Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Granny Russell singing, Huntington

The annual Granny Russell Memorial Sacred Harp Singing will be held Saturday November the 3rd, 2007 (d.v.) at Little Hope community and church. The Little Hope church building is located on FM 1669 about 4 or 5 miles northeast of Huntington, Texas. Singing starts around 10:00 a.m. and lunch will be served at noon.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Free grace in revealing Christ

HYMN 12 C. M.
Free grace in revealing Christ. Luke 10:21.

Jesus, the man of constant grief,
A mourner all his days;
His spirit once rejoiced aloud,
And tuned his joy to praise:

"Father, I thank thy wondrous love,
That hath revealed thy Son
To men unlearned, and to babes
Has made thy gospel known.

"The mysteries of redeeming grace
Are hidden from the wise,
While pride and carnal reasonings join
To swell and blind their eyes."

Thus doth the Lord of heav'n and earth
His great decrees fulfil,
And orders all his works of grace
By his own sovereign will.

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

Monday, October 29, 2007

Enumerated Powers Act

In an op-ed piece entitled Congressional Constitutional Contempt, Walter Williams mentions a bill entitled the Enumerated Powers Act.

The Enumerated Powers Act is an interesting bill that "would require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws, and for other purposes." Representative John Shadegg [R-AZ] has offered this each year since 1995. The current bill was introduced March 6, 2007 and has 29 cosponsors as of October 20, 2007: Todd Akin, Roscoe Bartlett, Rob Bishop, John Boozman, Dan Burton, Michael Conaway, David Davis, John Duncan, Tom Feeney, Jeff Flake, Virginia Foxx, Trent Franks, Scott Garrett, John Gingrey, Louis Gohmert, Robert Goodlatte, Dean Heller, Walter Herger, Doug Lamborn, Kenny Marchant, Thaddeus McCotter, Jeff Miller, Sue Myrick,
Ron Paul, Ted Poe, Clifford Stearns, Timothy Walberg, David Weldon, and Lynn Westmoreland.

Now we might think that Congress WOULD NOT make laws that have no constitutional authority, but we know better. This act would at least make the dishonest try to sham up some bogus constitutional ground for the unconstitutional laws they try to enact. Hopefully the American people would take note and realize the persons in Congress who have "contempt for the Constitution." Hopefully the American people care.

The full text may be found

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Steve and the B.A.I. Team

After my father passed away, a number of people sent flowers to the funeral home. There is one sender we have not been able to identify, and therefore unable to send a thank you card. So I am making this post with the hope that a thank you will get to the correct person.

This was sent through the West Main Flower Shop in Henderson, Texas and labeled as being from "Steve and the B.A.I. Team". I'm sure we should recognize this, but none of us could make it click. If you see this -- (1) thank you for your thoughtful gesture in the flowers you sent, (2) contact us and let us know who you are.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Mondegreens and idiots

...uh, idioms, that is. So now the following really random thoughts:

The elephant in the room is an English idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored. It is based on the idea that an elephant in a small room would be quite impossible to overlook.

When people cherry pick, they choose things that support their position, while ignoring anything that contradicts it.

A person who is extremely talkative can talk the hind legs off a donkey.

A dog and pony show is a presentation that has lots of style, but no real content.

"A mondegreen* is repeating the mishearing of a phrase in such a way that it acquires a new meaning."

"Shirley, good Mrs. Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life" instead of "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me...

"Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am his own ..." as opposed to "And He walks with me, and He talks with me..."

"Gladly, my cross-eyed bear" instead of "Gladly my cross I'd bear".

Or "While shepherds washed their socks at night" instead of "While shepherds watched their flocks by night..."

* Somewhat the opposite of malapropism, which a saying of the wrong word or words.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jesus' View of Scripture, by Kohler

Jesus is and should be considered the criterion of Bible interpretation. Consider John Kohler's comments on Jesus' own view of the Scriptures.

