The Church of Christ

Crum

(photograph of Ellis J. Crum)

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST

“And He is the Head of the body, the church…” (Col. 1:18)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which identifies the church as the body of Christ is “The Church of Christ.”  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Ellis J. Crum, who was born on Apr. 11, 1928, in Bloomington, IN, the son of Ellis J. and Marion Lucille Rice Crum.  Even as a child at the age of five, he was telling Bible stories to large crowds.  From ages eight to twelve he spoke on such subjects as “Fighting the Good Fight of Faith” and “What Boys Can Do,” often standing before audiences of 800 or more.  His first preaching took place at age sixteen at Bloomfield, IN.  Also, he attended the Stamps-Baxter School of Music in 1944, where he first began to work on his dream of publishing a hymnbook.  Graduating from Linton Stockton High School in Linton, IN, Crum married Norma Nell Owens of Lyons, IN, on Aug. 25, 1946, in Vincennes, IN, and enrolled at Indiana University in Bloomington.

After two years of college, Crum moved to work in preaching with the church of Christ at Bridgeport, CN.  His evangelistic labors in North America took him from Connecticut to California, and from Canada to Mexico.  The Crums had five children, three daughters, Cheryl, Janella, and Beth, and two sons, Jay and Brent, two of whom were born when he was working with the church in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  In 1956, Crum published his first hymnbook, Sacred Selections for the Church, in which this song, “The Church of Christ,” first appeared as the opening number.  The book contained 665 hymns.  For many years beginning in 1958, the Crums made their home at Kendallville, IN, where they were members of the Kendallville Church of Christ, and his work often involved home Bible studies, personal work training classes, camp directing, song instruction, and speaking at workshops, in addition to visiting over thirty countries, including several tours of the Bible lands and five preaching trips to Ghana in Africa.

In 1977, Crum published Special Sacred Selections.  Also, he purchased the R. E. Winsett Music Co. and combined it with Sacred Selections to form the Sacred Music Trust. When he republished Sacred Selections in larger type, “The Church of Christ” was retitled simply as “The Church.”  Among the over 150 other hymns which Crum wrote, composed, or arranged are “The Breaking of Bread” to the tune (Bread of Life) that had been composed in 1877 for Mary A. Lathbury’s hymn “Break Thou the Bread of Life” by William Fisk Sherwin (1826-1888), and some extra stanzas for “Lead Me To Some Soul Today” with original single stanza by Will H. Houghton and tune by Wendell P. Loveless.  Crum, aged 83, died on Monday, October 17, 2011, at Lutheran Life Villages in Kendallville, IN.  Preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Larry Crum, he was survived by his wife, his children, their spouses, and thirteen grandchildren.

This song mentions several different facets of our Lord’s spiritual kingdom as taught in the New Testament.

I. According to stanza 1 the true church follows Christ’s word

The church of Christ follows Christ’s Word,

Where he doth speak, there we are heard;

Where He is silent, we are too,

What Christ commands is what we do.

  1. We follow Christ’s word because it will judge us in the last day: Jn. 12:48
  2. This means speaking only as the oracles of God: 1 Pet. 4:11
  3. It also means keeping His commandments because we love Him: Jn. 14:15

II. According to stanza 2, the true church consists of all the saved

Jesus will add your name above,

If you’ll believe, repent, and love;

Confess His name before all men,

Be buried in water with Him.

  1. The names of the saved are enrolled or registered in heaven: Heb. 12:23
  2. To have our names added above, we must believe: Jn. 8:24
  3. But we must also repent and be buried in water (baptized): Acts 2:38, 47

III. According to stanza 3, the true church is Christ’s bride

The church of Christ, the Savior’s bride,

For which He suffered, bled, and died,

Is open to all who believe

On Jesus Christ and Him receive.

  1. The church holds the same relationship to Christ that a bride holds to her husband: Eph. 5:22-27
  2. Jesus suffered, bled, and died to pay the purchase price for this bride: Acts 20:28
  3. Being part of Christ’s bride is open to all who will believe and receive Him: Jn. 1:12-13

IV. According to stanza 4, the true church is the body in which we give Christ the glory

Unto Christ be glory for aye,

Work through His church, don’t go astray;

Oh, follow not the mind of man,

For God gave us a perfect plan.

  1. We should always seek to give God the glory: Phil. 4:20
  2. This glory is to be given in the church: Eph. 3:20-21
  3. And it is according to God’s perfect plan which He purposed in Christ Jesus: Eph. 3:10-11

CONCL.:  The chorus encourages those who are members of Christ’s body to labor in God’s kingdom for the spread of the Lord’s church.

