Wednesday, July 30, 2008

East Texas Convention - 153rd anniversary

I will probably cut back on my blog posting for the next two or three weeks. I am having a book printed, preparing some history for Smyrna Baptist Church's 135th anniversary and several other things happening at once that are occupying more of time. One of these is the:

East Texas Sacred Harp Convention - 153rd anniversary

This August 9 & 10 we will celebrate the 153rd anniversary of the East Texas Sacred Harp Convention. This Convention was organized in 1855, is the second oldest continuous Sacred Harp singing convention in the United States, and the oldest singing convention in Texas.

Festivities include: Singing, singing and more singing! Eating Bar-B-Q! We will meet in the Henderson Community Center, located at 302 Fairpark Ave - this is at the corner of Fairpark and South High St. in Henderson, Texas. The Chamber of Commerce provides continental breakfast/refreshments, and the convention will provide lunch both days. Singing will kick off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. We use the Cooper Revision. On Saturday night we will have a Mexican dish "social" at the Rusk County Expo Center.

NOTE: The social will be an informal get together, eat, visit, and sing if you want to. If you want to sing we encourage you to bring copies of songs in the shape note tradition. You might need as many as 100 copies. That's about the size crowd that was present last year.

Some hotels/motels in the area are:

Best Western - Hwy 259 S (903)-657-9561
Hilltop/Comfort Inn - Hwy 79 N (903)-657-8789 (This is what was the Holiday Inn Express)
Woodlawn Hills - Hwy 79 N (903)-657-2511

Delux Inn - N Henderson Blvd (903)-984-5501
Holiday Inn Express - Hwy 259 N (903)-986-3533
Best Western of Kilgore - Hwy 259 N (903)-986-1195

Raintree Motel - W Marshall Ave (903)-757-9119
Ramada Limited Suites - N Spur 63 (903)-757-0500
Homewood Suites - N Spur 63 (903)-234-0214

The Henderson motels are all within a few minutes drive of the community center. Kilgore is about 15 to 20 miles away, and Longview is about 30. Longview is a large town, and has many more motels and hotels. Kilgore & Longview are generally cheaper than Henderson.

Campgrounds & RV Parks

Cross and Sons RV Park

H & H RV Park

Mt. Enterprise (about 12 miles south on Hwy 259)
Whispering Pines RV Park

Tatum (about 20 miles)
Martin Creek Lake State Park

Carthage (about 30 miles)
Carthage RV Campground
Murvaul Campgrounds & RV Park
River Ridge Campground & RV Park

NOTE: 2 new motels are being built in Henderson, but they will not be open in time for the convention.

Make plans to sing with us. Your presence will make it better.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quotes: God's omniscience

"Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurs to God?" -- Baptist preacher R. Charles Blair of Western Kentucky often used this quote, but it is uncertain whether he originated it

Monday, July 28, 2008

Poor and blind and lame I am

1 – In darkness born, I went astray
And wandered from the gospel way;
And since the Savior gave me sight,
I cannot see without His light.

2 – So poor, and blind, and lame I am,
My all is bound up in the Lamb;
And blessed am I when I can see
My spirit’s inmost poverty.

3 – I cannot walk without His might,
I cannot see without His light;
I can have no access to God,
But through the merits of His blood.

4 - It makes me feel my ruined state,
It lays my soul at mercy's gate;
And Jesus smiles at such a guest;
And cheers him with a heavenly feast."

--John Berridge - 748 in Gadsby's Hymns

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Junior moments

These little "ditties" were written in May of my junior year in high school -- 1975 (and were never intended to be sung). I don't remember the circumstances exactly, but they were associated with some class assignment. I have saved them all these years and I pass them along here for some unknown reason.

The boat rotted
as it waited
to be boarded.

Toil and fun
Toil is tedious
Flavored with fun.
Fun is frivolous
Work well done.

Wondering, wandering
The world is wondering
what will be done.
Our wisdom's wandering
down in the dung.

To which I added in 1988:
The "church" is clamoring
cancel the cross
Let's do some counseling
at any cost.

