Friday, October 31, 2008

Wouldn't make it on American Idol

Sacred Harp singer Matt Wells of Minnesota called our attention to the article Shout and Sing the Good Old Way: A Sacred Harp Story by Kate Kiefer. I enjoyed this thought:

"The singing is startlingly unadorned...While singers do hit the notes according to their parts, and while some have lovely voices, there’s no emphasis on vocal beauty. The strange sound couldn’t survive out of context—most of these voices would get booed off of American Idol in a second." To which Matt added, "we wouldn't have it any other way."

Hope to see some of you at Little Hope tomorrow, Lord willing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Do this for My sake

Because Thou hast said, "Do this for My sake,"
The unleavened bread we gladly partake;
We thirst for the Spirit that flows from above,
And long to inherit Thy fullness of love.

'Tis here we look up and grasp at Thy mind,
'Tis here that we hope Thine image to find;
The means of bestowing Thy gifts we embrace;
But all things are owing to Jesus' grace.

Charles Wesley

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Book preview

Materials Toward a History of Feet Washing among the Baptists is now available. Click on the link above (and then on the book cover on the linked page) to view the first twenty pages of this book in a pdf file.

I posted this awhile back, but it hasn't been working properly until recently. Take a look and get an idea of what the book is like.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Singing at Huntington

Please join us Saturday, November 1st for the Nancy Amelia "Granny" Russell Birthday Sacred Harp Singing. It will be held (d.v.) at the Little Hope Primitive Baptist Church on FM 1669 just outside Huntington, Texas.

We will start at 10:00 a.m. and sing until around 3:00 p.m., using the 2006 Sacred Harp, Cooper Revision. For more information call: Burl Russell, (936) 624-2173.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Teach me the measure of my days

Anne Steele (1716-1778) from the poem "When I Resolved to Watch My Thoughts"

Almighty Maker of my frame!
Teach me the measure of my days,
Teach me to know how frail I am,
And spend the remnant in Thy praise.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Truth about birth control pills

A sermon and statements by Thomas White, Vice President of Student Affairs at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, has made a media "splash". The area's Channel 8 biasedly reports it this way: Baptist preacher says birth control is 'murder'. WFAA's headline doesn't contribute to reasoned discussion of the matter. Thomas White did not say that birth-control is murder. He specifically referenced a particular effect of the birth-control pill, which prevents a fertilized egg (a human life if life begins at conception) from attaching to the uterine wall, and says that is murder. This is a little mentioned effect of the pill. Since it is not known how often the pill works in this manner, "most health centers will not cite the thinning of the endometrial lining as a function of the pill."

Dr. J. C. Willke writes, "So the widely used contraceptive pills have three functions, any one of which is said to 'prevent' pregnancy. Only two of the functions, however, actually do prevent pregnancy: (1) the barrier mechanism of the mucous plug at the cervix, (2) the suppression of ovulation. The third function, however, does not really prevent pregnancy, but rather produces a micro-abortion at one week of life...In 97 or 98% of the time, the effect is one of preventing pregnancy. But, in perhaps two or more percent of the time, the effect is abortifacient. There is no way in the normal clinical practice of obstetrics of knowing which is happening, or when."
-- From Life Issue Institute

Friday, October 24, 2008

The New Testament Church

There is an alarming trend among modern Baptists to relegate the practices of the New Testament Church as being merely a matter of expediency (whatever is the best means of achieving an end). This seems to entrench the idea that the church can and must be modified to fit the times or the "culture" (the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of racial, religious amd/or social groups).

But Christian culture is created in Christ, and prescribed in the New Testament. Times change and cultures differ, but Christian culture emanates from Christ and exists independently from social times and cultures. Because of change, the ways that Christians and churches relate to cultures in different places and at different times may change according to those times and places. But the culture of gathered believers -- the church -- exists outside of and independently from world governments, cultures & standards, is universal and permanent, and has neither command to change nor necessity to conform.

