Harmony Quarterlies

Harmony Quarterlies are letters written primarily to the membership of Harmony Primitive Baptist Church from their Pastor, Elder Neil Phelan, Jr. These letters can be formal or casual, detailed or general. That sometimes as a "state of the church" report to keep members updated on community business.

As the name indicates, they are written approximately four times per year.

August 2006

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

August, 2006

From the pastor

Dear friends, it has been about a year since we published our last newsletter.  We have been so busy with other projects that we have not found the time to send the newsletter out. We have been very blessed with new members over the last year. Since our last newsletter Donaldson has rejoiced to receive the following members: Brother Marcus Harvey, Brother Jeff Lindsey and Sister Barbara Spurgeon by letter.  We rejoiced to receive Brother Dillon Ledbetter, Sister Mandy Ledbetter, Sister Wynn Welch, Brother Donald Shaffer, Sister Angela Lindsey and Sister Barbara Harvey by Baptism.  We are very thankful for the Lord’s kindness in sending them our way and adding to His Church here.  

Since that time, we have been greatly saddened by the loss of our Brother and my good friend, Brother Justin Welch.  He is survived by his wife, Sister Belinda Welch and three daughters, all members of our church: Sister Whitney Welch, Sister Willow Welch and Sister Wynn Welch.  I Baptized Sister Wynn June 25th at her request because it was the closest Sunday to what would have been Brother Justin’s next birthday. Brother Justin surely made a great impression on his daughters’ faith.  We miss him greatly and ask you to keep his family in your prayers.  

What is happening AT HARMONY

We are currently working on our web page. If you have logged on to our site, you have probably noticed that the information there is out of date.  Brother Jeff Lindsey has the knowledge to set up a web page and is presently constructing a new site with our own domain name.  We are transferring the information from our old site onto the new one. We hope to retain the tab from the other server for those who have already found us.  Our new address will be  www.harmonypbchurch.org.  We are planning to offer much more on our new site which will include the books we have published, some live audio sermons, some writings published in our local newspaper as well as other items of interest. We also may include a list of the area meetings among our people. In the near future we plan to get another picture of our membership on the front steps of our church building as before. We want our new members to be on our page. All of this takes a lot of time and effort and we appreciate Brother Jeff for his labor of love.

Speaking of labor of love, Sister Angela Lindsey has taken over the C.D. Ministry. Sister Judy Newman did this for us for several years and we appreciate them both for their efforts. Our C.D. ministry is free and if you know of anyone who would benefit from our recorded messages of our Sunday Morning service please let her know. 

We have been meeting on Sunday nights now for several months and I have been very pleased with the good turnout we are experiencing. Presently, we are preaching a series of messages on “Extraordinary Women of the Bible”. I have dubbed our Sunday night congregation the “very elect”.  Though the congregation is somewhat smaller at night, there is a precious spirit manifested in our night services.

Book review

I am presently reading a book by I.K. Cross titled, “The Battle for Baptist History.”  This is a wonderful book tracing the Baptist faith all the way back to the apostles.  In one of my previous newsletters I made mention of our “Puritan forefathers” which I have realized was an erroneous conclusion that many have fallen into due to the writings of men who have misrepresented history.  This book traces the footsteps of the flock from the apostles, through the centuries as they opposed the church of Rome which came to be the Roman Catholic Church. These early Baptists re-baptized those who had been sprinkled and were thus dubbed by their enemies as “Anabaptists”.  They insisted upon a “believers baptism”.  In their articles of faith they opposed a state church and adhered to a congregation of believers.  For this they were cruelly and brutally tortured and put to death. These people who held the Baptist tenants of faith fled from their persecutors.  In this book the author quotes many, accurate historical sources. One said, “WE have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and have ling in the history of the church received the honor of that origin.  On this account the Baptists may be considered the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the Apostles; and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrines of the Gospel through all ages.” Apparently, much of the history of the true church has been lost because the persecutors of the Christian faith not only burned the people, but they also burned their writings and their confessions. It was the intent and malice of the enemy to change the truth into a lie and make history as they would have it. Yet, according to the promise of Jesus, the gates of hell have not prevailed against God’s church.  It would not be perpetrated by church history, but rather by a line of succession of faithful people, called out by God’s Holy Spirit, humbled and baptized into the local congregations.  Many of these small, obscure to the world, yet containing the lifeblood of the genuine faith of Christ. The author writes, “Under the severe persecutions Baptists suffered, the enemy sought not only to destroy the people, but also their writings as well. What a record we would have if those writing could have been preserved.” He further writes, “It is hoped that the reader will understand that Baptists, prior to the Reformation, were considered heretics by the state church of Rome, and their history was treated as such by them. While they have not enjoyed the protection of the state, nor of religious powers, but as a persecuted, yet peaceful, people, enough of their history remains as ample evidence that God has not allowed “the gates of hell” to prevail against those people He left here on earth to carry out His commission until He returns for them to give account of their stewardship.” The author cites a little book titled, The Trail of Blood, which “identifies the names by which Baptists have been called from the times of the apostles to the sixteenth century Reformation: They are all ‘nick-names’.  Names given to those people (Baptists) by their enemies. ‘Christians-that is the first: ‘The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch’(Acts 11:26). This occurred about A.D. 43. Either the pagans or Jews gave them that name in derision.  All the other names in that column were given in the same manner- Montanists, Novatianists, Donatists, Paulicians, Albigenses, Waldenses, etc, and Ana-Baptists.”  The most interesting thing that we need to know is that Baptists are not, nor have they ever been “protestants”.  The protestants came out of the Catholic Church to protest their doctrine and corruption within. But when they came out, the Baptists were already out there because they had never gone in among them. Thus, the Baptist ministers thought they now had some friends that would not persecute them and sought the friendship of men like Luther who was willing to give his life to reform the Catholic Church. But unknown to them, the protestants of the reformation turned against them because they continued to baptize.  The protestants were given much light from God and we admire their faithfulness, but they continued to sprinkle and they continued with the idea of a state church and when those people dubbed as Anabaptists continued to baptize those of their own who came to them they then treated the Baptists the way the Catholics treated them. Thus the poor Baptists were persecuted by both sects. They even brought their ideas over to America and persecuted Baptist ministers here. It was the Baptist ministers who had the most influence in that part of the constitution which separated the church and the state. The author quotes one “John T Christian as writing, “The influence of John Calvin had begun to be felt in English affairs…He was responsible ina large measure for the demon of hate and fierce hostility which the Baptists of England had to encounter.”  He quotes Froude, in his “History of England,” as saying Calvin advised that “Anabaptists and reactionists should be alike put to death.” Thus we see that the Reformers turned persecutor against the Anabaptists as had their Roman mother. He also write, “It is beyond doubt that they (the Baptists) were in Englans well ahead of the Roformation, and were infesting that land with their teachings. They were the people who laid the foundation for the Reformation, and those who followed after with Baptist teachings go back to the Waldenses and Albigenses for their origin. He also cites, “They (the Baptists) were already there and simply came out of hiding when the Reformation broke upon the scene.” He further states, “The Puritans defamed them : for Baptist sentiments were too liberal and free for those who sought a papal authority over conscience, and desired the sword of the higher powers to enforce their ‘holy discipline’ on an unconverted people.”  

I continually find God’s providence amazing. As I was reading this book I happened to pick up a collection of Spurgeon’s The Sword and the Trowel and by chance turned to a page on which the title of an article written was A History of The Baptists. The article was a review on a book by one Dr. Cramp on the subject of Baptist History, the review being written by Spurgeon himself.  The most interesting thing about it was the fact that Mr. Cross had just made reference to this very book in his own.  In his review of the book that Mr. Cross refers too, Spurgeon writes this about our Baptist forefathers during the time of the reformation: “Baptists were always equally prepared for conflict and for persecution.  At the rise of the Reformation they openly declared themselves, coming out of their obscure positions, where they had long worshipped their Master in quiet, seclusion.  They were prepared to enlist themselves under the banners of the Reformers. They looked upon the defiant daring men of God whom no ecclesiastical tyranny could tame, no Papal fulminations could awe, no threatenings could silence, as their brothers-bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh. It is much to be regretted that they should have been so bitterly disappointed. The Reformers were not as yet sufficiently wide in their sympathies, nor sufficiently clear in their Protestantism, to extend the right hand of friendship, and loving communion to the despised Baptists. As now, so the, Baptists were a go-a-head race, always prepared to travel beyond others. They were persecuted, destroyed, forsaken, had their possessions confiscated, and were reduced to the lowest depths of poverty.  In spite of the Reformers who were bemisted by Popery, they maintained that the church of Christ should be kept as pure as possible; that there must be no indiscriminate mixing of wheat an tares, as though both were so much akin that there was no difference between them; that believers only were the proper subjects of baptism; that Scripture and Scripture alone was the sole arbiter in all theological disputes; and that civil magistrates and earthly potentates had no control over God’s free gift to man-conscience. We, as Baptists of the present day, have precisely the same principles to defend…” Thus, we see his position, even in the middle of the 1800’s was as ours: Baptists are not protestants nor have they ever been. They were never in the Catholic Church.

May God forgive me for this error, especially in claiming the people who persecuted our beloved brethren to be our forefathers in the faith. I leave my confession before the feet of the One who makes no mistakes and I ask for forgiveness from my brethren that I may have offended or led astray. This is the weighty duty of ministers which I hold in the highest regard and that is to tell the truth for God’s sake and when I make a mistake readily admit it. Other than this one mistake, I do not believe I have ever made any others in the course of my whole ministry.  If you believe that you are gullible!  I do believe there were some godly people among them but the perpetuity of the Church is not found in the reformation or the reformers.    

REMBER IN PRAYER

Brother Carl Osterloh, one of our oldest members, has been very weak and unable to come to church.  

July 2005

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

JULY, 2005

From the pastor

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As we see the turmoil in the world in which we live, let us rejoice in the fact that every day brings us only closer to the coming or our great King.  What a sacred haven the Church provides for us as we turn aside from the cares and distractions of life and gather with the Saints of God around the throne of the Lamb. What a blessing indeed, to have such a great God to call upon when we are in need.  So, here are some thought on 

“THE GOD TO WHOM WE PRAY”

As Christians, we have many reasons to rejoice.  One of the greatest is the God to whom we pray.  Unlike the gods of the heathen, our God is not capricious, changing his mind from moment to moment.  His children are well known, chosen from the foundation of the world, predestinated to be conformed to the image of His dear Son and He boldly declares, “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  As the Christian prays, they approach a throne of grace, not a throne of works or merit.  Who could get good enough to merit the favors of a perfect and Holy God?  All merit is in their Lord and not themselves.  They are not expected to bow down to a shrine or a statue, nor are they expected to make a long pilgrimage to gain the accolades of their God.  They have had the accolades and love of their God from eternity past as the prophet has foretold: “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”  This is Grace!!  The God of the Christian, the One true God, has dwelt among men and ascended back to glory.  He well knows our feeling and troubles when we call upon Him and He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities for He has been here.  His ability is unlimited, He is the mighty God!  Wonderful thought!  As Paul has said, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”.  Whatever we have thought that He might do, He is able to do much more than our thoughts.  He has created all things by the power of His Word.  He parted the Red Sea for His people and gave them water from a stone.  Is there anything that He can not do?  Let us remember this when we call upon Him.  He is as compassionate as He is mighty.  He will not give a stone for bread, a serpent for a fish or a scorpion for an egg.  This He tells us to encourage us to call upon Him for our every need.  He is not far away or absent when we call upon Him.  As the psalmist has declared, He is a very present help in time of trouble.  He is always present with us, even in our darkest hour.  This is the God to whom we pray!   

By God’s grace, our new book, “Family Devotions with Helpful Hints for Parents” is now available. It can be obtained over the internet at Authorhouse.com.

Some have discovered that we have changed our home phone number. Our new number is 501-337-9889.  My personal cell # is 501-337-6666.

What is happening AT HARMONY

Harmony Church has rejoiced in receiving Brother Mike Harvey and his daughter, Aubrey, by way of letter into our fellowship.  Brother Mike is an excellent song leader and His family, has been a great encouragement to us all.  Please welcome Brother Mike, his wife, Barbara, their daughter Aubrey and son Marcus into our fellowship!  

We just enjoyed our annual picnic and Brother Leon and Sister Patti Burris’ home.  Though it rained that morning, the clouds rolled away just in time for our outing.  It was a great time of fellowship.

In regular conference, our church has voted to support the BBH on KBOK in Malvern.  Let us all be mindful of the extra expense.

We are continuing with our messages from the book of Ephesians.  As we approach the last chapter, let us all be prayerful that our studies will bring us only closer to our Lord Jesus Christ, the fount of every blessing. 

We have been very blessed at our Sunday night services.  Our visiting preachers on first Sunday nights have been exceptionally blessed.  We enjoyed Elder Dub Hatten the first Sunday night in May, Elder Carl Staten in June and Elder Myron Ford in July.  Elder Darrell Chambers is to be with us in August.  We have greatly appreciated the visitations from our sister churches on these nights.  Our attendance has been off a little during the summer months.  I trust it will pick back up when the vacation season is over.   

Book review

 We have recently added these interesting items to our library:

VHS: on “THE TABERNACLE” which also gives a picture of the furniture init he tabernacle. 

Some small pamphlets on the Temple, and Noah’s Ark.  There are very accurate renditions.  Also, some maps on the Holy Land in the days of Christ and today.

REMBER IN PRAYER

Brother Larry Burnett is recovering from heart surgery and a minor stroke; Brother Mike Burnett from a heart procedure.  Brother Chad Ledbetter: heart surgery. Sister Louise Beason: hernia repair.

July 2005

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

JULY, 2005

From the pastor

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I hope our letter finds you rejoicing in the Lord and thankful for His abundant grace.  I appreciate the love that has been shown by our church towards the victims of the recent hurricanes.  When we learned of the evacuees that were sheltered at the Recreation Center in Arkadelphia, our church responded in a very loving way.  They got together and prepared a meal for the victims.  We were expecting to be responsible for one meal every week, but the crowd diminished and the hospital and other facilities in the area took over the feeding of those that remained.  I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the members of our church for responding in such a loving and caring way towards those who had lost their homes. I was also very thankful for the donation that our church took up for the Primitive Baptist Churches that suffered in the storms.  In just a few weeks our people contributed approximately $4,000!

As most of you already know, we have sold the pharmacy part of our business. We had been negotiating with the chain, Freds, for over a year and we made the transfer the first of September.  We still have the hearing clinic and the hospital equipment part of our business.  I have enjoyed being away from the stress and the demands of running a pharmacy.  I solicit your prayers that I will use my time wisely that it might become a special blessing for our church and the cause of Christ. 

What is happening AT HARMONY

We have been very blessed in having a number of visiting ministers to be with us during our first Sunday night services.  Elder Shannon Whip was with us for the first Sunday night in October, Elder Vernis Stanaland was with us the first Sunday in November and Elder Isaac Guess is scheduled to be with us for our night service in December.  I hope you will make a special effort to be with us for these services.

We have completed our series of expository messages from the book of Ephesians. I believe our church has been very blessed as we have all gained some wonderful insight into one of the most straightforward books in the New Testament.  The book begins with doctrine, the basis of our Christian fellowship.  It ends with a call to battle against Satan and the world.  How wonderfully Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, constructed the flow of this marvelous book.  I have received a great blessing from the study and exposition of it.

I have been trying to update our web site.  Elder David Montgomery has helped me with this project in the past but I hope to be able to take over this project in the near future.  I am looking for a volunteer in our church that knows enough about computers and web pages to take on this task.  Please let me know if you are interested in being our church webmaster.

The preparation for a new church directory is underway.  Our new directory will be pictorial.  We, of course, want our church members to have their pictures in the directory, but we also want our visitors, which include friends and family members, to be included in our directory.  This will help us to remember the names of our families, friends and visitors.  We will be scheduling different times for the photographer to come to our church to take the pictures.  These times will be announced in the next few Sundays.  

For $15.00, each member, or family, will receive one 8x10 portrait and a copy of the church directory.  You do not have to buy this if you do not want to.  There will be plenty of people who purchase the package to support the project and there will be no additional charge to the church.  They will also offer additional print packages for those who are interested.  This will be a great opportunity to get some good family pictures.  We will be given an extra 50 copies of the directory which we will use for new members and for those who did not purchase the $15.00 package.  If you have additional questions, please contact Sister Patty Burris who is in charge of this project.  I believe this will be a great blessing for our church and I appreciate Sister Patty taking the time to oversee this project.    