And sometime:
Is there help? Is there hope?
What will be done?
Yes, there's help. Yes, there's hope.
God's only Son.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Adiaphoron, pl. -a (Greek language αδιάφορα "indifferent things"; German "Mitteldinge" "middle matters") was a concept used in Stoic philosophy. It latter came to refer to matters not regarded as essential to faith, but nevertheless as permissible for Christians or allowed in church. adiaphora: matters not of a kind that should be cause for division. See 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 regarding adiaphora.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

A little logic

"No sermon, no confession of faith, no book on theology can restrict itself to the precise wording of the Bible. If the Bible says that Shechem is north of Jerusalem, and if it says that Beersheba is south of Jerusalem, we can conclude that Beersheba is south of Shechem, even if the Bible does not say so." -- Gordon Clark, Predestination, p. 111

"If the Scripture implies something, that something must be accepted. If a college student in a Logic class complains about the age-old syllogism -- All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal -- and remarks, 'I agree that all men are mortal and that Socrates is a man, but you can't force on me that mere human logic implies that Socrates is mortal,' the professor must reply, If you do not grasp the implication, you cannot understand anything, for nothing is clearer." -- Gordon Clark, Predestination, p. 123

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Preservation of the Saints

"...God foreknew just what it would require to save a sinner. For an one to believe in the unlimited foreknowledge of God and then believe that God would prepare a remedy for the salvation of a sinner, that he knew would not save him, is sheer nonsense, and, in my estimation, such an idea stultifies the 'Holy One'." -- J. S. Newman in "Final Preservation of the Saints" Primitive Monitor, Vol. 10 No. 12, Dec. 1895

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A wise comment about the All-wise God

"For those who believe that God rules purposefully and wisely over all things, our response to loss is a signal of how much idolatry is in our souls. Do we really treasure what we have lost more than God and his wisdom? If we find ourselves excessively angry or resentful or bitter, it may well show that we love God less that what we lost." -- John Piper in How Open Theism Helps Us Conceal Our Hidden Idolatries

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sacred Harp in San Antonio

A Sacred Harp singing convention will be held Saturday & Sunday, July 26-27, 2008 at Coker United Methodist Church on 231 E. North Loop Rd. San Antonio, Texas. For more detailed information, click HERE.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Baptist archive

I recently ran across, and thought it was history related but discovered it was online sermons instead. I decided to post a link anyway. has a good bit of information about Baptist historical sites HERE. Pretty good, though very incomplete. For example, the Texas page leaves off the location of the oldest continuous Missionary and Primitive Baptist churches.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What a difference a day makes

Most popular boy/girl baby names in 1950, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration:
1. James / Linda
2. Robert / Mary
3. John / Patricia
4. Michael / Barbara
5. David / Susan
6. William / Nancy
7. Richard / Deborah
8. Thomas / Sandra
9. Charles / Carol
10. Gary / Kathleen

Most popular boy/girl baby names in 2007, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration:

1. Jacob / Emily
2. Michael / Isabella
3. Ethan / Emma
4. Joshua / Ava
5. Daniel / Madison
6. Christopher / Sophia
7. Anthony / Olivia
8. William / Abigail
9. Matthew / Hannah
10. Andrew / Elizabeth

According to writer Jeanna Bryner, "Mary" was the top baby girl name from the 1880s into the 1950s; "John" consistently stayed among the top boy names during that same period. I'm not sure where "Sunday Rose" will fit into the list.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Independent Baptist Movement

In April through June of 2008, The Sword of the Lord ran four installments on "The Independent Baptist Movement".* In them Editor Shelton Smith insists on the importance of the ideals of the independent Baptist movement, that it is "a credible, viable force, a necessary player in today’s arena" and gives reasons for staying separate from the Southern Baptist Convention. The editor discusses an undefined entity he calls "the independent Baptist movement," which, for this article, is the Hyles-Rice branch of independent Baptists. Of this type of independent Baptist, The Sword of the Lord publication is a prominent voice. I do not object to the Editor writing to and for his constituency, but the average reader should understand that "the independent Baptist movement" is much broader and more diverse than "Hyles-Rice" Baptists. The distinctive feature of independent Baptists is that they are independent. They cannot be confined to any particular style of Baptist.

