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Friday, October 30, 2009

The Portal to Texas History

Here is a helpful site for Texas history and genealogy:
The Portal to Texas History

Searches books, maps, photos, newspapers, etc.

Granny Russell Singing

Lord willing, come sing with us tomorrow at the Granny Russell Singing held at the Little Hope Primitive Baptist Church meeting house on Farm to Market 1669 near Huntington, Texas. Singing starts around 10:00 a.m. and we usually quit around 3:00 p.m. We will be using the 2006 Cooper Revision Sacred Harp book.

The singing is held in memory and honor of Nancy Amelia "Granny" Russell.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beebe on freedom of religion

Gilbert Beebe: "To protect the people from coercive interference with the sacred rights of conscience in matters of religion, the first Congress of the United States that ever assembled under the Constitution was convened in the city of New York, March 4, 1789, at which time and place the following amendment to the Constitution was proposed and submitted to the several states for their approval and was concurred in by the states and became a part of our Constitution: 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof'. What is now sought for is to so change our Constitution as to indicate that the United States 'are a Christian Nation'. The scriptures of truth recognize but one such nation, and that is called, 'A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a peculiar people'. Into that nation can none enter except they be born of water and of the Spirit, and none can ever see it except they be born again. A Christian nation must be an establishment of religion, and no law concerning it has Congress any power to make, nor have any power to prevent the free exercise of it." -- Originally from The Signs of the Times and reprinted in the Old Faith Contender, October-December, 1980, edited and published by W. J. Berry

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

To pray or not to pray

I had a brief chuckle this morning when I heard on the radio that the Houston city council is being sued because their prayers are "too religious". I wondered what kind of non-religious prayers there are. To whom do atheists pray?

Seems the radio station botched the wording a bit, and the real claim is that the prayers are "too Christian". Kay Staley has sued the city (and specifically named council member Anne Clutterbuck). Staley says the prayers are too Christian and that they violate the First Amendment. Anne Clutterbuck was singled out because she quoted the Lord's Prayer.

To add to my chuckle, I found Staley is offended by watching this on TV: "I've been aggravated about it for some time watching City Council on access television." Watching city council on TV would probably aggravate me too. But instead of changing channels, she sues! This possibly is a dual purpose suit -- on the one hand to oppose Christianity and on the other (bigger hand) to grab a little publicity for the sewer (uh, I mean, sue-er; how do you spell that?). I mean, pu-leeze; Staley said, "I'm offended. I don't like people telling me when and how to pray." No one is telling her how to pray, or even that she has to pray. Furthermore, this person who doesn't want the council praying to Jesus says she is offended "because the praying goes against the teaching of Jesus. Heavily quoting the Bible, the lawsuit argues Jesus taught praying was not to be flaunted in public but to be done in private." Come on, Kay, why do you want these public officials to follow the teachings of Jesus? Isn't there some kind of hypocrisy there in your own thinking? If you believe prayers at city councils and other government functions are unconstitutional just say that and leave off the other mumbo-jumbo.

I could care less whether the members of the Houston city council have prayer at their meetings. It's not a religious gathering, and I'm not really all that keen on things that politicans may be doing just for show. But they are grown people who can pray if they want to. If they're mostly Christians, then the prayers will be mostly Christian (there have been some prayers of Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faiths). If there is a council member of another faith, Christians should not complain if he or she prays according to his or her faith. The Supreme Court has consistently upheld prayer at government meetings, but also say it must not promote any particular religion. If people simply pray according to their own beliefs, are they then promoting a particular religion? Or are they just praying?

Poor Clutterbuck -- she has "worked hard not to invoke a particular deity". The lawsuit contains transcripts that show she "never invoked a particular deity's name and one time read from Abraham Lincoln". And yet she gets special mention in the lawsuit above all the other council members!

