April 2003

1 April 2003

April 2003 From the pastor Greetings in the name or our Lord Jesus Christ. The time of our annual meeting is rapidly approaching. Let us all be in prayer that the Lord will bless our meeting with the power of His Spirit. Our meeting will begin Friday night, April 11th, with supper at 5:30, singing about 7:00 and preaching at 7:30. We will have services Saturday night at the same time and the meeting will conclude with our Sunday morning service followed by communion and feet washing. Elder Ronald Lawrence and Elder J.R. Rakes are scheduled to be with us. Elder Ronald will only be able to be with us for the Friday night service. Elder Rakes is scheduled to be with Cane Creek Church Sunday night. They will have supper at 5:00 p.m. with singing and preaching following. This is a special time for our church and should be attended with much prayer. As your pastor, I encourage every member to make a special effort to attend each of these services as we remember the sufferings, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This special meeting would be a great opportunity to bring a visitor. We hope to see you there. I have promised to be with Vestavia Church for their anniversary meeting April 18 – 20th. Elder Harold Hunt has promised to be with Harmony Church for services on Sunday morning, April 20th. The Lord willing, Elder Kenneth Brantley has promised to be with our church for a 5th weekend meeting in June. Elder Brantley will be with us Saturday night, June 28th and Sunday morning. Elder Brantley is a very dedicated and gifted minister. Mark your calendars now and pray for our church and the Lord's servants as they come our way. Invite visitors and tell them ... ."come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel"-Numbers 10:29. What is happening at DONALDSON I appreciate the good attendance we have been experiencing at our church. In a day in which so many are given to entertainment and worldly pleasure, it is refreshing to see God's people turn aside from the world to worship the Lord. Over the last few weeks we have delivered messages on "God, who hath saved us", our message being taken from II Timothy 1:8-11 focusing in on the purpose of the gospel and the fact that the Lord has saved His people without the help of man. Our next message was on the doctrine of "Election". The comment Spurgeon made on this doctrine is quite contemporary: "There is a prejudice in the human mind against this doctrine". We have also delivered messages on "The glory of God", "Worshipping" and the subject of "Praise". If you would like a copy of any of these messages please contact Sister Judy Newman at our church address. During our message on "Worship", we spoke on the emerging sound of Christian Contemporary Music. In my opinion, this music is the result of a departure from the faith by those who have instituted musical instruments into their worship service. Though many of the words of these songs are true, the music sounds just like rock and roll. There is a spirit produced from this music that is akin to worship, yet of another spirit. When Paul wrote to Timothy concerning the last days, he wrote of people that would be, "Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away"- 2 Timothy 3:4-5. A "form of godliness" is all about us. Forms of religion, forms of worship, forms of things that seem to be godly. These "forms" are attractive to the flesh. Yet, they "deny the power" of God to build His people up by following the simple mode of New Testament worship. The spirit produced by these songs is more like the emotion one feels when they see a moving television show or movie. It is not of the heart, it is of the flesh. It was interesting to notice the large pipe organ in the Metropolitan Tabernacle when we were visiting London. Of course, this was not there when Spurgeon was the pastor. Yet, the most interesting thing was the article I read from "The Sword and the Trowel" on the way home. The argument was written by one of their own, denouncing the use of trumpets, drums and other marching band instruments in the sacred worship. Yet, all the while authorizing the use of the organ. I thought of our Lord's words when He spoke of those straining at gnats and swallowing camels. Surely, if one instrument is authorized for New Testament worship, they all are. Then we have to argue over who gets to play them. We have all known of those who have moved from assembly to assembly just so that they could be the player of an instrument. Some point to the last two psalms which refer to all kinds of musical instruments which were used during the old law service. Yet, we must point out that "dance" is also mentioned in both of these psalms!!! Either dance and all instruments are authorized in our New Testament worship or none of the above. After this message on "Worship" was delivered, several from our church asked some good questions concerning musical instruments. I gave them a copy of one of our articles which was printed in our newspaper several months ago that seemed to be of help to them. I share this with our readers at this time.

