Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hymns & Hymn Writers: We Shall See The King Some Day by David R. Kenney


There are two hymns in V. E. Howard’s Church Gospel Songs & Hymns by L. E. Jones:  “There is Power in the Blood” and “We Shall See the King Some Day”.  This song’s date is 1906.

Lewis Ellington Jones (1878-1917), Lyricist & Composer

There is conflicting information about personal details of Lewis Jones on the Internet.  For example, some sources mistakenly state his middle name as Edgar.  His name is actually Lewis Ellington Jones.  He was born in Yates City, IL.  Some sources state his date of birth as February 8, 1865; however, his tombstone has 1878.  Some sources state he died September 1, 1936 in Santa Barbara, CA; but his tombstone has 1917.

Supposedly, he was a Baptist and classmate of Billy Sunday at the Moody Bible Institute.  He worked with the YMCA while it was designed to provide refuge for young men to study the Bible and engage in prayer.  Jones’ work with this organization would take him to Davenport, IA; Fort Worth, TX; and Santa Barbara, CA. 

While “There Is Power in the Blood” was his most published hymn according to Hymnary.org, the song “We Shall See The King Some Day” was popular too.  It was the second most published hymn of his composing career (as counted by Hymnary.org.)  Jones also wrote under pseudonyms including:  Lewis Edgar, Edgar Lewis, and even Mary Slater. 

His grave marker is located in the Walnut Grove Cemetery in Altoona, Etowah County, Alabama and reads:


Lewis Ellington Jones
1878-1917
Author of
There Is Power in the Blood
We Shall See the King Some Day
And other songs


An ancestry site, which has the correct dates, reports he married Mary Scott (1879-1954), and they had one daughter named Beulah Mae Jones.

We Shall See The King Some Day

Life is a journey.  Some journeys are shorter than others.  Some journeys are more difficult than others.  Some journeys start out hard, but matters improve over the course.  Some journeys start out easy, but adversities arise.  Life is a journey, but where are we headed?

Some think that the grave is the final destination; however, they are very much mistaken.  The one who went into the grave, came out, seen by witnesses, and ascended to heaven removes all doubt that the grave is not our final destination.  This One taught:  “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29, NKJV.)

For some, this reality may be something they dread or fear, but not for the Christian.  The chorus re-emphasizes this point:  “We shall see the King some day. We will shout and sing some day.”  It will be a great reunion with others of God’s family:  "There with all the loved ones who have gone before.”  I look forward to that day; although I enjoy life among loved ones present.  Life is a gift of God, both now and eternal life. 

It is a tragedy for those who refuse to obey the gospel, and their loss will be a source of pain and anguish.  That being said, think of all the redeemed from all the ages who will be there in heaven.  You would not want to miss that number!  Often, I am at a loss of words of comfort for those who have lost those who never obeyed the gospel.  My heart aches for them, it aches for me when it happens in my life too.  I do not understand how God can remove the sorrow we will feel for those whom we have lost, but I have hope and confidence in these words:  “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  (Revelation 21:4, NKJV.)  The phrase is also repeated:  “They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:16-17, NKJV.)

We shall see the King some day, but are you ready for that day?

--------------------------------------------
SOURCES:


Howard, V. E., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

“Lewis E. Jones.” No pages. Cited 25 September 2016. Online: http://www.hymnary.org/person/Jones_Lewis.

“Lewis Edgar Jones.”  No pages. Cited 25 September 2016. Online:  http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/j/o/jones_le.htm.

“Lewis Ellington Jones.” No pages. Cited 25 September 2016. Online: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=85056617&PIpi=69163812.

“Lewis Ellington Jones.” No pages. Cited 25 September 2016. Online: http://mykindred.com/cloud/TX/getperson.php?personID=I36731&tree=mykindred01.

