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.)
 
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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.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hymns & Hymn Writers: There Is Power in the Blood by David R. Kenney


 
The hymn “There Is Power in the Blood” was published in 1899 by Lewis Jones who is credited with both the lyrics and the music for this powerful hymn about the sacrifice of Christ and the shedding of His blood for the salvation of mankind.
 
Lewis Ellington Jones (1878-1917), Lyricist & Composer
 
There is misinformation on some sources in relation to the names and dates of Lewis Jones.  Some record his name as “Lewis Edgar Jones”.  Also, some sources mistakenly date his birth as February 8, 1865 in Yates City, IL.  Similar sources mistakenly state he died September 1, 1936 in Santa Barbara, CA, and he was buried in Altoona Walnut Grove Cemetery in Etowah County, AL.  Obviously, research often needs refined at times!
 
Supposedly, he was a Baptist and a fellow classmate of Billy Sunday at the Moody Bible Institute.  He worked with the YMCA which in its day stood for “Young Men’s Christian Association”.  The YMCA was founded by George Williams to provide refuge for young men to study the Bible and engage in prayer.  The organization now prefers to use the term “the Y” indicating changing times.  Changing indeed!  Jones’ work with this organization would take him to Davenport, IA; Fort Worth, TX; and Santa Barbara, CA. 
 
“There Is Power in the Blood” was his most published hymn according to Hymnary.org.  The meter of this hymn is 10.9.10.8.9.6.9.8.  He wrote “There Is Power in the Blood” while attending a camp meeting in Mountain Lake Park in Maryland.  There are over 200 texts credited to his name.  His other works include:  “We Shall See The King Some Day”. 
 
Jones also wrote under pseudonyms including:  Lewis Edgar, Edgar Lewis, and even Mary Slater.  In contradiction to the dates mentioned above, his grave marker in the Walnut Grove Cemetery in Alabama clearly 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 and such report that he married Mary Scott (1879-1954), and they had one daughter named Beulah Mae Jones (1911-1997).
 
There Is Power in the Blood
 
Blood has always been a powerful agent in God’s scheme of redemption for man.  Animal sacrifices were made which certainly included blood (Genesis 4:4).  The blood of the Passover lamb was slain to protect the firstborn in Egypt (Exodus 12:7,13).  Blood was considered the life of the flesh—“But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Genesis 9:4, NKJV.)  It should be easily seen that an animal or human sacrifice includes blood!
 
The blood of numerous animals was used to atone for mankind’s sin; however, the blood of animals was insufficient—“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4, NKJV.)   Why was the blood of animals insufficient?  Because animals are not the same as humans!  It would take a sacrifice greater than animal sacrifices to deal with a man’s sin, and it would take far more than just any ordinary man’s blood to deal with the sins of the world’s blood.  It would take God-Made-Flesh Jesus the Christ to shed His blood for the remission of sins for the whole world, both those under the first covenant and those under the second covenant—“how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:14-15, NKJV.)
 
Where does one come in contact with the blood of Christ?  Another way to phrase the question is where does one come in contact with the death of Christ which is when He shed His blood?  The answer is very plain—we come into contact with the death of Christ (and the blood of Christ) through our contact with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  Paul wrote, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4, NKJV.)  Paul would go onto write, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NKJV.) 
 
The song reflects “Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide; There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.”  This cleansing comes from baptism as Ananias told Saul of Tarsus—“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16, NKJV.)
 
The Baptist Manual clearly states “Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of ‘baptismal regeneration’; but it is essential to obedience, since Christ commanded it.  It is also essential to a public confession of Christ before the world, and to membership in the church which is his body.”  One wonders how something can be essential for obedience but not be essential for salvation!  Contrast this to what Peter wrote “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21, NKJV).
 
There is indeed power in the blood of Christ, and one comes in contact with the blood of Christ when one comes in contact with the death of Christ in baptism!

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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.