Work for the Master every day,

Help lead the erring to the way;

Believe His word, obey His command,

The church of Christ will forever stand.

Through the years, several friends have expressed to me their opinion that the words are an excellent summary of Bible teaching about the Lord’s church, almost like a sermon in song, but some aspects of the music, especially the rhythm, can be a bit difficult to grasp and follow.  In any event, as God’s called out body is obviously an important part of His overall scheme for the redemption of mankind, it is good for those who make up that body to sing about “The Church of Christ.”

church of christ

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Sing and Rejoice in the Savior’s Birth

couchman2

(photo of Charli and Tom Couchman)

“SING AND REJOICE IN THE SAVIOR’S BIRTH”

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11)

     INTRO.:  A song about the announcement that in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, was born is “Sing and Rejoice in the Savior’s Birth” (#0 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Charlotte E. {Charli) Couchman (b. 1951).  Born in 1951 and known as Charli to her friends, she and her husband Tom were residents for many years of Parker, CO, but now live in Aldie, VA.  She is a hymn writer.  “Sing and Rejoice” was copyrighted in 1987.  The tune was arranged by R. J. Stevens (1927-2012).  The song was not in the original edition of Hymns for Worship edited by Stevens and Dane K. Shepard in 1987 but was added to subsequent editions.

Matthew W. Bassford wrote a hymn entitled “Exalted” in April 1999.  It created a problem due to the verse-to-verse structure. As most of our hymns do, “Exalted” has three verses, each intended to be sung to the same tune.   That same tune, then, must match the emotional feel of all three verses. “Exalted” has one grand verse about the glories of Christ the King, one ironic verse about the vicious way He was received by His people, and one half-and-half verse about the different ways He is received today. A hymn like that pulls a composer in two.  He can’t write a grand tune to match the first verse, because then it won’t match the second.  He can’t write an ironic tune to match the second verse, because then it won’t match the first.  All he can do is compose a neutral tune that kind-of matches the tone of the entire hymn, but neutral is boring, is not sung, is a failed hymn.  Then he asked Charli Couchman to write the music.  He said of her, “’Charli is a phenomenally talented composer, but ‘Exalted’ may remain her finest work.  She’s written plenty of good tunes to good hymns, but in ‘Exalted’…she wrote a boring, flat melody and made it interesting, even unique, by passing it back and forth between parts.  The result is unlike anything I’m familiar with in the tradition of English hymnody, yet simple enough that a congregation with moderate musical gifts can pick it up.”

Couchman is one of the directors of Sumphonia, a nonprofit foundation whose purpose is to compile and distribute materials for worship, especially those materials related to congregational hymn worship. Sumphonia, founded in the autumn of 2002, is not affiliated with any religious organization. The foundation is governed by a Board of Directors that meets every year.  Some of Couchman’s hymns have appeared in other books, including “Christ Lives in Me,” copyrighted in 1989 and used in the 2010 Songs of Worship and Praise edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.  Charli has also edited a songbook, Each Little Dewdrop: New Songs for Young Hearts, consisting of 34 children’s Bible songs for Bible classes, vacation Bible school, homeschool, or at-home family times, published by Taylor Publications.  All the songs have been recorded by children and are available on tape or CD.  “Sing and Rejoice in the Savior’s Birth” is also found in the 2007 Sumphonia Hymn Supplement and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, both edited by Couchman, David Maravilla, Mark Coulson, Craig Roberts, and Steve Wolfgang.

The song reminds us of the importance that the birth of Jesus Christ has to our salvation.

I. Stanza 1 talks about the angels

“Glory!  Glory!

Sing alleluia!  Sing glory to God.

Glory fills the earth;

Angels rejoice in the Savior’s birth.”

  1. When Jesus was born, a multitude of the heavenly host said, “Glory to God in the highest”: Lk. 2:13-14
  2. The word “alleluia” is a form of “hallelujah” which means “praise Jehovah” and which great multitudes in heaven say to the Lord: Rev. 19:1
  3. It was an angel who first announced the birth of Jesus Christ to the world: Lk. 2:9-12

II. Stanza 2 talks about the shepherds

“Shepherds, do not fear.

I bring glad tidings: A Savior is here.

Joy, joy for Christ the Lord!

Jesus, Immanuel, the Son of God.”

  1. This announcement of Jesus’s birth was first made to shepherds near Bethlehem: Lk. 2:8
  2. It was announced that a Savior was born, because He was sent to save His people from their sins: Matt. 1:18-21
  3. This Savior was also known as Immanuel, which means God with us, because He is the Son of God: Matt. 1:22-23

III. Stanza 3 talks about the virgin Mary

“Lowly manger bed,

Lowly the virgin who cradles His head.

