Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Smyrna singing Saturday

This coming Saturday, October 3, 2009, the Smyrna Memorial Sacred Harp Singing will be held (d.v.) at the Smyrna Baptist Church near Mount Enterprise, Texas. The church building is located on FM 2496, about 5 miles west of Mount Enterprise. The 2006 Sacred Harp (Cooper Revision) will be used. Singing begins at 10:00 a.m. and continues until about 3:00 p.m., with dinner on the ground. All welcome.

No new revelation

In another blog, a brother writing against the idea of near death experiences stated the following:
Since the Bible has been completed and while the church is on the earth today, a person receives NO revelation outside of the general revelation and specific direct revelation of God's Word which is assigned to all men...a person can not receive revelation outside of the general revelation (displayed in nature and in men's laws) and specific direct revelation (God's Word and the preaching thereof.)
I thought this would make an interesting discussion.

Is there NO revelation outside of general and direct revelation (the Bible)? I equate 100% truth and accuracy to God's revelation through His Word. And most of us agree that there is general revelation -- through God's creation, for example. What revelation is the Spirit giving when He guides us into all truth? What about revelation through God's providential guidance? Do we not learn of things that are not revealed in the Word in specifics through His opening & closing of doors and other providential factors in our lives? What about the "call to preach"? Is there one, or is it just a professional decision? If you are a preacher, why are you? We cannot read our names in God's Word. It does not say "_Your name_, you have been called to preach." How do you know? Was it just an occupational/professional decision, or do you believe there was some kind of spiritual guidance? If so, why was it not a "new revelation"? What about changing pastorates? Again, just a business decision, or perhaps some spiritual guidance there? Is this "new" revelation, or something different?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More School?

"[President] Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe."

"'Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today', Education Secretary Arne Duncan said."

"Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school."

"Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days)."
-- More school: Obama would curtail summer vacation

There is much that could be said about this, but the first two that jump out at me is that the reasoning is sloppy and that it's not the federal government's business anyway.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Online Bible Study Tools

According to Crosswalk, this King James Dictionary contains over 800 words whose definitions have changed since 1611. I would guess that in many cases, the definitions may still be in unabridged dictionaries but we just don't commonly use them that way today. I haven't used this tool, so can't really recommend it but am rather just pointing out that it is there. If some of you use it, you might stop back by and comment on it. Thanks.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Loss of ability

agnosia. noun. any loss of ability to recognize objects, people, sounds, etc., but most often caused by brain injury.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I've never changed!

Over the years I've heard preachers, and sometimes other Christians, speaking of what they believe, emphatically avow, "I've never changed!" One still ringing in my mind is an older Baptist minister at a Bible conference that I attended as a young man. At the time my reaction was "Amen!" Now my reaction is closer to a guarded "Oh, my."


Unless you already knew everything about God and His Word, then perhaps you are:

1. Too stubborn to change.
2. Too proud to admit you've changed.
3. Too ignorant to know you've changed.

I've tried to think of a more positive explanation. The only thing I've come up is that one saying this possibly doesn't really mean never changed anything.

God alone is immutable and can say, "I change not."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Interesting find

Largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure found in UK, By Raphael G. Satter

"LONDON – An amateur treasure hunter prowling English farmland with a metal detector stumbled upon the largest Anglo-Saxon treasure ever found, a massive seventh-century hoard of gold and silver sword decorations, crosses and other items, British archaeologists said Thursday."

Particularly interesting to me is the following related to religious history:
"Leslie Webster...said the crosses and other religious artifacts mixed in with the mainly military items, might shed new light on the relationship between Christianity and warfare among the Anglo-Saxons...

"One of the most intriguing objects in the hoard is a small strip of gold inscribed with a warlike Latin quotation from the Old Testament, which translates as: 'Rise up, O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face'."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Helpless guilty nature

How helpless guilty nature lies,
Unconscious of its load!
The heart, unchanged, can never rise
To happiness and God.

Can aught, beneath a power divine,
The stubborn will subdue?
'Tis Thine, almighty Spirit! Thine,
To form the heart anew.

'Tis Thine, the passions to recall,
And upward bid them rise;
To make the scales of error fall
From reason's darkened eyes;

To chase the shades of death away,
And bid the sinner live;
A beam of Heaven, a vital ray,
'Tis Thine alone to give.

O change these wretched hearts of ours,
And give them life divine;
Then shall our passions and our powers
Almighty Lord! be Thine.