1. He believed in the Genesis account of creation - Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
2. He believed in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch - John 5:46-47 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
3. He believed in the historicity and universality of the Noahic Flood - Matt. 24:37-39 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
4. He believed in the historicity of Abraham - John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
5. He believed in the historicity of Sodom and Gomorrah - Matt. 11:23-24 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
6. He believed God gave manna from heaven to Israel - John 6:31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
7. He believed in the Davidic authorship of the Psalms - Matt. 22:43-45 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?
8. He believed in the historicity of Jonah and the whale - Matt. 12:39-41 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
9. He believed the Jews had a history of rejecting God's word - Luke 11:47-51 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.
10. He scolded the Sadducees for their ignorance of Scripture - Matt. 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
11. He taught that every word of Scripture proceeded from God - Matt. 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
12. He taught the doctrine of the preservation of Scripture - Matt. 5:17-18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
13. He taught that man will be judged by God's word - John 12:47-48 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
14. He taught the absolute authority of Scripture - John 10:34-36 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
15. He pre-authenticated the New Testament writings as Scripture - John 16:12-13 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
16. He never corrected or criticized Scripture, even though He did not possess the original autographs - John 17:13-17 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Jesus never involved Himself in higher or lower criticism or attempted to recover the original autographs during his earthly ministry. He either 1) knew Scripture was the word of God and said it was so, 2) did not know if Scripture was the word of God or not and said it was, or 3) knew Scripture was not the word of God and said it was anyway. The first option is the whole truth of the matter!!!

Those who claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to hold the same high view of Scripture that He had. What right do they have to hold any other view??? Obviously, no right at all!!!!!

(Some excerpts from an article by John Kohler III as posted on Jim's Standing In The Gap blog, Friday, May 25, 2007)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Anchor

"My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:26)

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil…
(a verse from a hymn by Edward Mote )


- Leonard Burrell (posted 22 Sept. 2007 on Sentence Sermon for Today, by D. Paul Tuck)

Monday, October 22, 2007

How to Write Your Local Church History

I received an e-mail concerning a book titled How to Write Your Local Church History, by Donald L. Hughes. This is an electronic book and might be something worth looking into for any person/committee/church considering writing a local church history. The cost in $14.00.

I am neither familiar with the book nor acquainted with the author. SO, this is NOT an endorsement. I'm just passing along information that might be helpful.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


...votin' for?

My nephew sent me the following link. For fun, whether anything else, try the
Candidate Calculator to see how you line up with your preference for President of the United States (and the rest of the pack as well). *

I matched up closest to Tom Tancredo -- 84.31% match -- about whom I know nothing. My second match was Texas Representative Ron Paul (82.35%), the candidate I plan to vote for in the primary. I was glad to see that I disagree with New Yorkers Guiliani and Clinton 63% and 73% of the time, respectively! :-D

* Disclaimer -- While anyone can take this test, please check United States voting laws to see whether you can vote in the upcoming election! ;-)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Purpose of Music in the Church

Because of readers' interest, I like to post something from time to time on music and singing. The following directs you to some articles on church music.

In Purpose of Music in the Church, Paul Foltz writes (found in Grace Notes, Newsletter of Grace For All Publications):

The Word of God presents only two purposes for music in the church:
1. that of worshiping and praising God;
2. that of edifying the saints.
There are well over 800 references to music and its use in the Bible...We have no command or example from the Scriptures for music to be used for any other purpose.
Do you agree or disagree? Click the link above to read the entire article. Other views can be found in
The Philosophy of our Music Ministry and Music and the Church: Finding Our Voice in Worship, By Ken Puls.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


"Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans." -- A. J. Marshall *

* as best I can tell, Marshall is the source of this quote; sometimes it is credited to John Lennon

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Attention Little Debbie fans

Over the past 20 years or so, I've been buying "Little Debbie"* snack cakes. During this period, individually packaged snack cakes cost .25¢. While candy and other brands' snack cakes soared to .79¢ or .89¢ or more, Debbie stayed put. Drinks consisting of sugar, water, coloring and little else rose to $1.19 and up. Debbie held her ground. But inflation has finally reached into the pockets of us poor working-class snack cake purchasers -- Little Debbie snacks have gone up to .35¢. Now I don't blame Debbie, she's a sweet gal. What surprises me is that the McKee Foods Corporation has been able to prosper while holding the price down for this long! I'll still be buying Little Debbie snacks and hoping for 20 or so years of Little Debbie snack cakes at .35¢.

