Saturday, December 29, 2012

Providence quotes

"In the infinite wisdom of the Lord of all the earth, each event falls with exact precision into its proper place in the unfolding of His divine plan. Nothing, however small, however strange, occurs without His ordering, or without its particular fitness for its place in the working out of His purpose; and the end of all shall be the manifestation of His glory, and the accumulation of His praise." -- B. B. Warfield

"A firm faith in the universal providence of God is the solution of all earthly troubles." --  B.B. Warfield 

"Prayer honors God, acknowledges His being, exalts His power, adores His providence, secures His aid." -- E. M. Bounds

"To the dim and bewildered vision of humanity, God's care is more evident in some instances than in others; and upon such instances men seize, and call them providences. It is well that they can; but it would be gloriously better if they could believe that the whole matter is one grand providence." -- George Macdonald

"God often lays the sum of His amazing providences in very dismal afflictions; as the limner* first puts on the dusky colors, on which he intends to draw the portraiture of some illustrious beauty." -- Stephen Charnock

"Howbeit your faith seeth but the black side of Providence, yet it hath a better side, and God shall let you see it. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God; hence I infer that losses, disappointments, ill tongues, loss of friends, houses or country, are God's workmen, set on work to work out good to you, out of everything that befalleth you." -- Samuel Rutherford

* a painter

Monday, December 24, 2012

More old news that is new to me

"[John] Lott...noted that the Aurora [Colorado] shooter, who killed twelve people earlier this year, had a choice of seven movie theaters that were showing the Batman movie he was obsessed with. All were within a 20-minute drive of his home. The Cinemark Theater the killer ultimately chose wasn’t the closest, but it was the only one that posted signs saying it banned concealed handguns carried by law-abiding individuals." -- The Facts about Mass Shootings

The above is an interesting fact that I had never heard mentioned before. As far as I know, there is no proof that the shooter deliberately chose the Cinemark because of its posted "no guns" signs. But what I find bothersome is whether there was some ulterior motive for reporters never mentioning that fact.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Sacred Harp, 2012 Edition

A couple weeks ago I announced that a new song book -- The Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition, 2012 -- is now available. The new book was completely re-typeset throughout by Karen Willard of Buckley, Washington. 110 years after Mr. W. M. Cooper introduced his revision of The Sacred Harp in 1902, this is the first complete front-to-back revision since it was first published. Some songs are moved to give them more room, but no songs were removed from the book. This book is the culmination of the vision many Sacred Harp singers saw. The Revision Committee, Board of Directors, Sacred Harp Book Company, and Colson Printing have combined to produce a very fine book. They deserve our sincerest gratitude. 

Highlighted below are some of the changes and improvements:

*All pages were completely re-typeset by Karen Willard, from the front cover to the last page of the index.
*The new edition is 1/2 inch taller and 1/2 inch wider than before.
*Tinted paper is used to reduce glare and to improve readability.
*Typographical errors in music and poetry were corrected, as well as musical errors.
*All remaining uses of "etc." were replaced with words.
*Alto parts that were in the alto clef were moved to the treble clef.
*Additional stanzas of poetry were added to 95 songs (and in a few cases a few stanzas were removed; e.g. 582)
*New title: The Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition, 2012
*List of all previous known editions of the Cooper line of Sacred Harp, p. ii.
*The number of pages was increased to 608, first, to relieve crowding, and, second, to add new tunes.
*Crowded songs were moved. (e.g. "Worcester" moves to 588 and gets 1-1/2 pages, "The Judgment" moves to 592 and gets 2 pages).
*"Footnotes" are added to help the singer find songs that were moved.
*No songs were removed from the book and 14 songs were added, for a total of 611 tunes (not counting the two in the rudiments). 
*Twelve added tunes are composed by contemporary singers (Mars Hill Morning, Nightfall, North Jersey, Wiley, Tallahassee, Rest for the Soul, Wells Second, Traveler's Rest - Samson, Gosia, Every Grace, Sweet Reunion, National Blessings) 
*Two added tunes are 18th century compositions (Peterborough, Savannah).
*Cooper's "Suggestions" are returned to the book, p. viii.
*Rudiments adopts the raised minor sixth theory, p. xx, xxiv.
*Rudiments adds new "Definition of Musical Terms", p. xxv.
*Index moves to the back of the book and adds sections for finding "Anthems," "Duets," and "Major/Minor Companions;" Minor tunes are in bold print, making it obvious in the index which tunes are major or minor.
*Composers and hymn-writers are credited as accurately as possible with the most current information available.