Book review

 We have in our library, a collection of sermons by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  He preached in London in the mid 1800’s and is often referred to as “The Prince of Preachers”.  I have been personally blessed by reading his sermons and I am sure that you will as well.

REMBER IN PRAYER

Sister Cleo Luten has recently undergone surgery for esophageal problems.  Roy Lynn Brandon (Bubbles) suffering from a staff infection on her leg. Brother Carl Osterloh, one of our oldest members, has been very weak and unable to come to church.  

April 2005

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

APRIL, 2005

From the pastor

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In the last newsletter we talked about New Year’s Resolutions.  Mine was to take a special interest in the young people of our church.  I have personally met with them three times and felt each meeting to be a special blessing for us all.  I gave them the opportunity to write down any questions they might have concerning God and His word.  Their subjects varied, from creation to baptism.  The most requested subject was, How do I know I am saved and what to do about it?  I appreciate the parents support in this worthy endeavor by bringing their children and allowing me the opportunity to minister to them.

I have submitted my new devotional book, Family Devotions With Helpful Hints For Parents, to the publisher.  I hope to make it available within the next 2 months.  I appreciate the help of several ministers, Elders Edward Cagle, Harold Stumbaugh and Dickie Halbegwachs.  Brother Dickie proofread the entire manuscript.  His suggestions were a great help to me in the final preparation.  The title of the book suggests its basic purpose: to promote and encourage family devotions.  Helpful hints are given at the conclusion of each article to encourage dialogue in the family setting.  Of course, the book is not perfect.  You may have to throw away a few bones.  But we do hope you find some meat within.  I will not be distributing this book personally.  It will be available on the internet.  One place you will be able to get a copy is Amazon.com.

We have a lot of new faces in our assembly, new families with children that we all need to know.  I encourage our membership to get to know each person individually and make them feel at home in our church.  Also, I encourage each adult to get to know the young people.  We, as adults, should know the name of every child and have at least one meaningful conversation with each of them.  This serves as a great encouragement for them to know that we not only know they exist, but that they are important to us.  If we want our church to grow, these details are essential.  They are found under the category of ministering.  A former fist lady of our country once wrote, “It Takes a Tribe”, meaning that it takes the whole country to raise the children of the country.  Personally, I do not want the country, the world, helping me to raise my children.  But I do want my brothers and sisters in the church to assist me.  The tribe called Spiritual Israel is the one we want to help us with our children.  

I have enjoyed several good trips recently.  In January, I was with Elder Ken Still and the church he pastors in Georgia.  I enjoyed his fellowship and the opportunity to meet his congregation.  During that visit, I was with the church that Elder Dolph Painter pastors, at Athens, Georgia.  He has a very warm and receptive congregation.  I was also with Elder Marty Smith one night at Union Church.  Several ministers were there that night and I enjoyed seeing them again.  It was a special blessing to be in that area and fellowship the people of their respective churches.  In March, I was blessed to be at a preacher’s meeting hosted by Cincinnati Primitive Baptist Church.  This was a very spiritual meeting and I left the meeting greatly encouraged.  My message was entitled, “The Pastor’s Study”, as I spoke about the importance of pastoral study and the many subjects we should study.  I have ordered a set of the CD’s for our church which includes a CD of the men singing which is beautiful.  I arrived back home in time to attend the Ordination of Brother Steve Holland to the office of deacon at Fuller’s Chapel Church in Little Rock.  Brother Steve is special to us because his grandmother, Sister Leona Sandage, was a member at Harmony for over 50 years.  It was a beautiful service.  Brother Steve is doing a great job. In April, I had the opportunity to preach at the annual meeting of the Friendship Primitive Baptist Church at Scranton.  Elder Harvey Fulmer is their pastor.  I greatly enjoyed the meeting and it was a blessing to make some new friends in Zion.    

What is happening AT HARMONY

Elder Lasserre Bradley was with us for our annual meeting in April.  We felt the Lord greatly blessed each message.  The attendance was very good for each service.  On Sunday night, we asked Pastor John Fuqua to speak with Elder Bradley.  Pastor Fuqua pastors “The Church” at Star City.  I have visited in his home and with the people of his church on several occasions and have come to love and appreciate him very much.  He has a great heart for the Lord.  It was a little different, having a preacher that was not a Primitive Baptist to preach for us.  But many of our members encouraged me to have him as I was already persuaded to do.  In some of my readings, I have found where Primitive Baptists shared meeting houses with others and many times the members of each fellowship visited back and forth.  I feel we do ourselves a great injustice by barring our doors from fellowship with others.  I appreciate the opportunity to hear what Pastor Fuqua had to say and I greatly appreciated the opportunity to have his church members sit in on one of our worship services.   Not only did Brother John come, but we were blessed to have about 120 of his members as well.  They came to support their pastor!  It was a blessing to get out some extra chairs.  It was amusing to see the reaction of our members as over 100 strangers drove up on our church yard!  I was made to wonder: would we really know what to do if the Lord sent a revival?

At this time, we have our new P.A. system installed.  We have experienced some difficulties, which include some noisy recordings of our services.  But we trust we have that taken care of at this time.  

Our 4th Sunday night bible study has been greatly blessed.  Some very profitable subjects have been discussed.  One subject that came up was fasting.  We learned that it is indeed a New Testament principle.  As we considered the subject, some of the members suggested that we follow through with the lesson and do what the book says concerning the matter.  This is what they did in the days of Nehemiah.  When Ezra read from the Book they learned that they were supposed to dwell in booths at a certain time of the year (Nehemiah 8:5-18).  They didn’t say, “Well, it may say that but we don’t do it that way any more”.  They just obeyed God’s word and received a great blessing from it.  We decided that those who wanted to participate would fast for their noon meal on Wednesdays so that we would all be fasting together.  Our purpose for the fast was to seek God’s face and ask Him to bless our church for we stand in great need of his mercy and grace.  What a small sacrifice to make for such a wonderful Savoir!

We are still going through the book of Ephesians.  At this time, we are in chapter 4.  What a wonderful chapter.  This speaks of the Christian walk.  Oh, how important this is.  Our walk should be the byproduct of the doctrine we believe.  This is what the world sees…it is our public witness.  If our walk is not Christ-like, our doctrinal sentiments will have little effect on our hearers.  Just as we need gospel preaching to reveal the hidden Man of the heart, we need the same gospel to reveal the hidden sins of the heart.  We must never forget that when we are converted and baptized, our sins do not disappear.  Though we all know that to be a fact, it seems that many times we do not strive to change.  The true Christian should be constantly growing.  We still have many sins to purge.  It is a sad reflection upon God’s people when they think they need no further improvement.  If we want to see true revival, this is the key.  Revival does not, will not, can not, come on the mountain.  It begins in the valley.  When our hearts are pricked and we see ourselves as we really are, bankrupt, guilty sinners, when we don’t just say it, but feel it, then revival starts.  

We have a new radio broadcast airing in the Arkadelphia area at this time.  It is entitled, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” and is heard at 8:30 a.m. on KDEL, 100.9  I was asked to give an interview with the broadcasting company on May 6th.  During the ten minute interview I was able to talk about our church practice and beliefs.  I pray this might lead others to our faith and our Lord Jesus Christ.  

As you know, our first Sunday nights have been designated as a night to hear visiting ministers.  This has been a special blessing for our church.  We have enjoyed several visiting ministers over the past few months which include: Elder Ralph Sandage, Elder Gary Harvey, Elder Harold Stumbaugh, Elder Bobby McWhirter, Elder Jim Turner, Elder Charles Sandage, Elder Edward Cagle, Elder Harvey Fulmer and Elder Dub Hatten.  We have enjoyed the visitation of our sister churches during our night services.  One face that has been a special blessing to us, as well as all of our surrounding churches is that of Arnold Sandage.  His faithfulness has been a great encouragement to us all.  The way that he conducts himself in our churches exemplifies Christ.

We have one graduating senior this year.  Jacqueline Burroughs is graduating from Glen Rose High School.  Let’s pray that the Lord will be with Jacqueline and guide her in all of the decisions that she will be making in the days to come.       

Book review

 Out Of The Depths, John Newton’s autobiography, is available in our library.  This book is, of course, about the life of John Newton, the writer of the well know Christian hymn, Amazing Grace.

REMBER IN PRAYER

Sister Anita Loy who is recovering from heart surgery.

January 2005

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

JANUARY, 2005

From the pastor

The coming of a New Year affords us all the opportunity to approach 2005 with great hope and anticipation.  I have asked every member to make at least one New Year’s resolution concerning their walk with Jesus Christ.  Whether it is to be more faithful to God’s house, to sing louder, to pray more consistently or to be faithful to God’s word, it is certainly an endeavor worthy of our attention.  I have heard it said that sharing our resolutions with family and friends helps us to be faithful to them.  I announced to our church that my New Year’s resolution was to take a special interest in the young people of our church.  To do this, I need the prayers and support of the parents.  May God bless our efforts!

The world has just witnessed what has been described as the most horrible natural disaster in history.  What a comfort it is for us to know that Jesus Christ is still ruling in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.  Surely, as we view the terrible scenes of those who are suffering it should cause us to be very thankful for the blessings around us.  This disaster is very indicative of our Lord’s words in Luke, 21:25, when He described what may very well be the sign of His return: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring”.  Many earthquakes have been reported recently, and of all things, this latest catastrophe has caused the seas and waves to roar.  We see a great falling away among professed believers as Paul described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition”.  Evil men and seducers have waxed worse and worse and the wickedness of this world can no longer be cleansed by the destruction of a city or nation.  Today, we have the internet, the airwaves, the television, music and Hollywood, all serving the beast in one way or another.  To make it worse, people seem to think it is just the status quo as Peter said they would say: ”Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation”.  Do not we hear the words of Paul ring in our ears concerning the latter days: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which god hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth”.  Surely, this too, is a sign of the times.  Couples live together outside of the bonds of wedlock unashamed. Some of God’s own people seem confused over this as well as other issues.  As Paul described in his second epistle to Timothy, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 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.”  Much could be said of this, but is it not a commentary of our present day?  And since we bring it up are we not ridiculed and laughed at as the prophets of old when they prophesied against Israel, or as Noah, who warned the people as he built the ark.  We do not know the exact day of our Lord’s return, yet, all of this should cause us to lift up our eyes and anticipate the return of our Lord and King.  Though God’s family are forever secure, being bought by the precious blood of the Lamb, the scriptures still warn us to be found watching and waiting for HIS return with great anticipation and delight: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”  I must say with Peter, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness”- 2 Peter 3:11.  If there has ever been a time for God’s people to be called to faithfulness, this is the time. 

      We have been saddened by the loss of one of our dear sisters, Sister Velma Cothern.  She departed this life on December 30, 2004, and is now with our Lord in glory.  Her smile and encouragement will be greatly missed.  

What is happening AT HARMONY

Elder Lasserre Bradley is scheduled to be with us for our annual meeting, the second weekend in April.  We are looking forward to having him again at our church as his ministry has been a special blessing to us over the years.

Thanks to a private contribution, our church will begin a radio broadcast in Arkadelphia in the near future.  This broadcast will air at 8:30 a.m. on KDEL, 100.9 on the FM dial.  This is a 3000 Watt station and should reach all of Arkadelphia, Gurdon, Friendship, Donaldson and parts of Malvern.  We covet you prayers and hope it will become a blessing for our church and lead others to Christ.

We are continuing with our series of messages from the book of Ephesians.  I have greatly enjoyed the study of this book.  We have uncovered many wonderful truths that have become a blessing to our souls.  The prayers of the apostle for this church have been of particular interest to us and we feel we have gone back to the beginning of the gospel age and learned what we should really be praying for as a church.  On the first Sunday in January, we will begin with the second half of this epistle which deals, primarily, with the Christian walk.  

In one of our messages, we spoke of the church as the family of God and the blessings of our church family.  I felt it was by God’s providence that I came across an old church covenant written by Benjamin Keach and adopted by the church he pastored and shared it with our church.  It is entitled, “The Family Covenant”, and this was written about it: “This famous pledge of spiritual oneness was the Solemn Covenant adopted by Pastor Keach’s great congregation in London in 1689.  In those days it was read out at the beginning of every Lord’s Supper service.  Nearly 300 years later the same church, now the Metropolitan Tabernacle, still requires of all members a pledge to keep this family covenant.” This covenant that each believing member solemnly entered in to provides us with great food for thought.  It should make us stop and consider: are we as faithful today; would we be so faithful as to enter into this covenant with our brethren?  I share it with you at this time for your own person consideration.

THE FAMILY COVENANT

Benjamin Keach

We who desire to walk together in the fear of the Lord, do, through the assistance of His Holy Spirit, profess our deep and serous humiliation for all our transgressions.  

And we do solemnly, in the presence of God and of each other, in the sense of our own unworthiness, give up ourselves to the lord in a church state, according to the apostolic constitution, that He may be our God, and we may be His people, through the everlasting covenant of His free grace, in which alone we hope to be accepted by Him, through His blessed son Jesus Christ, whom we take to be our High Priest, to justify and sanctify us, and our Prophet to teach us, and be subject o Him as our Law-giver, and the King of Saints; and to conform to all His holy laws and ordinances, for our growth, establishment and consolation; that we may be as a holy spouse unto Him, and serve Him in our generation, and wait for His second appearance, as our glorious Bridegroom.

Being fully satisfied in the way of church-communion, and the truth of grace in some good measure upon one another’s spirits, we do solemnly join ourselves together in a holy union and fellowship, humbly submitting to the discipline of the Gospel, and all holy duties required of a people in such a spiritual relation.

1. We do promise and engage to walk in all holiness, godliness, humility, and brotherly love, as much as in us lieth to render our communion delightful to God, comfortable to ourselves, and lovely to the rest of the Lord’s people.

2. We do promise to watch over each other’s conversations, and not to suffer sin upon one another, so far as God shall discover it to us, or any of us; and to stir up one another to love and good works; to warn, rebuke, and admonish one another with meekness, according to the rules left to us of Christ in that behalf.

3. We do promise in a special manner to pray for one another, and for the glory and increase of this church, and for the presence of God in it, and the pouring forth of His Spirit on it, and His protection over it to His glory.  

4. We do promise to bear one another’s burdens, to cleave to one another, and to have a fellow-feeling with one another, in all conditions both outward and inward, as God in His providence shall cast any of us into.

 5. We do promise to bear with one another’s weaknesses, failings, and infirmities, with much tenderness, not discovering them to any without the church, nor any within, unless according to Christ’s rule, and the order of the Gospel provided in that case.

 6. We do promise to strive together for the truth of the Gospel and purity of God’s ways and ordinances, to avoid causes, and causers of division, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3).

7. We do promise to meet together on Lord’s-days, and at other times, as the Lord shall give us opportunities, to serve and glorify God in the way of His worship, to edify on another, and to contrive the good of His church.

8. We do promise according to our ability (or as God shall bless us with the good things of this world) to communicate to our pastor or minister, God having ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel. (And now can anything lay a greater obligation upon the conscience that this covenant, what then is the sin of such who violate it?)

These and all other Gospel duties we humbly submit unto, promising and purposing to perform, not in our own strength, being conscious of our own weakness, but in the power and strength of the blessed God, Whose we are, and Whom we desire to serve.  To Whom be glory now and for evermore. Amen. 

During our last deacon’s meeting, we discussed the possibility of a new P.A. system for our church.  The one we presently use is about ten years old and that is the approximate life expectancy. We have obtained a bid from a company in Little Rock that specializes in church P.A. systems. A complete overhaul will cost about $3,000.00.  This includes a new amplifier, new ceiling mounted speakers, a lapel mike, the ability to record and reproduce our messages and singing in C.D. format.

Rather than taking the money out of the general fund, we decided it best to make a special fund that the membership can contribute towards and when the amount is met we can proceed with the project.  A new P.A. system will not make us more spiritual, nor will it make us better preachers.  Yet, there are members who struggle hearing our messages and announcements.  Also, the cassette tape is becoming obsolete in vehicles and homes.  This is a way that modern technology can better enable us to minister to the needs of othersPlease communicate your contributions to the deacons.  

Book review

We have in our library two sets of commentaries for your benefit as you study God’s word.  We have John Gill, my personal favorite, and Matthew Henry.  Please use these as a study guide, yet remember, they are fallible men giving their personal view.

