Monday, August 15, 2016

Perfectionism by David R. Kenney


PERFECTIONISM
by David R. Kenney
 
Our family was watching J*A*G* and I took notice of a quotation used about one of the characters, Sturgis, who had fallen into the malady called Perfectionism.  It was ruining himself, his friendships, and his faith.  The quotation was attributed to "Zito" who is also the name of the producer of the show—“If you demand perfection in yourself, you will always be unsatisfied.  If you demand it of others, you will be disappointed.”  I think this was a very insightful look into the potential snare of perfectionism, a world that I myself fall prey to as well.  Oh, I know that I am not perfect, but sometimes I feel so driven to reach a standard that I not only fail to reach but also fail in other important matters that I could have obtained.
 Now, are Christians supposed to strive to be better?  Yes.  Are we to become satisfied with our own righteousness so as to give up on improving?  Certainly not!  Christians are to work to improve their walk with God as the apostle Paul wrote, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2, NKJV.)  We must have a balanced view of ourselves and others, or we risk being out of balance. Imbalance leads to friction, frustration, surrender and defeat.
Now, I am not speaking of lowering standards in order to make ourselves “feel good”.  As Christians, the standards are the teachings of the New Testament.  What does it mean to lower the standards in Christianity?  It means compromising doctrine!  We cannot lower these standards by compromising doctrine, but we should not expect to exceed these standards either.  We should strive to achieve the standards of Christ; however, God knows that we will fall short.  That is what the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was about.  If God loves us enough to send His beloved Son, if Jesus loved us enough to die for our sins, if the Holy Spirit was willing to work with imperfect men to reveal the perfect will of God, then why cannot we love ourselves enough to be more charitable to ourselves, thus being more charitable with others?   Remember what the second greatest commandment was—“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, NKJV.)  We may be able to examine ourselves more objectively by reflecting on how we feel about others.  For example, there is an old saying, “All the world is mad save for me and thee, and sometimes I wonder about thee.”  When we examine our brothers and sisters, does this expression describe our feelings?  If so, we may be struggling with perfectionism, expecting such of others.
Perhaps we should consider the consequences of perfectionism on the church.  Have you ever wondered why we have men who are reluctant to lead prayers, direct singing, teach classes and other areas of service?  Why are women less likely to be involved in service of the church whether teaching Bible Class or a host of other matters that women perform in service to Christ and His church?  Could it be that they are so reluctant because it is new to them?  Certainly.  But I would like to ask this question—could it be that we have less willing to serve in worship and the operation of the church because they have been impacted by seeing expectations of perfectionism in others?  If they see us expecting perfectionism of others, then could this discourage them from even trying?  We should give serious consideration before we offer those words of “constructive criticism” for all to hear.  Perhaps instead of offering what we think is “constructive criticism” we should try to give perfecting praise! 
So, let us work to go onto perfection realizing that perfection in New Testament context means that we grow and mature as Christians.  We are not perfect, but we are being made perfect through the ministry of Jesus Christ.  Remember that pursing excellence as a Christian includes love, for yourself and one another—“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:13-15, NKJV.)

Monday, July 11, 2016

THAT SILVER-HAIRED DADDY OF MINE by David R. Kenney


THAT SILVER-HAIRED DADDY OF MINE
By David R. Kenney
 
My family are fans of the music of Gene Autry.  We have listened to his music for several years, even purchased CDs of his music for our children.  As I was going through my late father’s collection of cassette tapes in his truck, there were several that had been played so often, or set out in a hot truck for too long, that the music has become distorted.  One of the cassette tapes in his collection was a collection of Gene Autry’s music.  I smiled as I looked over the titles, then one caught my attention that had escaped my memory, “That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine”.  Dad loved that song.  I recalled the song; I had just forgotten that it was a song of Gene Autry being a hit in 1935.