Hail!  Hail, King of kings!

Glory to God for the ransom He brings.”

  1. When Jesus was born, He was laid in a manger: Lk. 2:1-7
  2. His mother was a lowly virgin named Mary: Lk. 1:26-35
  3. Yet, He is the King of kings who came to be a ransom for the sins of the world: Matt. 20:28

CONCL.:  The chorus offers praise to God for the birth of Christ.

“Have you heard?  A child is born!

Welcome star, that lights eternal morn.

Glory sent to earth;

Sing and rejoice in the Savior’s birth.”

Some brethren have objected to hymns which are specifically about the birth of Jesus.  The reason, I suspect, is probably because they are afraid that such songs might be misunderstood or misused as “Christmas carols.”  We should certainly exercise good judgment so that we do not appear to be endorsing the religious celebration of any man-made holiday, but if it is scriptural to sing songs about the life, death, resurrection, and/or second coming of Christ, why should we not be able to sing songs of praise about His birth?  Surely, the coming of the Son of God into the world is something that should cause us to “Sing and Rejoice in the Savior’s Birth.”

sing and rejoice

Let Jesus Come In Today

estes,c08

(photograph of Chester Estes)

LET JESUS COME IN TODAY

“…If a man love Me, he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him” (Jn. 14:23)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which invites all of us to love Christ and keep His words so that He will come into us is “Let Jesus Come In Today.”  The text was written by Chester Riley Estes, who was born northwest of Haleyville, Alabama, on July 1, 1903. He was baptized by A.D. Dies in 1920 and married Gladys Mae Chastain on August 21, 1921. To this union were born a daughter,  Evelyn Estelle in 1931, and a set of twin boys, Charles Robert and Edward William in 1936.   After attending David Lipscomb College, where in 1925, while a student at the college, he debated C.C. Clark, a Primitive Baptist, the University of Alabama, and the Alabama State Teacher’s College, Estes began preaching in Marion County, Alabama, working with the church at Winfield. He was there from 1928 until 1937 when he moved to Corinth, Mississippi, to work with the Foote Street church of Christ. After five years, the family moved to Longview, Texas, and he preached with the church there.

Chester enjoyed writing and wrote a number of books and even some hymns.  “Let Jesus Come In Today” was copyrighted in 1940 with the tune composed by Francis Marion Davis (1906-1979).   It first appeared in the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Davis and published by the Marion Davis Co.  Estes’s first book, Titus Goes Modern, was also published in 1940. He followed with other titles including A Handbook on Biblical Interpretation, Cold Waters For Thirsty Souls, What Is Truth?, A Study of the Holy Spirit, A Study on the Sermon on the Mount, and others.  In 1947, the Esteses moved to Sheffield, Alabama, where he began preaching for the Highland Park church. The family lived in the Shoals area the remainder of his life. Through a number of years he edited the journal, The Evangelist, and he was one of the first men in the Shoals area to begin a daily radio broadcast.

Through the years of his preaching, Estes continued to send reports to the Gospel Advocate of his efforts. He was called upon to preach in many meetings. Most of his meeting work was in Northwest Alabama.  However he did make preaching trips to Texas and California. The last years of his life saw Chester spending time writing. Included in his works was an autobiography, Faith That Overcomes: The Story of My Life.  Also, he authored a translation of the New Testament called The Better Version of the New Testament.  Gladys Estes passed from this life November 20, 1986. Her body was laid to rest in the old cemetery in Sheffield, Alabama. Chester continued a few more years. In his eighty-ninth year he passed on November 17, 1992. He was laid to rest beside his wife, united in death. The location of their grave is near the entrance of the cemetery.

“Let Jesus Come In Today” could be used effectively as an invitation song by giving reasons why we should let Jesus come into our hearts.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that He will redeem us

Let Jesus come into your heart,

Let Jesus come in today;

From sin He’ll redeem thee,

From sorrow He’ll save thee;

Let Jesus come in today.

  1. We need to let Jesus come in today because today is the only time we have promised: 2 Cor. 6:2
  2. When we come to Jesus, we are redeemed by His blood: 1 Pet. 1:18-19
  3. And then He will save our souls in heaven from eternal sorrow: 1 Pet. 1:3-5

II. Stanza 2 tells us that He is pleading for us

Let Jesus come into your heart,

You must not turn Him away;

Your soul He is pleading,

His presence you’re greeting;

Let Jesus come in today.

