Friday, December 31, 2010

Dispel our sadness

Holy Ghost, dispel our sadness;
Pierce the clouds of nature's night;
Come, great Source of joy and gladness,
Breathe Your life, and spread Your light.
From the height which knows no measure,
As a gracious shower descend,
Bringing down the richest treasure
Man can wish, or God can send.

Author of the new creation,
Come with blessing and with power.
Make our hearts your habitation;
On our souls Your graces shower.
Hear, O hear our supplication,
Blessèd Spirit, God of peace!
Rest upon this congregation,
With the fullness of Your grace.

Johann Cruger
Praxis Pietatis Melica, 1648.
translated by August Montague Toplady (author of "Rock of Ages")


I am pastor of Old Prospect, a Baptist Church that meets near Mt. Enterprise, Texas. My wife and I have two adult children and two grandchildren. I was ordained to the ministry in 1983, am a tent-making minister, and worked in the education industry (now retired). In addition to family, church, and work, I am active in Sacred Harp singing, and also write songs in this style. I have a long-time interest in history and genealogy. I am the former editor of a Baptist newsletter styled The Baptist Waymark and a founding editor of The Trumpet (no longer in publication). To some extent Seeking the Old Paths blog functions as an electronic successor to The Baptist Waymark.

Two important mentors to me were Louis Asher and J. W. Griffith, both of whom were once my pastors. They were historians and seminary professors who had much to do with nurturing my predisposition toward things historical. Though I rejected the seminary path as outside the pale of New Testament orthopraxy, I hold them in very high esteem as men, preachers, teachers, and historians. Above all in the flesh, I honor my father as the great influence in my life.


“The Noted Singer and Music Instructor”: A. N. Whitten and the Harp of Ages, 2020
Angus McAllister Stewart: “Man of God, Friend of All Mankind,” and the Founding Father of the Free Will Baptist Church in Texas, 2017
Songs Before Unknown: a Companion to The Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition 2012, 2015
Thaptology: Toward a Christian Theology of the Disposition of the Dead, 2015
History of the Old Prospect Baptist Church, Sand Flat, Rusk Co, Texas, 2014
Rethinkin’ Our Thinkin’: Thoughts on Sacred Harp ‘Myths’, 2013
A Sheaf of Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 2009

A History of Smyrna Baptist Church 1873-2008, (with J. W. Griffith) 2009
A Better Paradigm for the Study of Baptist History? (with Nathan Finn, Mark Osgatharp) 2009
Materials Toward a History of Feet Washing among the Baptists
, 2008
Minutes of the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Rusk County, Texas: Oct 1868–Nov 1871, 2006
Approaching 150: a Brief History of the East Texas Musical Convention, 2005

Unaffiliated Landmark Baptist Churches Survey: a Listing of Unaffiliated Independent Landmark Baptist Churches, 2001
American Baptist Association: a Survey and Census of its Churches and Associations, 2001


• Georgia Baptist Historical Society (now defunct)
• J. H. Spencer Historical Society
• Texas Baptist Historical Society
• (lapsed member of the) Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies

rl_vaughn -AT-

The purpose of this blog is glorify Jesus Christ while posting thoughts about things that interest me. The main themes of the blog, based on my interests, will be the Bible and Baptists, songs, hymns, and history. Announcements, current events, and such like will creep in from time to time.

Foundational truths
All fundamental doctrines grow from two foundational truths – that God is and that He has revealed Himself in the sixty-six books we call the Holy Bible. God is. The Bible is inspired.

Fundamental doctrines
  • All things were created by and exist by God, who reveals Himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • The work of God in the world through Jesus Christ is the central truth of the Bible.
  • Salvation is a need of man and a work of God.
  • The gospel is how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
  • The gospel is to be preached throughout the world.
  • The Son of God was born into this world of a virgin, lived sinlessly in the flesh, died on the cross and rose from the grave. He has promised to return again.
(If you wish to know more, please contact me by e-mail.)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Praise for the incarnation

Praise for the incarnation.

Sweeter sounds than music knows
Charm me, in EMMANUEL'S name;
All her hopes my spirit owes
To his birth, and cross, and shame.

When he came the angels sang
"Glory be to GOD on high,"
Lord, unloose my stamm'ring tongue,
Who should louder sing than I.

Did the Lord a man become
That he might the law fulfill,
Bleed and suffer in my room,
And canst thou, my tongue, be still?

No, I must my praises bring,
Though they worthless are, and weak;
For should I refuse to sing
Sure the very stones would speak.

O my Savior, Shield, and Sun,
Shepherd, Brother, Husband, Friend,
Every precious name in one;
I will love thee without end.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mary's song

From HYMN 60 L. M.
The Virgin Mary's song. Luke 1:46ff.

He spake to Abram and his seed,
"In thee shall all the earth be blessed;"
The memory of that ancient word
Lay long in his eternal breast.

But now no more shall Isr'el wait,
No more the Gentiles lie forlorn:
Lo, the desire of nations comes;
Behold, the promised seed is born!

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

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The chalice or the basin

"I protest that I have no choice whether to be the chalice or the basin. Fain would I be whichever the Lord wills so long as He will but use me...So you, my brother, you may be the cup, and I will be the basin; but let the cup be a cup, and the basin a basin, and each one of us just what he is fitted to be. Be yourself, dear brother, for, if you are not yourself, you cannot be anybody else; and so, you see, you must be nobody...Do not be a mere copyist, a borrower, a spoiler of other men's notes. Say what God has said to you, and say it in your own way; and when it is so said, plead personally for the Lord's blessing upon it" -- (Charles H. Spurgeon, An All Round Ministry, pp. 73-74)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rest for weary souls

Does the gospel-word proclaim
Rest, for those who weary be?
Then, my soul, put in thy claim,
Sure that promise speaks to thee:
Marks of grace I cannot show,
All polluted is my best;
Yet I weary am, I know,
And the weary long for rest.

In the ark, the weary dove
Found a welcome resting-place;
Thus my spirit longs to prove
Rest in CHRIST, the ark of grace:
Tempest-tossed I long have been,
And the flood increases fast;
Open, LORD, and take me in,
Till the storm be overpast.

From "Rest for weary souls", by John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Poison and medicine

Sometimes the only difference between a medicine and a poison is the dosage.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The works of creation

Psalm 135 Part 2 v.5-12. L. M.
The works of creation, providence, redemption of Israel, and destruction of enemies.

Great is the Lord, exalted high
Above all powers and every throne:
Whate'er he please, in earth or sea,
Or heav'n or hell, his hand hath done.

At his command the vapors rise,
The lightnings flash, the thunders roar;
He pours the rain, he brings the wind
And tempest from his airy store.

'Twas he those dreadful tokens sent,
O Egypt, through thy stubborn land,
When all thy first-born, beasts and men,
Fell dead by his avenging hand.

What mighty nations, mighty kings,
He slew, and their whole country gave
To Isr'el, whom his hand redeemed,
No more to be proud Pharaoh's slave!

His power the same, the same his grace,
That saves us from the hosts of hell;
And heav'n he gives us to possess,
Whence those apostate angels fell.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
The Psalms of David, 1719

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

Jesus lived and loved

William Gadsby, # 584 7s.

Jesus lived, and loved, and died,
Rose, and lives to intercede;
And with Zion on His breast,
He has said He’ll ever rest.

Long before this world was made,
Or that monster, Sin, appeared,
God was love, and loved the men
He ordained and then redeemed.

Love constrained the Lamb to die,
For a wretch so vile as I;
Love, immensely great and free,
Christ has shown to worthless me.

Once I rolled in guilt and sin,
Heeded not a heart unclean;
But I now with wonder tell,
Jesus saved my soul from hell.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

To thee our wants are known

To thee our wants are known,
From thee are all our pow'rs;
Accept what is thine own,
And pardon what is ours:
Praises, LORD, and prayers receive,
To thy word a blessing give.