REMBER IN PRAYER

The family of our departed sister, Velma Cothern;

My mother, Sister Norma Phelan, who has recently been hospitalized due to complications involving a previous stroke;

Brother Carl Osterloh, who has been taken to Little Rock to live with relatives due to weakness involving heart complications.

October 2004

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

October, 2004

From the pastor

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Since the time of our last newsletter, we have enjoyed the fellowship of our South Arkansas Association.  The meeting was held at Sardis Primitive Baptist Church and the brethren did a wonderful job in hosting the meeting.  The singing was beautiful and the preaching was very spiritual and uplifting.  I was able to attend most of the meeting and was very encouraged, not only by the able preaching that we were blessed to hear, but also by the variety of messages: the whole counsel of God was expounded.  The preaching included messages on marriage, children, parenting as well as the doctrines of grace.  It seemed that each servant preached what God had placed on his heart with great liberty.  This can only do Zion good! 

What is happening AT HARMONY

Elder J.R. Rakes stayed with us during the Association and preached for Harmony on Sunday morning and Sunday night.  We were very blessed and encouraged by his able preaching and we appreciate him and Sister Estelle coming our way.  On Sunday night we had visitors from Sardis, Macedonia, Mt. Paron and Fuller’s Chapel Churches.  We also had some visitors from Mississippi who were vacationing on Lake Degray.  This was a great encouragement to us so let us be mindful to attend the special meetings of our sister churches when we are able.    

We have enjoyed several visiting ministers on our first Sunday night meetings.  Elder Bobby McWhirter is scheduled to be with us the first Sunday night in October, Elder Mark Green the first Sunday night in November and Elder Hartsell Cayce the first Sunday night in December.  This has been a blessing to our Church and hopefully promoted some good fellowship in our area.  As John has written, “We know we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.”  

We have been saddened by the loss of our oldest member, Sister Thelma Samons, who passed from this life on September 11th.  She has been in the nursing home for several years and each time I visited her she told me she was praying for her church.  It gives us great consolation to know that she is now with Jesus.

Presently, we are preaching through the book of Ephesians.  This epistle was written to the Church at Ephesus by Paul from prison.  The book is equally divided into two parts, the first three chapters dealing primarily with the bedrock doctrines of the Christian Church.  In the last three chapters we read some of the apostle’s most endearing pleas for the Christian’s conduct and character. This balance is found throughout scripture and gives the basis for Christian unity.  Many have resorted to multitudes of plans and schemes to bring people together.  Programs for children, for young adults, performances and worldly entertainment are used as methods to promote Christianity.  Yet, Paul was stedfast in the faith, showing us that the gathering together of God’s people should be first, through the preaching of the great doctrines of the Church.  This serves to gather the elect and not the world as it attracts believers in Christ as opposed to enjoyers of entertainments.  The means and methods of many professing Christians today would make the apostle blush.  The focus of the New Testament Church has always been the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  This will always be the basis of Christian unity for God’s true church.  Christian conduct is the result of Christ revealed in the heart by the preaching of His word.

The first Sunday in November has been designated as a visitor’s day for our church.  On this special day, we encourage every attendant to bring a friend or relative to God’s house and share their faith with them.  It might be a relative, a co-worker or a friend.  If we are proved with hard questions as Nathanael did with Philip, let our answer be the same: “Come and see.”  This is probably the best way to invite!   

We are putting the final touches on our new devotional book.  I pray this little book will be a blessing and benefit to God’s people.  Its purpose is to encourage family devotions and serve as an aid to family devotions.  It may also be used as a private devotional book.  The book is a collection of short homilies to be read personally or at a family gathering.  At the end of each homily are found helpful hints used to encourage dialogue and personal thought.

The following is an expansion of an article appearing in our local paper on the subject of baptism which will also be found in our book.  

    

“BAPTISM, THE ANSWER OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE”

“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 3:21

Through the centuries, the ordinance of Baptism has been misrepresented as to its purpose and benefit in the New Testament Church.  It was during the 1800’s, that Spurgeon preached his great sermon against “Baptismal Regeneration” which sermon is still available today in the reprinted sermons of this great preacher.  Simply, and we must add, biblically put, baptism is “the answer of a good conscience”.

What does this mean?  It is an answer back to God from a conscience that has been relieved of guilt by the revelation of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for that person.  This is the best way to describe a conscience that is good: it has been comforted and relieved from guilt.  

The conscience is made good towards God and self: towards God because the wrath to come has no more power over the conscience for it has found its ransom, its resting place, its scapegoat, its hiding place, its atonement in the person of Jesus Christ.  There is a good and peaceful feeling towards God.  Our Holy Father is no longer seen as Mt. Sinai which thundered and smoked.  Now we know Him as a loving Father who loves us, watches over us and has provided all of our needs to dwell with Him in glory.  

The conscience is made good towards self because the sinner has become honest with self, how the debt they could never pay has been paid in full by Jesus and they go from law to grace; from trying to fulfill the law themselves to living in the grace of Jesus Christ.  They now understand how their sin sickness will be ultimately cured.  Their faith is no longer in self and self works but entirely in Christ and what He has done for them.

We must equally understand what this does not say.  It does not say that baptism makes the conscience good.  It could never do that for a person who has not found their Savior.  If the conscience has not been relieved the sinner will come out of the water with a conscience just as condemned as when he went in.  But once a person has found Christ and  seen their sin debt paid in full by His precious blood upon Calvary’s cross, they can then, and only then, give an answer back to their Holy Father in the only way the He has ordained: by water baptism.  

There have also been various arguments as to whether baptism should be in running water or a standing pool.  I remember attending a baptism as a child at a river in our area.  When the young man was immersed, his mother said that his sins were floating down the river.  I looked, and I did not see anything floating down the river.  I suppose if our sins were as earthy as the water it could be so.  Yet, sins are spiritual and nothing can wash them away except a spiritual cleansing form One who is perfectly clean.  As the song goes, “What can wash away my sins, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”  

The purpose and intent of complete immersion is to represent something.  As Peter said, it is a “figure”:  It is a figure of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  One who desires to give an answer to the relieved conscience should have a desire to be identified with the One who was crucified, buried and raised for their redemption.  Running water or still water is equally sufficient.  

Baptism will not make a person walk aright the rest of their life nor will it cause a person to be faithful. This has been witnessed by the believing Church for centuries as some who have been baptized have departed and brought reproach upon the house of God.  If this ordinance gave life, spiritual life, we must say that it has failed in many instances and God must be charged with folly.  

Yet, there are spiritual benefits to be enjoyed by those who are obedient to their conscience.  For those whose conscience has been made good by a complete faith in Christ, an extra measure of the Holy Ghost is given which adds force and strength to their confession and character.  As Peter so beautifully said, “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32).  In any act of obedience, the Holy Ghost is given in an extra measure providing peace, comfort, strength, light, wisdom and all the endued powers of the Holy Ghost.   

Baptism has always been a believer’s response.  Only those who believed in Jesus Christ, who He was and why He came, were allowed to be baptized in the New Testament Church.  John the Baptist forbade many who came to his baptism demanding that they bring forth fruits of repentance before he would administer the ordinance.  Surely, if the liquid ordinance would have had any redemptive or changing influence on the person, John would have baptized all who came to him.

Jesus fulfilled all righteousness by being baptized at the hands of the Baptist.  Thus, baptism is a righteous act and the fulfillment of our earthly pilgrimage as Christians.  Jesus was certainly not born again at that moment, nor was anything added to His spotless purity.  It did for Jesus as it will do for us today.  It was another righteous act that He committed, His life being incomplete and unfulfilled without it, and it identified who He was and to Whom He belonged.  The Father and the Spirit were present to identify the Messiah and this witness becomes our own when we too fulfill all righteousness.

Baptism is the strait gate, the narrow way in which one enters into the Church and becomes a Christian.  It is the door by which we enter into the fold.  As one preacher said to an evangelist who baptized in tent revivals, “You can baptize people but it will do little good unless you have a stall to put them in.”  What he was saying is this: Without the testimony of the local, visible church, our efforts are fruitless.  If this is not so, why did God ordain the Church in the world? Without a body of baptized believers, who congregate together in a church capacity in the presence of the unbelieving world, the testimony becomes fragmented.  Little lights running to and fro can never illuminate a dark world as brilliantly as when they are brought together and placed upon the Candlestick and shine with the intensity of one Son.   Without a local body, to whom will convicted listeners ask, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  The most visible evidence we have of God’s blessings upon our efforts in promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ is the formation of congregational churches made up of baptized believers!

  As we have already noted, baptism is the only answer that God has given for the conscience of the sinner to truly answer with. It is the ordinance that God the Father ordained for the Saints in light to display to all the world that they love and belong to Jesus.  It is humbling and distinguishing.  It is more difficult to the flesh than giving money, than going to church, than reading the bible and being seen with other Christians.  It is the Cum Laude of our experience because before we are baptized we must come to some conclusions.  We must decide what we believe, who we believe, who we are and where we are going.  Then the conscience is made good.  If the Father has spoken to our hearts, surely we should answer Him back!!      

Book review

One book we have in our library which has been of invaluable help to me is “The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary”.  This reference book is a wealth of information, containing articles almost every imaginable subject in the Bible.  It includes themes on people, places, events, Jewish traditions, New Testament practice, history and worship and is written in a very simple manner.  

REMBER IN PRAYER

Brother Carl Osterloh recently hospitalized with problems resulting from heart disease.

July 2004

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

JULY, 2004

From the pastor

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I have been greatly encouraged by the attendance over the last few months.  Some of our members have come in and lost their seats!  We thank the Lord for this increase and I encourage each one to continue to invite and bring others to God’s house. 

What is happening at DONALDSON

Since the time of our last newsletter we have added a Sunday night service.  I have been greatly encouraged by the interest our church has shown towards these services.  Each meeting has been well attended.  Elder Harold Stumbaugh was with us the 1st Sunday night in May, Elder Jim Turner in June and Elder Gary Harvey in July. The church enjoyed having them and appreciated their messages.  

I was somewhat apprehensive about our question and answer session on the 4th Sunday night, yet this meeting was also well attended.  There was a good spirit manifested as we tried to answer some very good questions from our people.  Some of the questions included: What does the Bible mean about “The angels that sinned”-II Peter 2:4; what are some of the evils that God’s people should be aware of today?; do all infants that die go to heaven?;   who are the rightful heirs of Abraham?” and “what does the Bible say about the return of Christ”. Our Q & A begins with prayer and is limited to an hour.    

On the 2nd and 3rd Sunday nights, I have started a series of messages on the Apostles.  I pray this will be a blessing to God’s people as we learn about the men who risked their lives to promote the wonderful truths of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.    

We greatly appreciate the visitation and fellowship of our sister churches during these meetings and hope this meeting will provide a place of worship for all in our area who have a desire to worship on Sunday evenings.  There are many meetings that we have the opportunity to attend both near and far but let us remember that the meeting in our own area will be of far greater benefit to our own families and community.

We have two graduating seniors this year:  Montley Whitley and Whitney Welch.  We pray that the Lord will guide them in the many decisions before them and that they will continue to make the Lord and His house a priority in their lives.  

Our annual picnic at Brother Leon and Sister Patty Burris’ home is scheduled for the 3rd weekend in July.  Though this is a HOT time of the summer, it seems to make the homemade ice cream and watermelon taste a little better.  This has always been a special time of fellowship for our people.  Mark your calendar and bring your ice cream freezers.  This would be a great time to bring a friend to Church.

We continue to provide tapes for those who are interested in our tape ministry.  In the next few months we are planning to change our media format from cassette tape to CD as many of our listeners are telling us that they no longer have tape players in their cars.  Some of the recent messages have been:

“CONFUSION”- A message on the sin of Sodomy and what God has to say about homosexuality.

“THREE REMARKABLE CONVERSIONS”- Three messages dealing with the conversion of (1) The Ethiopian Eunuch; (2) Saul of Tarsus; (3) Cornelius.

“PRIORITY” – A message concerning the priority of God’s Kingdom in the lives of the believers: Matthew 6:33.

“PREACHING, PRAYING AND SINGING”- 3 messages concerning the God ordained method of public worship.

These messages seemed to be especially blessed. If you are interested in receiving any of these messages please let us know.  I have recently learned that a family who lives in Brazil that attended our services while in the states, uses our messages for their Sunday morning services!

We enjoyed the preaching of Elder Marty Smith and Elder Dickie Halbegwachs during our annual meeting.  We felt a special anointing of God’s Spirit during each service and our communion service was especially blessed with the Lord’s presence.  

We have been greatly saddened by the loss of our brother, Joe Cox.  Brother Joe fell down the basement stairs in his home and was hospitalized for several days.  We all thought he was doing better and would return shortly to his home when he took a sudden turn for the worse, was transferred to St. Vincent’s Infirmary, in Little Rock, where he died, Tuesday, June 15th.

A couple of years ago, Brother Joe came to see me as he wanted to share something he had written.  He read it to me and left.  As I looked it over it occurred to me that he was giving me something he wanted me to share with the church after his decease, so I filed it away.  As Sister Elaine and I were traveling back from the hospital the note he had written came to my mind.  When I returned to my home I found his note and I wept as I read his words as he praised the Lord and His Church.  This letter indicates Brother Joe’s great love for the Church and what it meant to him. As you read it, you will be able to tell that it was meant to be read to his Brethren at a later date.  At his funeral, I told the audience that Brother Joe was helping his pastor out, and “he being dead yet speaketh.”

MEMOIR: JOE COX 3/02

My great grandmother was a Primitive Baptist and died at age 93 in 1919.  Only her oldest daughter became a member of Primitive Baptist faith.  One son became a Methodist minister of renown in Mississippi and Arkansas…1890’s to 1930’s. He was a graduate of Emory U. My grandmother and one sister and three brothers became Southern Baptists.  

The main thing I remember was them talking about all day meetings, and how tired they (children) were at days end.  Also, laughing about shape note singing and foot washing.

Somewhere along the way great-grand maw forgot to instill in her children the wonderful doctrines and beliefs of the Old Baptist Church. After I joined Harmony in 1980 I did some research on great grandmother and found she joined Mt. Olive Primitive Church in Opalika, Alabama, in 1854 and took her letter from the church 1878 but never joined at Farmersville, Texas Primitive Church where she attended occasionally with her oldest daughter Nannie (Mrs. Jim Jackson).

Due to lack of teaching of her children I was the first one in five generations to become a member of Old Baptist in 100 years.  

Beulah Hawkins, my mother in law joined Primitive Baptist Church at Waldron around 1915.  She was established in the faith, but again failed to instill it in her children when they were growing up.  

Ved became a Primitive Baptist at age sixty when she, Elaine and I joined Harmony in 1980.  

I flirted with Old Baptists for 30 years.  I would go to associations about once a year, that was the only time I thought Old Baptists had church, that was when mamaw went to services at the “sosation”.  I loved the singing.  I would say, when I wanted to hear a good sermon I would go to Old Baptist, but I really didn’t understand what I was hearing, but it sounded good. 

We went to the same church for 30 years where I was a Sunday School teacher and deacon for most of that time, but I was starving to death spiritually; I realized that I couldn’t give enough or do enough to get to heaven- I was miserable and so was Ved and Elaine. 

Finally one Sunday morning, Elaine announced she was going to church at Harmony D in Donaldson- We could go where we wanted but she was leaving.  Elaine didn’t receive her revelation from preaching but from an unlikely place, Henderson State University, where she taught history, art and the humanities, all the different religions and she knew when she found what she was looking for in Primitive Baptist doctrine. We started coming to Harmony with her after two months and joined four months later.

I really didn’t understand completely what I was hearing, but when I read, particularly in John and Romans, where Christ said all that God has given me- I will lose none…sweetest sound I have every heard and the nicest congregation I’d ever met. 

I hesitated for several weeks because I was happy with my baptism when I was baptized in my grandfathers (tank) pool when I was 9 years old. It was a hot Sunday afternoon in August.  We buried up in mud at least to our ankles and my pet goat was there and chewed on the preachers shoe laces as he was reading the Holy Scriptures.  

The other 9 year old boy that was baptized with me was saved the same night I was at the tabernacle behind little country church in our community.  The invitation song was “Oh Why Not tonight”.

But the one special event in Primitive Church to me is communion and foot washing.  It is the most humbling ceremony I have ever experienced.  I didn’t know you could wash another man’s feet, cry, and tell him that you loved him.  