  1. We must be careful not to turn Him away by hardening our hearts: Heb. 3:15-19
  2. He is pleading for us to come to Him for rest: Matt. 11:28-30
  3. And we need to have His presence dwelling in our hearts: Eph. 3:17

III. Stanza 3 tells us that He will help us turn from darkness and evil

Let Jesus come into my heart,

I will not turn Him away;

From darkness I’m turning,

All evil I’m spurning;

Yes, Jesus, come in today.

  1. We must not turn Him away through disobedience: 2 Thess. 1:7-9
  2. Only He can turn us from darkness: Acts 26:15-18
  3. And only He can help us to spurn or keep from evil: 2 Thess. 3:3

CONCL.:  The chorus continues to encourage us to hear Christ’s pleading and accept His love.

Let Jesus come in today,

Let Jesus come in today;

For your soul He is pleading

For your love His heart’s bleeding;

Let  Jesus come in today.

Measure six of the stanzas and of the chorus are both a little out of the ordinary for 6/4 time.  This is not a well-known song, at least today.  However, the Lord’s message to a lost and dying world always has been and always will be “Let Jesus Come in Today.”

let jesus come in

In True Communion

dusblakwguitar

(photo of Dusty Owens)

“IN TRUE COMMUNION”

“The cup…is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?  The bread…the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:16)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which emphasizes that the bread and cup are the communion of the body and blood of Christ is “In True Communion” (#173 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Dusty Owens.  I do not know when or where Dusty was born and raised, but for many years he lived in the Tampa, FL, area.  While making his living as a successful businessman, he also preached at different times for various smaller churches of Christ in and around Tampa.  In addition, Dusty is a country music singer who began his professional career in Flint, MI, on radio station WWOK, at the age of sixteen, in 1946. In 1953, he began recording for the Columbia Record Co. and was signed to an exclusive writer’s contract by Fred Rose of the Acuff-Rose Publishing Co. in Nashville, TN.  In 1954, on the strength of his hit song, “Hello Operator,” Dusty made a guest appearance on the “Ozark Jubilee” in Springfield, Missouri, a show that was aired weekly on national television.  Red Foley and Porter Wagoner were stars of the show.  Later, Dusty did package shows with Porter in various cities.  In Wheeling, WV, as part of “The World’s Original Jamboree,” Dusty had a 30 minute segment that was aired weekly on the CBS radio network.  He was a regular headliner along with Hawkshaw Hawkins, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Doc Williams, Hal Lone Pine, Betty Cody, The Osborne Brothers, and Crazy Elmer.

Several of Dusty’s hymns are found in Hymns for Worship.  This one was copyrighted in 1984.  The arrangement of the music was done by Margie Garrett, who also helped A. W. Dicus harmonize two of his songs, “Our God He Is Alive” and “Lord, I Believe.”  Further arranging of both text and tune was done by R. J. Stevens (1927-2012).  It was first published in 1986 in Hymns for Worship.  Other hymns by Owens in the same book are “Set Your Mind” and “The Fruit of the Spirit,” both also arranged by Garrett and Stevens.  Two additional hymns by Owens appeared in the original Hymns for Worship, both arranged by Dane K. Shepard.  They were “Make Jesus Lord of Your Life”, which was replace in the Revised Edition by “His Sheep Am I,” and “When the Spirit Came Down,” which was replaced in the Revised Edition by “The Greater Light” and “Holy Is the Lord.”  I first met Dusty in the early 1970s when he came to visit friends in my hometown who worshipped with the congregation where my family attended and he was asked to speak.  When I was in school at Florida College (1972-1974) just outside of Tampa, I would see him occasionally.  I think that at that time he was preaching with the Florence Villa Church of Christ.  And I believe that I recall running across him a few times at the Florida College lectures when we attended in the early 1980s.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Dusty became involved in a venture with Charles Holt to publish a very controversial paper called The Examiner which called into question the scripturalness of organized local congregations, maintaining a standing church treasury, and the appointment of elders as authoritative overseers, among other things.  The paper eventually folded, and a few years later Holt passed away.  Since then, I have not heard anything from or about Owens, except that he subsequently wrote an article entitled “Why I Left the Church of Christ” which appears on a number of “anti-Church-of-Christ” websites.  Dusty is currently the Owner and CEO of TCM Radio, one of the first Internet Radio Stations, established January 25, 2003.  Dusty has appeared in various places in Florida, including the Florida Opry in Plant City, FL, where he has been brought back several times by popular demand.  In 2004, Dusty appeared at the Strawberry Festival where he headlined a show along with Tommy Cash.  On September 1, 2006, Dusty was inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame and performed at the 31st National Old Time Country and Bluegrass Music Festival in Missouri Valley, Iowa.  Several of his CDs are available.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “In True Communion” has appeared only in Hymns for Worship so far as I know.