Oh, grant that each of us
Now met before thee here,
May meet together thus,
When thou and thine appear
And follow thee to heav'n our home,
Even so, amen, LORD JESUS, come!
Rev 22:20

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scans and searches

Recent comments on full body scanning and invasive body searches by the Transportation Security Administration:

Benjamin Franklin: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Patrick Henry: "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Companion to the 1991 Sacred Harp

The Sacred Harp Publishing Company now has available The Makers of the Sacred Harp by Warren Steel and Richard Hulan.

The authors have put a great deal of time and effort in this work. The Makers of the Sacred Harp references all the tune and hymn writers with songs and hymns in the 1991 edition published by The Sacred Harp Publishing Company. Since many of the hymn writers and composers also have material in other books, it will be useful beyond just the 1991 edition of the Sacred Harp.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bless This House

Bless this house, O Lord we pray,
Make it safe by night and day.

Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out.

Bless the roof and chimneys tall,
Let thy peace lie over all.

Bless this door that it may prove,
Ever open, to joy and love.

Bless these windows shining bright,
Letting in God's heavenly light.

Bless the hearth, a-blazing there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer!

Bless the people here within,
Keep them pure and free from sin.

Bless us all that we may be,
Fit O Lord to dwell with thee.

Bless us all that one day we
May dwell, O Lord! With Thee!

Words and Music by Helen Taylor and May H. Morgan, 1927

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Text codes

Parents, don't know what your teen is saying in those crazy text messages? Try No Internet Slang Dictionary & Translator to translate internet slang and acronyms.

Friday, November 05, 2010

In Immanuel's land

In heaven:
The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace:
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His piercèd hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.

--Samuel Rutherford

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Did you vote?

Two days ago, Americans in great numbers went to polls (or not). Were you among them? I want to focus this post on why or why not people vote. Did you vote? If so, why? If not, why not?

It is a valuable right/duty/privilege.
I can change/support the direction the government is headed.
I wanted to cancel the vote of my spouse/brother/sister/uncle/cousin.
My employer gives me time off to go vote.
My brother was running for dog-catcher, and it's a good paying job.

Dumb and dumber is not an option; there was no way to select "none of the above".
Christ's kingdom is not of this world; we are strangers and pilgrims who should focus on the gospel and remain apolitical.
It doesn't matter; nothing ever changes.
I was too lazy to walk/run/drive/ride to the polling place.
My brother was running for dog-catcher.

The above are given as thought-provokers. Don't confine yourself to any idea I suggested. Please tell us from your heart why you did or did not vote.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Singing this weekend

Something to do, Saturday November 6th

The annual Little Hope Church and Russell Singing meets this weekend (d.v.) at the Little Hope Primitive Baptist Church building on FM 1669, north of Huntington, Texas. For more details, click

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Word today

esprit de corps. noun: a spirit of solidarity; a sense of pride, devotion, and honor among the members of a group. [From French esprit (spirit), de (of), corps (body, group)]

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The church is the garden of God

PSALM 92 PART 2 v.12ff L. M.
The church is the garden of God.

Lord, 'tis a pleasant thing to stand
In gardens planted by thine hand;
Let me within thy courts be seen,
Like a young cedar, fresh and green.

There grow thy saints in faith and love,
Blest with thine influence from above;
Not Lebanon with all its trees
Yields such a comely sight as these.

The plants of grace shall ever live;
(Nature decays, but grace must thrive;)
Time, that doth all things else impair,
Still makes them flourish strong and fair.

Laden with fruits of age, they show
The Lord is holy, just, and true;
None that attend his gates shall find
A God unfaithful or unkind.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
The Psalms of David, 1719

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Singing this weekend

Something to do, Saturday October 30 and Sunday October 31

The Fall Session of the Southwest Texas Sacred Harp Convention meets this weekend (d.v.) at the Austin Waldorf School on 8700 S. View Rd. in Austin, Texas. For more details, click HERE.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Running red lights

The city of Houston -- the largest city in Texas -- will vote on Nov. 2nd whether to keep the red light cameras they installed four years ago. A red light camera captures an image of a vehicle that illegally goes through an intersection when the light is red. Based on license & registration, tickets are mailed to owners of the violating vehicles.

For arguments
Increases safety
Saves lives
Reduces instances of red light violations

Against arguments
A money-making scheme (for the city & the company that runs the camera business)
Violates privacy
Punishes owners rather than drivers

If I hear one more "it doesn't matter if you're not doing anything wrong" argument, I think I'll scream! Otherwise, I'd like to hear your opinions.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Savior and Regenerator!
Thee alone, God we own,
Father and Creator.

Word Incarnate, we adore Thee!
Hosts above, God of Love,
Cast their crowns before Thee.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
One in Thee, Lord, we see,
Who Thy grace inherit.

May Thy Word be our Instructor,
Night and day, on our way,
Our divine conductor!

Visit us with Thy salvation;
Let Thy care still be near,
Round our habitation.

Jesus, our divine Protector,
Guide us still, let Thy will
Be our sole director!

John Cennick, (1718-1755)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Christ is all, by Mike McInnis

Ever possessed of eternal being
Robed in light which knew no dawn
Long ere time had its beginning
Stood our God with glory crowned
There amidst ten-thousand glories
Lacking nought and needing none
He conceived salvation's story
In covenant with His blessed Son.

Come ye ruined of the fall
Sing the song: 'Christ is All'

In that pact of free salvation
Christ became our Paschal Lamb
Slain before the world's foundation
How glorious that eternal plan
In the fullness of the appointed hour
Came to earth made like a man
Bore sin's curse, which was all ours
Satisfied the Law's demand.

Come ye ruined of the fall
Sing the song: 'Christ is All'

Hanging there in shame and suffering
Not for crimes of His own hand
But for the sins of His own people
Given Him ere the world began
Tho tasted of death's awful ruin
When He stooped to salve our fall
Yet the grave could not contain Him
Who is Lord of life and all.

Come ye ruined of the fall
Sing the song: 'Christ is All'

Now with the Father, interceding
By the merits of His blood
He cries not with useless pleading
To bring His ransomed home to God
In glories high above the world
Our King of kings is dressed
Before whom every knee shall bow
And every tongue confess.

Come ye ruined of the fall
Sing the song: 'Christ is All'
Christ is All, Christ is All
Yes, sing the song: 'Christ is All.'

By Mike McInnis 1975

Friday, October 15, 2010

In memory 1922-2010

Funeral services for Brother Herbert D. George, 87, of Huntington, Texas were held today (Friday, October 15, 2010) at 10 a.m. in the Highway Missionary Baptist Church in Huntington. His body was laid to rest to await the resurrection in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery in Maydelle. Brother George was born October 27, 1922 and died October 12, 2010.

Brother George was a veteran of World War II (Navy), a Missionary Baptist pastor in East Texas for 61 years, including 25 years at Highway Missionary Baptist Church, and father & father-in-law of our friends Becky and Charles Whisenant. May God comfort his family.

Monday, October 11, 2010

humiliation and exaltation

HYMN 63 L. M.
Christ's humiliation and exaltation. Rev. 5:12.

What greater honors shall we bring
To thee, O Lord our God, the Lamb,
When e'en the notes that angels sing
Are far inferior to Thy name?

Worthy is He that once was slain,
The Prince of Peace that groaned and died;
Worthy to rise, and live, and reign
At His Almighty Father's side.

Power and dominion are His due
Who stood condemned at Pilate's bar;
Wisdom belongs to Jesus too,
Though He was charged with madness here.

All riches are His native right,
Yet He sustained amazing loss;
To Him ascribe eternal might,
Who left His weakness on the cross.

Honor immortal must be paid,
Instead of scandal and of scorn;
While glory shines around His head,
And a bright crown without a thorn.