As a matter of trivia, according to the Little Debbie website, their top selling items are:
1. Swiss Cake Rolls
2. Nutty Bars® Wafer Bars
3. Oatmeal Creme Pies
4. Fudge Brownies
5. Honey Buns
6. Zebra Cakes
7. Devil Squares®
8. Fudge Rounds
9. Star Crunch® Cosmic Snacks
10. Chocolate Cupcakes

* The "real" Little Debbie is the granddaughter of company founder O. D. McKee.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Doing positive things

"Any positive thing man does is done by God's grace. This has to be the case, because man is by nature a totally-depraved, totally-enslaved being.We repent, believe, confess Christ in baptism, and do good works by God's grace." -- John Kohler New Covenant Christian Forum, Mon, 20 Aug 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Full-time Christianity

"A great many so-called Christians think they may go to meeting weeks at a time and neglect their business, and that God approbates such idleness because it is religious, as if religion consisted in going to meeting and ended when meeting was over. But the truth is that Christ’s religion is as much in the field, the store room, the work shop, as it is in the church house." -- Elder J. R. Respess of Georgia writing in the Gospel Messenger, July 1886

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Martin Byerly missing

From Texas EquuSearch:

Martin Byerly, age 58, was last seen on Friday, September 28, 2007 at Jake’s Place near Hwy 96 in Jasper, Texas and has not been seen or heard from since. It is not known what Martin was last seen wearing. His white 1990 Chevrolet pickup truck was located Saturday morning, the 29th, at the Payless Shoe store located on U.S. 190 in Jasper. Foul play is suspected.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Conservative vs Liberal

I generally view conservative not so much as what one believes, but how one approaches Scripture. First, one must believe it is inerrant and then that it is authoritative for faith and practice. Let me give you two examples of how I look at this.

I know some Baptists who believe in women preachers/pastors. Now I'm speaking from experience, so this doesn't apply across the board. Of those I've known personally (not speaking of anyone I've run across on the internet), they held women pastors based on cultural, progressive and even feminist ideas, without particular regard to what the Bible might have to say on the matter. On the other hand, I've known Pentecostals who believe in women preachers/pastors, and approach it in a completely different way. They based what they believed on what they think the Bible teaches and of which they think it gives examples.

Now, totally apart from what might be right or wrong on this matter, I would call those who hold the first approach "liberal", and those who hold the second approach "conservative". That's just an example of how I see it. Many people see "conservative" and "liberal" in regard to what they themselves believe -- and I guess perhaps we can't help approach it that way to some extent.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Random rambling

Cheap prize
I wonder about the value of a prize that can be awarded to a politician who makes a poor documentary based on a questionable scientific foundation. Where can I buy my Nobel?

Interesting. A common explanation throughout modern times has been that the (vermiform) appendix is an organ that has lost its function through evolution of the human species. Researchers at Duke University School of Medicine have a new theory, recently published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, that the appendix "acts as a good safe house for bacteria," by creating and protecting helpful microorganisms for the digestive system.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Carson on the Gospel

"We must avoid the view that, while the Gospel provides a sort of escape ticket from judgment and hell, all the real life-transforming power comes from something else–an esoteric doctrine, a mystical experience, a therapeutic technique, a discipleship course. That is too narrow a view of the Gospel. Worse, it ends up relativizing and marginalizing the Gospel, stripping it of its power while it directs the attention of people away from the Gospel and toward something less helpful." -- D. A. Carson, For the Love of God, Volume II

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Prophecy and redemption

"All of the scripture from beginning to end is not written primarily for man's enlightenment on world events or proper conduct in the midst of it. The primary purpose of the Bible is as a text which testifies of the LORD’s purpose to redeem HIS people out of every tribe, kindred, and tongue on the earth." --- Mike McInnis from They that are with Him in the Grace Gazette, Volume V, Issue 34

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Clock of Life

In a post Mon Sep 10, 2007 on the Texas Fasola listserve, Mike Hinton quoted a poem by Barney Lee. Mr. Lee is an uncle of Sacred Harper David Lee.