The twenty one years at Harmony has set me, Ved and Elaine free to enjoy our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The one person that influenced me to come to Harmony D the most was Arnold Sandage.  I thought all Primitive Baptists were like Arnold, did I ever have a shock…but I love you all any way.

I’ve told Sonny one of the worst things wrong with Arkansas and Primitive Baptists is an inferiority complex.  We have the most beautiful state and we have the best doctrine and the most wonderful people anywhere; but we failed in many instances to tell our friends and neighbors and children what we have.

The Church has many good traditions, which I love; but we also have some that need to be observed more closely, to see if they are biblical traditions or man made traditions.  I would probably come to Old Baptist 20 years earlier if some one had invited me back or come and visited, but no one did.  I don’t mean you weren’t friendly  because you were, on the other hand I’m sure I wouldn’t have come until the Lord showed me the light and Elaine carried the torch to Harmony D and “a child shall lead them.”

However I can’t talk, I’ve been at Harmony nearly 22 years and so far, as I know, I haven’t been responsible for any new members. I’ve tried but again I know that none of God’s children will ever be lost, maybe missed some blessings here on earth.

I’d always heard Old Baptists were narrow minded, but I have found them to be broad minded on whose going to heaven—thank goodness you let unworthy me in. 

Sonny, this is just some of my thought about Primitive Baptists.  Your sermons are very enlightening, and well delivered; and it is evident that you study a lot and are open to the Lord’s will in your life.-              Brother Joe

Is this not a sermon in itself, how we should teach our children and be faithful in bringing them to church; how we should invite our neighbors?  From his letter you can see that he was an encourager and his kindness and smile will be missed for a long time.

Book review

We have in our library a book entitled, “Glory to Come”, by Elder Michael Gowens.  This book deals with the return of Christ and deals with the false views of the pre and post tribulation eschatology so prevalent in many Christian circles today.

REMBER IN PRAYER

Johnny Shaffer: tests pending, possible heart surgery.

Thelma Samons: Due to circulation has had to have leg amputated.

Velma Cothern: Tests pending, possible stints in arteries.

April 2004

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

April 2004

From the pastor

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Harmony Church recently rejoiced to receive Sister Willow Welch into her membership.  Sister Willow came forward on the 3RD Sunday in February asking for a home in the Church.  She was baptized the following Sunday.  Sister Willow is in the 8th grade, the daughter of Brother Justin and Sister Belinda Welch.  On the day of Sister Willow’s baptism, Brother Justin shared with our church his testimony in finding us.  As he shared the story, we could see the providential hand of God in their lives, as well as our own.  They were looking for a Primitive Baptist Church near their home and one day, Brother Justin was driving down highway 67 and saw our sign.  He went home and told his family about finding the meeting house and they determined to visit the next Sunday not knowing what they might find.  I still remember them walking up the steps on that first Sunday morning.  Their youngest daughter, Wynn, drew me a picture that day.  It was during that time that I was praying for God to send us some new families.  God gets the glory, but we see Him working on both ends.  They were praying, we were praying and God was supplying our needs.  

I have been told that our people used to have more testimonials like this one and I believe we have left off something very important. Brother Justin’s story was a great encouragement to us all!

On the first Sunday afternoon in March, several of our members attended a showing of “THE PASSION OF CHRIST”.  After the show, we met in our home and discussed the movie. Many interesting questions were posed as we surveyed cross and the sufferings of our Lord together.  It was a very profitable time for the children and adults.  After our discussion, I asked one of the children if the young people would like an opportunity to meet with me from time to time to ask questions.  I loved the response as I felt it was quite biblical: “No, we like for the grown ups to be there because they ask things that we might not think about.”  So…….who needs a Sunday school when you have parents who will meet and ask questions with their children!  After all, that IS what the children want!!!  P.s., For the record, I was not suggesting a Sunday school.

I grew up in a Sunday School and have had the opportunity to see both sides of the coin.  In the Sunday School program, the lessons we received were given to us from a little book they gave us each quarter.  We were taught from this lesson guide by well meaning people.  Yet, our parents were not present, they were in another room.  The message was not from the individual teachers, not from their own hearts, not from their own spirit, it was handed down from a board.  Is this the pattern of the New Testament?  Every worship service that we read about in the New Testament was a mixed multitude of families. Each message was from the heart, not the board. From experience, I have found that ten minutes with praying parents present, involved in the teaching, is more profitable than 10 hours with a lesson handed down from another source.  This method is both biblical and historical.  It was the way the Hebrews taught their children. Concerning the commandments of God, God through Moses taught them to “ bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes…..And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”  This was the method the Christian parents in the infant Church taught their children.  I have the old fashioned, yet biblical, idea that this remains to be the best method.  

In Acts 20, we read, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continues his speech until midnight.  And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.  And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, had sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves: for his life in him”-v7-10. The word “preached” in verse 7 and “preaching” in verse 9 is translated from the Greek word, dialegomai, from which we get our word dialogue.  Thus, they were having dialogue, talking back and forth, sharing their knowledge. What a beautiful picture Luke paints for us!!! The “Many lights” came from candles and lamps held by those present that night so that they could see the scriptures they were discussing.  Eutychus was a young man.  He was not head of a youth movement or a youth group.  He was there with the adults learning from the apostle.  As we learned from our visit after the movie, this biblical approach to teaching is very profitable!!

What is happening at DONALDSON

The time of our annual meeting is rapidly approaching.  Elders Marty Smith and Dickie Halbgewachs have promised to be with us.  Elder Marty is the pastor of Union Church at Roswell, Georgia, and Elder Dickie is the pastor of Oak Hill Church near Austin.  Both of these men are very dedicated and gifted ministers.  Our meeting will begin Friday night, April 9th.  We plan to have services on both Friday night and Saturday night at 6:30, with dinner at 5:30.  Our Communion and feet washing services will follow lunch that Sunday, April 11th.  Please pray for this meeting and for these men as they come our way.  Let us pray that God will bless them to preach just the messages that we need at Harmony Church.  

On the last Wednesday night in April, the 28th, Elder Gus Harter is scheduled to be with Harmony Church along with several ministers from the Philippines.  We plan to have dinner at the Church at 5:30 with services following.  We greatly enjoyed their visit two years ago and are looking forward to their return. As always, it will be a special treat to be with Brother Gus again.  We miss him greatly, yet, we are thankful for his and Sister Betty Jo’s labor of love in the Philippines. Please pray for these services as well.

We greatly enjoyed Elder Justin Huffman’s visit with our Church.  It was a special blessing to have him and his wife, Sister Cho, with us in our home.  After his visit I well understood why the Cincinnati Church asked him to assist Brother Bradley with his labors there.

Our visit to the Church at Star City was a blessing as well.  Elder Justin was well received as we enjoyed their fellowship and hospitality. 

I hope to finish my new book in the next few months. This book will be a devotional book that I pray will be of great use for private as well as family devotions.  After each short message there are several “Helpful Hints” given to encourage dialogue and stimulate one’s thinking.  There is a page for planning a lesson following the hints.  From experience, I have learned that family devotions can be intimidating to us, as well as demanding after one has come home from a long days work.  Some of the material that I have found in the Bible book stores has not been doctrinally accurate and hopefully this will be of great benefit to our people.  

Our library has been opened and many are already enjoying the various materials and books.  Again, we want to thank all of those who contributed to our library.  

We have had several of our members request an additional service at our church. Though it is difficult to tell whether there is more interest in a Sunday night or a Wednesday night service, I plan to try a Sunday night service for a month to see if there is enough interest.  The meeting will begin the first Sunday night in May and the time will be 6:30 p.m. with the following formats:

1st Sunday night: Visiting Minister

2nd Sunday night: Pastoral Message

3rd Sunday night: Pastoral Message

4th Sunday night: Q & A

If this meeting is well supported by our church we will continue with it.

Elder Harold Stumbaugh has promised to preach for us on the first Sunday night in May.

   We have planned our annual trek to Lake Catherine State Park for the 3rd Sunday in April.  I realize this is short notice but due to our new meetings in May this was the only Sunday we had available before the hot weather sets in.  This outing has always been a blessing for our church. Please mark your calendar and make plans to be with us and bring friends!

Book review

We have recently received into our library several pieces of media from an organization called, “Answers In Genesis”.  These materials include CD’S, Videos and books on the subject of creation.  Many of these are geared towards the young mind and will be of great benefit to them in understanding God’s miraculous account of creation vs. the popular theory of evolution that they hear so much about today. I encourage every parent to ground their children in this fundamental principal before they are exposed to man’s philosophy.  It is much easier to plant seeds of truth than it is to uproot the tares of error.

REMEMBER IN PRAYER

Sister Lori Drennan who has recently undergone laser surgery on her eyes due to diabetes.

Sister Norma Phelan who has suffered from vertigo and low potassium.

Sister Thelma Samons who has recently undergone hip replacement surgery.

Wesley Boyce recovering from broken leg due to automobile accident.

John Shaffer recently suffered from heart blockage.

Brother Carl Osterloh has recently been hospitalized due to lung and heart problems.

I encourage you to pray for these, visit them, send them a card, offer them a word of encouragement and minister to their needs.(Matthew 25:40).

January 2004

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

JANUARY, 2004

From the pastor

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As we approach the New Year, let us be thankful for the Lord’s blessings this past year and pray for His guidance in the days to come.  We have been greatly blessed at Harmony Church. I have been encouraged by the good attendance we have seen over the past few months, as well as the increase in the number of families that are staying for lunch.  We read in Acts 2:46 where the first Christians continued, “daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart…”  Not only did they worship and commune together, they also “did eat” together.  Spurgeon noted that their fellowship was so genuine, that it was difficult to tell where their Communion ended and their natural meals began. When Marilyn and I joined Primitive Baptist Church, this was one of the first things we noticed that was different.  Though it was the message of grace through Christ that brought us, the fellowship we enjoyed complimented the message. I genuinely LOVED staying for lunch.  To me, it was an extended opportunity to stay out of the world and remain with God’s children for just a little while longer.  I must be honest, the good cooking and lemon pie added to the attraction.  Though eating is not a spiritual exercise, the fellowship that ensues from this becomes a spiritual blessing.  As I tell people who come to Harmony, “If you are not fed spiritually, you will be naturally if you will stay and eat (fellowship) with us!” Sometimes we continue to do things in God’s house and we forget the original intention.  This eating together began with the first Christians.  It started because they genuinely loved one another and wanted to be together.  The spiritual blessing of this heartfelt desire is called fellowship

What is happening at DONALDSON

Harmony Church is planning a 5th weekend meeting for the month of February.  Elder Justin Huffman is scheduled to be with us on Saturday night, February 28th and the following Sunday morning.  Dinner is planned for Saturday night at 5:30 and lunch Sunday morning after services.  Brother Justin and his family have recently moved to Cincinnati where he assists Elder Bradley in his labors with the Baptist Witness and the BBH.  May God continue to bless them both!  Let us be praying for Brother Justin as he comes our way.

The second weekend in April, the time of our annual meeting, is rapidly approaching.  Elder Marty Smith and Elder Dickie Halbgewachs have both promised to be with us for our meeting.  Services will be on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday morning. Both of these ministers have been with our church and we look forward to hearing them again. We will have dinner both nights at 5:30 and lunch Sunday morning.  Communion and feet washing will follow lunch.   

We have been greatly blessed in our efforts to place a library in our facility.  In our July “03” newsletter, I mentioned we would need between 3 and 5 thousand dollars for the project.  Since that time we have received $5000.00 dollars for the project!!  We appreciate the generous donations that have been made towards this worthy endeavor.  As of today, the majority of books have been ordered as well as the bookcases.  The reading of God honoring books serves to stimulate the mind, keep the thoughts upon heavenly things and expand our knowledge of God’s word.  I was recently reading the biography of D. Martyn Loyd Jones.  During his ministry at Westminster Chapel, they established a library there, chiefly a collection of Puritan books compiled by one man over his lifetime.   It was from that library and the supporters of it that “The Banner of Truth Trust” came into being.  The “Banner” has been responsible for the reprinting of books written by great men of God, such as Bunyan and Spurgeon that would have otherwise fallen through the cracks of time.  It was their intent to republish as many of these old books as they possibly could and over the years they have been blessed to print numerous of these old volumes which include the writings of our Puritan forefathers.  I have sought out many of them for our library.  Of course, there is only one perfect book and all others must be compared to it.  It is my hope that our library will not only be used by the members of Harmony Church, but by the community and members of our sister churches.  I hope to unveil our library just before lunch on the 5th Sunday in February.

In our last conference Harmony Church voted to replace the chairs in the basement and add book-holders under our pews.  Our future projects include: new carpet, a new sign and a new P.A. system.

Currently, we are working on a new web page.  On our new page I will be able to make revisions on a monthly basis, announcing meetings and other current events.  The new address will be given when it is completed.  

I have had the opportunity to acquire several old preaching tapes of Elder Virgil Lowrance who served as pastor of Harmony Church from 1947-1965.  These messages were delivered in the Baltimore, MD area, a place Elder Lowrance frequented during his ministry.  The party was kind enough to send me 8 sermons, one dating back to 1957.  Since many of our members were baptized by Elder Lowrance, I thought they might be of interest.  These will be placed in our tape room.  If you would like a copy of any of them please let Sister Judy Newman know.

There is a lot going on at Harmony, come and be a part of God’s amazing love!

Over the last few weeks we have been preaching a series of messages entitled, “What is a Christian?”  Our focus has been the beginning of Christianity, as depicted in scripture.  We must always remember that Christianity is a historical fact.  It occurred in history, it is well documented, and it cannot be altered or changed.  Though men have attempted to redefine it, as they always try to do with historical events and people they do not like, God will not change His mind concerning what genuine Christianity is.  The majority of the people in this country claim to be Christians, yet, when you look at what the Bible says about true Christianity, we will find that genuine Christianity is actually the minority.  During these messages we emphasized the importance of being a Christian.  In God’s eyes, being a Christian is the most important thing a person can be.  It is more important than an education, than popularity, than fame, than money and power.  It is the thing that we should hope and pray for most for our loved ones.  Politics can not now, nor will it ever, solve our problems.  Our problem has not changed.  It remains to be sin in ourselves and in the world.  Christianity and the spread of it will become a blessing to any person, family or culture.  It always has been.  There were ten messages delivered entitled:

What is a Christian?

A Christian is a person who believes a doctrine.

A Christian is a person who enjoys the fellowship of the Saints.

A Christian is a person who continues in the breaking of bread.

A Christian is a person who continues in prayer.

A Christian is a person who experiences gladness.

A Christian is a changed person.

A Christian is a minister.

Jesus’ explanation of a Christian.  

A Christian is a forgiven person.

If you would like a copy of any of these messages, write to us or send us an e-mail and we will be happy to assist you. 

From time to time, someone asks, “What are the responsibilities of being a member of the Church”.  I have made a list of what the Bible says about this and I provide it for every new member of our Church.  Of course, this list is not exhaustive, nor are the scriptures cited, but I hope it will serve as a reminder to us all.  

Pray for one another: James 5:16; 2Thes. 1:11.

Pray for the pastor: 1 Thes. 5:25; 2 Thes. 3:1; Heb. 13:18.

Forgive one another: Col. 3:13; Eph. 4:32.

Cover offenses with a mantle of charity: 1 Peter 4:8.

Seek the peace of the church: 1 Peter 3:11; Mat. 5:9; Eph 1:2.

Place others before ourselves: 1 Cor 10:24; Phil. 2:3-8.

Live at peace with all men: Rom. 12;18; Heb. 12:14.

Encourage one another: 1 Thes. 5:11; Heb. 3:13; 10:25.

Love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ: John 13:34,35; 15:12,17,; 1 Thes. 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11.

 Witness to others and invite them to God’s house: Rev. 22:17; 1:46; Acts 8:4.

 Teach our children: 2 Tim. 3:14,15; Eph. 6:4.

 Support the weak: Acts 20:35; 1 Thes. 5:14.

 Bear one another’s burdens: Galatians 6:2.

 Speak kindly to one another: Ephesians 4:29-31.

 Admonish one another in the spirit of meekness: Romans 15:14.

 Be faithful to God’s house: Hebrews 10:25; Romans 12:1.

 Support the financial needs of God’s house: I Cor. 9:7-14; 2 Cor. 9:1-14; Mark 12:42-44.

 Attend the ordinances of the Church: 1 Cor. 11:23-26; John 13:14-15.