Dad did not get the opportunity to see his daddy with silver hair as his father died in 1948 when he was but three years old.  He loved the song, and he longed for days he could never see.  I listen to the song; and I long for the days I have seen, days of my memory.  My father was a silver-haired daddy to me.  The song’s message is one of regret and sorrow including these poignant words—“I could recall all the heartaches Dear old Daddy, I've caused you to bear, If I could erase those lines from your face, And bring back the gold to your hair.”  I was blessed to have a father who loved me, whom I loved, and this was not a secret to either of us.  It is a message my father has lived before my life:  to make sure you show your love for your children, and for children to show their love for their father by both being lovable and loving.

Sure, I have made mistakes, things I regret.  As adults with children of our own, we look back and see the things we have done and more fully understand the impact such had on our parents.  The song also speaks about that too—“God would but grant me the power just to turn back the pages of time I'd give all I own if I could but atone to that silver haired daddy of mine.”  Sadly, some of us, including myself, cannot speak words of atonement to our fathers any longer, but that does not mean we should not speak such words to the Father who our fathers should be pointing us too.  The noble work of being a father, the sacred calling of fatherhood, is to lead our children to our Heavenly Father.  I believe that pointing is what Paul meant when he wrote “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, NKJV.)   You may not have had a silver haired daddy, but you can be that kind of a father to your children.  If you are a woman, you can make diligent effort to marry that kind of man for your children.

It may be too late for us to bring acts of atonement to our earthly fathers, but it is not too late to take steps of atonement toward our Heavenly Father.  That is something our fathers, whether silver-haired or not, would be pleased to know. God blessed me with a black, then grey, then silver, and then white headed daddy (Proverbs 16:31).  Be a blessing!

David R. Kenney
July 11, 2016
(On the occasion of Dad’s 72nd birthday)

 

 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus by David R. Kenney


The lyrics to this hymn date back to 1858, but the music goes back further to 1837.  The meter of the song is 7.6.7.6 D, which means the major phrases are alternating 7 syllables followed by 6 syllables.  The “D” means doubled; i.e., one could write this as 7.6.7.6.7.6.7.6.  The name of the tune is WEBB, which is the same for the song “The Church’s One Foundation”.
 
George Duffield, Jr. (1818-1888), Lyricist
 
George Duffield, Jr. was born in Carlisle, PA on September 12, 1818.  He was part of a family with strong Presbyterian heritage.  He attended Yale College and Union Theological Seminary obtaining the Doctorate of Divinity.  He preached in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Michigan.
 
The song “Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus” first appeared in Living Sacra Americana in 1868 as the author originally wrote it; however, it appeared in an altered form earlier in 1859 in The Church Psalmist.  The basis of the song was the life events of Dudley A. Tyng who was a popular denominational preacher in his day who was fatally wounded in a farming accident.  Tyng was outspoken against slavery.  The report of the these last words of Duffield to his father as he breathed his last reached Duffield who wrote the lyrics based on Tyng’s words of “Stand up for Jesus” to his father which some thought were encouraging his father to speak against slavery after his son died.  Duffield heard this report and formulated these lyrics.  This is Duffield’s most popular work according to the number of hymns it appears according to Hymnary.org.  The song has been set to various tunes; however, WEBB is by far the most popular.
 
He was married and had one son.  Duffield passed away in the home of his son on July 6, 1888 in Bloomfield, NJ and was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, MI.  Words from this hymn were engraved on his tombstone.
 
George James Webb (1803-1887), Music
 
George J. Webb as born June 24, 1803 near Salisbury, England.  His father was a prosperous farmer which afforded him the opportunity to come to the United States to further pursue a career in music.  He came to American and formed a close friendship with Lowell Mason in Boston where they founded the Academy of Music.  He followed Mason in relocating to Orange, NJ in 1871. 
 
The music he wrote, WEBB, was actually for a secular musical show for which he wrote the song “’Tis Dawn, the Lark is Singing”.  According to Hymnary.org, based on publication in hymnals this tune was Webb’s most popular religious work.
 
