Saturday, August 29, 2009

We would see Jesus

"We have no fellowship with the “unfruitful works of darkness” and find neither comfort nor help in any advice or counsel given by the men of this world regardless of their sincerity or religious distinctions. “Sir, we would see Jesus.” " (John 12:21) – Mike McInnis, Grace Gazette, Volume VII, Issue 34

I would see Jesus when the flow’rs
Of joy adorn my way;
When sunshine and when hope surround
My path from day to day.
When friends I cherish most are near,
And hearts encircle mine.
Then Father would I turn from all,
To lean alone on Thine.

(author unknown)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

God's Divine Governance

Speaking of his trials, Job says, "But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him." (Job 23:13-14)

Psalm 105:25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.

All things are encompassed within God's governance of His universe. Otherwise, some things would be occuring outside of His Divine governance. There is always some element that certain things that are wrong for us according to His precepts, are not wrong for God. For example, God (as sovereign and creator) may take life/kill where we may not. Examples of this abound in the Scriptures. And there are a few times God is portrayed as "causing" something that might "seem" sinful (but is not). As Gordon Clark writes, "The Jews ought not to have demanded Christ's crucifixion. It was contrary to the moral law. But God decreed Christ's death from the foundation of the world." Or, attributing David's numbering of Israel to both God and the Devil. Or, for example, the lying of the lying prophets in I Kings 22 is attributed to the will and definitive affirmation of God. To simply believe this story exactly as Micaiah tells it might land one in hot water!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Word today

trusty (plural trusties) noun. a well-behaved and trustworthy convict to whom special privileges are granted.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Songs in the Night

Songs in the Night By Mabel Berry

What if the skies are sometimes darkened,
And sorrow like drops must fall;
Or, if the song of night be silenced:
God's love and mercy sweetens all.

As woeful gloom and deepened shadows
O'ercome the fearful, trembling heart,
This weakened life my Father knoweth,
And my sorrows bears a part.

And should the glorious dawn awaken,
Upon anxious eyelids which have not slept,
O'er the sorrows of Mary and Martha,
My loving Savior, "Jesus wept."

What, though the body aged and weary,
The night seem long with care and pain;
I would lift the heart and cease my weeping;
His chastening hand works greater gain.

Then let the heavy eyelids awaken;
Oh faithless be still and know;
Let there be no hopeless sighing:
My Father's love ordained so!

Though oft this sinful world astound me,
And naught but wickedness appear
'Tis yet O'er filled with His goodness;
May this blest fact dispel all fear.

Dear Father, I'll look up this morning,
With heart O'er filled with love and praise;
'Tis in love, Thy dear hand chastens;
I'll give Thee thanks for gloomy days.

(Written circa 1999)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Southwest Texas Sacred Harp

The Fall Session of the Southwest Texas Convention (yes, I know it's not "fall", but it's how the 5th Sundays "fall") will be held Saturday & Sunday, August 29-30, 2009 at the Austin Waldorf School on 8700 S. View Rd. in Austin, Texas (d.v.).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Five Smooth Stones

And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. I Samuel 17:40

“As David chooses five smooth stones to be used in the task before him we see CHRIST stooping:

HE chose five smooth stones. CHRIST is the ONE who selects those HE will send with the gospel message just as surely as HE chose those whom HE would have to hear it. “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Rom 10:15)

“HE chose five smooth stones. CHRIST does all things according HIS purpose and nothing occurs by chance. David no doubt knew that Goliath had three sons and a brother who must be ultimately slain so he was merely making ready for that eventuality. (See II Sam.21:15-22) Those whom CHRIST appoints unto this task are sent with a specific message for a specific people even though each is sent to openly proclaim the truth of GOD. HE has a multitude which HE has appointed and is dependent upon no single one. (See I Sam. 14:6)

“HE chose five smooth stones. The LORD equips and prepares those whom HE sends. Stones are not naturally smooth. However when the LORD places them in a brook where they are tumbled and abraded against one another the passing of time wears off the rough edges. Some would dare to go into battle with unproven armor or that which is supplied by the learning of the flesh but GOD is pleased to prepare HIS stones and in the furnace of trial and affliction to teach them that all of their righteousness is HIS alone. GOD does not choose men based on their suitability for a task but rather HE is the ONE who makes them suitable. Those who are made suitable for this task are not the most eloquent nor the most learned as judged by men but those who are taught that all of their strength comes from HIM.