Anne Steele (1716-1778)
Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional, 1760

Monday, September 21, 2009

Preaching the gospel

"While conducting services on a Sunday evening our congregation had a visiting minister in attendance. He declined to speak due to it being my stated appointment. After the service we were speaking and he said to me (in so many words) 'You spoke well, but did not preach the gospel.' He then explained to me the difference between giving a lecture, teaching a lesson, exploring a text, and so on. 'Preaching the gospel' he explained 'is centering on Christ, in His various offices, to needy sinners.' He then told me I had failed to do that and I had to agree, hard as it was." -- Eld. Jim Poole, 12 Sept 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

A friend

A friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Pr 18:24

One there is, above all others,
Well deserves the name of friend;
His is love beyond a brother's,
Costly, free, and knows no end:
They who once His kindness prove,
Find it everlasting love!

Which of all our friends to save us,
Could or would have shed their blood?
But our JESUS died to have us
Reconciled, in Him to God:
This was boundless love indeed!
JESUS is a friend in need.

Men, when raised to lofty stations,
Often know their friends no more;
Slight and scorn their poor relations
Though they valued them before.
But our Savior always owns
Those whom He redeemed with groans.

When He lived on earth abased,
Friend of sinners was His name;
Now, above all glory raised,
He rejoices in the same:
Still He calls them brethren, friends,
And to all their wants attends.

Could we bear from one another,
What He daily bears from us?
Yet this glorious Friend and Brother,
Loves us though we treat Him thus:
Though for good we render ill,
He accounts us brethren still.

O for grace our hearts to soften!
Teach us, Lord, at length to love;
We, alas! forget too often,
What a Friend we have above:
But when home our souls are brought,
We will love Thee as we ought.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Thursday, September 17, 2009

To be or not to be...

...relevant. That is the question.

In our local Sunday paper I read: "As our church grows older, we will almost certainly find increasing difficulties, not only by losing our relevance in the community but in even sustaining ourselves financially."

I hear this more and more. I suppose we don't want to be irrelevant ("unrelated to the matter at hand"), but what do people really mean when they talk about the church being relevant ("having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand")? Was Noah's message relevant when "few, that is, eight souls were saved"? Was Isaiah's message relevant when God said, "Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not" Was the message of Ezekiel relevant when God said, "And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear"? I am afraid we find more relevance in the number of people we "reach" than understanding that God's message is always relevant for all people of all times, and that is not based on the number of people who receive it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Singing in Pasadena

On Saturday September 19, 2009, there will be a Sacred Harp Singing (d.v.) at the First United Methodist Church, 1062 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena, Texas. The 1991 Revision of the Denson book will be used. For more information contact Crystal Meadows .

Monday, September 14, 2009

Focusing on one issue

In the God's pleasure; man's free will thread, the discussion has focused on general/limited atonement and conditional/unconditional election, though not necessarily in so many words. I have despaired that we will get back to the actual theme in that comment thread, so I have pulled out one context to post here and see anyone wants to discuss it. Please keep discussing on the other thread.

In the book of Numbers God records Israel coming to the land of the Amorites. They sent messengers to Sihon the king asking to be allowed to pass through thy land: they said would go straight through and not get off the main highway. Sihon would not give permission for Israel to pass through his country but rather gathered his people together to fight against Israel.

In a divine commentary on this incident we are told: "But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day. (Deut 2:30)" Do you believe it? Is it so? The reason Sihon did not allow the Israelites to pass through his land peacefully is because God hardened him and made him obstinate. The end of this was to judge him and give his land to the people of Israel.

So I ask you, do you believe the Bible as it is literally recorded here? Did God actually harden Sihon's spirit and make his heart obstinate, or do we need to shave it here and there to make it fit our ideas of free will and fairness? Is it wrong because it is not fair, or must it right because God did it? Or something else?

Friday, September 11, 2009

God's pleasure; man's free will

The question we have before us from the Divine Governance thread is where man's free will resides within God's divine governance. I reassert that I believe man can make choices. I deny that man can do as he pleases. Only God can do that.

Does God do what He pleases? Yes. (Cf. Psalm 115:3; 135:6; Jonah 1:14; Isaiah 46:10; et al.)
Can anyone stop Him from doing so? No. (Cf. Dan. 4:35; Isa. 14:14-27; 43:13; et al.)
Can God move, turn and/or change the will of man? Yes. (Cf. below)

Does God move, turn and/or change the will of man? I believe this is a main sticking point between a lot of Christians. I assert that God not only can, but does, move, turn, and /or change the will of man -- according to numerous Scriptures, if we take them at their simple and literal meaning.

God changes events.
Many will agree here, at least if we don't push it too far. God is sovereignly absolutely in control of all events that take place in His universe. We can quibble over what He "causes" and what He "allows", but how can any Bible reader deny that God is working out His will in all things?

God was in control of the events of the destruction of Job's possessions, deaths of his children, and debilitation of his body.
Job 1:21 -
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.
Job 23:13-14 -
But he (God) is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he (God) performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.