He passed away on October 7, 1887 in Orange, NJ and is buried there in Rosedale Cemetery. 
 
Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus
 
There is a story of a young boy who wanted to stand in his chair even after being directed by his parents to sit down.  The child was told to sit down numerous times, but the child persistently rebelled until the parent made him sit.  The boy replied “I may be sitting on the outside, but I am standing on the inside.”  I thought of this story as I read of this song being excluded from a 1990 Presbyterian hymnal because they thought it was insensitive to handicapped people who were unable to stand.  There is a MAJOR difference from those who refuse to stand up for Jesus, and those who are unable to stand up for Jesus!  Another important reminder—there are more important ways to stand for Jesus than merely taking a standing position during the singing of this hymn.  Far more!
 
Some opposed the song because of its militaristic theme; however, apparently these opponents fail to realize that living the Christian life; e.g., “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18, NKJV).  Of course, the New Testament makes it plain that we are not speaking about a warfare fought with swords or guns:  “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6, NKJV.)
 
To stand up for Jesus, one must first be enrolled in the Lord’s army.  One must enlist by putting Christ on in baptism (Galatians 3:28), and putting on the Christian armor (Ephesians 6:10-20).  We then stand up for Jesus by defending Him and His word.  The battle is not easy, but the victory is secured as the song well states:  “The strife will not be long; This day the noise of battle, The next the victor’s song.”  If you want to be victorious with Christ, then you must be “in Christ”—“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3, NKJV).
 
--------------------------------------------

SOURCES:   
 
Emurian, Ernest K.  Living Stories of Famous Hymns.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Book House, 1995.
 
“George Duffield, Jr. 1818-1888.”  No pages.  Cited 23 June 2016.  Online:  http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/d/u/f/duffield_g.htm. 
 
“George Duffield.” No pages.  Cited 23 June 2016.  Online:  https://www.hymnary.org/person/Duffield_G. 
 
“George James Webb 1803-1887.”  No pages.  Cited 23 June 2016.  Online:  http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/w/e/b/webb_gj.htm. 
 
“George James Webb.” No pages.  Cited 23 June 2016.  Online:  http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=4000.
 
“George James Webb.” No pages.  Cited 23 June 2016.  Online:  https://www.hymnary.org/person/Webb_GJ?tab=tunes. 
 
Howard, V. W., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.
 
McCutchan, Robert G.  Our Hymnody.  Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1937.
 
“Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus.”  No pages.  Cited 23 June 2016.  Online:  http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/s/t/standufj.htm.
 
“Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus.”  No pages.  Cited 23 June 2016.  Online:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand_Up,_Stand_Up_for_Jesus. 
 
Wiegand, John P., ed. Praise for the Lord.  Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hymns & Hymn Writers: The Lord and Savior of Mankind by David R. Kenney


Tommy Wheeler copyrighted this song on the same date as his other song “I Love The Lord” in 1970.  It was among the collection of the hymns both he and his father, Palmer Wheeler, published in Tommy Wheeler’s Gospel Gems hymnal in 1970.
 
Tommy Wheeler (1931-2016), Lyricist & Music
 
Tommy Wheeler was the only child to Palmer Esker Wheeler (1904-1983) and Lena Bandy Wheeler, and he was born February 1, 1931 in Scottsville, KY.  His father was an accomplished hymn writer, and he taught Tommy about music as he was learning to read.  His parents were converted out of the Baptist Church, and his mother was converted by G. K. Wallace.  His father had spent many years singing with the Vaughan and Stamps Quartet.  His father taught music at Freed-Hardeman College (now University) from 1937-1939 during which time Tommy attended grade school in Henderson, TN.  His father decided to devote his life to leading singing in evangelistic efforts.  Palmer led singing for preachers such as N. B. Hardeman, Foy E. Wallace, Jr., E. R. Harper, and G. C. Brewer. 
 