These are not all of the changes, but should give a good idea just how large a project the revision committee undertook.

The base price of the 2012 edition is $20.00 per book, regardless of the quantity purchased. Bulk orders are by case (10 books per case). Shipping charges to U.S. addresses are: First book (or one book) $5.00; for additional books up to 5 books, add $2.00 per book; for a case of ten books, add $20.00. Inquire about shipping charges for orders sent to non-U.S. addresses. Make checks payable to the Sacred Harp Book Co. Address all orders and inquiries to Bill Aplin, Secretary/Treasurer, Sacred Harp Book Co. Inc., 200 South Johnson St., Samson, AL 36477, or e-mail aplinbill-at-gmail-dot-com, or phone 334-898-7253.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Seven Regrets of Pastors

Thom Rainer discusses "The Top Seven Regrets of Pastors." This represents the kind of pastors he knows and interviewed, but I think you will still find it interesting. For those us not involved in churches that operate like businesses, No. 5 is not likely to be a big regret (at least as a pastor, though we might wish to know more about finance as heads of homes). Yet No. 4 is likely to reverberate with many.

*Lack of practical training for local church ministry.
*Overly concerned about critics.
*Failure to exercise faith.
*Not enough time with family.
*Failure to understand basic business and finance issues.
*Failure to share ministry.
*Failure to make friends.

The entire piece can be found HERE.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God, the source of all comfort

Romans 12:15 ...weep with them that weep.

Matthew 2:16-18 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted , because they are not.

II Corinthians 1:4   Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Old news that is news to me

On the radio I heard someone reference a study done in 2002 by Peter S. Bearman and Hannah Bruckner. Even though it is ten years old, I've not heard it mentioned in any context, by either conservative or liberal news media. This 2002 study supports, if not outright proves, that homosexuality is not genetic. Identical twins have identical genes. If homosexuality is caused genetically, wouldn't identical twins have the same "sexual orientation"? Yet, in their study Bearman and Bruckner found concordance rates (both twins being homosexual) of only 7.7% for male identical twins and 5.3% for females identical twins. Bearman was with Columbia and Bruckner with Yale, so this isn't just a couple of conservatives trying to prove a point.

The study's "working papers" can be found online HERE.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Front porch vs. Back deck

We have gone from a front porch society to a back deck society. When I was a kid it was common to see folks sitting on a front porch happily visiting with one another. Their gathering was visible (and inviting) to all who passed by. Today it is more likely that a group is gathered on a back deck, with a fence blocking them from anyone's view. The front porch suggests community and openness -- come on up and sit a spell. The back deck suggests privacy -- please leave us alone.

This post is not about front porchs being sacroscant or back decks being evil. Rather it's just an observation of how we have changed and what that might say about our thought processes. There is nothing wrong with privacy or back decks, but there is something very good about openness and community that perhaps to a large degree we have lost.

Isaiah 53

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief...Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows...he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." - Isaiah

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Is anyone listening?

Yesterday I sat and listened as a speaker presented relevant and applicable information to a roomful of people. Of the ten people at my table, seven had their personal electronic devices out, and six very actively using them. One person was even using two! Maybe some are effective "multi-taskers," but I suspect most just weren't paying much attention to the speaker. It made me wonder how much folks in church are paying attention to those who are teaching.

Texting, typing and talking while someone is speaking is just plain rude. The popularity of multiple electronic devices have made our rudeness common-place and open. Before all the personal devices folks could still ignore a speaker. They just did it more politely. If you were in church, you could read the church covenant or daydream about what's for dinner. Much of this was done with a semblance of attention -- and perhaps a dumb smile. Rude or restless, there have always been, and always will be people who don't listen. It seems to have now become an engrained way of life. Are we really that busy? It is still true that sometimes we need to be slow to speak (or text or type) and swift to listen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Be Still My Soul