“HE chose five smooth stones. Stones are of little to no value. They have no power nor skill of their own let alone the ability to carry out any task. All of their usefulness is brought forth by the ONE who is pleased to use them as instruments of HIS glory. They can add nothing to the task at hand to which they are sent but are simply objects in the hand of HIM who slays giants and destroys principalities according to HIS own design.

“No giant can stand when CHRIST who chooses a stone and puts it in HIS sling lets it go with unfailing aim. It always finds its mark due to the skill of the SLINGER.”

– Excerpt from "Five Smooth Stones", by Mike McInnis, Grace Gazette, Volume VII, Issue 33

Friday, August 21, 2009


I would like to say thanks to those who helped with the "On the Road to Remember" Tour last night.

National CUE and Monica Caison for adding Henderson, Texas to their national tour stop
Tractor Supply for providing the location and electricity
Missing persons' family members who attended
The media who came and covered the event
Simmons A/C and Heating of Henderson for donating ice
Harris Printing for printing discounted posters
Local stores who allowed us to post the event
McMurray Signs for making a discounted banner
Jonathan Rhodes of the Sheriff's Department for speaking
Matt Gholson, pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church of Henderson for the closing prayer
Cal Riley and Steel Country Band for playing for the benefit
EVERYONE who came

Thank you.

(If I left anyone out, please forgive me and let me know so I can add you.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Missing persons tour today

Missing persons tour comes to Henderson, TX Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. The On the Road to Remember tour will be held in the tent in front of Tractor Supply in the Henderson Plaza Shopping Center on US Hwy 79 South.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Poet John Byrom, rhyming about the musical rivalry of the composers Giovanni Bononcini and George Frederic Handel, called them Tweedledum and Tweedledee:

Some say, that Signor Bononcini,
Compared to Handel's a mere ninny;
Others aver, that to him Handel
Is scarcely fit to hold a candle.
Strange! that such high dispute should be
'Twixt Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

This is apparently the origin of the terms, or the earliest known use. Possibly more commonly known is the use in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Glorying Only In The Cross

God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Galatians 6:14

"I cannot, and, God helping me, I will not, while the Lord gives me strength to open my poor mouth, but speak well of love in God and the Holy Spirit, for it was He that laid hold of me in my mad career of sin, put a cry into my heart to cry unto God, and stopped me from going about to establish a righteousness of my own. His invisible hand kept me from being my own murderer. He revealed in my heart pardoning blood and IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS; and some scores of times, when the enemy has come into my poor soul with such a tremendous flood of awful blasphemies against the Holy Trinity, especially against the Holy Spirit, that I have been sunk so low that at times I could see no more hope that God would ever appear in love and mercy for me than He would appear for devils, He has, bless His dear Name, lifted up again a glorious standard, and brought me up again out the horrible pit, and set my feet again upon the Rock of ages."

John Warburton (1776–1857), English Baptist, as quoted in Shreveport Grace Church Bulletin - August 16, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fair Trade

(This has long been among my favorite jokes)

A preacher was making his rounds on a bicycle, when he came upon a little boy trying to sell a lawn mower. "How much do you want for that mower?" asked the preacher.

"I just want enough money to go out and buy a bicycle," said the little boy.

After a moment of consideration, the preacher asked, "Will you take my bike in trade for it?"

The little boy asked if he could try it out first, and, after riding the bike around a little while, said, "Mister, you've got yourself a deal."

The preacher took the mower and began to try to crank it. He pulled and pulled on the rope with no response from the mower. The preacher called the little boy over and said, "I can't get this mower to start."

The little boy said, "That's because you have to cuss at it to get it started."