Despite the subtitle "Its Ideals, Its Integrity, Its Imperatives", much of the first three installments deal with the independent Baptist movement (IBM) in its relationship to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The IBM is contrasted to the SBC and the SBC looms as a constant threat. Many of the Hyles-Rice Baptists came out of the SBC and much of this faction of the IBM was incubated there. Underneath all this lies a tacit admission that the SBC is its closest relative, and the open acknowledgement that the SBC is the most likely siren to lure IBM preachers to shipwreck.

The editor explores the SBC's
conservative resurgence, lamenting the "take-over" was not a "make-over". Reformation often is not restoration. Smith offers 16 reasons why IBM preachers and churches should maintain their distance from the SBC, many with which I agree. Among the diverse complaints are: "more ecumenical" and "less Baptist" than ever before, "a growing problem with five-point Calvinism," "very few pastor-led churches," "a major deficiency in evangelism," and "a sizeable denominational bureaucracy."

While there may be a crippling denomination bureaucracy in the SBC, the editor fails to acknowledge that some independents have developed their own miniature systems and acceptable man-made institutions. It may be technically true that "There is no national or international headquarters to which that church reports or answers. In other words, there is no denominational hierarchy or bureaucracy." But there are IBM organized fellowships, mission agencies & clearinghouses, seminaries & Bible colleges, etc.** The SBC may have been left, but not far behind. Another problem for young IBM ministers is that they often see little difference on the local church level, which the daily operations carried on much the same as in the SBC.

The fourth installment, for the most part, focuses on the independent Baptist movement and leaves the SBC to rest. This section looks at the IBM's image, ideals, infrastructure, imperatives, integrity and importance. IBM churches and preachers are touted as a distinctive people who are faithful to the Word of God. Yet, along with the editor, they apparently can't distinguish between a fundamental of the faith -- salvation by grace, eternal security, baptism, fiat creation, an inerrant Bible, separation -- and dispensational pretribulational premillennialism. And unfortunately the "distinctive" features that often make some of them unpopular and unwelcome is the display of arrogance, authoritarianism, negativity, and irascibility. But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye.

One strong emphasis in this article and among the Hyles-Rice movement in general is pastor-led churches versus board-run in the SBC. Both are scripturally deficient. Let them seek out and find the biblical example of
plurality of elders. Like the reformationists out of Rome, this IBM movement hasn't come out all the way back to the Bible (on this and other issues). One nearby incarnation of these "pastor-led local churches where the pastor is at liberty to be both prophetic and pastoral" includes an authoritarian dictator who has gophers to go before him to open doors and otherwise take care of his majesty's needs. Oh, certainly all IBM pastors don't fit that mold. Jesus said it shall not be so among you.

Much of Editor Smith's critique is valid. Independent autonomous local churches surely stand on solid scriptural ground. The call for separation from the world is needed now more than ever. Stay out of the SBC. Stay independent. And stay independent of any independent Baptist "movement"! If you have come out to be separate, be not content in mere separation, but "Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein."

* Appears to be the same or substantially the same as the hard copy
** Possibly more frequently than other legitimate movements, it seems that there is a predominance of "Doctors" in this branch of the IBM, no matter how much or little education he may have.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Acts 19:13-16 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

I wonder if God gave the sons of Sceva a split-second between "who are ye" and the man leaping on them? That frozen moment in time just before the pain begins. That split-second to think "oops" just before the consequences of our actions hit us.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Living Stone

On Christ salvation rests secure;
The Rock of ages must endure;
Nor can that faith be overthrown
Which rests upon the "Living Stone".

No other hope shall intervene:
To Him we look, on Him we lean;
Other foundations we disown,
And build on Christ, the "Living Stone".

In Him it is ordained to raise
A temple to the Father's praise,
Composed of all the saints who own
No Saviour but the "Living Stone".

View the vast building, see it rise;
The work how great, the plan how wise!
Oh, wondrous fabric, power unknown
That rears it on the "Living Stone"!