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge, Selah.” Psalm 46:10-11

The reasons we can and should be still are clear:
1. He is God! All of creation, providence salvation and judgment are from HIM and to HIM.
2. He has purposed to exalt HIMSELF in everything that He brings to pass. There are no accidents or uncertainties with Him.
3. He is the LORD of hosts- He has at HIS command all elements of the universe to direct them as He will, whether in heaven, on earth or under the earth.
4. He is the Refuge for sinners - The blood of His Son, the LORD Jesus has paid the debt, and in HIM they are saved! 
By Ken Wimer, excerpted from Shreveport Grace Church Bulletin, December 9, 2012

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Gospel Trumpet

Hark! How the Gospel trumpet sounds!
Christ and free grace therein abounds;
Free grace to such as sinners be:
And if free grace,--why not for me?

The Savior died, and by His blood
Brought rebel sinners near to God;
He died to set the captives free:
And why, my soul, why not for thee?

The blood of Christ, how sweet it sounds,
To cleanse and heal the sinner’s wounds!
The streams thereof are rich and free:
And why, my soul, why not for me?

Thus Jesus came the poor to bless,
To clothe them with His righteousness;
That robe is spotless, full and free;
And why, my soul, why not for thee?

Eternal life by Christ is giv'n,
And sinful men are raised to heav'n;
Then sing of grace so rich and free,
And say, my soul, why not for thee?

By Charles Cole

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Can the clergy be trusted?

Not as much as nurses, pharmacists, doctors, engineers, police officers, dentists, and college teachers, according to a recent Gallup Poll. There are some people who just don't like preachers and pastors, but a lot of this distrust can be laid at the feet of preachers themselves.

Some consolation, at least we rate higher than journalists, the Congress, and car salesmen.

For more, see The Seven People Americans Trust More Than Their Pastor and Congress gets low honesty rating.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Literal interpretation -- my trip to Redbox

Today I had to go to Kroger to pick up some kitchen supplies. A co-worker asked if I would return a DVD to Redbox (they have a kiosk at the entrance). That seemed simple enough, so I readily agreed. 

Not so simple...

Call me old-fashioned, call me a dinosaur, or call me just plain stupid. I've never used Redbox. In case my abilities to explain are also deficient -- or you are a dinosaur as well -- I have inserted an illustration of a Redbox kiosk to the left.  On the kiosk  in the middle at the extreme right side is a slot to insert returns. To its left is a large screen. The only difference from the picture is that in reality the kiosk at Kroger had a curtain covering the screen with the words, "Lift here to rent." Well, I'm not renting anything, so...

So I stick the DVD in the slot and nothing happens. I push on it but it won't inch forward. I force it a little harder; still nothing. I think perhaps I'll need to get a mallet and drive it in the slot! A lady walks by and explains that you have to hold it there briefly and then it will accept it and automatically slide in. OK. Only nothing happens. She asks whether I pushed the "return" button -- which I didn't and did not even see anywhere. Guess what? Lift the curtain that says "rent" and underneath you'll find an icon on the screen that says "return". Push it. Stick the DVD in the slot, and voila! Returned!

Later I thought about this and wondered if at times I force a similar stubborn literalness on my interpretation of the Bible?? Don't get me wrong. I believe in literal interpretation. Words must be taken at their meaning. But the "literal meaning" at times may actually be figurative. Sometimes we're trying to force something into the Bible that might be much simpler if we'd just let it be.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Quote of the day

"The melody of the heart is the best melody, and singing with the spirit and with the understanding the sweetest employ." -- John Kent in the preface to the 8th edition of his Original Gospel Hymns and Poems, 1840

Sunday, December 02, 2012

New song book

The Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition, 2012 is now before the public. It was introduced at great meeting of the Florida State Convention in Panama City, Florida this weekend. This book is completely re-typeset throughout, front to back. Some songs are moved to give them more room, but no songs were removed from the book. 14 songs were added, several by contemporary singers, for a total of 611 tunes in this new book.

The base price of the 2012 edition is $20.00 per book. The shipping charges will be shortly determined and announced to the Sacred Harp community. These new books may be ordered from The Sacred Harp Book Company, c/o Mr. Bill Aplin, Secretary/Treasurer, 200 S. Johnson St., Samson, AL 36477. A limited supply of books were sent for the convention, so it will be a little longer before any large orders can be filled.