Blessings for ever on the Lamb
Who bore the curse for wretched men;
Let angels sound His sacred name,
And every creature say, Amen.

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

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Examples of Christ and the saints

HYMN 140 C. M.
The examples of Christ and the saints.

Give me the wings of faith to rise
Within the veil, and see
The saints above, how great their joys,
How bright their glories be.

Once they were mourning here below,
And wet their couch with tears;
They wrestled hard, as we do now,
With sins, and doubts, and fears.

I ask them whence their victory came,
They, with united breath,
Ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,
Their triumph to his death.

They marked the footsteps that he trod
His zeal inspired their breast;
And, following their incarnate God,
Possess the promised rest.

Our glorious Leader claims our praise
For his own pattern giv'n,
While the long cloud of witnesses
Show the same path to heav'n.

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

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Some things in the news

Yoga: Not Christianity
Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler says "he objects to 'the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine'."

"'That's just not Christianity,' Mohler told The Associated Press."

Soldier Dad sues Fred Phelps
"It is an emotional battle at the Supreme Court of the United States, pitting free speech, no matter how vile and hate-filled against the right to privacy.

"Al Snyder is suing Pastor Fred Phelps for protesting at his son’s funeral, Lance Cpl. Mathew Snyder."

Friday, October 01, 2010

Wide-spread healing streams

CLICK HERE for a tune with these words.

Eternal depth of love divine,
In Jesus, God with us, displayed;
How bright Thy beaming glories shine!
How wide Thy healing streams are spread!

With whom dost Thou delight to dwell?
Sinners, a vile and thankless race:
O God, what tongue aright can tell
How vast Thy love, how great Thy grace!

The dictates of Thy sovereign will
With joy our grateful hearts receive:
All Thy delight in us fulfill;
Lo! all we are to Thee we give.

To Thy sure love, Thy tender care,
Our flesh, soul, spirit, we resign:
O fix Thy sacred presence there,
And seal the abode for ever Thine.

O King of glory, Thy rich grace
Our feeble thought surpasses far;
Yea, even our crimes, though numberless,
Less numerous than Thy mercies are.

Still, Lord, Thy saving health display,
And arm our souls with heav'nly zeal;
So fearless shall we urge our way
Through all the powers of earth and hell.

original by Nikolaus L. von Zinzendorf, 1726.
translated by John Wesley (1703-1791)
Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1739

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sacred Harp Saturday

What: Sacred Harp Singing, using 2006 Cooper Book
When: Saturday, October 2, 2010
When: 10 a.m. till 3 p.m. (dinner served at noon)
Where: Smyrna Baptist Church, 5 miles west of Mt. Enterprise


Come one, come all; come ye, come y'all.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Don't know much about religion?

Some old song admitted, "don't know much about history." For what it's worth, a new Pew Forum Survey says Americans "don't know much about religion".

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Hymn by John Kent, number 1093 in the Gadsby Hymnal.

1. How welcome to the tempest-tossed,
Amidst the storm’s career,
While horror spreads from coast to coast,
Is some kind haven near!
2. But far more welcome to the soul
Is that secure abode,
(When terrors o’er the conscience roll)
The Rock prepared of God.
3. Jesus, arrayed in mortal form,
Of whom the prophets tell,
On his dear head, O what a storm
Of awful vengeance fell!
4. To him, my only Hiding-place,
Let me for shelter fly;
The storm of death draws on apace,
And who can say how nigh?
5. In that dread moment, O to hide
Beneath his sheltering blood!
’Twill Jordan ’s icy waves divide,
And land my soul with God.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Edwards and Whitsitt

Directly opposite of Morgan Edwards, who lamented that the kind of reasoning used to deny anointing the sick with oil would lead Baptists to discontinue every positive rite, Whitsitt believed the abandoning of things like feet washing and anointing the sick with oil should lead Baptists to abandon immersion and strict communion as well.

"The crowd this evening filled aisles and gallery, and the Baptists must receive a position in the respect of the citizens such as they have never held before. I am half disposed to look with better favor upon them, although I can perceive no good reason why they should retain either immersion or strict communion. Still they do retain them, and it would be destructive to say aught against either of them. The time is coming, far off perhaps, when both will be abolished.

"Both of them are according to the Apostolic model--at any rate immersion is beyond any question the Apostolic mode--but so are foot washing, the holy kiss, the anointing of the sick with oil and numbers of other items that have fallen into disuse in deference to changes in time & season. Why hold to those when these are rejected?" – From Whitsitt's diary (1886), Vol. 2, pages 10-11, as cited in W. H. Whitsitt: the Man and the Controversy by James H. Slatton, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2009

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sacred Harp this weekend

Saturday September 18, 2010
Pasadena Singing—2nd Annual
First United Methodist Church
1062 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena, Texas
Starts at 10 a.m.
(1991 Revision)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Pediatric Alzheimers"

Having a little experience with folks with Alzheimer's, I find it sad to learn there is a childhood version, known as Neimann Pick Type C. Please watch this video.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Christ the substance

HYMN 12 C. M.

Christ is the substance of the Levitical priesthood.

The true Messiah now appears,
The types are all withdrawn;
So fly the shadows and the stars
Before the rising dawn.

No smoking sweets, nor bleeding lambs,
Nor kid nor bullock slain;
Incense and spice of costly names
Would all be burnt in vain.

Aaron must lay his robes away,
His mitre and his vest,
When God himself comes down to be
The offering and the priest.

He took our mortal flesh, to show
The wonders of his love;
For us he paid his life below,
And prays for us above.

"Father," he cries, "forgive their sins,
For I myself have died;"
And then he shows his opened veins,
And pleads his wounded side.

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

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sluggard, et al.

The sluggard.
Prov 6:10; 24:30; 22:13; 20:4; 1 Cor 9:24; Luke 13:24

The wishes that the sluggard frames,
Of course must fruitless prove;
With folded arms he stands and dreams,
But has no heart to move.

His field from others may be known,
The fence is broken through;
The ground with weeds is overgrown,
And no good crop in view.

No hardship, he, or toil, can bear,
No difficulty meet;
He wastes his hours at home, for fear
Of lions in the street.

What wonder then if sloth and sleep,
Distress and famine bring!
Can he in harvest hope to reap,
Who will not sow in spring?

'Tis often thus, in soul concerns,
We gospel-sluggards see;
Who if a wish would serve their turns,
Might true believers be.

But when the preacher bids them watch,
And seek, and strive, and pray,
At every poor excuse they catch,
A lion's in the way!

To use the means of grace, how loath!
We call them still in vain;
They yield to their beloved sloth,
And fold their arms again.

Dear Savior, let thy pow'r appear,
The outward call to aid;
These drowsy souls, can only hear
The voice, that wakes the dead.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Time Enough by Daniel S. Warner

Time enough, the sluggard cries,
He thinks the season’s slow;
Yet time enough, he hopes, and dies,
And sinks to endless woe.

Time enough, the fool exclaims,
And mocks his awful doom;
Then cries, when bound in icy chains,
“Oh, must I go so soon?”

Time enough, the sleeper dreams,
While death is standing by;
Soon lost amid eternal scenes,
He wakes to Satan’s lie.

Time enough, oh, cursed spell!
Sing not that siren song,
Ye mortals on the brink of hell,
Where time is endless long.

Poetry by Nancy Ann Goode Andrews

I've tried to act the prudent part,
In all I do or say,
But so deceitful is my heart
It often leads astray.

This promise hath been sent to me,
And doth my soul sustain,
Thy Maker shall thy husband be,
The Lord of Hosts His name.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sacred Harp defined

Sacred Harp "...singing at the top of your lungs, and from the bottom of your heart." (someone's definition)

Thursday, September 09, 2010


"Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone."

homespun –adjective: Unsophisticated; unpolished; rustic.

ennui –noun: a feeling of utter weariness and discontent

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Book burning

The Dove World Outreach Center, a non-denominational church in Gainesville, Florida, plans to burn copies of the Koran (Islam's holy book) on September 11 of this year. This is a protest of Islam as "a religion of the devil" and its part in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and its citizens.