Romans 12:2 - And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 Corinthians 10:32 - Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

1 Corinthians 7:17 ...And so ordain I in all churches. 1 Corinthians 14:33 in all churches of the saints.

1 Corinthians 9: 19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Scriptures and authority

"I believe the holy Scriptures to be the word of God, and have the only authority to bind the conscience to the obedience of all therein contained, and are the all sufficient rule, by the Spirit of God to guide a man in all his obedience both to God and man." -- John Spilsbury, 1662

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The holy kiss

The following is an interesting commentary on the holy kiss, excerpted out of From Holy Kiss to Handshake by Robert Meyers. It touches on several issues -- apostolic practice as normative, patternism, Christian love, Bible translations, literal interpretation, etc. Enjoy (and read the entire article at the link below).

The kiss commanded by Peter and Paul fell by the wayside long ago and there is no serious movement to revive it in the church ritual. Even the most adamant literalist seems quite content to let this particular form be changed, so long as the spirit behind the commandment is somehow preserved. The substitute form is so widely accepted in fact that J. B. Phillips doesn't even bother to translate what Paul and Peter said. He simply paraphrases it in language every modern Christian will understand: "Give one another a hearty handshake all around!"

I heard the final irony in this connection just the other day. A friend of mine in the Church of Christ heard the Phillips version read in a study group and complained vigorously about the change. "You can't trust modern versions," he said. "Paul said holy kiss, not handshake." It did not occur to him that the new translation only sanctified an action which he had already taken.

No one who reads this journal will suppose that it is my hope to revive the holy kiss. The churches I know have troubles enough already, and I am more than happy to join them in expressing the spirit of that commandment through an altered form. I would only urge my brothers to extend to other people the same charity which they find for themselves.

-- From "FROM HOLY KISS TO HANDSHAKE" by Robert Meyers in the Restoration Review Volume 19, Number 7, July 1977

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vain religion

Religion vain without love. 1 Cor. 13:1-3. (L. M.)

Had I the tongues of Greeks and Jews,
And nobler speech, that angels use,
If love be absent, I am found,
Like tinkling brass, an empty sound.

Were I inspired to preach and tell
All that is done in heav'n and hell;
Or could my faith the world remove,
Still I am nothing without love.

Should I distribute all my store
To feed the bowels of the poor,
Or give my body to the flame,
To gain a martyr's glorious name;

If love to God and love to men
Be absent, all my hopes are vain;
Nor tongues, nor gifts, nor fiery zeal,
The work of love can e'er fulfil.

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

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obeying a commandment

" determining whether to obey and teach others to obey a commandment or point of doctrine, THE ONLY QUESTION is whether it is taught in the Bible, not 'how important' we might adjudge it to be in the Bible. How important is that commandment or teaching? Important enough that God put it in the Bible and that Christ commanded us to keep it." -- Bart Barber in The Differing Importance of Biblical Commands and Teachings

Friday, October 17, 2008

Westminster John Knox

Tuesday the USPS brought me a copy of the WJK Academic Update, Vol. 3, No. 1. The Academic Update is a combination of news, book reviews, and book catalog. Westminster John Knox is related to the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). WJK also partners with Cokesbury, the retail division of The United Methodist Publishing House.

According to their web site,
Westminster John Knox "publishes first-class scholarly works in religion for the academic community, nationally recognized trade books for general readers, and essential resources for ministry and the life of faith." A look at some of their title reveals a viewpoint on the far liberal end of denominated Christians -- Our Mother Saint Paul, Jesus the Village Psychiatrist, Slaying the Dragon: Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition, Feminist and Womanist Essays in Reformed Dogmatics, to name a few.

Four new titles are highlighted in the Academic Update: Q, the Earliest Gospel: an Introduction to the Original Stories and Sayings of Jesus; The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution and the Problem of Evil; To do Justice: a Guide for Progressive Christians; and Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians.