The song is designed to help prepare the minds of worshippers for partaking of the Lord’s supper.

I. Stanza 1 emphasizes the day of the Lord’s supper

“We gather now on this Lord’s day,

To eat the bread and drink the cup;

Remembering the life He gave,

In true communion now we sup.

Thank you, Lord, You died for me;

Help me, Lord, to be like Thee.”

  1. In the first century, disciples gathered on the first day of the week, which is the Lord’s day: Acts 20:7, Rev. 1:10
  2. In eating the Lord’s supper, we do it in remembrance of Him and the life He gave: Lk. 22:19-21
  3. In remembering His death, we also express the desire to be like Him in our lives: Phil. 2:5-9

II. Stanza 2 emphasizes what the Lord’s supper represents

“We hear by faith the pleading Son:

‘O Father, pass this cup from Me,

Though not My will but Thine be done,’

That night in Garden’s agony.

Bless us, Lord, as oft we show

Sincere faith from here below.”

  1. Since we did not personally experience the life and death of Christ, it is by faith, based upon inspired testimony, that we accept the truthfulness of what He did for us: Jn. 20:29-31
  2. The Lord’s supper reminds us of the suffering of Christ for us, about which He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane: Lk. 22:39-42
  3. In remembering by faith this suffering, we also express the desire to live by faith in everything that we do: 2 Cor. 5:7

III. Stanza 3 emphasizes the purpose of the Lord’s supper

“We share His body and His blood:

With quiet hearts our mind discerns

The Christ whose side flowed crimson flood;

His death we show ‘til He returns.

Lord, be with us in this place;

Keep us safely in Thy grace.”

  1. The bread represents His body and the cup His blood: Matt. 26:26-29
  2. Our purpose in eating the bread and cup is to show the Lord’s death till He comes again: 1 Cor. 11:23-26
  3. In remembering His body and blood, we express the desire to be kept safely in His grace: 1 Pet. 5:12

CONCL.:  The Scriptures are really quite clear as to the Lord’s supper.  The bread represents Christ’s body and the cup represents His blood so that as we partake we remember and show the Lord’s death.  God’s word doesn’t specifically command a hymn to prepare our minds for the Lord’s supper.  However, since we are told to teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, communion hymns certainly fall in the realm of that which is authorized.  This one reminds us that we should strive to eat the Lord’s supper “In True Communion.”

in true communion

Walking in the Way

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(photo of Joe S. Warlick)

WALKING IN THE WAY

“I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth…” (2 Jn. 4)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which talks about the joy of walking in truth is “Walking in the Way.”  The  text was written by Joseph Sale (Joe S.) Warlick, who was born twelve miles from St. Louis, MO, in St. Louis County, on November 1, 1866, of Scotch, Irish, and German descent. He was the son of Newton Sanford Warlick and Mary Ann (Stafford) Warlick. In addition to two brothers, Jim and Dennis, there were also five sisters.  His boyhood was spent in Missouri, Arkansas and in Texas near Fort Worth.  Joe was constantly in school until he was grown. His parents, though poor, gave him every advantage they could, and his brothers and sisters cheerfully worked on the farm that he might prosecute his studies.  Warlick preached his first sermon in July, 1885. His parents had moved to Baylor County in north central West Texas near the small town of Seymour and settled in the Cache Creek community. There was a little band of Christians meeting at the Cache Creek schoolhouse and Joe began to preach for them. He was nineteen years old, and kept constantly at his preaching work for 54 years it until stopped by illness in December of 1939. He preached in nearly all of the Southern states, in a number of the Northern states, and once in Canada. Also, he engaged in 399 debates, 23 with Baptist champion Ben M. Bogard, the most important of which were with J. N. Hall (Baptist) and with Jacob Ditzler (Methodist).