 Go to those who have offended us: Mat 18:15.

 Go to those we have offended: Matthew 5:23,24.

 Love the Lord with our heart, soul, mind and strength by which love we shall find the grace to do all of the above: Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27.

These are only a portion of the things we find in scripture to do for the Lord Jesus who gave His life for us, for the brethren for whom Christ died and for the cause of Christ that it may prosper in the world.    

Book review

I encourage every church member to read “Foxe’s book of Martyrs”.  It has become an all-time Christian best-seller.  It includes the heroic stories of John Hus, John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Anne Askew, and many others.  It records their great faith for God as it highlights the blessings we enjoy today as a result of their suffering.  It depicts man’s depravity and hatred for God and His word and presents world history in the glowing brilliance of God’s suffering people.  I am certain this book has been an encouragement to other Christians who have faced similar circumstances in their pilgrimage.

October 2003

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

OCTOBER, 2003

From the pastor

Dear friends and Church family, greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you have attended our worship service over the last month, you have noticed that my heart has been greatly stirred for our people.  In one sense, I feel I have been called to preach all over again.  The whole counsel of God has been neglected by many of our people and many wonderful truths are being ignored.  I remember a sermon that I delivered to our Church, before I was ordained, and a visitor came up to me after the services and said, "You have just preached a Missionary Baptist sermon in a Primitive Baptist Church."  Even then, I was made to wonder how such a thing could be.  Were there parts of the Bible for the Missionary and parts for the Primitive?  Yet, in one sense, I have found his testimony to be somewhat prophetical, like the graffiti on the wall, or the accusations of our enemies when they called us Christians.  Both parties are guilty as charged.  While one offers the free will of man in the midst of every discourse, the other must never, ever, disrupt the flock with duty or change.  Thus, only certain texts are accepted and men on both sides are deemed solid, able and orthodox by such standards.  The byproduct of these extremes is the same: moral decay. While one has followed the prescription of man's free will to "get saved", they can now live as they wish. No need to go to church, pray or read their Bibles, they have been "saved".  They can commit fornication, adultery, get drunk, live together unwed, yet, they are "saved".  May I say, they are not saved from anything!  On the other hand, there are those who have been "saved by grace" who are in the same category: without law.  There is no need to go to church or read their Bibles either because they have been "saved by grace".  They can commit all of the above sins without regard to God because they have been "saved by grace".  May I say again, they have not been saved from anything.  Both extremes live without law unto God.  Thus we see moral decay everywhere.  According to Oxford's Dictionary, there was a sect of people, calling themselves Christians, who maintained that the moral law was not binding upon Christians under the law of grace.  They were called antinomians which came to mean "without law".  Surely, there is no new thing under the sun!!

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the great Welsh preachers of last century, whose preaching brought about a revival, said something that fits the religion of our day: "….present-day preaching does not even annoy men, but leaves them precisely where they were, without a ruffle and without the slightest disturbance…The church is regarded as a sort of dispensary where drugs and soothing mixtures are distributed and in which every one should be eased and comforted.  And the one theme of the church MUST BE (emphasis mine) 'the love of God.'  Anyone who happens to break these rules and who produces a disturbing effect upon members of his congregation is regarded as an objectionable person."

He being dead yet speaks to my heart as if he were here today and attending some of our meetings. Today, there are tons of religion, yet, ounces of true Christianity. Let us pray that the Lord will deliver us from our fears and give us the grace we need to preach the whole counsel of God and give us a love for our people that we will do so in meekness. We become denominational when we must follow a set of rules regarding preaching concerning what we can and can not preach.  Let God be true and every man a liar, let men arise who are bold enough to preach the whole counsel of God to sinners who have been taken captive by Satan; to love them enough to deliver them from darkness to light; and from the power of Satan unto God.  I still have the old fashioned belief that God will faithfully honor His own word when it is preached in meekness and sincerity.  This includes rebukes, preaching every jot and tittle of the law, holding it up before the face of sinners and showing them their sin that they might find their comfort in a crucified and risen Savior. Many Jehudis live among us today, who cut up the prophet's words with a penknife and throw them in the fire. The Lord did not write a portion of the law on our hearts, He wrote it all.  We would ask those who only preach parts of scripture to print a new version of the Bible containing only those texts they deem appropriate. As John has written, "And if any man shall take away(emphasis mine) from the words of the book o this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."  It seems that this has literally come to pass in many places, on all sides of fences, where the whole counsel of God is not preached.     

At this time of spiritual decay, I am calling for a closer walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Christianity is more than having one's name on a church roster.  A real Christian wants, longs, to be in God's house and hear His message expounded.  They want to be with other Christians. A Christian is a person who has a living and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  This relationship is not static, it is dynamic.  A Christian longs for this relationship to grow day by day.  His chief joy is Christ, His word and His house.  His relationship is with a Person, not a creed.  

Lloyd Jones said something else that came home to my heart, reminding me of the blessings and honor of God's call to be a Christian: "I want to get back the discipline of the church-discipline for the minister as for the members-and to recapture the glorious conception of the Christian life, that men may feel that there is no honor which can be conferred upon them so great as their church membership, and that ministers may feel that there is nothing in life to be compared with the preaching of this glorious and incomparable gospel."

We can learn a lot from great preachers whose messages stirred hearts and brought them into humble submission to our Lord Jesus Christ.  I feel that God is calling me to step up to the plate.  Will you step up with me?  

What is happening at DONALDSON

Harmony Church was constituted in 1903.  The time of our 100 year service to celebrate this great occasion is rapidly approaching.  Let us be prayerful that our Lord Jesus Christ will be greatly honored in these services for He is the One that this meeting is all about.  

We have invited Elder Charles Sandage and Elder J.R. Rakes to be with us for our service on Saturday night, October 25th, beginning with a potluck supper at 5:30. Elder Rakes will be with Macedonia Church on Friday night as well as with us again on Sunday night at 7 p.m. A lot has happened in the last 100 years.  Let us thank our unchanging God that He has blessed this church to continue when other things have ceased to exist.

Our library fund continues to grow.  Hopefully, in the next few months we will be ready to begin work.  Let us thank the Lord for this work that continues to prosper!  

Book review

In our library, we have a pamphlet put together by Elder Michael Gowens, entitled, "A Parents Guide to Family Devotions".  This little pamphlet has some wonderful suggestions to help dedicated fathers and mothers begin their own personal family devotionals. Brother Michael included a newspaper clipping in this booklet that we used in one of our devotionals that I share with you.  "Frantic Families Have Misplaced Priorities"-by John Rosemond:

Several months ago, I wrote a column on the "Frantic Family Syndrome"—the hectic lifestyle that results from racing children to and from various after-school activities.  A number of journalists from around the country have since asked me a number of follow-up questions, several of which I reprint below, along with my answers.

Question: What has caused so many American families to become frantic?

Answer: The "Frantic Family Syndrome" is the predictable consequence of shifting the emphasis in child rearing from character development to the development of specific skills.  When it was understood that the primary role of parents was that of teaching children right from wrong, to be respectful of legitimate authority, to accept responsibility for their own behaviors and so on, it was likewise understood that the most important experiences a child could have took place within the family unit.  

Today, because parents tend to think that education in specific skills is utmost, they also think the most important experiences a child can have are those provided by various third parties-coaches, tutors and the like.  Of course, the more skill, the better-or so parents think-therefore, the overcrowded "parenting' schedules that typify many of today's families.

Q: What are the consequences of this to children and families?

A: There are actually two very different consequences--real and perceived.  The real consequences are (a) parents and children are overscheduled and therefore overstressed,(b)family communication and intimacy suffer, and most unfortunately of all, (c) children are denied the benefits of something that can never be replaced: this is, child-hoods spent in relaxed, close-knit family units in which they have plenty of time to absorb their families' values as well as just sit back and smell the roses.  The perceived consequence is that children are developing all these supposedly wonderful talents. 

Q: Why do parents subject themselves to a lifestyle that's so obviously stressful?  

A: These parents are driven, first, by anxiety that if they don’t enroll their children in all these various "opportunities," their kids will fall behind other children and never be able to catch up.  Second, there's the insidious notion that the more acts of selfless service one performs for one's children, the better a parent one is.  In short, these parents have become caught up on the modern "mob psychology" of parenting.  

Q: What do you say to parents who are caught up in "Frantic Family Syndrome?"

A:  I point out that if their children grow up with lots of different skills, but lack strength of character and family values, their skills won't amount to a hill of beans.  It's character that makes the difference in life, and character develops courtesy of and apprenticeship in a loving, relaxed family.  Unfortunately, too many children these days are growing up in the back seats of their parents' cars, talking to the backs of their parents' heads and eating fast food while on the run from one largely irrelevant activity to another.  

Q: Can you give parents just one kernel of advice"

A.  Regardless of the number of children in a family, I advise parents to limit their children's activities such that the family is able to eat a minimum of five relaxed evening meals together per week where there isn't the need to go somewhere immediately afterward.

By the way, a recent survey revealed that more National Honors students reported growing up in families that ate most evening meals together more that any other single variable. Again, character produces skills.  It doesn't happen the other way around.

As parents, we can become so concerned with our children excelling in events, projects, sports and entertainment, that we neglect the thing that God has placed utmost in parental responsibility: spiritual training.      

I encourage our mothers and fathers to follow the pattern of the New Testament church that we advocate in the teaching of our children(Ephesians 6:4).  The father is to be the spiritual leader of the home.  We say we do not believe in Sunday Schools, yet it seems that few families actually have devotionals in their own homes.  I find that there are many adults who are willing to teach a Sunday School, who will not open their Bibles in their own homes and teach their own children.  If you would like some help in starting a family devotional in your own home, please let me know and I will come to your home, with your family, and help you to get started.  If you have children at home, it is never to late to begin…..the sooner the better.  If your spouse presents a spiritual roadblock, pray that the Lord will move their hearts for your children's sake.  I promise you, the blessings are unsearchable!

Remember in prayer

Sister Jean Thomason has had outpatient surgery for a lump under her arm. 

Jacqueline Burroughs has been suffering with kidney stones.  

July 2003

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

July, 2003

From the pastor

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Since our last newsletter, the war against Iraq has ended and many of our troops have come home.  Let us remember to thank our Lord for this blessing, by ending this war quickly with few casualties.  

On Wednesday, June 18th, an article appeared in the paper which is worthy of notice.  It seems that the plaintiff in the historical Roe vs. Wade abortion case filed for a motion to overturn the landmark verdict which passed in 1973.  Norma McCorvey publicly identified herself as Jane Roe in 1980, seven years after the verdict.  She was a 21 year old carnival barker when, pregnant for the third time, sought an abortion.  She agreed to be the plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Texas anti-abortion statute in which she and attorney, Sara Weddington, succeeded in doing.  According to the article, Norma McCorvey joined the anti-abortion fight nearly 10 years ago and says she regrets her role in Roe v. Wade.  She now claims the Supreme Court's decision is no longer valid because the scientific and anecdotal evidence that has come to light in the last 30 years has shown the negative effects of abortion.  She is now 55 and is quoted in saying, "I feel like the weight of the world has just been lifted off my shoulders".

This event reminded me of Proverbs 21:1, "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will."  It seems that the Lord has turned this woman's heart to His own thinking.  Surely, repentance and right thinking can bring great relief to God's children.  Let us pray that this will have an impact upon this sad disease in our country!

I hope that our membership will keep in mind the series of messages I delivered to our church on the subject of ministering.  I believe this is the heart of true Christianity.  Jesus said, "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many"- Mark 10:45.  Oh, what a difference this makes in our attitude in God's house.  That we are not there for people to do things for us or our family, but rather, we are there to serve others.  This is the picture we portray when we bow to wash one another's feet.  Yet, we can bow and remain ignorant to what we are saying and it is then that our feet washing becomes a symbol without meaning.  Jesus served in the greatest capacity, "He gave his life a ransom for many".  Can we not minister a little for a few? 

What is happening at DONALDSON       

Harmony Church has rejoiced in receiving Sister Lisa Morrison into her fellowship.  Sister Lisa was baptized on April 13th during our annual meeting. Elder J.R. Rakes was with us during this meeting and was very blessed in each service.  It was a blessing to see the large crowd at each service.  We appreciate the fellowship we enjoyed from our sister churches as well as the ministry present from our area.  

We have one senior graduating this year.  Sister Christian Burnett graduated from Ouachita High School this year and plans to attend college this fall.  Let us keep Sister Christian in our prayers, that the Lord will bless and keep her. 

Elder Kenneth Brantley was with our church the 5th weekend of June.  Marilyn and I enjoyed having Brother Kenneth and his family in our home.  I met Elder Kenneth several years ago when I was visiting in the south Georgia area and had an appointment at Mt. Gilead Church where he pastors.  Their church reminded me of Harmony.  Elder Kenneth has three children, Emily, Elizabeth and John.  Their ages are 16, 12 and 10.  His wife's name is Ann.  Elder Kenneth was very blessed in each service.  We hope to have him back again in the near future.    

Last month we enjoyed our annual trek to Lake Catherine State Park.  Brother Jack outdid himself on the hamburgers.  The weather was perfect after the rain and we enjoyed the handiwork of God as we went on the 4 mile hike to the waterfall.  Ps….some went on the ¼ mile stroll!!!  No names will be mentioned.  As the day drew to a close, it seemed to be a special time.  We sat and visited together and enjoyed "the fellowship of the saints".  As we sat there I remember thinking, "These people truly love one anther."  I went home that day with a peaceful feeling in my heart remembering my Master's words, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you"- John 15:12.  I was encouraged.

Brother Leon and Sister Patti Burris have invited us once again to their home for a picnic.  This has been a special time of fellowship for our church. It is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, July 20th.  Bring your ice cream freezers and favorite recipes!!!   

It has been a while since we have had a "Visitors Day" at our church.  I have encouraged our people to bring a friend for this special day.    

Over the last few years I have noticed the interest our church has shown in the various books I have placed in our little library.  These books are from my personal library and I have enjoyed sharing them with our church.  I mentioned the possibility of a library for our church to the deacons at our last meeting and they encouraged me to continue with the idea.  I estimated the cost of the library, which will be for books and shelves only, to be from 3 to 5 thousand dollars.  We do not plan to add a room on to our facility.  Our plan is to place bookshelves along the back wall in our basement where the one bookshelf now stands.  As I mentioned to the deacons, there is only one perfect book yet, there are a lot of good books for our people to read.  Also, there is a lot of media, including VCR tapes, on the subjects like evolution, that would be beneficial for our children.  If our project is successful, I plan to visit with other pastors who have libraries in their church concerning the titles they have in their libraries.  This is a special project and we will not begin until/unless we have the necessary funds.  If you would like to make a contribution towards this project just let the deacons know.  If you are sending a check, please mark it "Library Fund".  

Last week, I found this article entitled: "IF 100"

"IF 100 church members would bring one visitor to church they would double their attendance in one day.  If half of these members are successful in winning one of their children to Christ, the church would grow 50%, less attrition, every 10 years.  If 100 members would sing at the top of their lungs in praise for Jesus Christ the visitors would not ask why they do not have musical instruments.  If one hundred members were actively involved in passing out tapes, articles and publishing the doctrines of grace, people would cease to ask who these people are, what they believed and where they might be found.  If 100 members would do one good deed for some undeserving person each week their church location would be well known.  If 100 members would do something for 1 member of their own church each week, the depression rate would decrease by 50%.  If 100 members prayed every day for 5 minutes(about the length of one song or one commercial) and asked the Lord to bless their services, their preacher would become the wisest, most gifted man they ever knew.  If 100 members were of one mind and one accord the devil would have to find another place to pester.  If 100 members gave $50.00 per week, about the amount spent on VCR's and entertainment, which is $60,000 per year, they could easily support a full time pastor.  If 100 members would pray over every church member weekly, and note one good thing about each person, they would see more of Jesus each Sunday.  If 100 members were at every service of the church, it would be a miracle, people would praise their faith for miles around, people would envy their church and want to be a part of such a place and IF Jesus came back in their lifetime, He WOULD find faith on the earth!!!"

By way of a personal article, I share with you this one which appeared on behalf or our church in the Malvern Daily Record.  

"Who Knoweth"

"Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"-Esther 4:14

Our thoughts today are centered around the soul searching question of Mordecai, which question all believers have mused in their own hearts from time to time.  The question is one of speculation, as to whether or not God had orchestrated the events surrounding their present plight.  It concerns the beautiful thought of  God's providence and His divine intervention in the lives of His people.