My opinion.
The church has every right to do so if they wish (except for possible burning ordinances in Gainesville). That does not mean it is a good idea, but I defend their freedom to do so. I believe Islam is a false religion, but feel this is more of a publicity stunt than something of actual worth.

I remember one occasion of book burning in the book of Acts. But it was a burning of real substance -- people who had converted to Christianity burning their own books and leaving their past behind. This burning is one of symbolism that will probably do three things: 1. Gain publicity or notoriety for the Dove World Outreach Center and its pastor; 2. Anger Muslims; and 3. Increase sales of the Koran (I assume that the 50 some-odd members don't just have a lot of previous Korans laying around and went out and bought books for the occasion; but that is an assumption on my part).

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The truth of God the promiser

HYMN 60, L. M.
The truth of God the promiser; or, The promises are our security.

Praise, everlasting praise, be paid
To him that earth's foundation laid;
Praise to the God whose strong decrees
Sway the creation as he please.

Praise to the goodness of the Lord,
Who rules his people by his word,
And there, as strong as his decrees,
He sets his kindest promises.

Firm are the words his prophets give,
Sweet words on which his children live;
Each of them is the voice of God,
Who spoke, and spread the skies abroad.

Each of them powerful as that sound
That bid the new-made world go round;
And stronger than the solid poles
On which the wheel of nature rolls.

Whence then should doubts and fears arise?
Why trickling sorrows drown our eyes?
Slowly, alas! our mind receives
The comfort that our Maker gives.

O for a strong, a lasting faith,
To credit what th' Almighty saith!
T' embrace the message of his Son,
And call the joys of heav'n our own.

Then should the earth's old pillars shake,
And all the wheels of nature break,
Our steady souls should fear no more
Than solid rocks when billows roar.

Our everlasting hopes arise
Above the ruinable skies,
Where the eternal Builder reigns,
And his own courts his power sustains.

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

Friday, September 03, 2010

Singing in Ringgold

Lord willing, we will be singing tomorrow (Saturday September 4) at New Providence Primitive Baptist Church at Ringgold, Louisiana. To reach the church building, go to downtown Ringgold and travel east for 1 mile on Hwy. 154. The church building and cemetery are on the left/north side of the road.

We will start at 10 a.m. and sing until about 3 p.m. Cooper (2006) and Denson (1991) Sacred Harps will be used.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Medical mania

The KTBB (Tyler, TX) radio station asked for opinions this morning, "Should parents be charged in 'faith-healing' deaths?". I received no answer after the 8th phone ring, so decided to post my opinion on my blog instead.

A couple who are members of the Followers of Christ church in Oregon City, Oregon, pled not guilty to manslaughter on Monday. The charge is for failing to provide medical care to their son, who died shortly after birth. The baby was premature, weighing a little over 3 lbs. The birth was neither attended by a doctor, nor was one called. The members of this church believe in using prayer instead of medicine.

In general parents should have the right to make medical decisions for their minor children, whether they believe in prayer only, medicine only, or a combination of both. Since children are involved this becomes a very emotional issue.

We have lived in a secularized society so long that many do not believe God can heal and that medical attention is always the proper and necessary option. In cases like this one in Oregon City, most will assert that the child would have lived if he had gotten medical attention. But if we think little deeper about it we would remember that children getting medical attention die every day. Some die in spite of the medical attention, and some die from the medicines or procedures they get. Do you want to charge those parents with manslaughter too? If not, why not?

[Note: I do not endorse the religious views of the Followers of Christ church in Oregon City, Oregon, and I do not believe it is wrong to seek medical attention.]

Monday, August 30, 2010

A dose of lying

Former baseball star Roger Clemens was arraigned today (Mon Aug 30) on six felony counts. Prosecutors say he lied to Congress in his testimony concerning steroid use.

I have no sympathy for Clemens, but there is a lot of irony here. Lying to the liars! I'm sure they ought to be able to recognize a lie up there is Congress. They're always telling them. While arraigning Clemens, why not also arraign Congress for lying to the American people?!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The desired haven

Psalm 107:30 ...he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

1. The Christian navigates a sea
Where various forms of death appear;
Nor skill, alas! nor power has he,
Aright his dangerous course to steer.

2. Why does he venture, then, from shore,
And dare so many deaths to brave?
Because the land affrights him more
Than all the perils of the wave;

3. Because he hopes a port to find,
Where all his toil will be repaid;
And though unskilful, weak, and blind,
Yet Jesus bids him nothing dread.

4. His destined land he sometimes sees,
And thinks his toils will soon be o’er;
Expects some favourable breeze
Will waft him quickly to the shore.

5. But sudden clouds obstruct his view,
And he enjoys the sight no more;
Nor does he now believe it true
That he had ever seen the shore.

6. Though fear his heart should overwhelm,
He’ll reach the port for which he’s bound;
For Jesus holds and guides the helm,
And safety is where he is found.

This is number 1049 in A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship by William Gadsby. It was written by Thomas Kelly. I liked it so much when I read it, I wrote a tune to go with it. See below.

Kelly, a tune

Kelly, long meter doubled fuging tune in 4/4 time; Key of G minor
Click on image to see larger version. Print and sing if you would like. Don't sell it to anybody!! © 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Georgian Harmony

The hardback edition of The Georgian Harmony is now available. It contains 118 pages of music by one composer, Raymond C. Hamrick of Macon, Georgia.

The regular price is $20 plus $5 shipping and handling. There is a discount for purchases of an entire box of 19 books. For detailed ordering information contact John Hollingsworth or John Plunkett

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Saviour, whom absent we love

O Saviour, whom absent we love,
Whom not having seen we adore,
Whose name is exalted above
All glory, dominion, and power;

O come and display us as Thine,
And leave us no longer to roam.
Let the light of Thy presence, Lord, shine,
Let the trumpet soon summon us home.

Oh, then shall the mists be removed,
And round us Thy brightness be poured.
We shall meet Thee whom absent we loved,
We shall see whom unseen we adored.

Oh, then never more shall the fears,
The trials, temptations, and woes,
Which darken this valley of tears,
Intrude on our blissful repose.

Or, if yet remembered above,
Remembrance no sadness shall raise;
They will bring us fresh thoughts of Thy love,
New themes for our wonder and praise.

William Cowper, 1731-1800

Saturday, August 21, 2010

About that mosque

I keep hearing a lot about this mosque that may be built near ground zero. It has drawn a lot of fire from political and religious conservatives. Being in that camp, I nevertheless have a different opinion. I have not researched the details closely, so I am open to correction if I am mistaken about something.

The issue really heated up after President Obama said on Friday night that they have a constitutional right to build a mosque there. It is my understanding that this is on private property and I agree with the President. Religious groups of whatever stripe have a constitutional right in America to exist and perpetuate their religion without government interference.

On Saturday the President backtracked a bit, noting that he was only discussing the constitutional right and said, "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there." Unlike the President, I will comment on the wisdom. I do not think it is wise and it would be a gesture of conciliation for them to withdraw.

From a strictly religious standpoint of my belief as Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, I would be glad for no mosques to exist anywhere. From a viewpoint of freedom of religion from government interference, I believe they have as much right to build there as a Christian church building or a Jewish synagogue. If there is more to this, I will be glad for someone to point it out.

BTW, it is perfectly fine for any number of private citizens to use the influence of the pen to try to convince the builders to not put their mosque there.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Selah" by Ramsbottom

"Selah" by Ramsbottom

We live in a world of much rush, haste and bustle. Never has there been a time when people have seemed so busy and yet all this with a shorter working week and apparently more leisure time.

Satan loves people to be so busy that they scarcely have time for a moment's thought of eternal things in fact, not even a thought for the nobler things of this life.