Warlick, who spent the greater part of his adult life living in Dallas, TX, moving there in 1901, was married twice. His first wife was Miss Florence Campbell. To this union four children were born, three sons, Homer Elvy, Bernie C., and Byron, and one daughter, Florence.  His wife Florence died in 1896, and in 1901 he married his second wife, Miss Lucie Dabney, granddaughter of E. W. Dabney, who is remembered as one of the pioneer preachers of the gospel in Texas. As a writer and editor, Joe Warlick was prolific. On March 1, 1903, Warlick was the founding editor of the Gospel Review, which had three men listed as editors, Joe S. Warlick, Jesse P. Sewell, and Robert H. Boll; Sewell was the managing editor.  It lasted only a little over a year and then failed due to the high cost of production and lack of patronage.  Briefly, Warlick was an Associate Editor for The Leader and the Way from late 1904 into early 1905 under the legendary James A. Harding. In 1905, Warlick founded his most famous and long lasting paper, the Gospel Guide, which ran intermittently from March, 1905 until March, 1929. Besides editing these papers, he also wrote a number of articles for other papers, and was the author of many books and tracts which have had a wide circulation and have been endorsed and used by many preachers. In addition, he produced a number of hymns.  “Walking in the Way” has a tune composed by William D. Evridge (1873-1932).  It appeared in the 1941 Greater Gospel Songs edited by Austin Taylor and the 1953 Majestic Hymnal (No. 1) edited by Taylor and G. H. P. Showalter, both published by the Firm Foundation Publishing House of  Austin, TX.

During his life, Warlick was instrumental in leading a large number to Christ and baptized thousands. As the years drew on, he began to slow down some in his heavy preaching schedule. He became ill on December 23, 1939, when he suffered a heart attack from which he never fully recovered; and although he lived on another year, those closest to him, such as family members and friends who administered to his needs as best they could, knew that his days were numbered. Warlick departed this life on Thursday, January 2, 1941 at his home in Dallas, Texas.  Among his last words were: ‘I am willing to go before the Judge of all the earth and answer for every act of every minute of my life.”  Funeral services were conducted on Sunday, January 5, in the auditorium of the Sunset Church, at 2 P.M. Claude Kele, minister of the Hamilton-Lagow Church, where Warlick held his membership, spoke about the life of the deceased. A male sextet sang.  Two of the songs were composed by Warlick, one of which begins:

The time has come when we must part,

We hope to meet again,

To sing our songs of joy and praise,

While we on earth remain.

On the large granite monument at the Joe S. Warlick grave location in the Oak Cliff Cemetery in Dallas are these words: A Stalwart Soldier. . . A Courageous Fighter. . . A Staunch Friend. . . A Tender and Loving Father. . . .

“Walking in the Way” encourages us to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Master by pointing to the blessings received.

I. Stanza 1 mentions power

I am walking in the way

Where my Savior goes;

I will follow Him each day,

Though the world oppose.

He’ll uphold me all the way

By His powerful hand,

And will lead me safely on

To that heavenly land.

  1. We must walk in the way that the Savior trod: 1 Pet. 2:21-23
  2. He wants us to deny self, take up the cross, and follow Him each day: Matt. 16:24
  3. When we do this, He’ll lead us by His powerful hand through the power of the gospel: Rom. 1:16-17

II. Stanza 2 mentions joy

O the joys I find each day,

Walking by His side,

For I know it was for me

That He bled and died!

Then I never shall complain,

But my soul’s delight

Is my journeying through this world

To that city bright.

  1. Walking by His side we can rejoice always in the Lord: Phil. 4:4
  2. One reason for this joy is that Christ bled and died to save us: Rom. 5:8
  3. Another reason for our joy is the hope of that city bright to come: Heb. 13:14

III. Stanza 3 mentions glory

It is through the narrow way

That my Savior trod,

Leading on to endless day,

To our home with God!

There we all again shall meet

In that city fair;

In that blessed land we all

Shall His glory share.

  1. Walking with Jesus means traveling the strait and narrow way: Matt. 7:13-14
  2. But at the end of the road we shall meet again with all the righteous: 1 Thess. 4:13-17
  3. Then we shall share His glory: Rom. 8:18, 2 Cor. 4:17

CONCL.:  Life is often pictured poetically as a journey from this earth to eternity.  There are basically only two roads to travel.  One leads to everlasting destruction with the devil and his angels in hell, while the other leads to eternal life with God and the redeemed of all ages in heaven.  God gives us free will to choose which path we take.  He will not force us to do His will, but we shall experience the consequences of whatever our decision will be.  Jesus is “the way” to God and heaven, so if we hope to be saved eternally, we must be “Walking in the Way.”

walking

Mighty Is The Lord

elmore

(photograph of Johnny Elmore)

“MIGHTY IS THE LORD”

“Praise Him for His mighty acts: praise Him according to His excellent greatness” (Ps. 150:2)

     INTRO.:  A song which praises God for His mighty acts is “Mighty Is The Lord” (#33 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune was composed both by Johnny Elmore, who was born on Nov. 28, 1931, near Healdton, OK.  After graduating from Ardmore, OK, High School, he attended Southeastern State University at Durant, OK.  In 1954 he married Sally Word, and they have three children, Joni Lynn, Stanley James, and Kim Suzanne.  Elmore began preaching the gospel among churches of Christ in 1950 and taught his first singing school in 1955.  Since then he has preached and taught singing schools in 21 states.  In addition to working with the First Ave. church of Christ in Ardmore, conducting an average of six gospel meetings each year, and holding singing schools, he has directed the Gospel Lamplighters, a choral group which has made five albums produced by Morris Lynwood Smith.

