Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reviews and other book stuff

The posting of book reviews does not constitute endorsement of the books or book reviews that are linked.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An officer of the law

North Carolina's Attorney General Roy Cooper says he will not defend a new state law that voids Charlotte's anti-discrimination ordinance. Will those who called on clerks to resign if they would not issue homosexual marriage licenses also call on Cooper to resign if he won't enforce the law? Same principle, isn't it?

Tithing challenge, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Choosing a Supreme Court Justice

In a recent Miami Herald op-ed piece, Leonard Pitts, Jr. wrote that Sen. McConnell is a liar — and not a very good one, at that. His reference is to Senator Mitch McConnell's suggestion to "give [the American people] a voice" in deciding the replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He intends to not hold hearings for President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court."Let’s let the American people decide," says McConnell. That is, let's wait until after the presidential election and let the winner nominate the next justice. 

Pitts claims, "There are four lies here, each more threadbare and cynical than the last." The four lies he references are "The Biden rule," President Obama "politicizing this," "not about a person," and "voice of the people." 

1. I believe that Pitts is right when he says here is no such thing as the Biden rule. U.S. Senator Joe Biden made remarks in 1992 about not considering Supreme Court nominees made in the final year of a presidency. There is no "Biden Rule" under which the Senate must operate in this regard. On the other hand, Biden did make these remarks, and other Democrats have made similar ones. Both Republican and Democrat Senators display situation ethics in regard to matters than come before them, according to who is in power in Congress and in the White House.

2. McConnell and other Republicans say President Obama is politicizing this. President Obama and other Democrats say the Republicans are politicizing this. In fact, it's an election year -- most all of them politicizing, though some may be operating on principle (some might even be politicizing and operating on principle). 

3. Is it about a principle or a person? More probably it is about a person, principles and even power. All run in order to promote their principles, power and people -- though not always ethically so -- so we should not be surprised when they act in accord with their reasons for be elected to public office. 

4. Pitts and those on the Democratic side say the voice of the people has been spoken in the election of President Obama. That is true. He also references a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. It claims that 63% of those polled want the Senate to hold hearings and vote. But these kinds of polls don't matter (and didn't matter to Obama and the Democrats when most people polled did not want their Affordable Health Care Act). Elections, on the other hand, do matter. But not only was the voice of the people spoken when Barack Obama was elected, but also when every Senator who has to advise and consent on the judicial nominee was elected (two elections in a row, mostly against President Obama). 

We have spoken with different voices, so it is no surprise that different voices speak on Capitol Hill. Ultimately, when they agree we will have a new Supreme Court Justice. (And isn't that kinda how the system was intended to work??)

Monday, March 28, 2016

One man’s mystery, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"One man’s mystery is another man’s contradiction." -- copied

"If everything that is called Christianity these days is Christianity, then there is no such thing as Christianity. A name applied indiscriminately to everything designates nothing." -- B. B. Warfield

"Professions of faith in our Finney-esque, “all heads bowed, all eyes closed,” “raise that hand,” “repeat this prayer” altar call environment are as easy to elicit as getting Kenneth Copeland to speak in tongues for the promise of a seed faith donation." -- Bud Ahlheim

"Get down on your knees and thank God you are on your feet." -- Irish saying

"I always thought love was shaped like a heart... but I've found it's actually shaped like a cross." -- copied

"I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene..." -- Charles H. Gabriel

"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us." -- Helen Keller

"Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee." -- Augustine of Hippo (Confessions, Book 1)

"The blessed Physician has a remedy for every disease, and the remedy is always felt to be exactly suitable to the exigency of the case." -- J. C. Philpot

"Jesus didn't stay dead, and He won't stay gone." -- copied from a church sign

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Which one?

Interesting poem of unknown origin

One of us dear--But one--
Will sit by a bed with a marvelous fear, 
And clasp a hand growing cold as it feels for the Spirit land. 
Darling, Which one? 

One of us dear--But one--
Will stand by the other's coffin bier, 
And look and weep, while Those marble lips strange silence keep.
Darling, Which one? 

One of us dear--But one--
By an open grave will drop a tear, 
And homeward go The anguish of unshared grief to know. 
Darling, Which one? 

One of us darling, it must be.
It may be you will slip from me, 
Or perhaps my life may just be done. 
(I'm glad we do not know) Which one?