The word "SELAH" is found continually in the Book of Psalms. It appears to indicate a pause in the music; so often we find that after something of great importance appears the word "SELAH": stop, pause, think about it.

It must not be rushed. And what is written in Scripture is written on the heart of every sinner saved by grace.

Divine teaching will bring us each to stop, pause and "consider our latter end."

"Pause, my soul, and ask the question, Art thou ready to meet God?"

The spirit of the age affects God's people also.

How easy it is to be swallowed up with the rush and bustle of even lawful, even necessary things!

We need the loving rebuke of the Lord:
"Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful."

Sometimes the voice of affliction is:
"Come ye yourselves apart and rest awhile."

It is easy to be carried away by the rush and bustle of religious activities.

Were there ever so many services?

Was there ever so much preaching?

But what of the effect?

This is a word specially to gospel preachers.

The recent reading of the life of a well-known preacher of the last century brought this solemnly home. How he was taught the vital importance of drawing nigh even into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, and seeking to dwell there!

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide beneath the shadow of the Almighty."

It seems that today there is a wrong balance. We have as much preaching, as many services as the saints of old and, we believe, the same truth. But they were blessed with much nearness, much communion with the Lord, much of the Spirit, much wrestling in prayer.

If we preach much, and pray not as much, there will be little fruit of our ministry.

O for grace to be found waiting daily, hourly, on the Lord!

By B.A. Ramsbottom

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Antidote of death

The vital savour of His name
Restores our fainting breath;
Believing, we rejoice in Him,
The Antidote of death.

Isaac Watts (stanza 3 of "The Different Success of the Gospel", beginning "Christ and His cross is all our theme")

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Just wondering

With all the complaining I hear about the heat, you'd think some people don't think it is supposed to be hot in East Texas in August.

Friday, August 13, 2010

On a stretch of road near a High School in North Carolina (for real)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Missing person, San Augustine

Patricia Johnson, of San Augustine, has been missing since Saturday morning August 7th. She is a 37-year-old woman, white, 5'5", 160 pounds with blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a gray shirt and blue jeans.

"If the public sees or knows where Johnson is they are urged to call the San Augustine County Sheriff's Office at 936-275-2424."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Boston sings

New recordings are available at Boston Shapenote Resources.

"The Earliest music in America is neither dying nor dead. It's standing right in front of you Singing."

Monday, August 09, 2010

Our new "justice"

I found the following tidbit in "The Kagan moral train wreck", by Robert Knight. I never heard it on any news.

"Elena Kagan] falsified a physicians' group's document on partial-birth abortion to reflect her own view instead of theirs – and it was submitted to the Supreme Court as evidence. This is fraud, plain and simple...When she was a legal advisor to President Clinton, Kagan was the point person in efforts to keep partial-birth abortion legal. She took a draft copy of a statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and changed it to say the opposite."

Friday, August 06, 2010

Sweet place

Sweet place; sweet place alone!
The court of God most high,
The heaven of heavens, the throne
Of spotless majesty!

The stranger homeward bends,
And sigheth for his rest:
Heaven is my home, my friends
Lodge there in Abraham's breast.

Earth's but a sorry tent,
Pitched but a few frail days,
A short leased tenement;
Heaven's still my song, my praise.

No tears from any eyes
Drop in that holy choir:
But death itself there dies,
And sighs themselves expire.

There should temptations cease,
My frailties there should end.
There should I rest in peace
In the arms of my best friend.

Jerusalem on high
My song and city is,
My home whene'er I die,
The center of my bliss.

Thy walls, sweet city! thine
With pearls are garnished,
Thy gates with praises shine,
Thy streets with gold are spread.

No sun by day shines there,
No moon by silent night.
O no! these needless are;
The Lamb's the city's light.

There dwells my Lord, my King,
Judged here unfit to live;
There angels to Him sing,
And lowly homage give.

The patriarchs of old
There from their travels cease:
The prophets there behold
Their longed for Prince of peace.

The Lamb's apostles there
I might with joy behold:
The harpers I might hear
Harping on harps of gold.

The bleeding martyrs, they
Within those courts are found;
All clothed in pure array,
Their scars with glory crowned.

Ah me! ah me! that I
In Kedar's tents here stay;
No place like this on high;
Thither, Lord! guide my way.

Samuel Crossman (1623--1683)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

In the news yesterday

A homosexual federal judge in San Francisco ruled against California's Proposition 8. Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment passed by California voters and upheld as constitutional by California's Supreme Court, restricts marriage to one man and one woman. Now one man throw it out. It will be appealed and probably go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Up to this point, only judges and legislatures have favored homosexual "marriage". When given the chance to vote, the majority of the people oppose it. I wouldn't be surprised if government overruling of the will of the people eventually leads to the rocky disintegration of this country.

The state of Massachusetts has joined in a rear attack against the constitutional provision of the election of the President of the United States by electoral vote. Their governor signed a proposal (joining Hawaii, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and Washington) requiring that participating states commit their presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote (this would only take effect when enough states constituting more than half of the country’s electoral votes sign on to it). The Electoral College has served this country well since its founding. There are arguments pro & con, but the electoral system follows the original intent of presidents being elected by states rather than popular vote. It prevents candidates from just pitching their candidacies to the large population centers and at least tends toward promoting the idea of appealing to people in all states and regions of those states.

To me, one interesting sidelight of this is that the choice of Massachusetts' governing elite could easily circumvent the will of the citizens of their own state. Should they vote for the candidate who loses the popular vote nationwide, their electors would go to the candidate they opposed!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Convention coming

The 155th Anniversary of the East Texas Convention will be held (Lord willing) on August 7 and 8 at the Henderson Community Center, 302 Fair Park, Henderson, Texas. Singing starts at 9:30 both days.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Figures links

Last week I did several posts on figures of speech in the Bible. Here are a few online sources that address the topic.

Figures of Speech in the Bible

Figures of Speech by Robert I. Bradshaw

Interpreting the Bible: a handbook of terms and methods

Alliterated Sermon Outlines by John G. Butler

In light of past discussions, I found Butler statement interesting: "It may surprise some that the Bible does have some good illustrations of alliteration and other literary devices which give a preacher a good precedence for alliterating his sermons."

It should not pass our attention, though, that this alliteration was used in poetic writing. As far as I can tell, there are no biblical alliterative sermons.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

the volumes of Thy Word

I love the volumes of Thy Word;
What light and joy those leaves afford
To souls benighted and distressed!
Thy precepts guide my doubtful way,
Thy fear forbids my feet to stray,
Thy promise leads my heart to rest.

From the discoveries of Thy law
The perfect rules of life I draw;
These are my study and delight:
Not honey so invites the taste,
Nor gold that hath the furnace past
Appears so pleasing to the sight.

Thy threat'nings wake my slumb'ring eyes,
And warn me where my danger lies;
But 'tis Thy blessèd Gospel, Lord,
That makes my guilty conscience clean,
Converts my soul, subdues my sin,
And gives a free, but large reward.

Who knows the errors of his thoughts?
My God, forgive my secret faults,
And from presumptuous sins restrain:
Accept my poor attempts of praise,
That I have read Thy book of grace,
And book of nature, not in vain.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
The Psalms of David, 1719

Friday, July 30, 2010

Without Mixture

"Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together," Deuteronomy 22:11.

"As Christ was preached under types and figure through the whole Law, we may reasonably suppose that not a single command was then given but what had an eye to Him and His great salvation. But if we find the LORD so strict respecting the outward dress of the body, what may we conclude the LORD would enjoin respecting the inward clothing of the soul? If woolen and linen were offensive to be worn together, surely, we cannot appear before God in the motley dress of Jesus' righteousness and our own. The fine linen, scripture saith, is the righteousness of saints. With this, which Jesus puts on His people, nothing of our own woolen garments must be worn. The righteousness of a creature, had we any, which in fact we have none, cannot be suited to mix with the righteousness of the Creator."
-- Robert Hawker in Shreveport Grace Church Bulletin, July 4, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Four seeds

Ye sons of earth prepare the plough,
Break up your fallow ground!
The Sower is gone forth to sow,
And scatter blessings round.