Q, the Earliest Gospel: An Introduction to the Original Stories and Sayings of Jesus is by John S. Kloppenborg, "a world authority on Q". Originally called "Quelle" ("source"), this supposedly "lost gospel" is usually abbreviated as "Q". It is a hypothetical document -- no copy been found, and there is no reference to it in early Christian writings. Like dinosaurs recreated by active imaginations rather than discovered bones, "Q" is a figment of the imagination of those who must find a precursor to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If you are working on a dissertation or writing a critique of "Q", this book might prove helpful. If you trying to learn about Jesus, "Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."

Next is The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution, and the Problem of Evil by Christopher Southgate. God, Evolution, and Evil are usually problems for those who try to reconcile all three. Remove evolution from the equation and buy a book on God and Evil by a Bible-believer like Gordon H. Clark.

To Do Justice: A Guide for Progressive Christians by Rebecca Todd Peters and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty (editors) is admittedly a book for "progressive Christians". Expect to find advice to solve moral and social problems from a liberal progressive viewpoint. Don't expect to find any condemnation of abortion, one of our greatest present moral and social evils.

Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians by James P. Byrd is probably the best of this four-fold crop. It is an introduction to Jonathan Edwards, "exploring his life, most important writings, and enduring legacies..." It is part of the broader Armchair Theologians series of WJK which includes such men as Augustine, Luther, Calvin and Wesley (and a new one on the "heretics" such as Marcion, Arius, Nestorius, and Pelagius).

This link is the latest online Academic Update, but not the one just released.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Good grief!

As if there aren't enough Bibles already, Harper has evidently found a previously untapped market. They have recently released The Green Bible (in the New Revised Standard Version).

The following article is a subtle (or not so subtle) reminder that the homosexual agenda is not just freedom or "rights", but acceptance.
Youngsters treated to lesbian 'wedding'

And be careful that you don't offend a campaign volunteer calling your cell phone!
Secret Service visits Lufkin woman after 'death threat' allegation from an Obama campaign volunteer

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can God do things we can't?

Obviously, He can and does do things we can't -- ability-wise. So actually I mean "may" God do things we are not permitted to do, or should not do on moral or other grounds. What do you think?

Luke 1:26,31,35 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. ..thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Exodus 12:29 ...the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon...

Exodus 13:15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast.

II Samuel 6:7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.

Acts 12:21-23 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

Exodus 23:28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.

II Kings 17:25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them.

Genesis 38:7,10 And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him...And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.

Monday, October 13, 2008

How true

"If you wish to know of me - Who I am or how I be - Here I am behold who will - Lo, I am a sinner still." (John Leland)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Image of the Invisible God

"It has become very common of late days to have images or pictures of the human form of Christ incorporated in our Bibles as though human artist could give the image or likeness of the invisible God. It is nothing short of a desecration of most holy sacred things for any man to attempt to palm off such pictures and paintings as the picture or likeness of Christ Jesus--who is the 'brightness of his Father’s glory and the express image of his person' Heb. 1:3." -- From "The Image of the Invisible God", by W. M. Mitchell in The Gospel Messenger --January 1881

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Be careful what you ask

Prayer answered by crosses.

I ask'd the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and ev'ry grace,
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.

'Twas he who taught me thus to pray,
And he, I trust has answer'd pray'r;
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hop'd that in some favour'd hour,
At once he'd answer my request:
And by his love's constraining pow'r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow'rs of hell
Assault my soul in ev'ry part.

Yea more, with his own hand he seem'd
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Cross'd all the fair designs I schem'd,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cry'd,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
"'Tis in this way," the Lord reply'd,
"I answer pray'r for grace and faith.

"These inward trials I employ,
"From self and pride to set thee free;
"And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
"That thou mayst seek thy all in me."

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779.
Hymn 36, Book III, 8s.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baptist Unitarianism?