Courthouse Bible plaintiff now targets Houston council prayer by Mary Flood

"Every prayer is an acknowledgement of our weakness and dependence . Who would ask that of another which he thinketh to be in his own power?" -- Thomas Manton

Monday, October 26, 2009

In memory 1916-2009

Myra Smith Palmer was an active Sacred Harp singer for many years. She was born Nov. 15, 1916, and passed away Oct. 22, 2009 at age 92. Myra was the daughter of the late Austin Asberry and Vicy Lorraine (Getty) Smith. Her funeral was held Sunday the 24th in Lindale, and she was buried at the Union Chapel Cemetery. She was one of the few remaining students of Tom Denson. She was an accomplished singer and leader; among her favorite songs were Morning Sun, The Bitter Cup, Morgan and Shades of Night.


Above song © 2009. Click on image to enlarge the picture.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Random Sacred Harp quotes 1

"Let music charm me last on earth and greet me first in heaven."

"This kind of music here, it comes out of you. There aren't any guitars or musical instruments, it comes from within you." -- Sam Craig, President, East Texas Sacred Harp Convention

"A living tradition changes. If it stopped changing, it would be because it died." -- David Lee

"....every letter has its own peculiar air, which air is very much hurt if the tune is not rightly pitched." -- William Billings

"What a beautful ramshackle racket. Needs to be heard loud." -- Paul in Nottingham

"When in doubt, sing loud." -- Robert Merrill, American operatic tenor

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flu shot??

"Desiree Jennings, 25, says that she started to develop symptoms for a rare and debilitating muscular disease, called dystonia, after receiving seasonal flu shots from two months ago."

Cheerleader Develops Dystonia After Receiving Vaccine
NFL Cheerleader says Flu Shot Caused Rare Neorological Disease

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's (gonna be) the law

Liberals prove time and again that they have a different vision for America -- it's not the act that is a crime, but thinking differently than they do. A new hate crimes bill violates the letter and spirit of our First Amendment, and abandons equal rights in favor of special class rights. Figuring they might not pass it in a fair vote, today the Senate passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 by tacking it on to a defense spending bill. It is fairly certain the President will sign it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Goings on

There's always lots of things going on in our world, and for the most part I don't comment too much. But here are some of my rambling thoughts on five diverse current events.

Medical marijuana
A new policy memo memo was issued October 19 by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden concerning the pursuit of marijuana cases. The policy (memo linked
HERE) is intended as "...guidance to federal prosecutors in States that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana." Basically it says it is not a wise use of time and manpower to prosecute those who are in compliance with their state's laws on the medical use of marijuana. This is a change of direction from the former administration's policy of enforcing federal laws against marijuana regardless of state medical-use laws.

Makes sense to me. Let the federal government recognize these state laws and not criminalize those who are making medical decisions strictly in accordance with their state's laws.

Publicity, publicity, publicity
Richard and Mayumi Heene of Colorado reported that their 6-year-old son disappeared in a helium-filled balloon that became untethered and floated away. Following the report a wild rescue effort ensued with multiple entities concerned for the life and safety of the child. The Denver airport was even shut down for awhile.

Hang 'em high. If reports pan out, this was not a momentary lapse of judgment, but these folks conspired in a planned publicity stunt -- including encouraging 3 sons lying in a deliberate hoax -- for nothing but greedy gain.

Unsafe schools
Back in September,
Todd Henry of nearby John Tyler High School was stabbed to death by a student with a butcher knife. The student had a history of violence, and evidently Mr. Henry had previously reported serious concerns about this student.

Don't know enough about all this, but it looks like a number of people may have had momentary lapses of judgment in dealing with this child. But hindsight is 20-20, they say. Despite the student's so-called illnesses, this was a deliberate violent act and I favor his being tried as a adult.

Interracial marriage
A Louisiana Justice of the Peace recently refused to marry an interracial couple. According to his claim, he recused himself for conscientious reasons and recommended another JP who would marry them.

Don't know the legalities of this. The JP maintains he can recuse himself, but attorney Bill Quigley, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Justice, says "A justice of the peace is legally obligated to serve the public, all of the public." Certainly preachers, priests and rabbis can marry or refuse to marry whom they choose, based on reasons of faith and conscience. But a justice of the peace? Being a creature of the state (and I assume paid by the state/parish/people) seems to not leave the same option. The fact that the couple is now consdering legal action against him makes me wonder whether they were/are initially looking for publicity or if they just stumbled on to this and are now being pressured to make a big deal out of it. I'm sure they were offended, but the JP did nothing to deter them from being married. Allowing people to have their own opinions is part of what a free country is about. Do they think he is incompetent and should be removed, are they trying to make a statement on race/marriage, or do they think there is money to be made here?