Besides this, Elmore has sung with the Sunny South Quartet, a male vocal group which has produced two albums.   Also he has written several songs, authored two books: Why I Believe, a collection of sermon outlines, and Great Questions of the Gospel Age.  His other work has included doing weekly television preaching over KXII-TV, in Ardmore, for the program “The Gospel for Today,” and over KTVT, Fort Worth, TX, for the program “Let the Bible Speak.”  This song, “Mighty Is The Lord,” probably his most widely used, was produced in 1966 and first appeared in Gospel Herald, published by Morris Lynwood Smith.  It is reproduced along with his biography in Our Garden of Song, edited in 1980 by Gene Cleveland Finley.

Elmore explained the thought behind the song, saying, “The phrase in Psalm 121, ‘He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep,’ kept running through my mind, and I envisioned a song that would magnify the attributes of God.  In the chorus (as I saw it), the bass singers attempt to adequately express His praise, but fail; the alto singers then take their turn, failing also; the bass tries again, but cannot improve on their original effort; finally, the soprano concludes with their original statement about the eternity of God.”  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons and published by the Firm Foundation Publishing House, in addition to Hymns for Worship.

The song suggests three characteristics of God for which we should praise His greatness.

I. According to stanza 1, God is mighty

“Mighty is the Lord, our God, give praise to His great name;

Saints of earth, and hosts of heaven proclaim abroad His fame;

Come rejoicing, shout ‘Hosanna’ that all men might see;

Mighty is the Lord who lives eternally.”

  1. Indeed, the name by which God was known to the patriarchs was “God Almighty”: Exo. 6:2-3
  2. He wants His fame proclaimed to all the earth: Isa. 66:19
  3. Therefore, His people should shout Hosanna, which means “Save, we pray”: Ps. 118:25-29

II. According to stanza 2, God is holy

“Holy is the Lord of Hosts, whose reign shall never cease;

He can save the fallen race and give His servants peace;

All the earth should sing His praises, for He makes us free;

Mighty is the Lord who lives eternally.”

  1. If anything is taught clearly in the scriptures, it is the fact that our God is a holy God: Lev. 19:1-2
  2. In His holiness, He has made provisions to save the fallen race: 1 Tim. 2:3-4
  3. Thus, all the earth should sing the praises of Him who can make us free: Lev. 25:10

III. According to stanza 3. God is wondrous

“Mighty is our God, Jehovah, wondrous is His grace;

He is building now in heaven, that we might have a place;

How He makes us want to serve Him, His own people be;

Mighty is the Lord who lives eternally.”

  1. As we consider all the works that God has done, and especially His grace in making it possible for us to go to heaven, we must praise Him as wondrous: 1 Chron. 16:8-9
  2. It is so wondrous that God has prepared an eternal kingdom for His people even before the foundation of the world: Matt. 25:34
  3. Hence, we should want to serve Him and be His own peculiar people: 1 Pet. 2:9-10

CONCL.:  The chorus echoes the praise of God as the Mighty Lord.

“Mighty is the Lord, who dwelleth in the heavens,

Mighty is the Lord who ruleth o’er the sea;

Might is the Lord who never sleeps nor slumbers,

Mighty is the Lord who lives eternally.”

It should always be our desire to praise God for all His wondrous works and to tell the whole world, “Mighty Is the Lord.”

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I’m Walking the Heavenly Way

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(photo of G.H. P. Showalter)

I’M WALKING THE HEAVENLY WAY

“But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly…” (Heb. 13:16)

      INTRO.:  A hymn which expresses the desire for a better, heavenly country is “I’m Walking the Heavenly Way.”  The text was written and tune was composed both by George Henry Pryor (G. H. P.) Showalter, who was born at Snowville, VA, on Oct. 15, 1870, the son of J. T. and Sarah Catherine Showalter.  Baptized into Christ by his father on the second Sunday in March of 1883, Showalter was educated at the Greendale Institute of VA, Milligan College in TN, and the University of Texas. In 1891 he began preaching in Greendale, VA, and was an active preacher for 63 years. After teaching school and doing some evangelistic work in Virginia and West Virginia from 1892 to 1897, he came to Texas in 1897 and was President of Sabinal Christian College where he served one year. He was also President of Lockney Christian College (now extinct) for ten years.  On Aug. 1, 1900, he married Lena Estelle Honea, and they had three sons and three daughters. In 1908, he became the owner and editor of the Firm Foundation of Austin, TX, and continued in this capacity until the time of his death.