But most adore His precious name,
His glory and His grace proclaim:
For us, condemned, despised, undone,
He gave Himself, the "Living Stone".

Samuel Medley, (1738-1799).
as posted on Song To The Lamb 17 Apr 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The beliefs of others: Moravians

"In worship, the Moravians combine liturgical and extemporaneous prayer. At all the liturgical services music forms a prominent feature. Their liturgy and hymn-book are of a superior order. They have greatly enriched the treasures of German hymnology, and produced also one of the best English hymnists in James Montgomery (1771–1854), 'the Cowper of the nineteenth century.' Love-feasts are held preparatory to the communion, in imitation of the ancient Agapæ. Foot-washing was formerly practiced, but has been discontinued since the beginning of the present century. " -- Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical notes. Volume I. The History of Creeds. 1877, by Harper & Brothers Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House (6th Edition), p. 878

Monday, July 14, 2008

Quotes re music, singing

"In a day and age where so many troubles and trials are on every hand, we need to sing a song -- a song with foundation, strength and guidance -- a song of peace and joy about the sovereign God and his love for us." -- Harvey Dockery in the Preface to the 2002 Alabama Christian Harmony

"Heaven is the seat and home of song. It is not strange therefore that the pious on earth, bending their footsteps thither, anticipating their future employment, should give expression to their religious emotions in hymns of praise. Hence, in all ages of the church, the singing of the songs of Zion has constituted an essential part of worship." -- The Psalmody: a Collection of Hymns for Public and Social Worship, published in 1853

"Singing is not a simple heart singing, or mental singing; but a musical melodious modulation, or tuning of the voice. Singing is a duty performed always with the voice, and cannot be done without the tongue." -- Benjamin Keach, The Breach Repaired in God's Worship, or Singing of Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs Proved to be an Holy Ordinance of Jesus Christ, 1691.

"Musick hath Charms to soothe a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak."
-- William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride, 1697 [Also from that source, "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned"]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tis my desire

Tis my desire with God to walk,
And with His children pray and talk;
Although I persecuted be
Yet Jesus suffered so for me.

Tis my desire above the rest
To lean my head on Jesus' breast;
To be baptized, like Christ, my King
And yield to Him in everything.

Tis my desire, around the board
To meet Thy saints, my dearest Lord;
In union with Thy saints to be,
And oft commune with them and Thee.

Tis my desire His saints to meet,
To wash the dear disciples' feet;
And serve them, as my dearest Lord
Has taught me in His blessed Word.

From A New and Choice Selection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Use of the Regular Baptist church, and all lovers of song, 17th edition by Elder E(rasmus) D. Thomas, pastor of the Regular Baptist Church, Danville, Ind. No. 546 (pp. 498-499)

The first two lines were used by B. F. White in his tune Desire for Piety (No. 76b The Sacred Harp, all editions). He credited the source as Baptist Harmony, p. 479. Perhaps this is The Baptist Harmony, being a Selection of Choice Hymns and Spiritual Songs for Social Worship, by Staunton S. Burdett, Pleasant Hill, SC, 1834.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Creation ex nihilo

"Creation ex nihilo, out of nothing, implies two things. First, there was no antecedent power to stimulate God; there was no one to suggest plans to God, or to suggest alterations to the plans God had; still less could anyone defeat God's purposes. God was alone. He could do as he pleased.

"In the second place, after God created something, the thing had no authority to complain, Why have you made me thus? A wren has no right to complain that it is not an elephant. God had decided to create a world, and a world by definition includes differences. The different things had no right to hold God responsible for the qualities they have or the qualities they lack. god is responsible to no one. He distributed wings, legs, horns, and minds just as it suited him." Gordon Clark, Predestination, p. 111

Friday, July 11, 2008

Victory and defeat

"Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan." -- Italian diplomat Count Galeazzo Ciano (1903-1944) [Sometimes seen as "Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan."]