Wiegand, John P., Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

50 Years Old & Some Reflections


The picture on the left is from my 16th Birthday Party.  The lady to my right is our good friend, Mary Baugh.  This was at their house on Belaire Drive in Centralia, IL on December 23, 1982.  I am holding a WW2 bayonet at the ready to cut my birthday cake proudly wearing my KWK shirt (a FM radio station now defunct.)  Mary's son, Wade, gave it to me the bayonet for the picture.  He wanted me to feel good about the occasion.  It should have been a wonderful time, and it was in ways.  But it was actually a difficult time for our family when I was celebrating my 16th birthday because my mother was in St. Mary's Hospital as Dr. Moore was trying to figure out what was happening with her body.  She had been having numbness in her legs and other symptoms.  She had a battery of tests, some of them quite painful.  The diagnosis came as a process of elimination, as I recall it.  I was there when my dad told her in our living room on Ridge Road:  "You have Multiple Sclerosis."  As soon as the words had passed his lips, he wept so loud and hard that it startled me.  I have never forgotten it. 

While I was trying to enjoy turning 16 with some friends assembled, my mother was lying on a hospital bed.  What was going through her mind?  One thing she later told me of that time period--"My biggest regret was that I was unable to make your birthday cake."  Imagine her world totally in a blizzard of uncertainty, and she is missing the opportunity of making a birthday cake for me!  A mother's love knows no bounds!

The picture on the right is from my 50th Birthday Party on December 23, 2016.  My mother made a cake called "Texas Sheet Cake" per my request.  This was a special birthday cake to me not knowing whether or not we would be together on this day.  I told my son (and daughter):  "I can remember, like it was yesterday, turning 16.  I now know what it is like to be 16 and 50; but you only know what it is like to be turning 16.  You cannot see 50, but you need to be preparing and keeping yourself prepared for that day when it comes.  And, although it may not be pleasant to think about, prepare in case it never comes."  Life has been filled with triumphs and tragedies.  Some of the tragedies have been hard to bear, but through it all I believe God has been there.  I received wonderful cards and gifts from my wife and children.  Messages from dear friends.  I was able to have an excellent meal with my family, and actually able to attend the newly released Star Wars film "Rogue One".  I can remember being 16 and waiting anxiously on the first Star Wars trilogy to come out.  Now, five more of these movies have hit the big screen.  The early films took FOREVER to arrive, but now these are on DVD and can be purchased for very little money in second hand shops.  I can get the VHS copies for pennies before they hit the trash now.

Time has a way of changing things whether or not you want them changed.  Some would like for things to never change, but time overrules such desires.  We do not know what our futures may hold which is why it is so important we put our futures, our eternal future, in the hands of the One who can keep it safe and secure.  I am moving into the phase of life where I can see clearly people leaving the world I love, and people coming into and up in the world I love.  There are times of weeping and times of rejoicing.

Turning 50 was a great blessing.  Having my mother with me to make my cake, well that was the icing on the cake!  I could not foresee this day, but it has now come, and gone.  Time marches on.  To what drum beat are we marching?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

30 Years of Preaching by Warren F. Kenney Remarks by David R. Kenney

 
The event was held in Inwood, WV on July 31, 1999.  Family and friends gathered to pay honor to my father, Warren F. Kenney, for preaching the gospel for 30 years.  I was one of the speakers that evening.  Dad is seated to my left next to my mother.  It was a wonderful day for him and for us. 

As I continue to search through files, pictures, and records, I came across dad's copy of this photograph and my remarks.  Dad passed away on January 8, 2015, two years ago.  In some ways, it seems like yesterday but in other ways it seems like years ago.  Precious memories are indeed precious, but memories fall short.  Honor and cherish the ones who deserve such, and be sure to make sure they know you love, honor, and cherish them while you have the opportunity.
 
Jesus illustrating the value of the kingdom stated:  "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field"  (Matt 13:44, NKJV.)
 
Our proximity to the great treasure has been due to various factors.  Some of us were born into a family that owned such a field and were blessed to live with the truth all of our lives such as Hazel, Sherry, and I.  Some of us married someone who had this great treasure and reaped the benefits of it.  Others had friends who possessed this treasure and shared it with us.  Finally, some of us had the treasure shown to us by those willing to proclaim it to all who would listen.  Tonight, we honor my father who has shared this treasure in all the ways above.  We will have remarks from some who have labored to share this treasure with him over the past 30 years.  Tonight, we honor his 30 years of service and his ten years of service at Martinsburg as well.
 