The seed that finds a stony soil
Shoots forth a hasty blade;
But ill repays the sower's toil,
Soon withered, scorched, and dead.

The thorny ground is sure to balk
All hopes of harvest there;
We find a tall and sickly stalk,
But not the fruitful ear.

The beaten path and highway side
Receive the trust in vain;
The watchful birds the spoil divide,
And pick up all the grain.

But where the Lord of grace and power
Has blessed the happy field,
How plenteous is the golden store
The deep wrought furrows yield!

Father of mercies, we have need
Of Thy preparing grace;
Let the same hand that gives me seed
Provide a fruitful place!

William Cowper (1731-1800)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Friday, July 23, 2010

Most common error in the English language

According to 10 Common Errors "Spell Check" Won’t Catch, "...confusing 'its' and 'it’s' is the most common error in the English language." Other errors discussed are:

Your versus You’re
Affect versus Effect
Through versus Threw
Their versus There versus They’re
Farther versus Further

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New wine

Is anybody out there? Have I bored you all to death with the figures of speech series of posts? OK, here is a related post, but hopefully one that will awaken you.

Debating on the subject of wine/alcohol/abstinence/moderation, a brother used Isaiah 65:8 as a proof text that new wine is non-alcoholic. Is that so?

Isaiah 65:8 Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all.

Seems to me this is a figure of speech. If we want to be literal, there are grapes in the cluster not a bunch of juice hanging there. What figure of speech is this? One of the twenty? Something else?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Figures of Speech 5

17. Pun -- A play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on the similar sense or sound of different words.
Like some other figures of speech, puns in an original language usually do not translate well into the receiver language. One that is noticable in Greek and English is found in Philippians 3:2-3: Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision [katatome, to cut up, mutilate]. For we are the circumcision [peritome], which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

According to David Peters the Hebrew of Judges 10:4 has one, which he illustrates thusly: His thirty sons rode around on thirty burros [´ayirim] and lived in thirty boroughs [´ayarim] in Gilead.

18. Simile -- A stated comparison (usually formed with "like" or "as") between two fundamentally dissimilar things that have certain qualities in common.
II Peter 3:8 day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Song of Solomon 1:14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Song of Solomon 4:3 Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

19. Synecdoche -- A figure of speech is which a part is used to represent the whole, the whole for a part, the specific for the general, the general for the specific, or the material for the thing made from it.
Examples: John 3:16 -- world stands for people; Matthew 10:38 -- cross stands for self-sacrifice.

According to some the distinction between metonymy and synecdoche "is that in metonymy, the exchange is made between two related nouns; in synecdoche, the exchange is made between two related ideas."

20. Understatement -- A figure of speech in which a writer or a speaker deliberately makes a situation seem less important or serious than it is.
Perhaps Ruth 2:3 And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech. It reads as if this is merely a fortuitous circumstance, but it draws our focus to the providence of it.

The Top 20 Figures of Speech (17-20)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Figures of Speech 4

13. Onomatopoeia -- The formation or use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.
Alter and Kermode, in
The Literary Guide to the Bible, find onomatopoeia in the Hebrew of Isaiah 5:24 and 24:19-20. I am not qualified to know whether this is correct, but pass it on to you who may.

14. Oxymoron -- A figure of speech in which incongruous or contradictory terms appear side by side.
Isaiah 58:10, "...thy darkness [shall] be as the noonday:"

15. Paradox -- A statement that appears to contradict itself.
Matthew 13:12, "...whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath."
Matthew 20:16, "So the last shall be first, and the first last:"
I'm thinking that those with a high view of inspiration might tend to find more paradoxes, while those with a low view might just pass them off as actual contradictions.

16. Personification -- A figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstraction is endowed with human qualities or abilities.
1 Corinthians 12:15-16, "If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?"

The Top 20 Figures of Speech (13-16)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Figures of Speech 3

9. Irony -- The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. A statement or situation where the meaning is contradicted by the appearance or presentation of the idea.
Job 12:2, "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you." I really like Job's assessment of his friends' comments. Many of us might call this sarcasm rather than irony. Irony is is usually "more subtle" than sarcasm, and I'm not sure just where the line is. Job doesn't seem real subtle.

10. Litotes -- A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite.
Act 19:23 And the same time there arose
no small stir about that way.
Saying there was "no small stir" means there was a big one. I really like the use of this kind of figure of speech.

11. Metaphor -- An implied comparison between two unlike things that actually have something important in common.
Song of Solomon 2:1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
Song of Solomon 4:12 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

12. Metonymy -- A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated; also, the rhetorical strategy of describing something indirectly by referring to things around it.
Proverbs 10:20, "The tongue of the righteous is choice silver." Here, the tongue, closely associated with speaking, represents words or speech.

The Top 20 Figures of Speech (9-12)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Figures of Speech 2

5. Assonance -- Identity or similarity in sound between internal vowels in neighboring words.
Usually in the original but not observable in English. In Hebrew, Exodus 15:12-13
natita, nahita, neihalta. I Timothy 3:16 does something similar in Greek, with the first word in each line having the same ending sound -- ephanerothe, edikaiothe, ophthe, ekeruchthe, episteuthe, anelephthe -- but that is probably more like rhyme.

About.grammar gives the old Hoover vacuum cleaner slogan -- "It beats as it sweeps as it cleans" -- as an English (non-biblical) example of assonance.

6. Chiasmus -- A verbal pattern in which the second half of an expression is balanced against the first but with the parts reversed.
Amos chapter 5, parts of verses 4 & 5 arranged to make it more visual:

Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
But seek not Bethel,
nor enter into Gilgal,
and pass not to Beersheba:
for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity,
and Bethel shall come to nought.
Seek the LORD, and ye shall live

7. Euphemism -- The substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit.
The use of sleep for death in John 11:11 is usually considered a euphemism:
These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Genesis 4:1 tells us "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived...", a point we well understand without a more explicit term.

8. Hyperbole -- An extravagant statement; the use of exaggerated terms for the purpose of emphasis or heightened effect.
Here I am fearful of saying the Bible makes exaggerated statements. Liberalists with loose views on inspiration tend to find lots of hyperbole in the Bible. If you don't accept the Bible as the Word of God anyway, you are likely to find anything miraculous or unusual to be hyperbole. Literalists and those with a high view of inspiration probably won't find much hyperbole (maybe even miss it if it is really there?).

Perhaps Matthew 5:29 could qualify as an example of hyperbole:
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. Most people don't think Jesus want them literally tearing their eyes out.

The Top 20 Figures of Speech (5-8)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Figures of Speech 1

I mentioned yesterday that I think we can often miss or misinterpret the figures of speech in the Bible. Over several days, Lord willing, I am going to post The Top 20 Figures of Speech from about.grammar. Today is 1 through 4 (in alphabetical order) from their list. Please interact with these series of posts. Present uses of the different kinds of figures of speech in the Bible. Point out where missing the figure of speech sets one up for misinterpretation. Agree or disagree with my examples. Here goes.

1. Alliteration -- Repetition of an initial consonant sound.
Probably the best illustration of alliteration found in the Bible is Psalm 119. This alliteration cannot be seen in our English Bibles, though. This points up that this kind of figure of speech, at least, does not translate well. Psalm 119 is a song composed of 176 verses divided into 22 sections. Each of these 22 sections contains verses that correspond to the Hebrew alphabet. So the first section always starts with Aleph, the second Beth, and so forth through the Hebrew alphabet. Jeremiah uses a kindred structure in Lamentations chapter 3.