Tommy Wheeler had a B.A. in Music from Abilene Christian College (now University) and a M. A. in Music from Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX.  He had a career in teaching music in public schools and also worked in the banking industry.  When his father retired from the work, Wheeler coordinated the music for “Way of Truth” TV program for 30 years.  He wrote many songs published by Stamps-Baxter Music Company, but “I Love The Lord” first appeared in his own hymnal, Gospel Gems in 1970 which contained all of his father’s hymns plus 30 of Tommy’s hymns.  He was elected in 1976 to the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP).  He and his father wrote Down Memory Lane With the Wheelers in 1977 which was a biographical sketch of their family.  He married Beth Wood Wheeler in 1956; however she passed away in 1965.  He then married his second wife Joyce Preston Wheeler.  On February 9, 2010, Tommy Wheeler donated his family’s music scores to Freed-Hardeman University Archives which are entitled “The Wheeler Family Music Collection”.  Tommy Wheeler wrote hundreds of hymns including some with his cousin, Max Wheeler.  Tommy Wheeler passed away November 21, 2015 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Paris, TX.  He was survived by his wife, Joyce Wheeler, two sons (Dennis and Gary), one daughter (Kathy Wheeler Lemay), grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 
 
The Lord and Savior of Mankind
 
There are some who sometimes say “I want the God of the New Testament, but not the God of the Old Testament.  The God of the Old Testament is filled with hate, but the God of the New Testament is one of love.”  There was an interesting conversation between Jesus and His disciples-- “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”  Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves (John 14:7-11, NKJV.)
 
There are some who mistakenly believe that God has three modes—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rather than being distinct beings.  This view, as opposed to trinitarianism, was first championed by Sabellius of the 3rd century  It holds that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all the same person, the difference is in God’s mode (or modal) of operation.  Would this passage support such a view?  No.  What Jesus is explaining to His disciples is that both the Father and the Son are united and not divided.  How does one explain Jesus’ prior statement—“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.”  Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:2-6, NKJV.)
 
Notice the phrase in Wheeler’s song “He prayed to God in full review, ‘Please forgive they know not what they do.’”  Did Jesus pray to Himself?  Of course not.  He prayed to His Father.  The plan for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to redeem mankind was actually made before the foundation of the world—“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:3-4, NKJV).  Jesus is the Lord and Savior of mankind who came here in accordance with the will of the Father and revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

--------------------------------------------

SOURCES:   

Finely, George E., ed.  Our Garden of Song – A Biography of Song Writers of the Church of Christ and Articles and Other Items of Interest of Our Worship in Song.  West Monroe, LA:  Howard Publishing Company, 1980.
 
Howard, V. W., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.
 
Jackson, Wayne. "An Attack upon the Trinity." No pages.  Cited 26, May 2016.  Online:  https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/529-attack-upon-the-trinity-an.
 
“Tommy Wheeler.” No pages.  Cited 23 May 2016.  Online:  http://www.taylorpublications.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=111_112_123_129.
 
“Wheeler.” Gospel Advocate  158 (2016): 41.
 
Wiegand, John P., ed. Praise for the Lord.  Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

Hymns & Hymn Writers: I Love the Lord by David R. Kenney


 
Tommy Wheeler wrote this song in response to the question as to why he loved the Lord.  “I Love the Lord” was his favorite hymn.
 
Tommy Wheeler (1931-2016), Lyricist & Music
 
Tommy Wheeler was the only child to Palmer Esker Wheeler (1904-1983) and Lena Bandy Wheeler, and he was born February 1, 1931 in Scottsville, KY.  His father was an accomplished hymn writer, and he taught Tommy about music as he was learning to read.  His parents were converted out of the Baptist Church, and his mother was converted by G. K. Wallace.  His father had spent many years singing with the Vaughan and Stamps Quartet.  His father taught music at Freed-Hardeman College (now University) from 1937-1939 during which time Tommy attended grade school in Henderson, TN.  His father decided to devote his life to leading singing in evangelistic efforts.  Palmer led singing for preachers such as N. B. Hardeman, Foy E. Wallace, Jr., E. R. Harper, and G. C. Brewer. 
 