The preacher said, "I'm a minister, and I can't cuss. It's been so long since I've cussed that I don't even remember how to cuss."

The little boy looked at him happily and said, "Just keep pulling on that rope. It'll come back to ya."

Friday, August 14, 2009

6 dead, 3 still missing

The following story caught my eye as being in the same city where I order Benjamin Lloyd's Primitive Hymns hymn book: Residents on edge as 9 women vanish from N.C. city.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Landmark Baptist survey

Several years ago, I conducted an "unaffiliated Landmark Baptist Church survey". I worked on it and finally quit - there is really no end to something like this. After weeding out duplicates and/or churches for which I discovered some denominational affiliation, I came up with a total of 1283 churches.** I compiled no actual membership statistics for these churches, but, based on the average size of churches from known landmark Baptist statistics (ABA, BMAA, etc.) the membership of these churches should be approximately 200,000. (155 is the number I used for the average)

I have also identified 35 associations that hold Landmark ecclesiology - 3 general associations, 1 state association, and 31 unaffiliated local associations (the 3 general and 1 state also have local associations affiliated with them). In these 35 associations I have identified 3657 churches with 569,338 members. Most of these statistics are from the year 2000, but, for 8 or 10 of the local associations, the latest stats I could find were early 1990's. If these numbers are combined with the independent churches, there are almost 5000 churches that hold Landmark ecclesiology, representing about 770,000 members. I am of the opinion that there are probably twice as many unaffiliated independent landmark Baptists as I have been able to identify.

Add to these facts, that the groups of Baptists often identified as Primitivistic (Central Baptists, Duck River/Kindred Baptists, Old Regular Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Regular Baptists, and United Baptists) usually hold an ecclesiology in practice like landmarkism (they do not accept baptisms from other orders, do not use ministers from other orders, and practice closed communion), churches in the United States holding this form of ecclesiology probably number 8000 to 10,000 with over 1,000,000 members. These churches are not identified as Landmark Baptists because the term is usually limited to missionary Baptists.

This also does not consider that some churches in the Baptist Bible Fellowship, Southwide Baptist Fellowship, World Baptist Fellowship, and even the Southern Baptist Convention would identify with this doctrine and practice. This shows that, while still a small grouping compared to the total number of Baptists in the United States, landmark-type Baptist ecclesiology does have an important place in American Baptist life.

In my attempt to make sense of the 1283 unaffiliated independent landmark Baptist churches on my list, I developed seven categories to note some of the differences between the churches - Covenant Landmark, Direct Mission, Independent Fundamental, Old Time Missionary Baptist, Sovereign Grace, Unregistered Baptists, and Unknown. These categories are somewhat arbitrary (I place the churches in the categories rather the churches placing themselves) and fluid (many of the churches could legitimately be placed in two or more categories). The decision to place a church in a category was based on what I thought seemed to be her primary emphasis that made her stand out and/or seemed to guide her in her choice of fellowship with other churches. I am listing below the total number of churches placed in each category. It is possible that some of the churches in a category would fellowship with churches that I have placed in another category. Another possiblity is that some churches placed in a category might not fellowship with other churches I placed in the same category.

Covenant Landmark - 28 churches. These churches might be described as believing that only Christians in landmark Baptist churches are part of the New Covenant. They might not choose to describe themselves this way.

Direct Mission - 61 churches. Many of these churches have an historical connection to the gospel mission movement of missionary to China T. P. Crawford. I placed these in a separate category because I felt that their landmark principles of mission work was the chief reason they choose not to participate in associations or fellowships.

Independent Fundamental - 379 churches. These churches are very much heirs of the traits developed from the fundamentalist/modernist controversies of the early 1900's. They are the same as others commonly thought of independent fundamental Baptists, but with a stronger local church emphasis on baptism, Lord's supper, and pulpit affiliation, etc.

Old Time Missionary Baptist - 171 churches. These churches place a strong emphasis on a definite salvation experience, and usually have a mourner's bench in or near the front of the church. They tend to usually not have as strong objections to associations and fellowships as some unaffiliated Baptists, and are often found closely fellowshipping with other Old Time Missionary Baptists that are in associations.