My father was born July 1944 in Monroe County, Ohio.  He is a 1970 graduate of the Nashville School of Preaching.  Over the past 30 years he has labored with congregation in Linville, TN; Barbour County, WV; Barnseville, OH; New Philadelphia, OH; Weirton Heights, WV; Centralia, IL; and Martinsburg, WV. 

There have been good times and bad times along the way.  He has taught children and seen them grow to be Christians.  He has taught adults and seen them grow to become Christians.  He has counseled when asked.  He has performed several wedding ceremonies.  He has been called upon to visit the sick even till death, and then he has been called upon for words of consolation for those of us who remain.  He has traveled far and often for the purpose of preaching the gospel.  He has seen people fall away from the faith and has tried to bring them back.  He as appointed elders and deacons and supported the same.  He has received words of constructive criticism, not so constructive criticism, praise, adoration, and love.  He has seen his family grow and struggle to grow.
 
My father has been a gospel preacher for 30 of my 32 years.  That is almost 94 percent of my life and 100 percent of my recollection.  I have seen him go through this life as a preacher who always wanted what was best for the church.  There has never been a time when I wished he was anything but a gospel preacher.  I am thankful to God for both of my parents who gave to us the greatest of treasures--a Christian home.
 
 
 
 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Silent Night, Holy Night by David R. Kenney


This traditional song was designed to be a Christmas carol in Austria.  One source said that it was forbidden to perform this turn in Austria before Christmas Eve.  The version we know was translated into English by John Freeman Young (1820-1885), but there are other translations with variations too.  The arrangement in Church Gospel Songs & Hymns is credited to Lloyd O. Sanderson, but it only has three verses.  Some versions, such as in Praise the Lord, has four verses.  Interestingly, the original lyrics had six verses.  Once source suggests the first time this tune appeared in a hymnal in America was 1873 in Charles L. Hutchin’s Sunday School Hymnal.  According to one source, the version recorded by Bing Crosby is the third best-selling single of all time.  Some state the song has been translated into approximately 140 languages.
 
Joseph Mohr (1792-1848), Lyricist
 
Josephus Fanciscus Mohr was born December 11, 1792 in Salzburg, Austria.  His father, Franz Mohr, did not marry his mother, Anna Schoiberin.  The father deserted them both as he deserted the army.  His first name came from his godfather, Joseph Wohlmuth; but it was custom that he would take his father’s last name.  The young boy was guided into music by Johann Nepomuk Hiernle, who was in charge of music at the Salzburg Cathedral. He received a special dispensation due to the circumstances surrounding his birth to attend seminary school.  He was trained to become a Roman Catholic Priest and was ordained on August 21, 1815. 
 
In 1815 he led assistance to a village called Ramsau, and also served as assistant priest in Mariapfarr.  In 1816, he wrote the lyrics to “Silent Night, Holy Night” which was a poem called Stille Nacht.  The times in Austria were very hard following the Napoleonic wars.  He became ill and had to return to Salzburg, but this led to him meeting Franz Gruber.  He asked Gruber to set his poem to music to make a Christmas carol which was completed in a few hours.  The music was actually set to be played by guitar which was Mohr’s preferred instrument, according to some although he knew how to play the violin.  Some suggest the church where he served did not have a functioning organ or piano, so they set the music to guitar.  He wrote other lyrics; however, this is the only one translated into English and so well known.  The song was first performed on Christmas Eve of 1818.
 
He was known for many humanitarian efforts; especially his work with children.  He died December 4, 1848 at the age of 55 of pulmonary heart disease.  Admirers named the Joseph Mohr School located near his grave at Wagrain, Austria in his memory. 
 
Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863), Composer
 
Born November 25, 1787 in Hochburg, Austria to Josef and Maria Gruber, he was 5th of their 6 children.  His original name was Conrad Xavier Gruber, but it was changed to Franz Xaver Gruber.  His parents were linen weavers, which was a trade skill he learned.  He was taught music by his school teacher, Andreas Peterlechner.  He went onto learn to be a school teacher and church organist for the village of Arnsdorf.  He is best known for writing the music to “Silent Night, Holy Night”, but he also wrote other Christmas carols played in Austria.
 
He married a widow, Maria Elisabeth Fischinger Engelsberger, and they had two children who both died at a young age.  After the death of his first wife in 1825, he married Maria Breitfuss.  They had ten children with four living to adulthood.  Maria died in childbirth, along with their last child, in 1841.  He would remarry a third time to widow Katherine Wimmer in 1842 who was a friend to his second wife.  Franz Gruber died June 7, 1863 in Hallein, Austria. 
 
Silent Night, Holy Night
 
There are many prophecies about the Messiah, including ones about His birth.  Prophecy and its fulfillment is a powerful apologetic argument for the inspiration (and authority) of the Scriptures.  Certainly the birth of Christ is a biblical subject!  It is also Christian apologetic subject too!  Consider how many prophecies relate to the birth of the Messiah. 
 
The earliest prophetic statement about the coming Messiah is in Gen 3:15 (P.F. Luk 1:35).  Some call this verse protoevangelium, meaning “first gospel”.  The agency of woman in bringing about the Messiah to the salvation of mankind contrasted with another woman partly responsible for the fall of mankind in Genesis.  Another prophecy about the birth of Jesus is the virgin birth prophesied in Isa 7:14 (P.F. Matt 1:23).  The place of the Messiah’s birth, in Bethlehem, was prophesied in Mic 5:2 (P.F. Matt 2:1), a prophecy that led to Herod targeting the babes of Bethlehem for slaughter.  Remember, Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth at the time, but a census required them to go to Joseph’s ancestral home to be registered in Bethlehem.  Incidentally, the prophecy of the slaughter of babes was prophesied in Jer 31:15 and cited in Matt 2:18 (P.F. Matt 2:16).  The Messiah’s lineage was prophesied to come through the tribe of Judah in Gen 49:10 (P.F. Matt 1:2-3), of the house of Jesse in Isa 11:1-10 (P.F. Matt 1:5-6), and from the seed of David Jer 23:5 (P.F. Matt 1:1).  His flight into Egypt and subsequent return was prophetically alluded to in Hos 11:1 (P.F. Matt 2:15).
 
As mentioned before, it is shame this wonderful hymn was limited to performances around Christmas time in Austria as a Christmas carol.  It is also a shame that some in the world seem to only think about the Savior on Christmas and Easter, if they think even that often of Him.  The coming of the Messiah and the events surrounding His miraculous entrance into the world deserves greater attention and devotion than being limited to one time a year.  Indeed, angels sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luk 2:14, NKJV).  If angels sang of this wonderful event, can we not do the same?  Jesus is our reconciler to God:  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:17-19, NKJV.)   Have you been reconciled to God by putting on Christ through immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

--------------------------------------------
SOURCES:

Howard, V. E., Editor, and Smith, Broadus E., Associate Editor.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns.  Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.
 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Xaver_Gruber

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Mohr

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Night

http://www.hymnary.org/person/Mohr_Joseph

http://www.stillenacht.at/en/origin_song.asp

McCutchan, Robert Guy.  Our Hymnody.  Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1937.
 
Wiegand, John P., Editor.  Praise for the Lord.  Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bible Readings & Hymns by David R. Kenney