(Credited to Julia H. May in Parry's Monthly Magazine in 1887, but often printed uncredited or credited to someone else; for example Locomotive Engineer's Journal credits it to "Alice H.")

Saturday, March 26, 2016


An Extensivist “believes that man was created in the image of God with otherwise choice and that God’s salvation plan is comprehensive, involving an all-inclusive unconditional offer of salvation and eternal security of the believer; reception of which is conditioned upon grace-enabled faith rather than a narrow plan involving a limited actual offer of salvation restricted to the unconditionally elected, or any plan that, in any way, conditions salvation upon merely a humanly generated faith from fallen man.” – Ronnie Rogers in One Man’s Suggestions for Calvinists and Non-Calvinists See also Does Faith Precede Or Result From the New Birth? Rogers further writes: “Extensivism may have some things in common with Calvinism, Arminianism, or Molinism, but it neither relies on nor seeks consistency with any of them. Further, similarities do not equal sameness. Extensivism seeks only to present a comprehensive, consistent system of soteriology that is reflective of the totality of Scripture.”

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Song of Miriam

Miriam's SongExodus 15:20

Sound the loud timbrel o’er Egypt’s dark sea:
Jehovah has triumphed—his people are free!
Sing—for the pride of the tyrant is broken:
His chariots, his horsemen, all splendid and brave—
How vain was their boast; for the Lord hath but spoken,         
And chariots and horsemen are sunk in the wave.
Sound the loud timbrel o’er Egypt’s dark sea:
Jehovah has triumphed—his people are free!

Praise to the Conqueror, praise to the Lord!
His word was our arrow, his breath was our sword.         
Who shall return to tell Egypt the story
Of those she sent forth in the hour of her pride?
For the Lord hath looked out from his pillar of glory,
And all her brave thousands are dashed in the tide.
Sound the loud timbrel o’er Egypt’s dark sea:         
Jehovah has triumphed—his people are free!

By Thomas Moore in 1816 (1779–1852)
Sung to tune AVISON, an adaptation of a melody by Charles Avison (1709–1770) P.M.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Baptism's urgency

In January 2006 I posted a writing on The "Urgency" of Baptism. Here is a brief re-appeal.

Baptism, a rite of immersion in water, is important, urgent and should not be unneccessarily delayed because:

  • It is commanded [to both converts to proclaim (Acts 2:38; 10:48) and to the church to perform (Matt. 28:18-20)].
  • It is the believer's first act of obedience (Acts 2:33-39; Acts 10:47-48; Matthew 10:32).
  • It pictures the gospel and testifies of new life (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  • It signifies a spiritual commitment, that we who are born again are now free to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Giant cross, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hits all the notes, and other Sacred Harp quotes

"Sacred Harp hit all the notes that I was missing in other musical contexts." -- Jesse Pearlman Karlsberg

Chuck Reese: "People seem to have no concern about one's denomination or doctrine here. Is that a fair statement?" Henry Johnson: "That's a fair statement. We may care about it ... But we don't discuss it at a singing."

"Musical instruments kills sacred harp singing, because there's notes in there that ain't on no musical instrument." 89 year old Minnie Beatrice Deason Cates, in "There's Notes In There That Ain't On No Musical Instrument" by Cheri Chapman, Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) June 26, 1976, p. D6

"It's called harp even though there ain't no harp because the songs has a Bible platform." -- Minnie Beatrice Deason Cates, Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) June 26, 1976, p. D6

"Sacred harp singing is from away back yonder." -- Minnie Beatrice Deason Cates, Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) June 26, 1976, p. D6

"The weird harmonic overtones and dour lyrics of sacred harp singing make it a unique musical form." -- Cheri Chapman in "There's Notes In There That Ain't On No Musical Instrument", Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) June 26, 1976, p. D6 

"The [Sacred Harp] verses don't spare the dark side of living. Most look forward to happiness in a future heaven and a rough road on the way." -- Cheri Chapman in "There's Notes In There That Ain't On No Musical Instrument", Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) June 26, 1976, p. D6 

"Be sure and bring your books that open the long way!" -- From a singing announcement in the Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light (Corsicana, Texas) Tuesday, August 16, 1927, p. 5