“There Is Power In The Blood.” No pages. Cited 29 September 2016. Online: https://hymnstudiesblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/there-is-power-in-the-blood.

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

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Tribute to Neil W. Anderson & The Gospel Advocate Company


A Tribute to Neil W. Anderson & The Gospel Advocate Company
by David R. Kenney

My father and I often attended the Freed-Hardeman Lectureship.  In fact, when I was a boy he would attend these lectures with Artie Collins as I stayed home with my mother. He would regale us with stories, laughter, and memories of the time they had together.  I decided long ago that if I were to attend a Christian college, then it would be Freed-Hardeman College.  After I graduated from Freed-Hardeman University, my father and I attended the lectureships together.  In February 2010, the trip back from Henderson, TN was special because as we travelled through Nashville dad mentioned he would like to go by the Gospel Advocate and wondered if I would be interested.  To put it mildly, I was interested, and I suspected he knew of that interest too.  So, we pulled up unannounced, walked in, and asked to speak to Neil Anderson.  I had sort of foisted myself upon Neil because we both knew R. C. Thompson who was also good friends of my father. So, I just used their friendships to springboard a relationship with Neil Anderson whether he wanted such or not.

While we waited, we looked around at the displays and saw things I had only read about or seen pictures of; e.g., Ira North’s “fiery red” sports coat was on display.  I admired it because I know my father loved the bright color that matched North’s reported personality.  Neil came out and graciously greeted us.  He gave us a complete tour of the facility.  He asked me who some of my favorite writers were, and among those I mentioned was Guy N. Woods.  I told him I wanted to see some of the memorabilia relating Guy N. Woods.  He told me to follow him into his son’s office.  He encouraged me to look around.  I felt a bit awkward looking through someone’s office and expressed some reservation.  He laughingly reassured me, and he told me the story behind why he brought me into this office.  When Guy N. Woods passed away in 1993, Neil immediately went that night to the Gospel Advocate and locked up Guy N. Woods’ office.  Apparently the death of a prior editor taught Anderson the wisdom of doing so.  Anderson wanted to preserve Woods’ office. He told me that his son’s office was the way it was when Guy N. Woods passed away.  He watched me look through his library, encouraging me not to hesitate to bring down any book to look at.  I just did not want to disturb it so others would have the same opportunity to see Woods office.  Neil saw my admiration and appreciation of Guy N. Woods.  He went to a drawer in Guy N. Woods office and told me he wanted me to have this book, How to Study the New Testament Effectively.  I thanked him and told him I had this book and enjoyed it immensely.  He assured me that I did not have this book, and he opened it to the page which had Guy N. Woods’ signature.

Neil Anderson would encourage me to write, but he would not just accept any article.  On more than one occasion he would return an article for improvement.  Once I commented to my dad that I was not sure if I would ever get an article in the Gospel Advocate, but both men encouraged me to keep at it.  I attended the Writing Workshop that Gospel Advocate hosted during the FHU Bible Lectureship, and I continued to work at honing my craft of writing. 

Once when I was attending the lectures, Neil invited me to attend the special luncheon the Gospel Advocate hosted for their writers.  I told him that I did not have an article in the Gospel Advocate and did not considered qualified to be one of their writers.  He asked me “Have you ever had an article in the Gospel Advocate?”  I replied “Yes, a couple of years ago.”  “Then you are one of our writers, so come to the luncheon and we can eat and visit together.”  He was so gracious, generous, and encouraging.

It is with mixed emotions that I recognize the Andersons’ wishes to turn over the Gospel Advocate Company.  I am saddened that the time for change has come, but sometimes that is the nature of change—a mixed bag.  I welcome the new leadership at the Gospel Advocate Company, look forward to meeting the Dukes, and pray for its continued success for the Kingdom of Christ.  Neil, thank you for your kind, gentle, and even fatherly-like encouragement.  May God richly bless you and your family.



June 10, 2016

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).
 
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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.