 
BIBLE READINGS & HYMNS
by David R. Kenney

Beginning January 2, 2017, there will be new programming available in both audio and video format.  The name of the program is “Bible Readings & Hymns” with David R. Kenney reading the New Testament in the King James Version.  The program is designed to encourage everyone to read the entire New Testament in a year’s time by watching or listening less than 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  If someone cannot follow the daily format, then they could watch all five episodes at one time too.  The New Testament can be read through in a year's time by reading 5 chapters each week, and this program is designed to assist those in accomplishing that worthwhile goal.
Some may view reading plans as old fashioned.  Reading Plans are certainly not a recent invention.  There were reading plans to read the first five books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch or Torah) prior to Jesus' coming.  In fact, these first five books were marked for weekly reading sections going back to the Babylonian Captivity in the 6th century BC.  So, reading plans have been around for a long time which testifies to the effectiveness of such a plan. 
David R. Kenney reading the New Testament
at WCTV Studio in Wadsworth, Ohio
Before I went into full time ministry, I had a few people comment on how much they appreciated the quality of my voice.  Some of these were strangers, and some were Bible Class teachers who wanted me to read passages into a tape recorder.  This was quite a surprise to me having to go through speech therapy in grade school.  Churches of Christ have rightfully pled for people to read their Bibles.  We believe there is power in God’s Word; cf. Hebrews 4:12.  Much of the religious confusion could be eliminated if people truly read their Bibles with discernment; 2 Timothy 2:15-16.  Biblical illiteracy is rampant.  People have no problem telling you what they think the Bible says, but they sometimes reveal their Biblical illiteracy in the discussion.  All of us could use continuous improvement in this area.    
T
My mother, Kay E. Kenney, with her
Mother's Day corsage.  She is one brave lady!
he motivation for the program goes to my mother.  She has battled MS for several years. She has been in and out of wheelchairs, and even close to blindness at one point.  I wanted her to be able to listen to the Bible read in a voice she recognized in case the day came when her eyes failed.  I have a special compassion for those who are unable to see or hear whether from birth, illness, or due to advanced years.  So, to have audio and video readings of the New Testament available for those unable to see or hear really appealed to me.  It truly was a labor of love for those who want to know more about the Bible, but their senses have limited their ability to do so.
My mother's KJV Bible.  My father served the Lord as a preacher of the
gospel for  over 45 years, and my mother served by his side for nearly
50 years until his departure, January 8, 2015.
My mother has always respected the King James Version (KJV).  Even literary critics, the reputable ones, acknowledge the literary quality, elegance, and beauty of the King James Version.  Some think the vocabulary is too difficult in today’s society, but do not try to tell that to my mother!  I caution people before criticizing the KJV as “too hard” that the reading level has been estimated to be the 12th grade.  So, the vocabulary ought not to be out of our reach!  The history of the King James Version is fascinating, being over 400 years old; although there have been revisions since 1611.  Besides the KJV being in the public domain, the primary reason is a tribute to my mother who refused to allow her children to let this marvelous translation slide away from their intellectual grasp!  She is not a “King James Only” advocate as she has no objections to reputable modern translations.  My wife has wisely pursued this same tradition with our children too.
This is not an easy project, and I certainly could not have done this alone!  My first assistance was from John Madding at WCTV who favored the idea of “Bible Readings & Hymns” produced and aired on WCTV.  John Madding patiently recorded all my text readings.  The hymns were another copyright challenge, but Andy Robison, Director of the West Virginia School of Preaching, graciously granted me permission to use hymns he composed and recorded.  The video was a special challenge.  Iris Griffin (now Iris Petty) at Gospel Broadcasting Network has done an excellent job of supplementing the show with attractive video during the singing, plus she incorporated the text scroll so people could visually follow along with the reading too.  Gospel Broadcasting Network is making plans to air the video, plus they support GBN radio stations overseen by Aaron Cozort who will be broadcasting the audio programming.  This really is a team effort!  I am thankful to Don Blackwell and Mark Teske at Gospel Broadcasting Network for their support of this project.  By the time this is completed, we will have the New Testament on both audio and video for broadcast, Internet, and available on various devices.
Bible Readings & Hymns will air both locally on WCTV and nationally on the Gospel Broadcasting Network.  (These times are subject to change, so check listings.)
WCTV, Wadsworth, Ohio, Channel 15:  Daily Format: Mon, Wed, Thu at 4:00pm; Tue & Fri at 4:30pm (EST)
Weekly Format: Sat at 9:00am & Sun at 1:30pm (EST)
WCTV is available on Roku and programs will available on their portal
site.