"A preacher ain't nothin' but a man." -- Elder Duncan McCranie

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Book reviews by others

Book reviews of books on Baptist history, faith and practice:

Jason K. Lee reviews Primitive Baptists of the Wiregrass South. By John G. Crowley

Jason G. Duesing reviews
Baptist Ways: A History. By Bill J. Leonard

Jason G. Duesing reviews
The Story of Baptists in the United States. By Pamela R. Durso and Keith E. Durso

Jason G. Duesing reviews
Paradox and Perseverance: Hanserd Knollys, Particular Baptist Pioneer in Seventeenth-Century England. By Dennis C. Bustin

James Leo Garrett Jr. reviews
A Genetic History of Baptist Thought: With Special Reference to Baptists in Britain and North America. By William H. Brackney

Chris Johnson reviews
The Baptist Way. By R. Stanton Norman

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Multicultural church

"I will say as strongly as I can, you should not start (or have) 'a black church' or 'a white church' or a 'homeschooling church' or a church for professional people and another church for poor people. Nor should you start a church aimed at younger people or older people. In this the modern church has erred. I do not mean that we should not be evangelistic toward all categories and types of people (actually, that is my point), but in building the local church our aim is too low, and frankly, sometimes selfish. We are forfeiting something of the glory of the church by not seeking to blend all kinds of people together, even if we cannot fully accomplish it." -- Multi-cultural Glory in the Church: Should We Have Black Churches and White Churches? Or Cowboy Churches? by Jim Elliff

Demographics are God's business; ours is to "teach all nations".

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A brief review of a brief book

Can the Orthodox Presbyterian Church Be Saved? John W. Robbins. Unicoi, TN: The Trinity Foundation. 2004, paperback, 44 pages. ISBN: 0-940931-67-2. $3.95

Your first thought may be, "What is the
Orthodox Presbyterian Church, why does it need to be saved, and who cares anyway?"

Well...the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) is a Presbyterian denomination born out of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy in the first quarter of the 20th century. According to the Trinity Foundation, "The Orthodox Presbyterian Church was founded in 1936 by about 135 people who were offended by the lack of discipline in and doctrinal errors of the Presbyterian Church in the USA." Constituted in 1936 as the Presbyterian Church of America, the name was changed to Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1939. The OPC needs to be saved from encroaching doctrinal heterodoxy, and John Robbins, at least, cares.

Can the Orthodox Presbyterian Church Be Saved? is not a book I would normally pick up at a book store or order from a catalog. So how did I come to have and read it? The Trinity Foundation prints what they believe are "sound Christian books" and often offer them for sale at substantial discounts. After taking advantage of one of these offers, I received my books with Can the Orthodox Presbyterian Church Be Saved? as a gift of appreciation for my order. I looked at it and set it to the back.

Then, on a day when I thought Gordon Clark's Logic was "too hot" and J. Gresham Machen's Education, Christianity, and the State "too cold" -- like Goldilocks I decided Robbins' 44 page book on the OPC would be "just right".

If nothing else, perhaps the book will add to my memory what my daughter calls my "random facts". This book is probably not for the average reader. It calls for some interest in the OPC, or if not, an interest in religious controversies or random historical facts. It would be good to have a little background not only of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy, but also of Presbyterian & Reformed controversies -- the Clark-Van Til Controversy, the Shepherd Justification Controversy, etc.

Robbins begins with the question at hand and the OPC controversy over justification by faith alone. Then he delves into the background of this, particularly the dominating influence of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the OPC's penchant to continue to attack Gordon Clark 20 years after this death. Robbins leads us through this forest, back to the present (which is 4 years ago), and the hope that members might wade through the propaganda and save the OPC.

I am certainly in no position to make informed statements about the OPC. This booklet by John Robbins makes up probably 98% of what I know about it. This book will be an important resource to anyone affiliated with it.

If nothing else, the book will add to your collection of random facts. But I believe there is something else. I can recommend Can the Orthodox Presbyterian Church Be Saved? to the general reader* for two reasons: (1) it speaks to the broad liberalizing tendency current among the people denominated Christians; and (2) it provides an example of the tendency of denominational leadership (of whatever denomination) to "circle the wagons" against any threat to the denominational machinery -- whether real or perceived.