There is use of alliteration in the Greek of Hebrews 1:1. I transliterate it here:
polumeros kai polutropos palai ho theos lalesas tois patrasin en tois prophetais

(Lots of "p" sound.) Literal translations focus on maintaining the integrity of the meaning, so this type of figure is seldom seen outside the original autographs. The International Standard Version worked toward it a bit in Heb. 1:1, giving "God, having spoken in former times in fragmentary and varied fashion to our forefathers by the prophets,"

2. Anaphora -- Repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses.
Matthew 5:3-11 and Isaiah 14:13-14 are examples of this.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth...

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

(I think I have heard this style a good bit in preaching.)

3. Antithesis -- The juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases.
I believe Romans 5:15 can be considered an example of this.
But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Compare also Isaiah 59:9 as an example.

4. Apostrophe -- Breaking off discourse to address some absent person or thing, some abstract quality, an inanimate object, or a nonexistent character.
In Matthew 23, Jesus speaks to the crowd of scribes and Pharisees, then breaks off to address Jerusalem in verse 37.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

I believe these are some legitimate examples of these figures of speech. I am not sure that missing the figure in these cases are as integral to missing the meaning as some other figures of speech.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Systematic Theology again

Being a country boy, every once in awhile I like to run a stick up in a hole and see what comes crawling out. So with Systematic Theology. I usually can poke some of you out with this one, and y'all ain't been very active for awhile. So here goes.

It is clear to me that God wrote the Bible and that men write systematic theologies. The Bible is a harmonious whole provided to man by God. It is often not the harmonious whole in the preconceived way we think it is. Too many times we study half of what the Bible says about something, form our opinions, and then toss out the other half of what the Bible says about that subject. In effect, we form a systematic grid that we place over the word of God and dispose of whatever doesn't fit that grid. It is too often that we don't realize that it is the word of God that needs to be placed over the grid. If the grid isn't fitting the Word, toss IT.

"We must recognize that God and the Scriptures rule over our theology and not the other way around." -- John Stevenson

Those of you who know me know that I am quite the biblical literalist. When James says the elders were to anoint with oil, I believe the elders were literally anointing with literal oil. When Paul discusses a head covering in I Corithians 11, I believe he really meant what he said.

But it is a problem that we often misinterpret the Bible because we do not recognize that it uses figures of speech. When we try to literalize what is not literal, we run into nonsense.

From this post, I want to launch over the next few days a highlighting of the most common figures of speech in the English language and look at how or whether these are used in our Bible. Come back tomorrow. Similar time, same place.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A sad thought

One day this past week I thought about the comment we patriotic Americans sometimes make: "The United States is the greatest nation in the world."

With this in my mind, the thought struck me, "God help the world."

Friday, July 09, 2010

A $50 Lesson.....

Copied from an e-mail

"I recently asked my friends' little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up.

"She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there smiling.

"So I asked her, 'If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?'

"She replied, 'I'd give food and houses to all the poor homeless people.'

"Her parents beamed with pride.

"'Wow...what a worthy goal.' I told her, 'But you don't have to wait until you're President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and sweep up my yard, and I'll pay you $50. Then I'll take you over to the grocery store near where the homeless guys hang out, and you can give one the $50 to use toward food and a new house.'

"She thought that over for a few moments, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, 'Why doesn't the homeless guy just come over and do the work, and then you can just pay him the $50?'

"I said, 'Welcome to the Republican Party.'

"Her parents still aren't speaking to me."


[Note: I don't think she'd fit in the current Republican Party either.]

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Read and heard

Read today:
Sacred Harp is a style of singing that is more often "caught" than "taught".

Heard the other day:
What we think is a coincidence is really a God-incidence.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The storm hushed

The storm hushed.

'Tis past--the dreadful stormy night
Is gone, with all its fears!
And now I see returning light,
The Lord, my Sun, appears.

The tempter, who but lately said,
I soon shall be his prey;
Has heard my Savior's voice and fled
With shame and grief away.

Ah, LORD, since thou didst hide thy face,
What has my soul endured?
But now 'tis past, I feel thy grace,
And all my wounds are cured!

O wondrous change! but just before
Despair beset me round;
I heard the lion's horrid roar,
And trembled at the sound.

Before corruption, guilt and fear,
My comfort blasted fell;
And unbelief discovered near
The dreadful depths of hell.

But JESUS pitied my distress,
He heard my feeble cry;
Revealed his blood and righteousness,
And brought salvation nigh.

Beneath the banner of his love,
I now secure remain;
The tempter frets, but dares not move
To break my peace again.

LORD, since thou thus hast broke my bands,
And set the captive free;
I would devote my tongue, my hands,
My heart, my all to thee.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Expository preaching

Awhile back I quoted Mike McInnis writing, "The whole concept of 'preaching' as necessarily involving taking a particular text and then developing it for a half hour or more is more a learned activity than one which is directed by NT example." Several of you disagreed with Mike and me, though not strenuously.

Now here is a quote in the opposite direction from Noah Lee: "It is my conviction that all sermons should be expository sermons in order to be faithful to the Word of God. When a preacher chooses to preach on a topic or a theme, he runs the risk of injecting his personal opinions or agendas into the sermon and neglecting the main idea of the Biblical text. Every expository sermon follows the same format: the text is read, the text is explained, and the text is applied."

I generally agree with Brother McInnis. I specifically deny that "all sermons should be expository sermons in order to be faithful to the Word of God." What do you think, readers? Should all sermons be expository sermons? If so, based on what reasoning? If not, why not?

[Note: Bro. Lee explains expository preaching as "the method of studying a particular passage of Scripture, discovering the main point or big idea of that passage, explaining that point to the church and making points of application from that passage's big idea."]

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Old Shiloh

Attended the Old Shiloh Cemetery picnic today. I think it is one of the few East Texas homecomings we still call a picnic.

The Old Shiloh Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Rusk County, and a very large country cemetery. The first recorded burial is 1853. The picnic is only a shadow of its former days. Once there were two churches at Shiloh and two singings -- one "little book" and one Sacred Harp. By the time I came along, the old church (org. circa 1843) and the Sacred Harp Singing had died out, and there was only the little-book singing in the Southern Baptist Church (org. 1902). It was a big deal in the days of my youth. It was probably the largest picnic gathering/singing in the area. In addition to singers and those who had family in the cemetery, it was big draw for politicians and singing groups. The church house was always full and overflowing. Today perhaps a third the building was filled. The singing crowd was bigger than the last time I attended. The overall crowd was much smaller.

Tradition has it that the picnic as we know began in 1867 when my great-grandfather's sister, Susan E. Vaughn Pierce (wife of Wylie Matthew Pierce), and others met for a picnic and cemetery cleaning day.

The cemetery is located just east of Hwy. 315, about 6 miles northeast of Mt. Enterprise, Texas.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Inalienable rights

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma asks Elena Kagan whether she believes there are inalienable rights. She said, "I don't have a view of what are natural rights independent of the Constitution." Seems like a lot of intellectual dishonesty there.

Is this important? I believe it is. The United States is founded, at least partially, on the idea of our Constitution preserving pre-existing rights. Some people believe we only have the rights granted by the Constitution and they can be taken away at any time.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Rafters: something I miss

Last week while wandering around the internet, I ran up on the Rafter Angle Calculator at Construction It looks like a nice resource, and it brought back some memories. 

Once upon a time I was a rafter man on a framing crew. It seems far away now. It’s been probably 15 years or more since I did much construction work. On days when I’m not out in the 100 degree heat, I miss both framing in general in rafter cutting in particular. [Actually out in the heat I don’t miss it quite as much ;-) ] 

After finding the “Rafter Angle Calculator,” I did some further searching on rafter cutting. It appears to be a skill whose practitioners are dwindling. Or so they say. Pre-made trusses are one major factor in this. Curiously, while reading about the subject online I didn’t notice anyone mentioning that rafters could be laid out with a framing square. After learning to cut rafters from my Dad, I tried to learn more through reading and practice. One of the best was an old textbook cast off by some school. I’m going to have to hunt it up out of storage and find the title. [Added: It was Simplified Roof Framing by J. Douglas Wilson and S. O. Werner, 1927.] 