Gospel Broadcasting Network TV:
GBN TV Daily Format: Mon – Fri at 7:30am (EST)
GBN TV Weekly Format: Sun at 7:00am (EST)
GBN is also available on Roku, YouTube
Channel, and is streamed line on their website.

Gospel Broadcasting Network Radio:
GBN Radio Daily Format: Mon – Fri at 7:00am (All Time Zones)
GBN Radio is also available online at their
website.

There is also a Facebook Page for Bible Readings & Hymns here.



 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Seeking the Lost by David R. Kenney

The hymn “Seeking The Lost” was written in 1886.  Some view the Parable of the Lost Sheep as inspiration for the writing of this hymn and this certainly fits the lyrics.
 
William Augustine Ogden (1841-1897), Lyricist & Composer
 
William Augustine Ogden was born October 10, 1841 in Franklin County, Ohio (the Columbus area where I was born too). His parents moved to Indiana when he was six years old.  He showed music aptitude at age 8, and through singing schools he was able to sight read music by age 10.  He would soon be writing words and music.  He served in the 30th Indiana Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War and fought in several major battles.  He also organized a male choir which was well known in the Grand Army of the Republic. 
 
He was trained in the Boston Music School under teachers such as Lowell Mason, Thomas Hastings, B. F. Baker, and others.  He was known for composing sacred music including both lyrics and music.  According to Hymnary.org, his most popular lyrics were for “Sweet Are the Promises, Kind is the Word”.  He also published several songbooks beginning with his first Silver Song in 1870; which was a major success in the United States and England.
 
He taught music in several places in the United States and even in Canada.  He was the Director of Music in Iowa starting in 1874, but he became the Superintendent of Music for the Toledo School System in 1887.  He loved to teach music to children and taught thousands.  Ogden died October 14, 1897 in Toledo, Ohio; and his funeral was considered the largest Toledo had ever seen at the time.  He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio.  His wife, Jennie V. Ogden was also buried there with other members of the Ogden family including children:  Edwin, Lowell, Percy, and Marian.  Jennie was 47 when William Augustine Ogden died at the age of 58.  She lived another 35 years.
 
Seeking The Lost
 
There are two types of lost souls. First are the ones who have never obeyed the gospel. Second are the ones who have obeyed the gospel but have wandered away.  Notice the phrases:  “Souls that are weak” and “Hearts that are sore” which suggests those who have gone astray.  It is sad when people obey the gospel but somehow end up leaving the Lord and His church.  It is extremely difficult work to get those who wander away from the Lord to return, but it is work we must do.  Sadly, some allow members to leave their fold without even a word, which is disgraceful and adds another hurdle to getting these precious lost ones back.  I have seen leadership allow people to leave without trying to exercise church discipline to get them back.  They would shrug their shoulders stating the person “…had wandered off and maybe they will wander back.”  Have these not read the Parable of the Lost Sheep?
 
We are expected to encourage those who have become discouraged; cf. Ephesians 4:12.  Remember Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement”.  This was not the name he was given at birth, but it was his name given to him by the apostles because of his work of encouragement.  The song includes this message as well:  “Cheering the faint and raising the fallen”.  We all need to always do more in the way of speaking words of encouragement to others and not just the preacher (although he certainly can always use such.)
 
We spend so much effort to convince people to obey the gospel, but do we consider how important it is to keep them in the congregation?  If you think converting them is difficult, try restoring them!  This is what the Hebrew writer speaks of:  “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6, NKJV.)  Can a person be brought back?  Is it literally “impossible”?  One needs to keep the context in mind to see the “impossibility”.  These cannot be brought back as long as they continue to rebel against Christ.  Consider another translation on this passage to see the nature of “impossibility”:  “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” (Hebrews 6:4-6, ESV).  Notice the tense of “…since they are crucifying once again…”  Wayne Jackson rightly noted:  “Both of the expressions “crucify” and “put him to open shame” are present tense participles. In Greek, the present tense has more to do with the type of action, rather than time (the latter being secondary). The present tense represents an action that is in progress, and generally, one that is sustained…The “crucifying” and “putting to open shame,” therefore, represent on-going actions on the part of apostates.”  It is only “impossible” in that we cannot restore those who continue in deliberate rebel against God.  We certainly have a more difficult task in restoring the erring because these have already learned the good news and have left such behind to go back into the world.  What “good news” are we going to share with them when this has happened that they don’t already know?  What more motivation can we provide that they have not already heard?  We need to remind them, and we need to warn them.
 