The Clock of Life, by Barney Lee of Hoboken, GA

The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour

Now is the only time you own
Live, love, work with a will
Place no faith in tomorrow
The clock may then be still

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Baptism and culture

The following clip illustrates something I mentioned in an earlier post Baptism -- a "Western" activity. If we reinterpret many early Christian acts as only cultural items relegated to the distant past, why should we stop at baptism?

"Baptism pools (called mikvehs) were abundant throughout Israel in John the Baptist’s and in Jesus’ day. These pools pre-date the preaching of John the Baptist, who baptized Jews in preparation for Jesus’ coming. They were used in a ceremonial rite of cleansing in preparation for worship. To these people baptism symbolized purity. Any visitor to Israel today can still see the ruins of these pools at Masada, Qumran, Capernaum, Korazin, and Jerusalem. Is it too hard to suppose such washings were brought into Christianity as a cultural symbol, yet divine requirement, of full commitment? There doesn't seem to be anything transcultural about the act of baptism itself. People from other cultures would not automatically recognize the act of baptism as indicating purity or suggesting full commitment. Perhaps baptism was a divine requirement to a people who understood its meaning. If so, then what would God think of believers in today’s culture who failed to be baptized because baptism was not viewed in the same way?

"Someone might simply respond by charging that baptism is clearly stated in the N.T., and I agree. But then we must ask: If it is so clearly stated in the N.T., then why have a majority of Christians gotten it wrong, both in the past and the present? I don’t have an answer for this. I do know that we think foot washing is cultural, and so is greeting one another with a kiss. We reinterpret what a woman should be wearing in church on her head, and whether or not we should sell all our possessions and give to the poor. Many denominational church leaders think this way about baptism, and we think they are wrong. But will God actually punish someone eternally simply because they are wrong on this? The answer I believe that is the most Biblical, reasonable and loving is that he would accept/tolerate their ignorance on this issue provided they longed to follow him with their heart and sought to obey all that they knew God to command.
John W. Loftus is an instructor at both Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, MI; and Tri-State University in Angola, IN. Because of his articles “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation” (Integrity July/August 1995) and “Is Baptism Necessary--One More Time” (Integrity, Jan/Feb 1996) [posted online 10/13/2006], Great Lakes Christian College did not renew his teaching contract. In interest of full disclosure, note that Loftus had evidently previously believed baptism was necessary for salvation, and at the time of writing “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation” was combatting the idea. He is now a self-described atheist.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The great Redeemer lives

He lives! the great Redeemer lives!
What joy the blest assurance gives!
And now, before His Father, God,
Pleads the full merit of His blood.

Repeated crimes awake our fears,
And justice armed with frowns appears,
But in the Savior's lovely face
Sweet mercy smiles, and all is peace.

In every dark, distressful hour,
When sin and Satan join their power,
Let this dear hope repel the dart,
That Jesus bears us on His heart.

Great Advocate, almighty Friend!
On Him our humble hopes depend;
Our cause can never, never fail,
For Jesus pleads, and must prevail.

Anne Steele (1716-1778)
Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional, 1760.
Posted on Song To The Lamb, Sun. 23 Sep 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

Albert Wardin's Twelve Tribes

The Twelve Tribes of Baptists in the USA: a Historical and Statistical Analysis. Albert W. Wardin, Jr. Baptist History and Heritage Society, Atlanta, GA. 2007. 168 pp. paperback, $24.95. ISBN: 978-1-57843-938-3

Albert Wardin, a native of Oregon, USA, served as professor of Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary and Judson Baptist College. He is now professor emeritus at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is author of eight other books, including Baptist Atlas, Baptists Around the World, Tennessee Baptists: a Comprehensive History, and Gottfried F. Alf: Pioneer of the Baptist Movement in Poland.