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cease ye from man

Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? Isaiah 2:22

God's prophet urges the house of Jacob to trust in God and not man. They had mingled with and counted on other people (v. 6). They heaped up material wealth and accumulated martial power (v. 7). They worshiped in their own ways (vs. 8-9). They trusted in their high towers and fenced walls (v. 15). They savored their flourishing trade and artistic pursuits (v. 16). But when God is exalted they will be brought low (v. 17). Their confidence will turn to fear (vs. 10, 19, 21). "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." (Psalm 118:8)

No confidence can be placed in men, even the greatest of them (Psalm 118:8-9). Let all be ashamed of such thoughts, for:

Man is temporal, a creature whose origin is outside himself. He has a beginning. The very life and breath that he has comes from God: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7)  Man as a creature, as well as individual men and women, have a beginning and an ending in the annals of time. Only God is eternal and self-existent (Exodus 3:14). We cannot depend on that which cannot control of the breath of its own nostrils. Our life is so fragile that if the breath of nose and mouth is stopped, the man is dead. Trust (and fear) God -- In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind (Job 12:10) -- rather than man who has no control over it (Matthew 10:28).

Man is mortal, a creature of the material world who is subject to death (Romans 5:12; 6:23). He has an end. We are of few days and full or trouble (Job 14:1). Our life is a fleeting breath which briefly appears and then vanishes (James 4:14). If God but "gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust." (Job 34:14-15) Man who cannot control his being is unfit for the trust of another. Cease from man! -- who only survives on the breath God has loaned him, who is here today and gone tomorrow. Trust in the eternal one who abides forever (Hebrews 7:24).

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.
Psalm 125:1 They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.

Make Him thy Fear, thy Love, thy Hope,
Thy Confidence and Joy. (Thomas Gibbons, 1769)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sad, sad

"You go to his website and it looks very official. There's a seal that looks official."
"The Christian Prayer Center website not only charged consumers $9 to $35 for prayers but also "deliberately" confused some consumers into signing up for recurring monthly payments, according to authorities."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Mark Twain, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." -- Mark Twain

"Character flaws are not partisan." -- Dave Miller

"As political speech increases, spiritual authority necessarily diminishes." -- Russell St. John

"When God wants to judge a nation, He gives them wicked rulers." -- John Calvin

"If the Pope himself would lend me his pulpit, I would gladly preach the righteousness of Christ therein." -- George Whitefield

"If God is sovereign at all, He is sovereign in all and over all." -- Jim Durham

"While some in our day have opened the door to ecumenism and “non-doctrinal Christianity”, we have tightened the bolts to our door!" -- Covenant Baptist Church

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -- Said or written by someone who was not Winston Churchill

"A pastor needs to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." -- copied

"Wealth means nothing; enjoy what you have." -- copied (sometimes credited to Steve Jobs, but not by him)

Friday, March 18, 2016

In memory of lost lives and in honor of heroic deeds

This day in history, March 18, 1937, the wealthiest rural school district in the world suffered the greatest school disaster in history.

Preconceived ideas

I like crossword puzzles. I try to complete one every day. It's supposed to keep the brain stimulated, but I'm not sure how much it does this. My mind is like a steel trap -- an old one, that is, rusty and hard to open! But I don't work them because it stimulates the mind. I work them because I enjoy doing so.

Sometimes I misread puzzle clues, and once in awhile I misunderstand them. Last night's 40 across clue was "on the shelves". The answer was a six-letter word that I knew would start with "U". My preconception for some reason or another was that "on the shelves" referred to books. Didn't say that, but that was what immediately came to my mind. So I kept thinking U N R E A D -- except that wouldn't work with other answers I was seeing. When I had enough surrounding answers to know the answer -- U N S O L D -- then I also understood the meaning of the clue. It wasn't about books on shelves (which wouldn't have to be "unread", by the way) but about merchandise on shelves.