*Notes: by the general reader I mainly intend persons who have no particular connection to the Presbyterian Church. The book closes with a "Reformation Day Declaration," and offers those in agreement opportunity to sign it. A list of books available from Trinity rounds the book out to a total of 60 pages.
The Trinity Foundation web site offers other books of this genre, including The Clark-Van Til Controversy, The Current Justification Controversy, and A Companion to The Current Justification Controversy.

Monday, July 07, 2008


They chant their artless notes in simple guise,
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
Dundee's wild-warbling measures rise,
Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;
Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame,
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays:
Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickl'd ears no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison hae they, with our Creator's praise.

From v. 13 The Cotter's Saturday Night, by Robert Burns

From scenes like these, old Scotia's grandeur springs
That makes her lov'd at home, rever'd abroad:
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
'An honest man's the noblest work of God';
And certes, in fair Virtue's heavenly road,
The cottage leaves the palace far behind;
What is a lordling's pomp? a cumbrous load,
Disguising oft the wretch of human kind,
Studied in arts of Hell, in wickedness refin'd!

From v. 19 The Cotter's Saturday Night, by Robert Burns

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Faith healing and the law

An intriguing legal battle in Oregon brings together health, religion, faith healing, and the interests of the parents versus the interest of the state.

"...Ava Worthington, died at home March 2 from bacterial bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection. Both conditions could have been treated with antibiotics, according to Dr. Christopher Young, a deputy state medical examiner.

"The Followers of Christ, a non-denominational congregation with roots in the 19th-century Pentecostal movement, came under state scrutiny in the late 1990s after several church children died from medically treatable conditions. The deaths prompted the Oregon Legislature to remove religious shield laws for parents who treat gravely ill children solely with prayer, setting the stage for the Worthington case." --
Child's death tests Oregon law on faith healing

"Tuesday's death of 16-year-old Neil Beagley, however, may not be a crime because Oregon law allows minors 14 and older to decide for themselves whether to accept medical treatment." --
Teenager from faith-healing family dies in Oregon

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Vanity of Life

Vanity of Life, Ecclesiastes 2

1 The evils that beset our path
Who can prevent or cure?
We stand upon the brink of death
When most we seem secure.

2 If we today sweet peace possess,
It soon may be withdrawn;
Some change may plunge us in distress,
Before tomorrow's dawn.

3 Disease and pain invade our health
And find an easy prey;
And oft, when least expected, wealth
Takes wings and flies away.

4 A fever or a blow can shake
Our wisdom's boasted rule;
And of the brightest genius make
A madman or a fool.

5 The gourds, from which we look for fruit,
Produce us only pain;
A worm unseen attacks the root,
And all our hopes are vain.

6 I pity those who seek no more
Than such a world can give;
Wretched they are, and blind, and poor,
And dying while they live.

7 Since sin has filled the earth with woe,
And creatures fade and die;
Lord wean our hearts from things below,
And fix our hopes on high.

OLNEY HYMNS, Book 1. Hymn 54
John Newton
Common Meter

Friday, July 04, 2008

July 4 in Vicksburg

Last year, when I was reading a little about Vicksburg, Mississippi re the singing we visited over there, I found that until 1944, the city of Vicksburg did not celebrate Independence Day. Why?

By the way, we attended this year's singing in Vicksburg held at the Old County Court House. It was well attended and we had a good singing from the 1991 and 2006 Sacred Harps and the 2002 Christian Harmony.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Restoring Integrity: our view of God

Restoring Integrity in Baptist Churches requires a correct view of God, a view that many Christians do not have. There are many visions and versions of who or what God is.

To some he is the glorified Santa Claus, the god who exists to grant our wishes. If you need a shiny new toy, he's the go-to guy. Don't worry about him the rest of the year.

To some he is the dutiful servant, a "little g" god who is bound to execute whatever the faithful demand. If you believe the Word of God and confess it then you will receive whatever you want. God must do it.

To many a nominal Christian he is the Deist's disinterested creator, who may have started everything but has left it to its own course. We can't believe all this got here by accident. But we can't believe a sovereign creator is actively governing this world, either.