God was in control in settling Israel in the land of Canaan, even to making it an inhospitable place for others.
Exodus 23:28 -
And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.
Deuteronomy 7:20 -
Moreover the LORD thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed.
Joshua 24:12 -
And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
Psalms 44:1-2 -
O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days...How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.

God was in control of Ahab's death -- He determined the cause, the events and the instrument.
I Kings 22:23 -
Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.
I Kings 22:34 -
And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.
(God also kept Jehoshaphat from being killed: II Chron. 18:31 -
And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.)

God was in control of when and where the Israelites would go into captivity.
Jer. 29:4 -
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;
Ezek. 39:28 -
Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.

God changes minds.
Many are not so disturbed by God's influence of events, and probably don't meditate too much on the fact that in changing events He changes minds. But what disturbs the human mind is to suppose that it is not free to think and do as it wishes.

God hardened Pharoah's heart against the Jews, that He might deliver Israel and destroy the Egyptians.
Exodus 4:21 -
And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
(God said he would harden Pharaoh's heart long before it mentions Pharaoh hardening his heart.)

God turned the heart of the Egyptians against Israel, before and after Moses came.
Psalm 105:25 -
He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.
Exodus 14:17 -
And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
(Egyptians didn't make a free will decision to drown in the Red Sea. They were hardened by God to follow Israel to die in the sea.)

God hardened Sihon's heart and made him obstinate, and then judged him.
Deut 2:30 -
But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
The king, whether Pharaoh, Sihon or someone else, in in the Lord's hands. Proverbs 21:1 -
The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Romans 9:18 - Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

God, using Satan, provoked David to number Israel.
II Sam. 24:1 -
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
I Chron. 21:1 -
And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

God blinded the eyes and hardened the hearts of some of those to whom Isaiah preached, as well as some to whom Jesus preached and preformed miracles.
John 12:40 -
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
Isaiah 6:9-10 -
And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

God turned the heart of the Assyrian king to favor the people of Israel.
Ezra 6:22 -
And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

When we think of God doing as He pleases, we must be careful to not mix in our ideas of human emotions and pleasures. We probably think of pleasure often in the sense of "enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one's liking; gratification; recreation or amusement; sensual gratification." But in reference to God, we should think of it more in the sense of pleasure being "one's will, desire, or choice."

Isa 53:10 -
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

When the Bible says it pleased the Lord to bruise/crucify His Messiah, it is not in the sense that He received some kind of sensual or sadistic gratification, but that He was fulfilling His will from the foundation of the world. The Hebrew word
chaphets -- to delight in, take pleasure in, desire, be pleased with -- is also translated will.

God will do all His pleasure. Let us leave off our humanistic worries about Him somehow violating our free will. He doeth all things well.

Isa 46:10 -
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Psalms 115:3 -
But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.
Psalms 135:6 -
Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.
Isaiah 46:10 -
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Isaiah 43:13 -
Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?
Daniel 4:35 -
And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day singing

Happy Holiday. According to the United States Department of Labor website, Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is a curious day when thousands celebrate "labor" by not working and other thousands work instead of getting a holiday.

I don't think there is a "Sing Day" holiday, but we will make our "Labor Day celebration" tonight a Sacred Harp singing at Smyrna Baptist Church near Mt. Enterprise, Texas. Come join us. 6:30 p.m. Directions at link above.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Now & then

"Do you believe the Holy Spirit is better equipped to convert men after the invention of the air conditioner and printing press than He was before?" -- Mark Osgatharp

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Christ a Sanctuary

Jesus before Thy face I fall,
My Lord, my Life, my Hope, my All;
For I have nowhere else to flee,
No sanctuary, Lord, but Thee.

In Thee I every glory view,
Of safety, strength, and beauty too;
Beloved Savior, ever be
A Sanctuary unto me.

Whatever woes and fears betide,
In Thy dear bosom let me hide;
And, while I pour my soul to Thee,
Do Thou my Sanctuary be.

Through life and all its changing scenes,
And all the grief that intervenes,
Tis this supports my fainting heart ,
That Thou my Sanctuary art.

Apace the solemn hour draws nigh,
When I must bow my head and die;
But O what joy this witness gives,
Jesus, my Sanctuary lives!

He from the grave my dust will raise;
I in the heavens will sing His praise;
And when in glory I appear,
He'll be my Sanctuary there.

-- Gadsby's Hymn Book, No. 173
Samuel Medley

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Central Louisiana All-Day Singing

An All-Day Sacred Harp Singing will be held (d.v.) on Saturday September 5, 2009 at New Providence Primitive Baptist Church near Ringgold, Louisiana. From Ringgold take Hwy 154 one mile east. The cemetery and church building are on the left. We will use both the 1991 Denson Revision and the 2006 Cooper Revision. Singing starts at 10 a.m.