe Jesus was God. It can be established satisfactorily that early Christians worshipped Jesus Christ as their Lord and God.

Some good reading to get the rest of the story is Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History and Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Asking by Darrell Bock. Bock believes "Da Vinci" is properly fictitious entertainment rather than factual history of the Christian faith.

I found
Redeeming the Da Vinci Code, written by Michael Gleghorn, to be very helpful, and my comments are greatly indebted to his online article.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Holy Bible

The Bible, as described by an anonymous writer

This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.

Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's charter. Christ is its subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet.

Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is given to you in life, will be open in the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy precepts.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ichabod's thoughts on tunes from 1811

"Much has been said about the style of Musick sung now-a-days, and indeed when we compare the tunes now made use of with those of the good old times of Billings, and a few others since him, I think they stand no test at all... they are miserable, dull, stupifying things, and no more comparable to New-Jerusalem, Montgomery, Edom and All-Saints New, than the slow movement of an ox is to the brisk ambling of a horse. I have heard a great deal said about expression, proper modulation, true portamento, with affetuoso, condolora, and diatonios, with an abundance of more such nonsence, which nobody understands, and none but fools make use of. Now, Sir, away with all such stuff, and other flummery about the Science of musick -- 'Tis all mere chips and porridge! But, Oh, when I listen to the ecstatic strains of Montgomery, I am carried away with rapture, particularly at the treble solo in the words, 'Long for a cooling stream...' -- Here are discovered the wonderful ingenuity of the author together with his delicate and devotional feelings. Again what real lover of harmony can but admire the sweet warbling notes of New-Jerusalem...where every part goes on independent of the rest in ananimating confusion of dellightful sounds which fashionable fools call 'jingle,' but which I call the very criterion of good psalmody. Here is heard none of your disgusting expression, none of your crescendo and diminuendo, but all is most elevating and delightful. Who is not at once entranced at hearing performed! How bewitching, with a gentle squeeze of the voice upon each thrilling slur, terminating in a pensive nasal twang! How often have I been transported when listening to the angelic counter of Edom? -- And again what sort of melancholy possessed when Calvary has been performed to the words of Watts' Funeral Thought! My flesh is gone over with goose-pimples!...let us adopt the old tunes -- place suitable leaders over each Singing Society and keep out every scientific intruder. -- We may then hope to have the true, rational, and genuine music once more heard in our Churches."

-- Ichabod Beetlehead *****from the Columbian Centinel, Boston, 1811 [Also in William Billings of Boston (1975) by McKay & Crawford]

Thanks to Thomas Malone on the fasola listserve for this.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Sovereign God

Revelation 5:1-14

Keep silence, all created things,
And wait your Maker's nod;
My soul stands trembling while she sings
The honors of her God.
Life, death, and hell, and worlds unknown,
Hang on His firm decree;
He sits on no precarious throne,
Nor borrows leave to be.

Chained to His throne a volume lies,
With all the fates of men,
With every angel's form and size
Drawn by th' eternal pen.
His providence unfolds the book,
And makes His counsels shine;
Each opening leaf, and every stroke,
Fulfils some deep design.

My God, I would not long to see
My fate with curious eyes,
What gloomy lines are writ for me,
Or what bright scenes may rise.
In Thy fair book of life and grace
May I but find my name,
Recorded by Thy sovereign grace
Beneath my Lord, the Lamb!

Isaac Watts-1709

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Singing at Madisonville

3rd Annual Southeast Texas Singing

Date: Saturday, April 8, 2006, d.v.

Location: Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church
FM 1452 Madisonville, Texas

Time: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Book: 1991 Denson Revision
For more info: Kevin Powell