Easy conversion
The Vatican announced a stunning decision Tuesday to make it easier for Anglicans to convert... Read about it
HERE. Well, Anglicanism is just an English version of the Roman Church anyway, as far as I can tell. One is as well off in one as the other.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Random preaching quotes 2

"If the truth were known, many sermons are prepared and preached with more regard for the sermon than the souls of the hearers." -- George F. Pentecost

"There is a difference between preaching because you have to say something and preaching because you have something to say." -- Warren Wiersbe

"A kick that scarce would move a horse, May kill a sound divine." -- William Cowper

"Hear how he clears the points o' Faith Wi' rattling an' thumpin'! Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath, He's stampin', and he's jumpin'!" -- Robert Burns

"I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way: The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear, fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear." -- Edgar A. Guest

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Frozen heart

Lord, shed a beam of heav'nly day
To melt this stubborn stone away;
And thaw, with rays of love divine
This heart, this frozen heart of mine.

To hear the sorrows Thou hast felt,
All but an adamant would melt;
Goodness and wrath in vain combine
To move this stupid heart of mine.

But One can yet perform the deed;
That One in all His grace I need;
Thy Spirit can from dross refine
And melt this stubborn heart of mine.

O Breath of life, breathe on my soul!
On me let streams of mercy roll;
Now thaw with rays of love divine
This heart, this frozen heart of mine.


(This hymn was written by English hymnwriter Joseph Hart. I wonder if he had in mind any play on words: frozen heart/frozen Hart; stupid heart/stupid Hart; stubborn heart/stubborn Hart? Frozen Heart in The Sacred Harp )

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sacred Harp of Hoboken

Will Payne and WaterTower Films have placed the following on YouTube:

The Sacred Harp of Hoboken (part 1 of 2)
The Sacred Harp of Hoboken (part 2 of 2)

"An Emmy Award-winning look at a small Southeastern town and the music that has served as its soundtrack for 150 years."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Exploding Pyrex

There has been a lot of recent talk about exploding Pyrex dishes. Apparently it is some truth mixed with some error (sounds a lot like religion!). You can read about it HERE and HERE.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Taylor

After a lengthy sermon by Joseph Buchanan, John Taylor prayed, "Oh, Lord, teach Brother Joe what to preach, and how to preach, and to quit when he is done. Amen."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Deep enough: advice for young preachers

John Taylor (1752--1836), a pioneer Baptist preacher (mostly in Kentucky) was reputed to be warm and encouraging to young preachers, but could also be severe when he thought it warranted.

A young preacher at an associational meeting took his text from Ezekiel 47:3-5, the vision of the waters from the temple becoming a river. He divided his subject into four parts -- ankle-deep, knee-deep, loin-deep, deep enough for swimming. For about an hour he developed his first two points. Ankle-deep was repentance from sin. Knee-deep was assurance of salvation.

Taylor and other preachers, as was common in that day, were sitting behind him on the stand. Finishing his second division, the young preacher said, "Thirdly, we go a little deeper -— where the waters reached the loins."

At this point John Taylor straightened up, pointed his finger, and spoke up, "Young man, come ashore. You are deep enough, deep enough."

-- From S. H. Ford's The Christian Repository, June, 1859

Thoughts on Missions by John Taylor, 1820
A History of Ten Baptist Churches by John Taylor, 1823
A History of Clear Creek Church and Campbellism Exposed by John Taylor, 1830
John Taylor: Frontier Baptist Preacher by James R. Duvall

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Love suffers long

Love suffers long with patient eye,
Nor is provoked in haste;
She lets the present injury die,
And long forgets the past.

She lays her own advantage by
To seek her neighbor's good;
So God's own Son came down to die,
And bought our lives with blood.