The word providence is pregnant with thought and imagination.  Not only does it mean that God is actively involved in the most minute events of our lives, it also means that the Lord provides His people with the things they need.  It is by faith that we see our heavenly Father this way and every detail of our lives are marked with this question, "Who knoweth".

But let our answer always be in the affirmative.  The beautiful book of Esther has taught us to say so.  There is nothing that happens in the universe that God does not allow.  As one preacher said, "History hinges on minute events". The broadness of His providence was illustrated by Jesus when He said that a sparrow can not fall to the ground without the Father.  In every nook and cranny of the universe, not one sparrow may fall without the Father's permission.  His providence is equally specific.  The very hairs of our heads are numbered by the Father. 

Esther did not take providence for granted.  She asked for her people to pray for her as she approached the king.  Though they thought the Lord might be in it, they did all that was humanly possible in seeking the favor of the Lord.  Yes, the Lord comforts us with the knowledge of His providence, yet He is honored by our holy petitions.

As we view the chain of events that brought Esther to her position we must acknowledge that God is a God of providence.  Why did the king call for a feast?  Why did he request the presence of Vashti?  Why did she refuse to come?  Why was Esther brought with the virgins to the kings palace?  Why was she chosen?  All of this was orchestrated by God. If one event in the chain had failed, the outcome would have been much different for God's people.  Surely, the Lord provided.

Providence is very punctual.  The Lord was right on time with the best provision.  Was not Haman hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordedcai? Was not Esther placed in charge of their circumstances?  What great comfort is given to the sheep of His pasture in knowing that the Good Shepherd watches over his own in such a way.  He leads them to pasture, beside the still waters and counts them daily as they go in and out.  He even guides and protects them with the rod and staff.  He clothes the lilies of the field and feeds the ravens by His bountiful hand of providence.  Lord, today, we acknowledge thy kindness to us and we acknowledge thy hand of providence in our lives as we count our may blessings."

Remember in prayer

We have been saddened by the death of Brother James Boyce's mother, Louise.  Please remember their family in your prayers. 

April 2003

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

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).  


Return Address:

 HARMONY 

PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH

P.O.  BOX 351

DONALDSON, AR  71941



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.

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January 2003

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

January, 2003

From the pastor

Greetings in the name or our Lord Jesus Christ.  Another year has come and gone and as we approach 2003, it is a blessing to know that  our Lord will be with us in the new year. There is a song in our book which begins with these words, "Thus far the Lord has led me on, thus far his power prolongs my day."  As we approach the new year, I find these words to be of great comfort for if our eyes are open, we know it is by the Lord's mercy and grace that we have made it "thus far".  It is good to reflect upon this truth, for if our Lord has been with us in the past, he will not desert us today, tomorrow or in the years to come.  The psalmist, David, found comfort in this knowledge of the Lord's abiding presence.  In his 139th Psalm, he acknowledged the Lord's presence in his past, present and future as he penned these words: "Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.  Whither shall I go from thy spirit?  Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?"(Psalm 139:5-7).

When David used the word, "Behind", he saw the Lord's presence, His hand of providence, in his past life, leading him, blessing him and guiding him. He saw the Lord protecting him as a small boy as he watched over his father's sheep, even when he slew the lion and the bear.  He saw the Lord's hand blessing him and guiding the stone that sunk into Goliath's forehead.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20. We look back and see things in their proper perspective.  Many times it takes years to fully understand the why of things and to realize that the Lord was really with us.  As each of us look back, let us be careful to attribute all of our past blessings to our Lord and not luck. If we see past luck and not past Lord we will become unthankful and must trust to the impersonal god of luck for our future. Will this be the God that we pray to? And what about our past trials and misfortunes?  David saw the Lord in these as well.  In the most famous of all Psalms written by David, he said, "Thy rod and they staff they comfort me."  Yes, David found comfort in the rod.  In the rod of affliction and in punishments, David saw the Lord as a loving Father who would chasten him when he wandered.  He could look back and see the Lord sending the prophet Nathan to convince him of his sin with Bathsheba as he said, "Thou art the man".  He saw afflictions as eyeglasses, keeping his eyes focused on better things than this present world. When I look back in my life, I remember some things that I did not think I could go through.  I thought they would never end. Today, I see those things differently.  I realize as I was going through them, the Lord was with me and many fond memories are found there.  As we look back, let us ascribe our misfortunes to His teaching, or else the past will never make sense to us and our hardships will make us bitter, depressed and our future bleak and hopeless.  

As David uses the word "before" I find comfort and hope for us all.  David EXPECTS the Lord to be in his future life.  The future is something that is greatly feared and we have the ability to imagine great evils which may never occur.  As our Lord said, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof ...take therefore no thought for the tomorrow."  We are thus taught to live day by day, in day-tight compartments.  When the submarine hits a mine, each compartment is sealed off, securing the air and precious cargo.  When we hit a land mine in our life, let us seal of the day, day by day, for the Lord, taking one days troubles at a time.  We can all get down and depressed if we do not live for the present blessings.  Surely, we should look for them and be thankful for the good we have in hand.  Many blue tomorrows are the offspring of a red hot today in the flesh.  Let us stop and meditate upon the Lord, His word and His knowing our tomorrow and holding it in His hand.

But what about today?  Did David's Lord, know his present plight?  Does He know, or even care, about ours?  To describe the Lord's present presence David uses the word, "thine hand upon me".  Here is a dwelling hand that can not be moved.  Our Lord's abiding presence in our lives is strong. He is a friend that "sticketh closer than a brother."  Jesus is a faithful high priest who is touched by the feelings of our infirmity. He, too, walked the shores of time. He saw troubles, He saw conflicts and disappointments.  People misused Him, even people He loved.  Yet, He did no sin. I love what one preacher said to his member when they informed him that they did not feel as close to the Lord as they once did.  He asked them this question: "Who moved?"  We have never been promised that we will not see troubles and conflicts.  In fact, we are guaranteed that we will.  But we are promised that He will walk with us through them as He did with Daniel in the den of lions and the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace.  His hand was upon them as well.  And though He may not change the present difficulty, is it not a great blessing to know that He knows all about them and that we can share it with Him.  As David did, let us approach the new year with knowledge that the Lord is near and expect, as David did, that He will be with US!    

What is happening at DONALDSON       

By the time you receive this letter we will have concluded our study of 1 Corinthians.  If we would have asked the Lord to inspire Paul to write a letter for the churches of our day, I do not believe he could have written anything better than what we have in the book of I Corinthians.  As we have studied this book, I have been humbled by its power.  With clarity, this book echoes the woes and banes of the churches for centuries.  From divisions caused by preacher preferences, to church discipline; from the false appeals of charismatic principles to what true charity really is; the alpha and omega of church life is contained in this book.  It is a pastoral handbook to be studied and meditated upon by us all.  Yet, as with all of scripture, if we do not apply it to our selves, to our own churches, it is just words on a page.  

Chap 13 is the greatest treatise on love than any song that has ever been sung or any poem that has ever been written.  Though many will talk about how much they love the Lord and His church, we would ask them how much they do for them.  Charity, real love, is an action word which means that we are willing to give our time, our assets and our bodies for that thing we claim to love.  If we say we love the church, we are saying we love Jesus Christ and those Christians that make up the church.  This means we want to be with them when they gather around the throne and worship Jesus Christ.  We pray for them, we encourage them, we minister to them, we rejoice with them and we suffer with them.  Charity is grounded and rooted in our love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chap 14 deals with the subject of  speaking in tongues and the women who thought they were to be teachers at Corinth.  We find this to be timely in our day when so many charismatic churches are rising around us.  In many places in the New Testament, the word "gift" is translated from the Greek word, "charisma".  Thus, the charismatic churches claim to have special gifts(charisma), vested within them, the gift of tongues being the predominant gift that they most covet.  Yet, we find that Paul places this gift far below the gift of prophecy, or preaching, "I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach other also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue."  Many of these charismatic churches have women pastors, or preachers, in spite of the fact that Paul states in the very chapter that deals most with the gift of tongues: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak…"   We come across many of these in our day, talking about how spiritual they are, singing the Lord's praises in Wal-Mart and other public places, making us feel that we are far less spiritual than they are.  Yet, Paul puts all of this pretentious religion to silence in this chapter as he writes, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord"-v37.  A really, really, really spiritual person will acknowledge that the things Paul has written are God's commandments, including "let your women keep silence in the church."  Genuine spirituality is found in obeying the scriptures.  It is not displayed in the marketplace, but in the heart.  The Pharisees put on a similar show in their day, yet Jesus said they were painted graves that looked clean on the outside but inside they were full of dead things.  Contemporary material is indeed found in this book!  

Through the centuries, Chapter 15 has been respected by many divines and theologians as one of the most important chapters in the bible.  It demands the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Everything that we believe or hope for, hinges on the fact that Jesus rose bodily from the grave.  This is the heart of true Christianity, for this truth will confess that Jesus was indeed God in the flesh, not a god, or one of the gods, not the by product of the flesh, but truly the incarnate Son of God.  All true Christianity will confess this truth.  

This chapter begins with enough eye witness information to convince any judge or jury that Jesus indeed rose from the grave.  Paul then, very methodically, shows the Corinthians what must necessarily follow this monumentous event.  The things that MUST follow give the church the bedrock for all of their doctrinal sentiments.  Consider:  If Christ is risen then there must be a bodily resurrection of all the saints(v.12);  the preaching of Christ and His word is relevant and important to His people(v.14); our faith is not in vain for it is founded upon reality, truth and something or someOne concrete(v.14); and most of all it declares in the face of Satan and all the world that the saints are no longer in their sins, they stand before the courtroom of divine justice innocent(v.17).  It further guarantees that those who sleep in Christ have not faded into oblivion, but rather are alive and well with Jesus(v.18).  Truly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was and is the most notable event in all of history.

This chapter also sets forth the beautiful doctrine of representation. As Adam represented all of humanity in the fall, the second Adam, Christ, represented a special people, the elect, on the cross.  The evil consequences of the first Adam's actions, sin, fell upon all of humanity.  Yet, the blessed consequence of Christ's actions, life from death, fell upon all of His seed: the elect. Thus we have representation! 

This chapter gives the most detailed account of the resurrected bodies than any other place in scripture.  In verse 37 Paul compares the body that is placed in the ground at death to a seed that we plant.  What we plant is void of beauty.  Yet, what comes up is a substance of that very seed, yet beautiful and full of life.  Just compare a sunflower seed to the beautiful sunflower when it blossoms!  Then, think of resurrection morning!!  

In verses 37-50, Paul informs the Corinthians that the resurrected bodies will be more than spirit.  Since the body of Christ came forth from the grave, so will all that He represented: He is the firstfruits of the harvest.  In Paul's day, the theory of dualism was advanced which taught that everything material was evil and only spirit was good.  The raising of a body was repulsive to this school of thought.  I love what C.S. Lewis said to those in his day that advanced this idea: "What position does a spirit take when it stands?"  An understanding of this chapter gives us this much about the resurrected bodies: individuality and even identity in the resurrection.  The belief that the resurrected body is only spirit, unknown to self and saints is very similar to those of Paul's day who called him a "babbler".      

Paul closes out this book with the subjects of Christian maturity, love for Jesus Christ and his love for the Corinthians.  He encouraged them to emulate mature Christians and look to such for their examples: Apollos who had labored among them; the house of Stephanas who had addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints; Fortunas, Achaicus and the husband and wife team of Aquila and Priscilla who had a church in their home.  Verse 14 says it all, "Let all your things be done with charity."  From the use of their gifts to their discipline in the church, all should be done charitably.  These two maxims must go side by side: doing the right thing and doing it in the right spirit. These are the Jachin and Boaz of church strength and maturity!

The motivating factor for the Corinthians to change and do the things Paul admonished them to do must be their love for Jesus Christ: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha(v.22)"  This is the strongest language in the New Testament concerning church discipline.  The word "Anathema" means excommunicate, to put out or withdraw from and the word "Maranatha" means the Lord cometh.  This sent a strong message to those who were advocating that Jesus was just a good man and the His cross foolishness.  A true believer is one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, not just a good man. This shows the seriousness of Paul's letter.  It is written as if all that he has said funnels in to this one thing: our love for Jesus.  How faithful we are to God's house is an indicator of our love for Jesus Christ.  Paul knew that those who really, really, really, really, loved Jesus, would do the things he had written because the wellspring of all true obedience is found in our love for Jesus: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."  Good works do not pay for our sins, only the blood of Christ can do that, but a desire to please the Lord is always the result of a renewed heart.

Our love for other Christians is also measured by our love for Jesus, "If a man say, I love God, and hatheth his brother, he is a liar"(I John 4:20).  Corinth needed this as well to solve their problems.

Our Lord caused Peter to search his own heart concerning this love as He asked him, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?"  Surely, if Jesus questioned Peter as to the sincerity of his love for Jesus none of us are exempt from the question.  It is possible for us to love the church, to love meetings, to love sermons and yet to forget that all of this should be done with and for our love for Jesus.  We should sing the songs of Zion because we love Jesus; we should pray because we love Jesus; we should love one another because we love Jesus; we preach because we love Jesus; we read the word because we love Jesus and the list goes on from baptism to the Lords supper.  We do it all because we love Jesus.  If we do it, any of it, for any other reason, our reasons are less noble than what they should be.  When the gospel came to me in power I saw Jesus Christ crucified for my sins. I did not see a religion, a songbook, a doctrine or even the people who made up the church.  I just saw Jesus upon a cross suffering for me alone.  I saw Him possessing knowledge, knowledge of who I was, what I was and what I had done.  I could no longer look at my friends and the world around me and compare their sins to mine, for His eyes were fixed upon me as they were upon Peter when he denied his Lord.  It is good for us to go back to that initial experience with Jesus when we doubt our calling and grow cold.

Paul was telling, even warning the Corinthians, that if any had joined the church at Corinth for any other reason than because they loved Jesus, if this love was not mingled with their guilt, their repentance and their desire to change and know Him better, they were in the wrong place and judgement was coming.  We look not for perfected people to come to Christ and be baptized for none are.  The Spirit and the bride encourage every sinner to come as they are with a love for Christ and a desire to change for His honor.  If we wait till our lives are in order we will never come. This is my creed today and forever: loving Jesus.

Fellowship

On the third Sunday in February, we plan to take our annual trek to the ice skating rink at Little Rock and eat pizza afterwards.  We plan to leave after lunch.  Bring warm clothes!! 

ANNUAL MEETING

Our annual meeting is the second weekend in April.  Elders Ronald Lawrence and J.R. Rakes have promised to be with us.  Let us begin to pray for this meeting as we see the day approaching.

100 YEAR CELEBRATION

Harmony Church was constituted on August 8th, 1903.  This coming August will mark the 100th year of this church.  We are planning a special meeting for this wonderful occasion. The time will be announced at a later date.    

Book review

When I was visiting Metropolitan Tabernacle, in London, I picked up a copy of a book entitled, "Angels Among Us".  It is written by Ron Rhodes and I have found it to be very biblical as he writes about the scriptural references to angels. It is true, we are not to worship angels.  Yet, we are to believe what the bible has to say about them.  There is a lot of false information published today, even bordering on the occult, concerning angels.  That is why I recommend this book.  It not only gives a biblical perspective of angels, it also exposes the false information that is found in many so called "Christian" books on the subject.  Check it out!

Remember in prayer

We have been saddened by the death of two of our church members. Brother Carl Brooks died on December 25th and Sister Louise Thomerson died on January 1st.  Let us remember these families in our prayers.

Sister Lema Clayton has been suffering from vertigo and has been unable to attend our services for several weeks.

Please remember that there is more than prayer.  A card, a phone call or a personal visit is always encouraging!!!

October 2002

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

OCTOBER, 2002

From the Pastor

Greetings in the name or our Lord Jesus Christ.  On September 1, Harmony Church rejoiced to receive Darren Burroughs by confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  His baptism was on that day.  We are thankful for the Lord adding to His Church at Donaldson.  I encourage our whole membership to pray that the Lord will send others among us who will rejoice in a risen Lord. 

What is happening at DONALDSON       

Presently, we are continuing our study in the book of 1 Corinthians.  I appreciate the opportunity to study this book and share the many wonderful principles with our church.  They have been very patient in receiving this instruction and we all feel we have grown spiritually.  The more I preach from this book, the more I realize just how contemporary it is.  In many ways, our world is becoming more and more like that of the Corinthians.  I believe many churches and pastors face some of the same challenges today as were faced at Corinth in Paul's day.  