Eventually I might cut an entire roof ahead of or at the beginning of construction. In order to not have thousands of dollars of 2X6’s cut wrong, I used a three-part safety system. I laid out the rafter with a framing square, calculated the length of the rafter with a Construction Master Calculator by Calculated Industries* (given to me by my boss), and used a rafter table booklet title Full Length Roof Framer by A. F. J. Riechers.** If these were the same, I was confident there was no mistake and the 6-1/2" worm drive Skil Saw was ready to take its bite. If you find a house with rafters that I cut it will have a pattern rafter (or more according to roof type) with all the information about the rafter – cut, length, depth of seat cut, overhang, etc., as well as a signature of approval. 

Those were the days.

Other info on roof framing 

Roof Framing by Marshall Gross (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Co., 1998)


*The Construction Master Calculator can calculate in feet/inches and figure pitch, rise, run, etc. 
** The Full Length Roof Framer has been in publication since 1917 and is still not outdated.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Desirable word

desideratum noun: Something considered necessary or desirable.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The man and the controversy

W. H. Whitsitt: The Man and the Controversy. James H. Slatton. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780881461336. $40.00. 348 pages. Hardback.

I had thought to write a review of the book above, but my mind has been in somewhat of a fog lately and I haven't been able to focus on it. Instead, I'll make some comments on W. H. Whitsitt and the book, but not properly a book review. For a recent review of the book by Andrew C. Smith, click

William Heth Whitsitt (1841-1911) was the third president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the center of a late 19th century controversy on Baptist history, Baptist succession and the ordinance of baptism.

James H. Slatton follows Whitsitt's life mostly through the accounting of Whitsitt's private diary and letters to his wife-to-be Florence Wallace. Slatton fortuitously discovered these records while on a pastoral visit, and persuaded the Whitsitt family to donate the materials to Virginia Baptist Historical Society and subsequently researched the records for this biography.

Slatton begins the story with Whitsitt's Civil War service under Nathan Bedford Forrest. It is this period which Whitsitt credits as widening his horizons to broader religious thinking.

"The experiences of war were a liberal education to many soldiers...One of the earliest and most distinct conclusions that I had reached was that I had been misled by the representations of the Tennessee Baptist. I returned to Tennessee a wiser and gentler man. I had got my learning in the hard school of experience, and I had a right firm hold upon it. Though it was not acquired from books and colleges it was none the worse on that account. I was now and then mortified by the memory of the rude and somewhat hysterical sentiments, and resolved to lay them aside forever." (p. 14)

What began with Southern exposure blossomed in European light. From the Civil War to the University of Virginia to Southern Seminary to the Universities of Leipzig and Berlin, Whitsitt continued to broaden his views. Whitsitt's personal diary and correspondence reveals he became (somewhat secretly) a quite unorthodox Baptist -- certainly for his time and location. He questioned the exclusivity of Christianity, possibly held falling from grace, did not require reimmersion even from the Campbellites (called it stupidity and sectarian arrogance) and apparently agreed with Crawford Toy's progressive views on inspiration. But it was his accounting of Baptist history that created a firestorm. His version of Baptist history denied the historical succession of Baptist churches from the time of the apostles and posited their use of immersion baptism as a recent innovation. He first broached the issue in unsigned articles in the New York Independent in 1880. Articles he wrote for the 1896 Johnson's Universal Encyclopedia began the controversy and his A Question in Baptist History fueled it.

Those only passing acquainted with Whitsitt will be intrigued by the ironies of his life. The archenemy of Landmark ecclesiology was an early friend to all members of its "Great Triumvirate". J. R. Graves preached the sermon at Whitsitt's ordination. Whitsitt preached J. M. Pendleton's funeral. Yet it was not the southern Landmarkers who brought to light Whitsitt's departure from Baptist orthodoxy. It was Herman Melville King, pastor of the Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island. Whitsitt denied that the Providence Church then existing was the same church formed by Roger Williams in 1638. This brought forth King's rejoinder in the New York Examiner and then his book
The Baptism of Roger Williams: a review of Rev. Dr. W. H. Whitsitt's inference (Henry Melville King, Providence, RI: Preston & Rounds Co., 1897). King's defense of his own church's history (which to this day claims the 1638 constitution) brought Whitsitt's articles to the notice of the Baptist public. Doubly curious, Whitsitt actually took the same position of J. R. Graves on the Providence church not being the oldest Baptist church in America.

It is often stated that the Landmarkers drove W. H. Whitsitt from the presidency of Southern Seminary. It is true that Landmark Baptists mounted an assault on Whitsitt's view of history, and their opposition eventually had effect. But Whitsitt's supporters were actually successful three successive years in beating back Landmark attacks. Rather, Whitsitt was sacrificed on the altar of the Southern Seminary. His supporters lost the will to fight, and evidently thought it best for Whitsitt to go rather than the seminary suffer because of him and his views. Though removed from the presidency of Southern Seminary for his views, Whitsitt's version of Baptist history would gradually become the prevailing orthodoxy. Only recently have historians other than Landmarkers questioned it.

Who was this man who was the center of one of the great Baptist controversies of the last two centuries? Slatton's book attempts to answer that question from previously unavailable sources. Whitsitt's letters and diary reveal a man who regularly criticized his colleagues, Baptist preachers, Baptist churches, Baptist associations and Baptists in general -- he called J. P. Boyce a "dunderhead" and spoke equally unfavorably of other Baptist leaders, sometimes even of his friend and mentor John Broadus. "[Whitsitt] was a complex man..." No doubt! "At one time he predicted Baptists eventually would drop their insistence on immersion - and should. In his most important published work, however, he identified immersion as their defining practice."

"He agonized over the narrowness of his fellow Southern Baptists and whether he could stay with them in good conscience. Later, when the issue was joined, he took his stand as a Baptist to the bitter end - and a Southern one at that!

"He argued that he had been assailed for the mere assertion of a mere historical fact, and that the issue was not doctrinal. Yet he consistently argued that at stake in the controversy was the essential Baptist doctrine of the universal spiritual church, and that it was the foundation on which the Baptist vision of the church stood! - surely a doctrinal issue." (p. 327)

Directly opposite of Morgan Edwards -- who lamented that the kind of reasoning used to deny anointing the sick with oil would lead Baptists to discontinue every positive rite -- Whitsitt believed the abandoning of things like feet washing and anointing the sick with oil should lead Baptists to abandon immersion and strict communion as well.

"The crowd this evening filled aisles and gallery, and the Baptists must receive a position in the respect of the citizens such as they have never held before. I am half disposed to look with better favor upon them, although I can perceive no good reason why they should retain either immersion or strict communion. Still they do retain them, and it would be destructive to say aught against either of them. The time is coming, far off perhaps, when both will be abolished.

"Both of them are according to the Apostolic model--at any rate immersion is beyond any question the Apostolic mode--but so are foot washing, the holy kiss, the anointing of the sick with oil and numbers of other items that have fallen into disuse in deference to changes in time & season. Why hold to those when these are rejected?" (pp. 10-11)

The complexity of the man and his controversy, as accounted by Slatton, will compel the student of Baptist history and theology to devour this highly readable volume. I highly recommend it.

[Note: The index in Slatton's book in horrendous and should be corrected before the next printing. It is usually off by several pages.]

Related at Google Books:
W. H. Whitsitt: the Man and the Controversy by James H. Slatton

A Question in Baptist History: Whether the Anabaptists in England Practiced Immersion Before the Year 1641? by William Heth Whitsitt

Did They Dip? by John Tyler Christian