It is easy for our preconceived ideas to get in the way and to give us wrong answers (and wrong actions). It is always good when we can move from a preconception back to reality and truth. Don't let preconceived ideas keep you from learning the truth. Find the truth and let it change your preconceived ideas. The truth will set you free.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

"St. Patrick" the Baptist

Recovering from "Time Change" Day and recognizing St. Patrick's Day, I offer the following sermon by Wally Amos Criswell:

St. Patrick Was A Baptist Preacher

If you forgot to wear green, maybe you'll see green.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pulpit dictator, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"Taboo" marriage practice

My Georgia ancestors were 26 years old and 16 years old when they married. They lived together in holy matrimony, apparently peacefully and happily, until his death in 1864. Their marriage resulted in 8 children who helped populate the Oak Flat community of East Texas. Many of our genealogies look something like that, and sometimes that beloved grandmother and great-grandmother was even younger than that when she married.

Lisa Suhay of The Christian Science Monitor reports on several states trying to outlaw a 'taboo' marriage practice, writing "In the state of Virginia, a 13-year-old child can legally marry an adult twice her age, and all that's needed is a clerk's consent, provided she is pregnant and has parental consent." She points out that many states allow exemptions (usually with parental or judicial consent) below their standard marriage age limits. Some lobbyists, including the National Organization for Women, have set their sights on outlawing these kind of exceptions in all 50 states, claiming they support "physical, psychological, sexual, and economic abuse." The emotional appeal to our current societal state of mind is on the side of these lobbyists, and they seemingly have the facts as well.

Marriage at 12 or 13 doesn't seem advisable to me, and I recognize that there are specific arranged marriages that children are forced into which include lifelong abuse. On the other hand, there are plenty of marriages into which both parties enter willingly -- and at a legal adult age -- in which one party (or both) suffers lifelong abuse. Arranged marriages have a long and respectable history, and can result in lifelong stability and happiness. Abraham arranged a marriage for his son Isaac, in which Abraham and (mainly) his servant were the parties who arranged it. (interestingly, in this case, the woman had a choice of whether to accept the proposal) Our current American system based on love struck feelings can also culminate in lifelong stability and happiness -- but there are as many wrecked lives in its wake as in the system of arranged marriages.

Suhay quotes Jeanne Smoot saying "The data shows it’s girls under the age 18, including some who are well under age 15, being married to adults and one-third of the time that adult is over 21." Unfortunately, article (and movement) seems long on data of how many and how old, but short on data of how these marriages turn out. Those who are against it can point to how some have turned out badly, where are the references to those that are successful? There are marriages under the legal exceptions that turn out badly, but what percentage of the whole are they? Are lawmakers throwing out the baby with the bathwater? And have they asked what are the unintended consequences of no exceptions?

It strikes me as a strange approach from groups like the National Organization for Women, who promote for a woman's right over her own body for abortions -- even promoting sexual promiscuity in teenagers -- and yet want the state to take over the right in these exceptional cases. In broader context, some of these protest groups give the aura that marriage as an institution is a form of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. In NOW had their way, I'm sure they would not have let Mary marry Joseph!

Marlena Hartz with the Tahirih Justice Center says, "Child pregnancy should trigger alarm bells, not wedding bells." I can agree with that. It is a good thing to discourage and prevent as much as is possible both child sexual activity and child pregancy. In cases of rape, the rapist should be imprisoned rather than being allowed to marry the victim. But I also find it a little unusual and unbelievable that hordes of child rapists are trying to marry their victims. I'd like to see proof beyond what was submitted. (Yes, if the person is underage and pregnant, they have been raped, whether statutorily or otherwise). It is furthermore not true that all cases of exceptional marriage include underage girls who are pregnant.

We should discourage teenage sexual activity and child marriages. We should discourage all sexual activity outside of marriage. We should prosecute and punish rapists. In our haste to succeed in these areas, let's not produce unforeseeable and unintended consequences by disallowing all exceptions. The parents and the legal system looking at specific cases should usually provide the needed protection for exceptional marriages. If not, let's see why it doesn't and address those problems in a less invasive way to outlawing it altogether.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lewis's Lesson

"I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them." -- C. S. Lewis

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What Jesus Looked Like

Is This What Jesus Really Looked Like?  
In North America he is most often depicted as being taller than his disciples, lean, with long, flowing, light brown hair, fair skin and light-colored eyes...In the absence of evidence, our images of Jesus have been left to the imagination of artists. 
Richard Neave, a medical artist retired from The University of Manchester in England, realized [forensic anthropology] also could shed light on the appearance of Jesus.
And so the first step for Neave and his research team was to acquire skulls from near Jerusalem, the region where Jesus lived and preached.
Neave emphasizes that his re-creation is simply that of an adult man who lived in the same place and at the same time as Jesus. 
"This is probably a lot closer to the truth than the work of many great masters." 
Two things, or maybe three or four