There are many rebukes found in Paul's words to Corinth.  Yet, in the midst of his rebukes we have found a love for the cause of Christ and the truth.  Thus far, we have studied through the first eleven chapters.  Since our last newsletter,  these are some of the things we have learned from this book.

In Chapter 9, we spoke on "A Forgotten Ordinance" as we took our text from verse 14, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."  Here we find one of the old paths that was ordained by the Lord Himself.  It should be a goal for every church to care for their man of God as Paul taught Corinth.  In verses 7-10 Paul uses several analogies.  He compares the pastor to a soldier who is going to war.  When the soldier went to war, his weapons, uniform, transportation, food and shelter were provided by those that he fought for.  That thought in itself is pregnant with illustrations.

Paul encouraged Timothy to "fight the good fight of faith" and to "endure hardness as a good soldier".  This is preaching, pasturing and shepherding the flock of God, a battle against Satan, false apostles and the world at large.  The pastor equips the Saints to fight this battle as well and minister to fellow soldiers.  As the pastor equips the Saints to minister to one another and fight their own personal battles against the world, the flesh and the devil, they equip him with the carnal necessities of life. Though a soldier was equipped by necessity, the pastor should be equipped and cared for out of love.  As he ministers to the families of the church, the church should minister to his family as well.

Paul also compares the Pastor to a husbandman that tends and keeps the vineyard.  As he does, he eats the fruit thereof.  I have heard some churches say, "We are just too small to care for a pastor".  Certainly, this may be true many times.  Yet, by this principle of husbandry, if the man of God is blessed in planting, pruning and watering the vineyard, it will grow and the church should reward the steward accordingly as the fruit increases.  The more the husbandman labors, the more fruit is born in the vineyard.  The more fruit that is born, the better the vineyard takes care of its husbandman.  Surely, a lazy husbandman should not be cared for as much as one who labors.  His crop will diminish rather than grow and what will the church have to give such a steward?  Thus, as Paul said in another place, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine"-1 Timothy 5:17.  This means to care for such a man doubly, that he may use his gift more abundantly!!!

Paul also uses the example of the shepherd.  He feeds a flock and drinks of the milk.  This example is one of feeding.  As the pastor feeds the flock of God, the flock feeds the shepherd.  Thus, a mutual care one for another using the gifts and assets that each one has.  I have heard hundreds of sermons at associations and special meetings but I have never heard a preacher preach from these passages of scripture.  I presume they fear they will be criticized for preaching for money.  Yet, this is a principle that becomes a blessing for all.

I believe the Lord is judging churches in this matter today.  We are no longer living in the depression where people are living from hand to mouth.  When God's people spend more money on adult toys and entertainment than God's house, the Lord is greatly dishonored.  Just like the old prophet said, "But Jeshuran waxed fat, and kicked."  I am sure that those churches that are sincerely seeking the old paths would be interested in considering this much overlooked truth. I told you there were rebukes!!!!!

In chapter 10, we learned about the goodness and the severity of God.  Yes, God led Israel about in the wilderness.  He blessed them to drink of the same spiritual drink….a picture of Christ.  They were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud….a figure of being baptized unto Christ in the Church.  But…."with many of them God was not well pleased."  Why?  Paul then lists the five most common sins found among baptized believers: Lust, idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ and murmuring.  I especially enjoyed the thought of "tempting Christ".  We used the example of tempting our own parents: "I will see just how far I can push them, how much I can get away with."  That is tempting our Lord! 

We spoke about Christian liberties and how we should always consider those around us as we enjoy our liberties so as not to wound a weak brother's conscience.  Many of the baptized Corinthians had learned that the idol's temple was nothing, so they felt free to go there for some good food.  Yet, as they went, some of those that had just joined their congregation, or were visiting their church, saw them there and thought they were worshiping the idol as well.  Where we go, what we do and who we do it with is before the eyes of many.  We should never do anything that would jeopardize our testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ.  

In Chapter 11, we learned the necessity of the Lord's supper and the importance of every member being present during this special time.  I read to them "The Rules of Church Membership", written by John Fletcher of Madeley(1729-1785).  Found among these was, "Every member must take part in the Lord's Supper at every opportunity. See Acts 2:46, I Corinthians 11:24."

We would not bring the Lord's people under the law to be present during this time, yet, there must be something spiritually wrong when a person does not want to remember the One who died to set them free from their sins.  I have read stories of people saved from terrible accidents by some innocent bystander.  It seems that that person's soul was knit to their rescuer.  Should our soul not be knit to our Lord Jesus Christ, our rescuer, our Savior, our Salvation?  There should be a burning desire in the heart of every believer to assemble together and remember His body and blood, given for our sins. 

In chapter 12, we found another area of scripture that has been much overlooked in our day.  This chapter teaches us about the many "gifts" that the Lord has vested in the local church.   In this chapter, Paul depicts every baptized member of the church as a part of a body.  The church is a living organism made up of "lively stones".  Every member has a function in the local assembly.  As our natural body has body parts, such as he hand, the eye, the nose, so the local church has body parts.  If you are a baptized member of the church, you have a gift of some kind given to you by the Creator for the purpose of ministering.  I believe this is written to the church at Corinth to cause every member to pray and seek their spiritual gift in the church.  This is more important than seeking a profession in the world. This, too, is a much forgotten subject among the Saints.  This is the reason that many churches have turned into the speaker, audience format.  Much like the speaker who comes into town to give a lecture and goes home.  There is no personal interaction, nothing demanded or expected from the audience.  Just listen.  Certainly listening is important.  Yet, there are gifts vested in every church, every member, that are being overlooked.  A lively church is a church where spiritual gifts are active!

We found the word "Church" to be an interesting word.  It is used over one-hundred times.  It is never used to describe a building, a national church, a denomination or even a group of churches.  When we think of Church, our mind should be upon that body we are spiritually attached to.  Yes, we should pray for other bodies of believers.  But when our thinking of Church becomes something out there that we do not contribute to or become a part of, we render our own personal gift useless.  If we say we love the church, we are saying we have "charity", an action word, towards every member and our heart is focused on ministering to their needs.  Loving the Church is not loving an invisible nebula of doctrine, practice, history and past meetings.  That is worshiping the past.  The Church is the people we meet with who are presently contending for the "faith once delivered to the Saints."  Every church member should focus their attention and resources upon the place of their membership.  

When I was visiting the Metropolitan Tabernacle in England, I purchased a little brochure entitled, "CHURCH MEMBERSHIP IN THE NEW TESTAMENT".  This was written by the present pastor of this church, Dr Peter Masters.  I was encouraged by his thinking concerning the local church as his teaching was the same as ours.  He, too, taught the principle of the Church as being a living organism as he used all the metaphors of the body, the family and the autonomy of the local church.  I do not have space to quote all that he wrote, but concerning I Corinthians 12:12, this is a portion of what he wrote, "One reason why God has joined us together in a church is because it is essential that every one of His people is involved in the growth of the body, in true evangelism.

Is it possible that a limb or part of a body could ever be disconnected and kept somewhere apart from the body?  Is it conceivable that a Christian can opt out of being a church member?  Is there any provision in the new Testament for some one who does not

wish to be a church member?  The only answer to that question is: only if a person has to be put out of a church for some reason."  Surely, every member should be active, involved and knowledgeable of what is going on with the rest of the body.

A couple of years ago, Elder Bradley was invited to speak at "The Church" located at Star City.  Many of our people have visited this faithful band of Christ's followers and they have attended some of our meetings as well.  Their pastor is Elder John Fuqua.  I mentioned our visit with them last year in a previous publication.  A few weeks ago, Marilyn and I visited one of the restaurants there, owned by one of their members, Brother Layne Baugh.  I stayed in this good brother's home during one of the meetings.  He has a wonderful family and they treated me with great hospitality.  When we ordered our food, Brother Layne handed me an article that one of their members had written.  I appreciate him sharing it with me and I share a portion of it with you at this time.  It is entitled, 

"HOLINESS".

"Let a pastor insist on holy living and sooner or later he will be crucified.  Let the life's aim of his ministry and service be geared to holy living and all the hordes of hell will rally together to crush his intentions.  If he insists on his congregation living Christ-like lives; nay, if he rather insists that they step aside entirely, and allow Christ Himself to live out His life in and through them, that pastor or minister will have warfare all his days.  Let him insist that his hearers strive for the right response and reaction to every daily challenge every day of their lives and he will never face the problem of building programs, expansion of church facilities, and so on.  One small meeting place will hold his audience.  A minister must fearlessly preach sound doctrine.  He must faithfully expose sin and error. Yet that minister may preach what could be termed the letter or mechanics of form of sound doctrine without insisting on holiness.  A pastor may build his church on the preaching of the fundamentals of the faith: infallibility of scripture, virgin birth, the Trinity, bodily resurrection, for example.  He may found his church on the preaching of the doctrines of grace. A pastor may build a church on soul-winning and outreach. An evangelist may center his ministry around revival. Yet all these ministers may pull punches when it comes to insisting on holiness. Or more likely, ignore holiness altogether.  

Yet the holiness of God must be the bottom line of every preacher's efforts and concerns or else all his works will end like the house built on the sand.  "Great was the fall-the ruin of that house," said our Lord.

Every preacher who sets his face to insist on holiness must brace himself for the inevitable name-calling.  "Legalist," they will cry.  "Overbearing."  "Puritanical." "Dictatorial." "Tyrant." "Too authoritative." "Cultic."  But in all their appellations, they will never acknowledge him by his right name- a  preacher of holiness.  The knowledge of the holy is a lost truth in our day. That pre-eminent attribute of God; that ineffable essence of glory; like an invisible aura, which separates and sets Him apart from everyone and every thing that is not of Himself; surrounding everything that God is, and says, and does; that absolute moral perfection, free of sin and evil, is virtually unknown in today's average congregation.  But without holiness, no man shall see the Lord, said the writer to the Hebrews.  Woe to the pastor or preacher who will not insist on holiness. How then will his hearers ever see the Lord?"

Surely we must agree with the brother.  His article agrees much with what we have been learning about the church at Corinth and the several messages we delivered to the church on being like Jesus Christ.  Being a Christian is being Christ-like in our mind, heart and actions.

Fellowship

We enjoyed our picnic at Brother Leon and Sister Patti Burris' home.  

Our membership is scattered over about a seventy mile radius and these outing allow us the opportunity to get to know one another better.  In a simpler time, the membership of most churches lived among one another in a small vicinity.  They saw one another on a daily basis, at community meetings and school functions.  They helped one another on their farms and had the opportunity to visit and know one another.  Today, it is important for the body of Christ to know one another.  There must be more to fellowship that hearing a sermon and going home without personal interaction.  The home made ice cream and watermelon from Leon's patch were greatly enjoyed on that hot day that we will all remember for years to come.  

Book review

"America's Godly Heritage" is a 

VCR tape we have in our library that "clearly sets forth the beliefs of many of the famous Founding Fathers concerning the proper role of Christian principles in education, in government, and in the public affairs of the nation."  Today, in many schools, there is a concerted effort being made to destroy the role model of our founding Christian leaders in the eyes of our children.  This tape will enable the parent to teach their children the truth concerning men like George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson and many more.

I am always looking for helpers in our church.  I enjoy seeing people use their gifts.  I am thankful for Sister Mary Kelly who is serving as our librarian.  I appreciate her willingness to help with our books and tapes.  We have some books that have been out for over a year and I have asked her to track some of these books down.  If you get a call from her, please do not be offended. If you are still reading the book, just let her know.  You may keep them as long as you like.  She has already made a difference.  If you will notice, we have a new sign by our books and tapes and a new holder for our cards.  I can promise you that this reading material is much better than what you will find in the world.

Remember in prayer

Sister Karen Gray has undergone surgery for arrhythmia.  They have installed a pacemaker and she is doing much better.

July 2002

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

JULY, 2002

From the pastor

Greetings in the name or our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are thankful for the good attendance we are experiencing at Harmony Church as well as the many visitors that the Lord has sent our way.  I appreciate the hospitality our membership has shown our guests.  When I talk to our visitors, they always tell me how warm and friendly our people are to them. I believe that the testimony of the local Church is greatly impacted by the kindness the membership shows to its guests.  As Paul wrote, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares"-Hebrews 13:2.  Just sitting and visiting with our visitors at church or lunch is ministering to their needs.  They may be the next new member.  Perhaps, the Lord sends some angels by from time to time to examine our hospitality.  Whatever the case, Paul encourages us to be kind to our visitors and I am thankful to serve a people who have always done this. 

Since the time of our last newsletter, our family has sojourned to and from England.  We enjoyed the trip, the sites and the time together as a family, but we were very glad to get back to the good old U.S.A.  It was quite confusing in the airport when three 'Neil Phelans' were trying to check in with three passports bearing the same name…..especially with today's stringent methods of inspection.  Sister Elaine Cox loaned us her "Big Bertha" suitcase and we found that it could easily be loaded beyond the weight capacity.  

My father and I traveled by bus to visit Metropolitan Tabernacle where C.H. Spurgeon preached over a century ago.  The original tabernacle was destroyed in WW II by a fire bomb, and the only existing part of the original structure still intact was the front edifice of the building.  The old columns still stood in place on the elevated porch revealing the beautiful architecture of the original building.  I tried to imagine the people walking up the steps to hear the "Prince of Preachers" expound the gospel of Christ on a Sunday morning.  I had to reach out and touch the old column.  Perhaps I touched something that Spurgeon himself touched.

The inside of the tabernacle was one-third the size of the original tabernacle  which seated about six-thousand in Spurgeon's day.  It was disappointing to see a big pipe organ which we know Mr. Spurgeon would have excommunicated, for he practiced and taught congregational singing which he led himself many times.  In the back of the Tabernacle was a bookshop and I had the opportunity to purchase a good stack of useful material.  The magazine, "The Sword and The Trowel", which was first printed by Spurgeon in the 1800's, is still printed by the church that continues to meet at Metropolitan Tabernacle and I was able to subscribe to it.   The Church remains active with about 300 members.  Their current pastor is Dr. Peter Masters.  

After our visit to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, dad and I ventured the bus route one more time to try to find Norwood Cemetery where Mr. Spurgeon was buried.  It seemed that the Lord blessed us that day, for each bus we needed arrived at just the right time and there were always people to help us out.  When we arrived at the cemetery, I went into the little office at the gate entrance.  I said to the lady seated at the desk, "I am a preacher from America and"…Before I could get the words out of my mouth she said, "To see Mr. Spurgeon!"  as she handed me a map of the cemetery.  We found the site within a few minutes.  As I stood beside the tomb where Spurgeon and his wife were laid to rest I pushed back a tear as I considered the life this faithful man lived and the blessing his labors had been to me and countless others.  I was very thankful to share this moment with my father who has been such a blessing to me.  I made several pictures which I hope to share with you soon.   

On Sunday Morning we visited a Strict Particular Baptist Church, located just a few blocks from our Hotel.  There were only sixteen members of this little congregation and to be quite truthful, it was a sad condition.  They owned a big beautiful building with no people.  Services were very dull and I wish I had known that they were still meeting at the Tabernacle. They said they were going to close their Church in a few months.  It seemed to me that they got a little to Strict and much too Particular for their own good. The pastor introduced his text by reading from the Bible the story of Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler. In his sermon, which lasted about 45 minutes, he seemed to believe in grace, but he butted all the grace out by the time he was finished.  It seemed to me the man was confused about the subject and I am sure his congregation, at least those awake, were as well.  Needless to say, I became ever so thankful to be a member of Harmony Primitive Baptist Church and felt it would do London some good to visit us!  And it just goes to show that no matter how big a place you are from, Donaldson, Malvern or London, God's Spirit can be manifested just as powerfully in one place as another.

While we were there, we toured Westminster Abbey.  Many famous people are buried beneath the floor of this structure: kings, queens, political leaders, poets, priests, monks and even Charles Darwin who wrote "Origin of the Species".  As we walked over the tombs of these people my mind went to Mr. Spurgeon who rested in the little known and seldom visited Norwood Cemetery.  I thought of the verse, "Of whom the world was not worthy."   