I found the following journal article -- God in Three Persons: Baptist Unitarianism and the Trinity by Curtis Freeman -- linked from Wade Burleson's blog. It is originally from Perspectives in Religious Studies, the Journal of the National Association of Professors of Religions, Volume 33, Issue 3, Fall 2006.

I've just begun to look over it, but it seems like an interresting read. In the beginning, Freeman starts by looking at some
Trinitarian/Unitarian controversy among English Baptists. Do modern Baptists have problems with Trinitarianism/Unitarianism? What is your view? What is your experience?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Scriptural advice for battered wives

According to a popular Southern Baptist blogger, in "a Conference forum entitled 'How Submission Works in Practice' Dr. Paige Patterson was asked a question about how a Christian wife should respond to spousal physical abuse." Copied from that blogger, this is how Patterson counseled a woman being beaten and its results.

I had a woman who was in a church that I served, and she was being subject to some abuse, and I told her, I said, “All right, what I want you to do is, every evening I want you to get down by your bed just as he goes to sleep, get down by the bed, and when you think he’s just about asleep, you just pray and ask God to intervene, not out loud, quietly,” but I said, “You just pray there.” And I said, “Get ready because he may get a little more violent, you know, when he discovers this.”

And sure enough, he did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black. And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.”

And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.”

And what she didn’t know when we sat down in church that morning was that her husband had come in and was standing at the back, first time he ever came. And when I gave the invitation that morning, he was the first one down to the front. And his heart was broken, he said, “My wife’s praying for me, and I can’t believe what I did to her.” And he said, “Do you think God can forgive somebody like me?” And he’s a great husband today. And it all came about because she sought God on a regular basis.

And remember, when nobody else can help, God can. And in the meantime, you have to do what you can at home to be submissive in every way that you can and to elevate him.

I didn't respond on that blog, since the majority of it was anti-Patterson rhetoric with a few awe-struck Pattersonites stirred in. But, IMO, none of the commentary of either side really directed toward a Bible answer. My question to you is, "How would you advise a woman subject to abuse, and on what Scriptures would you base it?"

Alzheimer's Walk 2008

The annual Alzheimer's Walk will be October 9th at 5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at Lake Forest Park, Henderson, Texas.

Schedule of Events:
5:00 p.m.: Registration, free food, Family fun and Entertainment
6:00 p.m.: Walk
7:00 p.m.: Commemorative Candle Lighting

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Senescence: the organic process of growing older and showing the effects of increasing age [syn: aging, ageing]

Can you use senescence in a sentence? I can't think of a non-technical one I would use it in, and I couldn't find it on Google used in the average sentence. "Senescence is the biological term for the decline associated with age."

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The treasure

Oh! the comforts I possess,
Which God shall still increase;
All his ways are pleasantness,
And all his paths are peace:
Nothing JESUS did or spoke,
Henceforth let me ever slight;
For I love his easy yoke,
And find his burden light.

William Cowper (1731-1800)
Olney Hymns, 1779.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

God, Satan and Job

Job 1:21-22 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
Job 2:3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Did Satan initiate the troubles of Job? What was God's part in it? Can God be credited with work that Satan did? In Job 1:11 Satan says, "But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face." And then in verse 21 of all his loss Job says, "the LORD hath taken away," and the Bible says in this "Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." When we get to chapter two, of all this God says Satan "movedst me against him."

When Satan went "forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job," Job's wife told him to "curse God, and die." Rather Job replied, "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" Again the Bible says in this "did not Job sin with his lips."

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)

Anyone care to explain how they see these verses?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Old Baptist quotes (2)

"God exercises universal dominion over His creatures, - exercises control over wicked actions and thoughts to limit their extent, to over-rule their results in accordance with His purposes. The predestination of God determines the results, fixes the limits, and so controls the actions and devices of wicked men and devils as to cause them to terminate in the furtherance of His own glorious purposes." -- Samuel Trott

"We go to no higher antiquity than Christ and His apostles for authority, neither stop we short of that." -- Samuel Trott in Does Union consist in being mingled together? 1833