  • I have long thought Jesus did not look like any of the portraits we generally see of Him. 
  • The Bible has no interest in detailing how Jesus looked physically. 
  • Churches and Christians should avoid depicting Jesus on their walls. Since we have no idea of what He looked like, we have no need of creating such image in children's minds. 
  • Neave's forensic attempt is helpful in at least challenging the common North American mental picture of Jesus.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Celebrating the Joyful Noise, and other music/worship links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Saviour of Sinners by Parks

The Saviour of Sinners

1. Jesus condescended to sinners – for “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).  God’s divine and sinless Son came from heaven to earth “in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin” (Romans 8:3).
2. Jesus identified with sinners – for Jehovah says, “He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many” (Isaiah 53:12).  Jesus was treated as a sinner (Mark 15:28), and died as the substitute for many sinners (Isaiah 53:4-8).
3. Jesus sought sinners – as when “He needed to go through Samaria” in order to save an adulterous woman (John 4:4ff).
4. Jesus called sinners – for He said, “I did not come to call the righteous [such as self-righteous pharisaical people], but sinners [including the worst of them], to repentance” (Mark 2:17).
5. Jesus forgave sinners – such as the notoriously sinful woman who came and showed to Him kindness in the house of a certain Pharisee (Luke 7:36ff).  Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven. ... Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace” (vv.48-50).
6. Jesus justified sinners – such as the tax collector despised by Pharisees, who cried “God, be merciful to me the sinner!”  Jesus then said, “I tell you, this man [the humble sinner] went down to his house justified rather than the other [the proud Pharisee]; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).
7. Jesus welcomed sinners.  Jesus is like the father of the prodigal son who repented of his sin and returned home (Luke 15:11-24): “But when [the prodigal] was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. ... the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’  And they began to be merry.”
8. Jesus received sinners – for when “sinners drew near to Him to hear Him ... the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:1f).
9. Jesus befriended sinners – for Pharisees called Him “a friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19), a term of derision Jesus wore as a badge of honor.
10. Jesus saved sinners – for this is Paul the apostle’s testimony regarding himself in our present text (1 Timothy 1:15).  Therefore, sinner, be assured that if you come to Jesus in repentance and faith, He will welcome and save you.

– Daniel E. Parks

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Twice as likely, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Spiritual blessings in heavenly places

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 

"Look at the words; examine them again and again; think over in your mind, one by one, the spiritual blessings that you most covet. Is it pardon? Is it peace? Is it the love of God shed abroad in your heart? Is it the spirit of adoption, enabling you to cry, "Abba, Father?" Is it communion with God? Is it the enjoyment of his presence and smiles? Is it deliverance from every doubt and fear? Is it a large measure of his fear in your heart, a subduing of all your lusts and corruptions, a godly, holy life, and a happy, blessed death? Are not these the spiritual blessings which you prize above house or land, wife or husband, child or relative, or any earthly good? With these, then, and with every other are you blessed, already blessed, if you are one of God's saints and a believer in Christ Jesus. God has not yet to bless you, beyond giving you a foretaste here and the full enjoyment hereafter. He has already blessed you with them all in Christ Jesus." 

​Excerpt from J. C. Philpot's Daily Portions

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

California school, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Substantial Truth

1. Substantial Truth, O Christ, thou art,
The Witness and the Theme;
The Light of life thou dost impart,
And by thy Truth redeem.
Thee of thy Church the only Head,
Master and Lord we own;
And by thy Word and Spirit led,
Will follow thee alone.

2. Thou Lamb of God for sinners slain,
We glorify thy love;
High-Priest in heaven's eternal fane,*
Our Advocate above,
Now, through thy rended veil of flesh,
We dare the Throne draw nigh,
And, sprinkled with thy blood afresh,
With boldness, Abba, cry.

3. Thou art the King of glory, Lord,
Of every realm and race;
Omnipotent thy sovereign word,
Invincible thy grace.
Assume thy universal sway,
Tread down thy monster foes;
Let earth and heaven thy will obey,
And sin's mad conflict close.

--Josiah Conder

* fane = a temple