I have long been a follower of the work of Albert Wardin in Baptist taxonomy. There is (and can be) no "standard list" of Baptists (p.14). In my opinion, Dr. Wardin's work does the best in making sense of the diverse Baptists dotted across the American landscape. I have followed his basic divisions in my own attempts of sorting out Baptists and their classifications. My first impression when he mentioned the idea of "twelve tribes" in an e-mail to me was that it might seem labored in order to make the Baptist divisions in the US fit exactly twelve. Heretofore, based on Wardin's work I have used six classifications. For example, see
Another outline of Baptists in the US. Being "non-progressive" and usually satisfied with things as they are, I was hesitant for Wardin to create a new system! But my initial reaction after seeing the book was that the 'twelve' tribes fit rather well. He credits Anabaptist World USA with giving him the idea of dividing Baptist groups into 'tribes'.

The inital section of the book includes a handy list of abbreviations, followed by the preface and introduction. The main body of the book is divided into "Baptist Bodies by Tribe" and "Distribution of Baptists by Region and State". These are followed with the endnotes and 16 excellent pages of color-coded maps. These maps show Baptist distribution throughout the United States, based on statistics gathered in the 2000 Religious Congregations and Membership study. That study was sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies and the Glenmary Research Institute. The maps published in Twelve Tribes were not published in the RCMUS study.

In his introduction Wardin highlights the study of Baptists, with its problems and pleasures. He discusses the background and development of Baptists, their number, and problems inherent in classifying Baptists. Why is there so much diversity? What are some of the problems? Should Baptists be classified by name or affiliation?* By name or theology?** How can Baptists be grouped generically? What about dual affiliations? Independent churches? Ethnic bodies? Shifting categories? Is the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship a denomination? There are problems of statistical analysis as well. Some bodies keep detailed records and even report them to other sources. Some bodies collect no data, and a few may even be suspicious of sharing statistical information.

In Twelve Tribes, Albert Wardin "...describes each tribe with its respective bodies and then will follow with a section on their numerical distribution by region and state."

The 'tribe' section is, of course, divided by twelve, sorting the various US Baptists into the following tribes: Ecumenical Mainline, National (African-American), Conservative Evangelical (Northern), Fundamental (Northern), Conservative Evangelical (Southern), Fundamental (Southern), Landmark, General/Free Will, Old-Time, Primitivists, Progressive Primitive, and Neo-Calvinist. Within these twelve tribes, Wardin discusses 53 Baptist bodies, large and small -- from the 42,723 churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to the historically significant General Six-Principle Baptists, now reduced to one church.

The numerical section is divided into three parts -- a regional listing by number of members and/or attendance and number of churches, a description of the Baptist presence in that region, and a listing of number of members and/or attendance & number of churches by state (within each region). The United States is broken into ten geographical regions -- basically following that of the census regions, with minor changes to fit the Baptist landscape.

In his introduction Wardin observes, "If one takes the time to notice, one should be able to see that the various tribes have probably far more in common than the elements that divide them. (p. 14)" This book should be in the libraries of every Baptist educational institution and every student of Baptist history and taxonomy. Why, it should be in the hands of every Baptist. It will help them understand more about who they are.

* For example - the Cumberland River Association was named "United Baptist" but affiliated with the American Baptist Association. [Recent minutes indicate they have since dropped "United" from their association name.]

** For example - some Primitive Baptists no longer hold Primitive Baptist theology.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

LBBI online library

The Landmark Baptist Bible Institute online library has a lot of Baptist material available online. Some of it is by recent writers, and some of it is older hard-to-find material.

For examples:

Abstract of Systematic Theology, by J. P. Boyce
A Manual of Faith and Practice, by William Styles
Bogomils of Bulgaria and Bosnia, by L. P. Brockett
History of the Welsh Tract Baptist Church, by D. V. Spangler
The Graves-Ditzler debate of 1876

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

God's eternal dominion

Great God! how infinite art thou!
What worthless worms are we!
Let the whole race of creatures bow,
And pay their praise to thee.