During his tenure there, the Firm Foundation Publishing House came out with several hymnbooks, many of which Showalter helped to edit, including Gospel Songs (No. 1); Gospel Songs No. 2 (1919); Gospel Songs No. 3 (1924); The New Ideal Hymn Book (1930); Wonderful Songs (1938); The New Wonderful Songs (1944); and the Majestic Hymnal (1953). He himself produced a few hymns. One of them, “I’m Walking the Heavenly Way,” copyrighted in 1941 and first published in Our Leader edited that year by Showalter and Thomas S. Cobb, was later included in Greater Gospel Songs and New Wonderful Songs. It was used at Showalter’s funeral. None of his songs are very well known now, but he obviously had an interest in church music.   There is a possibility that Showalter was related to the hymn writer Anthony Johnson Showalter, best known for “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” since they both came from western Virginia, but I have never been able to confirm this. Lena Showalter died in June of 1943, and two years later, on Sept. 6, 1945, George married Winifred Mason Moore of Wichita, KS.  He baptized all six of his children and all of his grandchildren who were old enough to obey the gospel during his lifetime. Also, he conducted the marriage ceremonies for all of his children.

In addition, Showalter served as an elder for over 45 years at the University Church of Christ in Austin. On Oct. 15, 1954, all of the children and thirteen grandchildren came together to celebrate his 84th birthday. Due to the pressures of business, he spent the day at the office. The next morning, Saturday, he became ill and was taken to the hospital late in the day.  Then on Sunday, Oct. 17, 1954, at 1:40 pm, he passed away due to coronary occlusion. The funeral was conducted Tuesday, October 19, at 3:00 P.M. in the University Church building.   W. M. Davis of Dallas, first page writer for the Firm Foundation for over 25 years, delivered the funeral sermon. Davis presented a vigorous message and one that was appreciated by all who were present. Then, the song composed by Showalter, “I’m Walking The Heavenly Way,” was sung at the funeral by a small chorus directed by Ray McGlothlin.  It was said that no single man west of the Mississippi River wielded more influence for good in the Lord’s church during the first half of the twentieth century.

“I’m Walking the Heavenly Way” encourages us to seek for a home in heaven and follow God’s plan to receive it.

I. Stanza 1 looks forward to rest

I’m going home to rest;

I’m walking the heavenly way.

With all the saved and blest,

I’ll reach the fair city some day.

  1. God offers His people rest after a faithful life on earth: Rev. 14:13
  2. This rest will be enjoyed with all the saved and blest: 1 Thess. 4:13-17
  3. The ultimate place for this rest will be the fair city: Heb. 13:14

II. Stanza 2 looks forward to peace and joy

The world I leave behind;

I’m walking the heavenly way.

What peace and joy I find;

I’m walking the heavenly way.

  1. To enter the heavenly way, we must leave the world, referring to the sinfulness of the age in which we live, behind: 1 Jn. 2:15-17
  2. When we do this, we shall have peace: Col. 3:15
  3. The Lord will also give us true joy: Phil. 4:4

III. Stanza 3 looks forward to being at home

I soon shall reach my home

By walking the heavenly way.

And then no more I’ll roam;

I’ve walked in the heavenly way.

  1. Jesus went to prepare us a home or dwelling place in the Father’s house: Jn. 14:1-3
  2. But to reach that home we must walk the strait and narrow heavenly way: Matt. 7:13-14
  3. And when we get there, we’ll no more roam because we’ll be in the very presence of God: Rev. 21:3

IV. Stanza 4 looks forward to praising God

I’ll sing God’s praises here

And walk in the heavenly way;

His praise I’ll sing up there

In heaven some beautiful day.

  1. We sing God’s praises here: Heb. 13:15
  2. Up there, we’ll join with the heavenly hosts and the redeemed of all ages to sing His praises: Rev. 5:8-14
  3. And that will be in heaven: 1 Pet. 1:3-5

CONCL.:  The chorus reminds us of the importance of traveling the only road of life that will bring true joy and ultimate glory.

I’m walking the heavenly way,

Yes, walking the heavenly way;

What joy is mine, what glory divine,

When walking the heavenly way.

If it is my desire to please God in this life and then have an eternal home with Him, I need to be able truthfully to say “I’m Walking the Heavenly Way.”

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