"A JOYFUL NOISE" "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing"-Psalm 100:1,2 Music has a profound influence upon the soul. It affects our emotions, our feelings and has the power to change our mood in a heartbeat. Just by adding music to the score of a movie, producers can dictate how the audience should feel about a particular scene. A song can take us back in time to people and places long forgotten. Music can lift us up and it can bring us down. Yet, there are different kinds of music. There is noise and there is "joyful noise". There is music and there is worshipful music. There is music that affects the flesh, the natural emotions, and there is music that moves the spirit within the born again child of God. The latter would be classified as worshipful music. To God it would be called "a joyful noise". It is a sad reflection upon Christianity when worship music resembles worldly music; when it stirs the flesh and not the spirit; when it sounds like the music on the juke box only with the words changed; when it attracts the world and not the elect. There IS a difference. To this same schism, Charles Spurgeon addressed the music of his day: "God's house is meant to be sacred unto himself, but too often it is made an opera house, and Christians form an audience, not an adoring assembly. We come not together to amuse ourselves, to display our powers of melody, or our aptness in creating harmony. We come to pay our adoration a the foot stool of the great King, to whom alone be glory forever and forever"(17.663). He also said, "Singing should be congregational ... .when your heart is full of Christ, you will want to sing." To his sentiments we must agree. In New Testament terms, "a joyful sound" in God's ears is not produced by a musical instrument. It is not even produced by a beautiful voice or by the harmony of many voices. He who constantly enjoys an angelic chorus is not impressed with human ability. The only instrument than will ever produce a joyful noise in God's ears is the heart……a quickened heart that resonates with love and affection for its Redeemer. Every child of God possesses this instrument. It is said that the greatest sound to a violin makers ear is the music produced from an instrument of his own making. Surely, if the Lord quickened the heart it would give Him great pleasure to hear it echo His praise. The heart is the focus of New Testament worship! Addressing the heart, Paul wrote, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord"(Eph 5:19). Notice, the focus is the heart…not an instrument, not a voice. Though a person may not be able to carry a tune in a wash-tub, just reciting the words with a heart in communion with God is just as beautiful in God's hears as Placido Domingo or Luciano Pavarotti. None are spectators in this kind of worship! In I Corinthians 14:15, Paul gives the recipe for heart worship, "I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also". Spiritual understanding is heart melody. The natural man can not play this instrument(I Cor 2:14). It is possible for one to sing "Amazing grace" ever so beautifully, and never recognize that they are a wretch in need of God's grace! Spiritual songs are both experimental and doctrinal. They agree with the Bible and teach it in song. That is the modus operandi of "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." The heart gives assent to the truth offered up to God. Spiritual songs are sermons sang from breast to breast in the solemn assembly. The born again heart is the fulfillment of the Old Testament types and shadows. The many instruments in David's choir were only shadows of many quickened hearts in the New. If I could paint a picture of the assembly joined together in song, I would paint a picture of a troubadour, seated beneath the balcony of his love. His heart is afire with one desire: that his beauty would present herself for just a little while. Christ is the great love of the Church. We should sing that He would present Himself for just a little while in our services. "Come thou almighty King!" We hope to remember that people do not join the church because of music, nor would we want them to. They must join because they see the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior, because they love Him and want to make a public testimony of their love for Him by water baptism. We should never place ordinance, modes of worship or traditions above Jesus Christ and what He has done for His people(Matthew 1:21).

Yet, those who truly see Jesus should realize the trappings of modern religion are not needed for our worship service. He is worshipped by the heart in a such a simple way that even the little child, untrained in the lore of music, and ignorant in traditions and ordinances, can worship at His feet. Book review It is good to hear of many more of our church members who are enjoying the good material in our little church library. I believe that much depression comes from reading, watching and hearing the wrong material. Like junk food is to the body, information is to the soul. This month, I draw your attention to a mammoth work done by C.B. and Sylvester Hassell. It is entitled, "History of The Church of God". It begins with creation, and goes to 1885. This book traces the footsteps of the flock, describing the persecutions of our forefathers and the movement of the church from continent to continent. Every church member should read this book! remember in prayer Since the time of our last newsletter, our country has engaged in a war against terrorism. Paul encouraged Timothy to pray, "For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty"- 1 Timothy 2:2. Not only should we pray for our leaders, that they would make the right decisions, but also for the innocent. We have been saddened by the loss of our oldest church member, Sister Leona Sandage. Sister Leona has been a faithful member and will be greatly missed.