Thy throne eternal ages stood,
Ere seas or stars were made;
Thou art the ever-living God,
Were all the nations dead.

Nature and time quite naked lie
To thine immense survey,
From the formation of the sky
To the great burning day.

Eternity, with all its years.
Stands present in thy view;
To thee there's nothing old appears,
Great God! there's nothing new.

Our lives through various scenes are drawn,
And vexed with trifling cares,
While thine eternal thought moves on
Thine undisturbed affairs.

Great God! how infinite art thou!
What worthless worms are we!
Let the whole race of creatures bow,
And pay their praise to thee.

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

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Saul, melancholy man of contradiction

Last week I posted a couple of times on Jonathan. Today let's consider his father.

Hosea 13:11 - I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.

The life story of King Saul is one of the Bible's saddest tales. This man with so much potential, humanly speaking, recklessly scatters it on a refuse pile. Saul was a masculine specimen, standing head and shoulders above his countrymen. Thus he commanded fear and demanded respect, as do most men of large stature. Yet he was also humble, or as Samuel put it "little in thine own sight." The Spirit of the Lord descended on him, and on occasion he prophesied. He exhibited wise and compassionate leadership when he refused to wield vengenance on those who opposed his accession to the throne. He led armies into battle. He removed from the land those who dabbled with familiar spirits. Such was Saul.

This manly man could tremble in fear or rave like a madman. His humility turned to pride and pride to jealousy as women sang of David's valorous battle deeds. The Spirit of the Lord departed and an evil spirit came upon him, turning his speech from prohesying to rantings and cursings. His wise counsel turned to foolishness when he sought to execute Jonathan for unknowingly disobeying his rash oath. In desperation he turned to the very darkness he had driven from the land -- one who dabbled in familiar spirits. In the end this man who stood head and shoulders above his countrymen suffered the indignity of having his head parted from his shoulders, his head displayed in an idol's temple, and his body nailed to a wall. Such was Saul.

Thus we remember this poor deluded man -- a melancholy man of contraditions. It is right to recognize he had many faults, as pointed out in the Scriptures. Saul "kept not the commandment of the Lord," "rejected the word of the Lord," "an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him," he "had slain the Lord's priests," and in the end "took a sword and fell upon it." But let us, men subject to like passions, also be as charitable as the man Saul hunted like a dog who sang, "Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!"

In Saul we see that in the best of men is also the worst of men; he was a living contradiction. Also we learn to look not on the outward appearance (I Sam. 16:7); Saul appeared to be the "man for the job" (there is none like him among all the people). David was (the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart). Remember to lean not on thine own understanding (Prov. 3:5).

And think of how we often say, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." Often we say this, but do we really believe it? We say "There, but for the grace of God, go I." But does our heart really mean, "There, but for my good works and the good choices I've made, go I."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mas citaciónes

"No matter one’s social convictions, Scripture is normative for providing and defining the appropriate Christian language for God." -- Emily Hunter McGowin on Think. Laugh. Weep. Worship. 30 July 2007

Heard: "If you always have the problem of an ox getting in the ditch, perhaps you should sell the ox or fill the ditch!"

Seen on a billboard: "Forbidden fruit produces many jams."


"If you apply Christ's prayer for unity solely to the universal church, then what does it really mean? We're in unity if we are all believers? A local congregation in the midst of a horrible schismatic division is then, by this definition, in unity.

"That's nonsensical. Local congregations are not 'superstructures'. Local congregations are the central core of what the churches are. Unity within local congregations is far more important than the equivalent of some trans-denominational re-release of 'We Are the World' with group hugs for everyone." -- Bart Barber, comment thread of his blog post
The Pernicious Evil of Mere Preference, September 7, 2007

"How many of your problems would disappear if you let the past be the past?"
-- copied

Alzheimer's walk

Alzheimer's walk sponsored by Northeast Texas Alzheimer's Alliance. October 4, 2007

Registration $20 at 5 p.m. Walk begins at 6 p.m.