One of the more difficult assignments given to a new preacher is to have him go to restore the lost from the time prior to his tenure.  Some consider this a “fool’s errand” because the preacher has no idea what the issues are and is at a tremendous disadvantage going in.  It would be wise for a preacher who was given such a task to insist that senior men (preferably the elders if available) from the congregation go with him on this mission.  May we do all that we can to seek and save the lost, including the ones who were once saved but have wandered back into the wilderness of sin.  And a reminder to us, that we keep our hearts with all diligence since we have been warned:  “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1, NKJV.)
 
--------------------------------------------
 
SOURCES:
 
Burch, Aaron, “Seeking The Lost,” Bucyrus, OH:  Annual West Virginia School of Preaching Lectureship, 12 November  2016.
 
Hall, J. H. Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers, New York:  Fleming H. Revell, 1914.
 
Howard, V. E., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Augustine_Ogden
 
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Ogden&GSiman=1&GScid=44168&GRid=137088758&
 
http://www.hymnary.org/person/Ogden_William
 
http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/o/g/d/ogden_wa.htm
 
Segars, James.  “Seeking The Lost.” Lessons in Lyrics.  Memphis, TN:  Memphis School of Preaching, 1998, pp. 546-556.
 
Wiegand, John P., Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Heaven Will Surely Be Worth It All by David R. Kenney

The lyrics and music both were done in 1945.  It first appeared in Charming Refuge, and was a product of the Stamps Quartet Music Company.  The song is very popular appearing in several familiar hymnbooks:  Songs of the Church, Hymns of Praise, Church Gospel Songs and Hymns, Praise for the Lord, and others.  

Wendell Oliver Cooper (1885-1963), Lyricist

Some sources have W. Oliver Cooper, but one source has Oliver W. Cooper.  His tombstone clearly reads “W. Oliver Cooper”.  Wendell Oliver Cooper was born October 24, 1885 in Meriwether County, Georgia.  He received his music education in schools of Oklahoma and Tennessee.  He was known for singing in a quartet over the radio in Birmingham, AL.  It is estimated he wrote some 1,500 hymns.  This hymn, “Heaven Shall Surely Be Worth It All”, is far and away the most popular among churches of Christ; however, according to Hymnary.org his most published hymn was “Here Among the Shadows Living In A Lonely Land”.   He was musical editor for Hartford Song Books.  He worked on the faculty of the Hartford Music Institute.  He was married to Cammella W. Cooper, but she passed away in 1929 at the age of 38.  He lived in Cullman County, Alabama when he passed away in October 24, 1963, on his birthday, at the age of 78 years old.  He is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery near the Mt. Hope Baptist Church in Crane Hill, Cullman County, Alabama.  His tombstone reads “Death Is Only The Gateway To Glory”.

Minzo C. Jones (1888-1977), Composer

Biographical data for Minzo C. Jones is scarce.  One source states Jones was born July 27, 1888 and died June 1977.  There is a reference to Jones being a resident in Bessemer, AL, but as of this writing there is no more information available to this researcher.  As a reminder, we sing songs that we believe to be in conformity with the Scriptures (with an often generous portion of what some call “poetic license” at times), not necessarily in conformity with the ones who created the hymns we sing. 

Heaven Will Surely Be Worth It All

This beautiful hymn describes wonderfully the hope of every Christian—eternal life in Heaven.  It is not an understatement to say that if there was no Heaven, then this life would not be worth it all.  This is what the apostle Paul implied:  “For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:16-19, NKJV.)  If there is no Heaven, then Moses’ decision is clearly perplexing:  “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26, NKJV.)  What reward?  Heaven!