Love is the grace that keeps her power
In all the realms above;
There faith and hope are known no more,
But saints for ever love.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Random preaching quotes 1

"It really doesn’t matter how many sheep we gather if we don’t intend to feed them." -- Stan Toler

"I preached as never sure to preach again and as a dying man to dying men." -- Richard Baxter

"But in his duty prompt at every call, He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for all." -- Oliver Goldsmith

"The preacher’s work is to throw sinners down into utter helplessness that they may be compelled to look up to Him Who alone can help them." -- Charles Spurgeon

"The easiest way to stay awake during a sermon is to deliver it." -- Unknown

"The world looks at preachers out of church to know what they mean in it." -- Richard Cecil

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Have sins to confess?

"In those days they still believed they had sins to confess; and when they got into trouble, they had not learned to hire an alienist [psychiatrist] to blame their misdeeds on their grandfathers and hang their guilt on their family tree." -- From Rest Awhile by Vance Havner, 1941

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Declaration and Address

Members of the Restoration Movement are recently celebrating Thomas Campbell's "Declaration and Address". It was written in 1809 and was the founding document of the Christian Association of Washington. The Christian Association was a forerunner of what is now called the Restoration Movement.

Declaration and Address

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

25 years before

Interesting account of Southern Baptist life before the Cooperative Program:
The Year 25 B.C.P. by Bart Barber

Monday, October 05, 2009

Two Watts' hymns

HYMN 163, C. M.
Complaint of desertion and temptations.

Dear Lord! behold our sore distress;
Our sins attempt to reign;
Stretch out thine arm of conquering grace,
And let thy foes be slain.

The lion with his dreadful roar
Affrights thy feeble sheep:
Reveal the glory of thy power,
And chain him to the deep.

Must we indulge a long despair?
Shall our petitions die?
Our mournings never reach thine ear,
Nor tears affect thine eye?

If thou despise a mortal groan,
Yet hear a Savior's blood;
An Advocate so near the throne
Pleads and prevails with God.

He brought the Spirit's powerful sword
To slay our deadly foes;
Our sins shall die beneath thy word,
And hell in vain oppose.

How boundless is our Father's grace,
In height, and depth, and length!
He makes his Son our righteousness,
His Spirit is our strength.


Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II, 1707


How did my heart rejoice to hear
My friends devoutly say,
"In Zion let us all appear,
And keep the solemn day!"

I love her gates, I love the road;
The church, adorned with grace,
Stands like a palace built for God,
To show His milder face.

Up to her courts with joys unknown
The holy tribes repair;
The Son of David holds His throne,
And sits in judgment there.

He hears our praises and complaints;
And while His awful voice
Divides the sinners from the saints,
We tremble and rejoice.

Peace be within this sacred place,
And joy a constant guest!
With holy gifts and heav'nly grace
Be her attendants blest!

My soul shall pray for Zion still,
While life or breath remains;
There my best friends, my kindred dwell,
There God my Savior reigns.


Isaac Watts
The Psalms of David, 1719

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Joist or Joyce

Not only do we misunderstand songs, we often mishear or misunderstand words used in conversation, business, etc. One I'll never forget reading is about a person who responded strangely to the observation "no man is an island", thinking he heard "no mayonnaise in Ireland".

When I started as a teenage carpenter's helper, there was a lot of technical jargon used that I had neither read nor heard. I misunderstood quite a bit, if I remember correctly. One of the most memorable to me is that I thought a "joist" (a horizontal timber at the ceiling) was a "joyce" (as in the women's name Joyce).

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Misunderstood songs

At a recent singing I attended, before leading Farther Along, a man told that singing this as a child he heard and thought it was "Father, alone, will know all about it; Father, alone, will understand why..." rather than "Farther along we'll know all about it, Farther along we'll understand why." In language/grammar this is called a mondegreen -- repeating the mishearing of a phrase in such a way that it acquires a new meaning.

Some misunderstood songs are misunderstandings of a word's meaning. Many a child not raised on a farm* have envisioned sheep being brought in to the fold as they sang "Bringing in the sheaves". But that is "sheaves" -- bundles of grain -- rather than the plural of sheep (which is sheep).

Readers, as a child did you ever misunderstand some song or songs, either mishearing the phrase or misunderstanding a meaning? Tell us about it.



*And I can testify for those raised on a farm which didn't harvest wheat. The only things I think we bundled were put up in bales (hay) or shocks (corn).