Tommy Wheeler had a B.A. in Music from Abilene Christian College (now University) and a M. A. in Music from Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX.  He had a career in teaching music in public schools and also worked in the banking industry.  When his father retired from the work, Wheeler coordinated the music for “Way of Truth” TV program for 30 years.  He wrote many songs published by Stamps-Baxter Music Company, but “I Love The Lord” first appeared in his own hymnal, Gospel Gems in 1970 which contained all of his father’s hymns plus 30 of Tommy’s hymns.  He was elected in 1976 to the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP).  He and his father wrote Down Memory Lane With the Wheelers in 1977 which was a biographical sketch of their family.  He married Beth Wood Wheeler in 1956; however she passed away in 1965.  He then married his second wife, Joyce Preston Wheeler.  On February 9, 2010, Tommy Wheeler donated his family’s music scores to Freed-Hardeman University Archives which are entitled “The Wheeler Family Music Collection”.  Tommy Wheeler wrote hundreds of hymns including some with his cousin, Max Wheeler.  Tommy Wheeler passed away November 21, 2015 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Paris, TX.  He was survived by his wife, Joyce Wheeler, two sons (Dennis and Gary), one daughter (Kathy Wheeler Lemay), grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 
 
I Love The Lord
 
The psalmist wrote “I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications” (Psalm 116:1, NKJV.) which is the passage one biographer who discussed this song with Tommy Wheeler cited.  Also, the precious answer for us—“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV.) 
 
One can quickly detect the influence of these passages in Wheeler’s lyrics—“I love the Lord, for He died my soul to save, On Calvary His dear life He freely gave.  From realms above, Jesus freely came to die, That I might live some day with Him on high.”
 
Before you write God off as unsympathetic, uncaring, or unloving, consider these words—“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV.)

--------------------------------------------

SOURCES:   

Cain, David.  “I Love the Lord – Tommy Wheeler.”  No Pages.  Cited 23 May 2016.  Online:  http://songscoops.blogspot.com/2012/12/i-love-lord-tommy-wheeler.html.
 
Finely, George E., ed.  Our Garden of Song – A Biography of Song Writers of the Church of Christ and Articles and Other Items of Interest of Our Worship in Song.  West Monroe, LA:  Howard Publishing Company, 1980.
 
Howard, V. W., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.
 
“Tommy Wheeler.” No pages.  Cited 23 May 2016.  Online:  http://www.taylorpublications.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=111_112_123_129.
 
“Wheeler.” Gospel Advocate  158 (2016): 41.
 
Wiegand, John P., ed. Praise for the Lord.  Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hymns & Hymn Writers: Jesus Is All The World To Me by David R. Kenney

The words and music for this song are both by Will L. Thompson, and the name of the tune is called ELIZABETH.
 
 
Will Lamartine Thompson (1847-1909), Lyricist & Music
 
Will Lamartine Thompson was born November 7, 1847 in Smiths Ferry, PA, but some sources inaccurately report East Liverpool, Ohio.  The family moved to East Liverpool soon after he was born, and the town became as his birthplace to some.  His father, Josiah Thompson, served two terms in the Ohio House of Representatives.  Josiah Thompson was a successful merchant and banker.  The family was very wealthy and was among the largest real estate owners in the area.  Will’s mother’s name was Sarah Jackman Thompson and she dedicated herself to many charitable type works in the community.  There were seven children in the family, with Will being the youngest.  Thompson was very well educated in music, having studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music and even studying in Leipzig, Germany.  He was a popular pianist and played for various local concerts.  He also had a degree in business from Mount Union College.  He had two published musical works when he was but 16 years of age.  He wrote hundreds of various types of music besides gospel music.
 