Sovereign Grace - 417 churches. These churches place a strong emphasis on the doctrines of grace, usually known as TULIP or five-point Calvinism. I think most of these churches would not fellowship with other churches that do not hold the doctrines of grace.

Unregistered Baptist - 29 churches. These churches could probably all be placed in the independent fundamentalist category. But I found a strain of Landmarkers that are asserting that churches should not incorporate or otherwise cooperate with certain requirements of the government (e.g. Indianapolis Baptist Temple). Some of these believe that the registration and cooperation with governmental tax laws, etc. causes a church to lose its candlestick (no longer be recognized as a true church).

Unknown - 198 churches. These are churches which I believe meet the basic requirements to be called "Landmark", and yet I found no outstanding features (or did not have enough information) to classify them. In this group are probably some who themselves observe Landmark practices such as closed baptism, closed communion and non-pulpit affiliation, and yet do not strictly draw the line of fellowship on these issues.

These unaffiliated independent Landmark Baptist churches are scattered throughout the United States, with especially strong areas being in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas. The Sovereign Grace Landmarkers are very strong in Kentucky, but also surprisingly strong in states like West Virginia and Ohio. The Covenant Landmarkers have their strongest base on the west coast. They draw their lines of fellowship on the covenant issue, but not on whether a church is independent. So they are often found fellowshipping with Covenant Landmarkers in the ABA, etc. The Independent Fundamental Landmarkers have great strength in Texas, probably partly because of the influence of J. Frank Norris and Louis Entzminger. Old Time Missionary Baptists have their greatest strength in Tennessee and Kentucky.

** Note: I should have a more up-to-date version of this with a total of slightly over 1300, but I have yet to find it. It may have been destroyed in a past computer crash.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sing the almighty power of God

I sing th' almighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God's command, and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where'er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.

There's not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.

Isaac Watts
Divine and Moral Songs for Children, 1715

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hymn book

A Sheaf of Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs is back from the printer and available to those who are interested. It contains 300 Christian hymns for worship or devotional reading. The cost is $11.99; the book is 4.25" x 7", 186 pages, spiral bound. Published by Waymark Publications June, 2009.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Panopticon -- an area where everything is visible; a building so arranged that all parts of the interior are visible from a single point; a circular prison with cells distributed around a central surveillance station.

"In 1791, English philosopher Jeremy Bentham proposed an architectural innovation designed to lead to safe, humane prisons. He envisioned a prison space constructed as a circular array of inward-pointing cells. Solid walls between the cells would prevent any communication between prisoners, and a small window in the back of the cell would let in light to illuminate the contents. At the center of the ring of cells, Bentham placed an observation tower with special shutters to prevent the prisoners from seeing the guards. This 'all-seeing place', or panopticon, was designed to provide complete observation of every prisoner."

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sacred Harp data

A collection by Will Fitzgerald of various Sacred Harp essays and data including, the Popularity of tune choices in the 1991 (Denson) Edition of The Sacred Harp in 2005, 2004, and 2002; Frequency of Time signatures used in the Denson book; Time signatures used in the Cooper book; and Tom Malone on Beating Time.

Interesting stuff. For example, in 2005 two old tunes by New England composers that were added back to the Denson book in 1991 -- China and Kingwood -- are among the most and least favored. At singings recorded in the minutes, China was led 82 times and Kingwood was led 3 times.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Singing next week

One week from today (d.v.) the 154th Anniversary/142nd Consecutive East Texas Sacred Harp Convention will start in Henderson, Texas at 9:30 a.m. The Convention is scheduled Saturday & Sunday, August 8-9, 2009 at the Henderson Community Center on 302 Fair Park in Henderson, Texas.

Saturday, 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

We sing from the The Sacred Harp, 2006 Cooper Revision
See link above for map; For more info, e-mail Robert Vaughn, rl_vaughn -AT- (substitute @ for -AT-)