John Keats (1795-1821) was an English poet.  He wrote a series of letters to his brother and sister-in-law in 1819.  Among his writings are various thoughts of various degrees, but among one of his letters is the expression “The Vale of Soul-Making”.  Although one may not appreciate everything Keating wrote, notice this thought:

“The whole appears to resolve into this – that Man is originally ‘a poor forked creature’ subject to the same mischances as the beasts of the forest, destined to hard-ships and disquietude of some kind or other. If he improves by degrees his bodily accommodations and comforts – at each stage, at each accent there are waiting for him a fresh set of annoyances – he is mortal and there is still a heaven with its Stars above his head. The most interesting question that can come before us is, How far by the persevering endeavors of a seldom appearing Socrates Mankind may be made happy – I can imagine such happiness carried to an extreme – but what must it end in? – Death – and who could in such a case bear with death – the whole troubles of life which are now frittered away in a series of years, would then be accumulated for the last days of a being who instead of hailing its approach, would leave this world as Eve left Paradise – But in truth I do not at all believe in this sort of perfectibility – the nature of the world will not admit of it – the inhabitants of the world will correspond to itself – Let the fish philosophize the ice away from the Rivers in winter time and they shall be at continual play in the tepid delight of summer. Look at the Poles and at the sands of Africa, Whirlpools and volcanoes – Let men exterminate them and I will say that they may arrive at earthly Happiness –The point at which Man may arrive is as far as the parallel state in inanimate nature and no further – For instance suppose a rose to have sensation, it blooms on a beautiful morning it enjoys itself – but there comes a cold wind, a hot sun – it cannot escape it, it cannot destroy its annoyances – they are as native to the world as itself: no more can man be happy in spite, the worldly elements will prey upon his nature – The common cognomen of this world among the misguided and superstitious is ‘a vale of tears’ from which we are to be redeemed by a certain arbitrary interposition of God and taken to Heaven – What a little circumscribe straightened notion! Call the world if you please ‘”The Vale of Soul-making” Then you will find out the use of the world (I am speaking now in the highest terms for human nature admitting it to be immortal…”

Both expressions contain the truth about this world:  this life is a “Vale of Tears” and a “Vale of Soul-making”.  Sometimes we hear the truism—“There cannot be peaks without valleys.”  We do not use the word “vale” much but we do use the word “valleys”.  We have to pass through vales or valleys to get to the peaks.  This life is full of peaks and valleys, but we do not know how many vales we may encounter.

Will Heaven be worth it all?  The apostle Paul certainly believed so and wrote:  “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NJKV.)

Atheists claim that Christians are full of nonsense for believing in God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, Heaven, and Hell.  That we should “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die”, and that once we die we are “like the dead dog Rover, dead all over”.  If life here was all there was, then they would have a point; however, life here is only a temporal or temporary vale of soul-making.  This life is a temporal life, our bodies are temporal bodies.  Our eternal homes await us for our eternal souls, a place called Heaven where the one who created our physical bodies with an immortal soul dwells and waits for us to come to Him.  We can have confidence in the words “Many the trials, toils and tears, many a heartache may here appall.  But the dear Lord so truly says Heaven will surely be worth it all.”

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SOURCES:

Howard, V. E., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.

Miller, Dave.  Why People Suffer.  Montgomery, AL:  Apologetics Press, Inc. 2015.

“Oliver W. Cooper.”  No pages.  Cited 27 August 2016.  Online:  http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=13607074&PIpi=2752504.

 “Oliver W. Cooper.”  No pages.  Cited 27 August 2016.  Online:  http://www.gmahalloffame.org/speaker-lineup/oliver-w-cooper/

 “Oliver W. Cooper.”  No pages.  Cited 27 August 2016.  Online: http://www.hymnary.org/person/Cooper_WO4?sort=desc&order=Instances

 Wiegand, John P., Editor. Praise for the Lord. Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.