Thompson wrote at least ten hymns including: “Lead Me Gently Home Father,” “Softly and Tenderly,” and “There’s A Great Day Coming.”  Some sources suggest he was a member of the Church of Christ; however, there is great uncertainty on this point.  One report states that his father was affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, so there was a connection to the Restoration Movement at one point.  However, local historical accounts state that Will L. Thompson had joined the Presbyterian Church in a work that was published about four years before his death.  There are records of him donating a large piece of land to not only for Thompson Park but also to the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church.  When his work was rejected by music publishing houses, he established the highly successful Will L. Thompson & Company which had offices in East Liverpool and Chicago.  He sold religious music, pianos, and other various items.  “Jesus Is All The World To Me” was published in a collection of his hymns, New Century Hymnal, in 1904.  Thompson commented on his ability to compose music:  “No matter where I am, at home or hotel, at the store or traveling, if an idea or theme comes to me that I deem worthy of a song, I jot it down in verse. In this way I never lose it."  When asked how he came up with the tune, he stated it just naturally came to him with the words.
 
Thompson married Elizabeth Johnson of Wellsville, Ohio. They had a son, William Leland Thompson.  He founded the East Liverpool Historical Society.  William Lamartine Thompson died on September 20, 1909 in New York City after returning prematurely from a trip to Europe during which he became ill.  He was buried in Riverview Cemetery, East Liverpool, Ohio.
 
Jesus Is All The World To Me
 
Life without Jesus is a life that is truly lost.  Some do not know they are lost until the facts come to their realization.  Sometimes it takes a person a little while to realize they are lost on a road trip.  They were actually lost for some time, they just did not realize it yet.  To choose to accept or reject Jesus is a very serious decision that has positive and negative consequences.  Those who have grown up in a Christian home may not be able to relate as well to the decisions and magnitude of consequences that someone who is the first person in the family to decide to follow Christ.  We read in our newspapers and the Internet about families being torn apart because one of their family members became a Christian.  We have read stories of these family members being persecuted, punished or even killed because they decided to follow the teachings of the New Testament.  While we may not face these kinds of pressures here in the United States today, it would be a mistake to take our freedoms for granted.  We should thank God every day for the freedoms we have in this nation; especially religious freedoms.
 
Jesus taught that choosing to follow Him was not a decision without consequences, yes, negative consequences.  He taught, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39, NKJV.)  Some when reading through this list may have lost interest with the possibility of disruption to the family.  Some may be repulsed at the insistence that Jesus has that we must love Him more than dear old dad or our loving mothers.  They might reject having to take up a cross, a symbol of suffering and shame, for others to ridicule, mock, and even persecute them. 
 
We need to remember what Jesus said at the very end of this teaching—“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my Sake will find it.  We need to teach others and remind ourselves that this life here on earth is temporary.  We all will be someplace else for eternity, and no one but Jesus can help us get to where we truly want to be.  When you keep this fact straight in your mind, you will find the words:  “I trust Him now, I’ll trust Him when Life’s fleeting days shall end.  Beautiful life with such a Friend, Beautiful life that has no end; Eternal life, eternal joy, He’s my Friend.”  Only Jesus is your friend who is able to save you when your days on this earth come to an end!  No one else, not your father, mother, brothers, sisters or friends, can save your soul.  Only Jesus is able to be that kind of friend!
 
--------------------------------------------
 
SOURCES:   
 
George C. Finely, Editor, Our Garden of Song – A Biography of Song Writers of the Church of Christ and Articles and Other Items of Interest of Our Worship in Song, West Monroe, LA:  Howard Publishing Company, 1980.
 
http://etymologyofhymns.blogspot.com/2013/06/softly-and-tenderly-jesus-is-calling.html
 
http://thompsonpark.org/about-3/history/
 
http://www.eastliverpoolhistoricalsociety.org/cityyesterday.htm
 
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=26115323
 
http://www.hymnary.org/person/Thompson_Will
 
http://www.hymnpod.com/2009/07/07/jesus-is-all-the-world-to-
 
http://www.hymntime.com/tch/bio/t/h/o/m/thompson_wl.htm
 
http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-jesus-is-all-the-world-to-me
 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Lamartine_Thompson
 
Ohio History, Volume 14, Columbus, OH:  Ohio Historical Society, 1905.
 