To others he is an impotent ruler who, like a lame-duck President thwarted by a resistant Congress, is trying to work his will in the face of stubborn human resistance. Man is doing what he will, and God is trying to do what he can.

We need to catch of view of what Isaiah saw, the Lord high and lifted up. We need to hear God as Job heard Him, and know that He can do everything, and that no thought can be withheld from Him. Almighty God is the Sovereign Creator Who reigns on high, rules this universe and conducts its affairs by His All-wise Providence. He is neither a Santa Claus to grant our wishes, a servant who is bound by our commands, a disinterested beginner of events who rarely shows up, nor an impotent ruler who can't quite do anything because of the free will of man. "[God] is both the Almighty Creator and Merciful Redeemer; he is not a valet who caters to our whims."* "God is not your errand boy and He's not going to jump through a hoop just because you hold it up."** If my view of God doesn't inspire awe, I have no vision of the God of the Bible.

"For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." -- Romans 11:36 (source, origin) (instrumentality, power) (purpose, consummation, completion)

'Of Him' suggests source or origin. God is eternal. Before Him nothing exists. God dwells in eternity, beyond the grasp of the thoughts of time-bound mankind. He not only has no end, but also has no beginning!

Before the world’s were set in place
Or angels brought to be,
Eternal Godhead filled all space
Through vast eternity.

The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
The All Sufficient Three;
This glorious God whom angels boast,
At first ‘twas only He.

Nothing but God was there at all
No, nothing else but He!
‘Twas nothing there however small,
Nor need there any be.

From everlasting, God is He,
The self-existent One.
His age equals eternity;
He was when there was none.

Eternity - before, behind,
And all points in between,
Were by the Lord clearly defined.
By Him all things were seen.

He spoke creation into place
And fashioned mortal man;
Then saved him by eternal grace -
His everlasting plan.***

'Through Him' suggests power and instrumentality -- omnipotence. By Him everything exists. Without Him nothing exists. He is the Creator, the beginning of all things. He is the Sustainer of all things. For in Him we live and move and have our being. Science (falsely so-called) has robbed us of these two truths. Don't need a creator? Substitute evolution. Don't need a ruler? Substitute chance and the laws of nature. My paternal grandfather was an old-time farmer. He died when I was a small boy. Except for a fleeting memory of a sick man, I've only seen him through the eyes of others. According to my father, he had a saying about the rain -- something like "We'll get it when we need it." Now I used to wonder about that statement; some others have thought it ridiculous. But the older I've got and the more I've thought about it, the more it makes sense to me. If I could I would ask him what he meant. I think he would say something like "It's not the parched ground, the withered crops or the desire of man that determines when we need rain. It is the good pleasure of God."****

'To Him' suggests purpose and completion. It points to His glory. All things are not only by Him and through Him -- they are to Him. "...all things were created by him, and for him." He made this world for Himself, for His own pleasure and His own glory -- "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." He is the purpose of all things; He is the completion of all things. To God be the glory, great things He hath done.

When we see God as He is -- high and lifted up -- we see man as he is -- undone and unclean. We need to restore integrity to and through our view of God.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art.*****

* John W. Robbins in his introduction to Gordon H. Clark's Predestination
** J. Vernon McGee on Through the Bible Radio, 1 July 2008
*** R. L. Vaughn, 1992
**** Jer. 14:22 - Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things. Matt. 5:45 - That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
***** Carl Gustaf Boberg (1859-1940), Translated by Stuart K. Hine

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


"A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it." -- Jean De La Fontaine

"He that is born to be hanged shall never be drowned." -- Unknown

"Things don't happen for a reason; they just happen." -- Meg Ryan in "Proof of Life", as the character Alice Bowman

"Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened." -- Sir Winston Churchill

"Every moment, a Christian is in a storm, leaving a storm, or going to a storm." -- Unknown

Random quotes say random things, not all of which agree. Though "fate" is often confused with Biblical predestination, the "Alice Bowman" quote best represents true "fate" -- a "fatalistic" world view.
Fate, Texas