Robert Guy McCutchan, Our Hymnody, Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1937, p. 239.
 
V. E. Howard, Editor, and Broadus E. Smith, Associate Editor, Church Gospel Songs & Hymns, Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.
 
William B. McCord, Editor, History of Columbiana County, Ohio and Representative Citizens, Salem, OH:  Biographical Publishing Company, 1905.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Old Wives' Fables by David R. Kenney


OLD WIVES’ FABLES
By David R. Kenney

 
The apostle Paul gave Timothy some guidance that we need to heed in our day:  “But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness” (1Timothy 4:7, NKJV.)  I was asked in Bible Class exactly what Paul meant by “old wives’ fables”.  Resisting the temptation to go into stereotypical humor, I decided the wiser course was to state that I needed to do more research before answering.  Paul was not opposed to women of any age.  For example, remember what Paul wrote to Timothy:  “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5, NKJV.)  What does the term “old wives” mean? 
 
The words “old wives” is one word in the Greek.  The term only occurs here in the Greek New Testament which makes a precise definition difficult.  The Greek word is graṓdēs [G1126] which also means “old womanish”.   One source states of this term:  “characteristic of old women” (BDAG, p. 167).  The term was used in philosophical debates:  “It is the sarcastic epithet frequent in philosophical polemic that conveys the idea of limitless credulity.”  (NLEKGNT, p. 494)  Notice that the word “fables” is modified by not one, but two, adjectives—“profane” and “old wives” combined with the conjunction “and”.  The term translated “profane” [G0952, bébēlos] means unhallowed, ungodly, or common.  The term translated “fables” [mythos, G3454] is clearly related to our English word mythology.  The term mythos refers to fiction, an invention, a falsehood that is being presented as factual.
 
Remember, one person’s mythology may be another’s theology.  When my wife and I were listening to a presentation about primary school curriculum, the presenter stated no offense was intended by the use of the term “mythology” in reference to Zeus, Odin, Thor, etc.  I asked the person afterwards why the disclaimer.  There had been those in the audience on prior occasions who still actually worshipped Odin and other figures of what we consider mythology.  We have had life relatively easy in these United States when the majority believed God existed, Jesus is His Son, and the Bible is His Word.  Perhaps we need to recall the audience the apostle Paul faced at Mars Hill, Mars being a reference to the mythological Ares?  These were the gods of pagan polytheists in Paul’s day, false gods that we commonly call mythological; so one person’s mythology was once (or may still be) another’s theology.  Recall that Paul and Barnabas were thought by some to be Zeus and Hermes—"‛The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!’  And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.  Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes” (Acts 14:11-13, NKJV.)  A charge which both Paul and Barnabas vehemently denied and corrected.   We need to recall the command of the apostle John—“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1, NKJV.) 
 
If you think that mythology is no longer a part of our society, have you looked at the horoscope?  It is based on mythology and ancient paganism.  I am sure you will find some offended by the use of mythology in relation to the New Age Movement which is old paganism re-tooled for a modern unsuspecting society.  Whether or not Paul had a list of fables in mind when he wrote these instructions to Timothy or not is not revealed; however, there was no shortage of supply in their day, and there is no lack of fables in our day too.
 
Works Consulted:
 
Bauer, Walter, William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.
 
Rogers, Jr., Cleon, and Rogers, III, Cleon.  The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.
 
Spicq, Ceslas, and Ernest, James D., Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Peabody, Mass.:  Hendrickson, 1994.