Since our last letter, I have had the opportunity to visit several churches.  I enjoyed being with Elder Lonnie Mozingo, Sr. and the church he pastors in Pascagoula, Mississippi.  I enjoyed the special time with Elder Lonnie.  I attended the annual meeting of Bethel Church in Nashville, Tennessee where Elder Ronald Lawrence now pastors.  This meeting was well attended and a little girl, about six years old, joined the church.  I was with Elder J.R. Rakes for their communion meeting in July.  I have been with them for this meeting in the past, but this year seemed to be a very special time.  On Sunday morning, J.R.'s and Sister Estelle's grandson, Josh, joined the church.  There was much rejoicing!! 

What is happening at DONALDSON       

Over the last few months we have been preaching through the book of 1st Corinthians. Though it was written almost two milleniums ago, it is just as contemporary today as the day it was written.  Many of the subjects that we have approached have been very difficult to address, yet how needful they have been.  This book addresses the subject of homosexuality which has become so prevalent in our society.  It addresses fornication which is taught and encouraged on the television, in music and in the movies.  It addresses husbands and wives.  It exposes worldly wisdom and how it attacks the wisdom of God and the influence it has on the Christian Church.  It sets forth the foundation of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ.  It teaches Church discipline, yet, it displays God's grace to sinners as many of the sinful Corinthians became members of that Church.  It shows that a church can, and usually does, have problems, as it gives encouragement to settle them in a spiritual way.  This is a little summary of what we have learned thus far as we have only reached chapter seven.

As a preacher can become burdened to speak on a particular text, or group of scripture, he can also become burdened to speak on a whole book.   I appreciate Harmony Church and their interest in this kind of teaching.  I believe it is apostolic and the infant church practiced  the expository preaching of books and psalms.  It allows the membership to read ahead, meditate and focus on the word of God. I appreciate the study many of our members have put forth during this effort.  We have become like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily to see if these things are so!

Our annual trek to Lake Catherine State Park was well attended as our Church enjoyed some sweet fellowship under the canopy of God's creation.  Our next outing is scheduled for the first Sunday in August at Brother Leon and Sister Patti Burris' home.  Bring your ice cream freezers!  Last year we had sack races, softball, and a free throw shootout.  In all of this, we are not trying to attract the world.  We just like to be together.  We had a great time last year and we want to thank Leon and Patti for sharing their beautiful place with their Church family.  

Book review

During our visit to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, I purchased a VCR tape entitled, "Charles H. Spurgeon, The Prince of Preachers."  This tape is about Spurgeon's life and the narrator travels to the places in England where Mr. Spurgeon lived and preached.  As much as we talk of Spurgeon, I thought some of you might enjoy checking this tape out of our library.

Prayer request

Please remember these in your prayers:

Sister Lema Clayton has been suffering from vertigo.

Sister Leona Sandage, our oldest member.

Brother Carl Brooks has suffered from a stroke.

Sister Vickie Mosley has been recently hospitalized for stomach complications.

Sister Louise Thomerson

Please remember our shut ins: Brother Horace Burnett, Sister Thelma Samons and Sister Icelean Holland.  Let us remember that every member is a minister and a  personal visit, a card or a phone call means so much. 

Let us be mindful to thank the Lord for prayers answered for those listed in our last publication who are doing much better.

April 2002

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

APRIL, 2002

From the pastor

Greetings in the name or our Lord Jesus Christ.  We come to you with a thankful heart for God's blessings upon us.  We have several new members and the Lord's presence is felt among us.  I encourage each member to pray that the Lord will continue to add to our little flock and enable us to minister to their needs.  These blessings followed our messages on ministering to one another as we learned that every member is a minister.  I believe the Lord is well pleased when He observes members becoming more like Jesus Christ as they minister to one another.  To be a Christian is to be like Christ.  Jesus said, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many"- Matthew 20:28.  To be like Jesus is to minister to one another.

It was during these messages that we spoke on the subject, "Termites of Tradition" as we noted some of the traditions that have ensnared God's people and altered their affections.  Our text was taken from II Kings 18:4 where Hezekiah, the king of Israel, brake the brazen serpent.  We recognized the brazen serpent had a purpose in its day.  But the their focus was altered from the Lord to the serpent and they began to burn incense to it and worship it.  Typical of God's people in all ages.  We all tend to look to something that we can see and touch to give us security.  Hezekiah was faithful enough to call it what it was: "Nehushtan", a thing of brass…..no god at all.  That Sunday, I listed some of the traditions that have plagued our people: Not supposed to preach all the Bible; Some sins are unforgivable; Must preach one hour; Can't use notes; Can't use microphone; A baptistery is a modern invention of man; Women can't wear pants to church; Not supposed to be zealous; Leave at least one Sunday open so that members can visit around; Don't take your Bible to church or people will think you want to preach; Do not have a radio broadcast because Satan is the prince of the power of the air waves; No singing in church; Preachers are not to prepare their sermons in advance; Don't look up Greek words; Don't disturb the flock with sermons that bring an accurate account of world events. I must admit, I felt a little nervous as I read this list.  It was not only well received, but several members added other items to the list.  Some people have worshipped their building, their location, their steps, their doors, their furniture and the list goes on.  The shining of the gospel light into this dark world by the spreading of the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified must be the focus of the church. Perhaps something was given by God in the past for an intended use.  Yet, let it not become an item that we worship when its use has expired.  Let us call it what it is…no god at all.

I appreciate the response to these messages and the ministering I observe going on among our people at Donaldson.  

I have several trips scheduled for this summer and I ask for your prayers. I have been invited to preach the Wednesday night service at Macedonia Church, at Delark on April 24th.  Services begin at 7 p.m.  Elder Harvey has been very blessed at this church.  If you can attend any of these Wednesday night services, I know they would be glad to see you.  Elder Ronald Lawrence has invited me to the annual meeting of Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, at Nashville, Tennessee the first weekend of May.  Elder Lawrence has only been there for a few months.  I hope to make a portion of these  services and be back at Donaldson on Sunday morning.  I have a very busy schedule in June.  My family and I are planning a vacation to England from June 5th through the 13th.  My father was stationed there during W.W.II and I am looking forward to seeing where he was stationed and enjoying the many historical sites.  The great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon, is buried in England and I hope to visit the cemetery where he was buried as well as the reconstructed Metropolitan Tabernacle where he once preached. During our stay, I also hope to visit one of the particular Baptist Churches in the area.  I am scheduled to be with Elder Lonnie Mozingo Sr. during the fifth weekend in June for a series of appointments at the churches in his area as well as the church he pastors in Hattisburg, Mississippi.  Elder Mozingo has been a special blessing to our church over the years.  I hope to be with Elder J.R. Rakes the third weekend in July to preach at their communion meeting.  I have had the opportunity to be with them for these services in the past and have always loved their fellowship as well as the special time with brother J.R. and Sister Estelle.    Brother J.R. has been a special blessing to our church over the years and a great encouragement to me as a father in Israel.  As I go on these trips, I feel as Paul when he wrote, "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you"-2 Thes. 3:1.

It was over three years ago that I began to write articles for the Malvern Daily Record.  Many times I have wondered if people were getting a blessing from them and if I should continue with the effort.  Every time that I thought I may as well quit the effort, the Lord would drop some handfuls of purpose along the way and someone would come by the store or call me to share with me the blessing they received from our efforts to publish the truth.   A few weeks ago, a college student read one of the articles and used it for an English assignment.  Their assignment was to find an article in the newspaper and give their opinion of it.  The students name is Josh Dilley, and here is what he had to say about our article entitled "Encouragement for the Bereaved": "I believe that in our society today, Americans are becoming less and less involved with Jesus and more involved with material things.  If Americans do not wake up and smell the roses, Jesus might stop honoring us with His blessings in times of tragic events.  So, I chose to write my paper on an article I recently read in the Malvern Daily Record.  The Column was titled "Encouragement for the Bereaved", by Neil Phelan, Jr.  I feel that this is an excellent column for many reasons I wish to tell about.  

The paper is about the loss of loved ones and what happens to us when we die.  The article tells us about the death and the resurrection of Jesus.  The article also explains that part of the purpose of His life was to die so that we may go with Him and have eternal life after death. This article gives me great inspiration. This article hits especially hard because of all the troubles and losses going on in the world right now with the World Trade Center incident and the continuing war on terrorism.  The words he speaks in the column give us all something to look forward to after this time of sorrow here on this planet. In life, it is comforting to know that after all the hard times there is light after the storm.  

Not only is this story inspirational, the story is a very helpful column to those unknowing of Christ.  If someone were to read this article that did not know the love and ways of God, they could be touched and moved to live for Him.  The article is very educational.  The column sites specific examples throughout the Bible where the people involved turned to Jesus for their strength.  The times were tough but they were helped.  This article teaches people to be faithful and true to the ways of the Lord.  The article also shows that no matter how hard things get He will be there for us and that He is willing to help.  

I am also very intrigued by this article for the mere fact that the article was written.  Not so much in the South, but in America where we Americans sometime seem to have a negative stigma attached to religion and to our ways we chose to worship because God is no longer allowed in schools or school events.  Congress also says that God cannot be in federal buildings unless He is in the form of decoration for the various holiday seasons.  Many people even feel religious themes should not be publicized for fear of someone being offended or discriminated.  Mr. Phelan looks past all these barriers and tells about what his heart feels and what his mind thinks.  His writing is unbarred and true to his ways, accepted or not.  I feel he is a good man for doing this.

People like Mr. Phelan and his columns are just what we need in our country today.  They are both very helpful and inspirational.  If everyone were to read his articles and live the way they suggest, I promise the world would be a much better place.  That is why I feel that this is such and excellent article.  Times right now are hard just like some of the times mentioned in the column.. Mr. Phelan said, "One of the greatest sorrows known to God's children is the loss of a loved one from this life".  I believe that the article makes the people's lives nice to know that there is hope in the world and that people like Mr. Phelan are not afraid to tell us about God's ways.  In the future, I hope to come across more articles such as this and more hope from the press."

I was greatly encouraged by this article and I share it with you for your encouragement as well, that you might know that our church is shining a light in this world.  I appreciate young people who are willing to stand for the truth, even before college professors who may not agree with the truths of Jesus Christ and His word.         

What is happening at Donaldson

We have been enjoying a season of revival at our church.  We have rejoiced to receive four new members since our last newsletter.  Charles and Mary Kelly came forth by confession of faith on the fourth Sunday in March and their baptism was the fifth Sunday.  On the day of their baptism, Jimmy and Tonya White came forward requesting a home in the church.  The church is still rejoicing.  As this transpired, I was reminded of the words in Psalm 84:7, "They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God".  God's people receive strength from one another.  We are strengthened when we look around and see the sanctuary full and the song service lively.  It seems, when one person makes a confession of faith, others are encouraged and strengthened who have felt the same need in their hearts.  If all of us would do what the small still voice encourages us to do in our hearts there would be a great explosion in Zion.  The source of this strength is the Holy Spirit which opens our hearts unto the truth and convicts our conscience.  When this strength is put to use others are strengthened by it, thus, we go from strength to strength.  Many times we do not recognize the encouragement we are giving to others.  I have been encouraged at church by just a smile.  As I write this, I realize how much we should tell each person that encourages us so that they would know their life has purpose and meaning.   

Since our Church has been growing, I have felt a greater burden on my shoulders to minister to our new members.  The more sheep that are grazing in the pasture, the more attentive the shepherd must be, more is required on his part. To do this I have put together a "New Membership Packet" to introduce new members to our faith and practice.  This packet includes the following:

1. Welcome Letter from Pastor

2. Articles of Faith

3. Explanation of articles of faith

4. Harmony Rules of Decorum

5. Membership Responsibilities

6. Overview of Church Discipline

7. Copy of Phone Tree

8. Copy of Church Directory

Our new members have expressed their appreciation for this information and our meetings have been blessed.  Their questions have stirred my heart to some areas that need to be preached.  Some might think that this might discourage one from becoming a member of the Church.  Yet, I believe those who are sincerely interested in being a faithful church member and growing closer to Jesus Christ would find a great interest in these materials at the beginning of their commitment.  I have made a solemn vow to meet with each new member at least twice.  The first visit is to introduce them to the information contained in the packet.  The second visit is to go over this information and answer any questions they may have concerning our practice and doctrine.  I believe this will be a great blessing to our church.  I was a member of the church for several years before I knew we had Rules of Decorum and it was many years before I understood Church discipline.  If any of our members would like one of the packets, please let me know and I will supply you with a copy.

Each Sunday, I have been staying at the Church after services to give the opportunity for any who might have questions or need pastoral counseling.  Many times, questions and comments are posed as I arrive on the church grounds and there is insufficient time to comfort, counsel and address questions before services.  If you need time with the pastor, this time will afford every member the opportunity for a personal visit.

Presently, we are preaching through the book of 1 Corinthians.  It is amazing just how contemporary this book is to the day in which we live.  The many themes that are found in this book such as worldly wisdom, church divisions, church discipline, doctrinal errors have made me realize how relevant the Bible is to our present day.  I hope you will pray with me that the Lord will use this book to strengthen our faith and grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Last Sunday, we spoke from the third chapter on the subject of "Our Spiritual Appetite".  Milk and meat were discussed as we, again, reviewed spiritual maturity.  It seems to be an ongoing discussion among ministers as to what is milk and what is meat.  To the Corinthians, meat was those principle that opposed the wisdom of God.  Worldly wisdom had permeated their ranks.  Yet, in my opinion, meat is anything that is in God's word that we spit up and are not mature enough to digest.  For one, it may be the doctrine of election.  For another, it may be the principles of giving of our carnal things.  We found that there has always been a challenge on the part of pastors, prophets and preachers to feed a balanced diet to the church.  Israel of old pressured the prophets to preach "smooth things", even "deceits" and lies.  In the old day, when ships were at sea, rickets and scurvy would infest a ship without proper victuals.  Some ships were even found afloat full of dead bodies.  A balanced diet is important for the health of the ship.  I am thankful for being the pastor of a church that loves the "whole counsel of God" and wants their pastor to preach it.  

Our annual meeting began on Friday night, April 12th and continued through Sunday afternoon.  The meeting concluded with Communion and feet washing services.  Elder Lasserre Bradley, Jr. preached this meeting for us and was wonderfully blessed to bring God's word with power and demonstration of the Spirit.  Elder Bradley was traveling with his eleven-year-old granddaughter, Emily Grace Tomlinson.  It was a delight to have them both in our home.  When I asked Sister Emily Grace where she lived, she said, "We live only forty-five minutes from the church."  I could tell how important the church was to her and her response was a reflection of the importance her family placed upon God's house. Elder Bradley spoke on some very timely issues as well as the doctrines of grace.  On Friday and Saturday night he said some things that I wish every young person could hear.  I felt the communion services was one of the best I have ever been in as we partook of the emblems representing the body and blood of Jesus and washed the feet of the saints.  Elder Gary Harvey was kind enough to come over and commune with us.  We appreciated his comments very much.  

On Sunday night, I traveled with Elder Bradley to Star City where he had an appointment to preach at "The Church".  Their pastor is Elder John Fuqua.  It seems that they heard Elder Bradley on the KAAY daily broadcast which airs at 11 a.m. on 1090am in Little Rock.  They loved his preaching and the principles he stood for and after a personal visit by the pastor to Elder Bradley's home in Cincinnati, they invited him to preach at their church.  This was the third time for Elder Bradley to visit them.  The service was very blessed and I was invited to spend the night and attend the scheduled services the following day.  One of the members, brother Layne Baugh, invited me to spend the night with him and his family. I enjoyed meeting his sweet wife and four children.  The next service was at 6 a.m. the following morning.  When we arrived at the meeting house, it was full of families, ready and eager to hear the word of God from God's sent man.  There were about two-hundred people at the morning service.  At least half of them were teenagers and children.  I was greatly encouraged by their attendance and desire to learn from God's word.  Elder Bradley preached sovereign grace and practical godliness and it was all received with much gladness.   

Some people in their area have wrongly accused these brethren of being a cult because most of them live near their meeting house and have businesses together in their little community.  Yet, their desire is to come out of the world and live closer to Christ.  To me, their community resembles a day once known to God's people where members lived among one another in a small community.  Each day, they help one another with projects and talk of the Lord as they do it.  Their services are open to the public and simplicity is observed in their worship service.  They treated me like one of their own and I hope to return the fellowship one day.   May God bless these people.

  We are now singing some songs out of our new song book, the latest edition of the Old School Hymnal.  Next to the Bible, the song book is an item that has always been used for worship among God's people.  A good song book and a Bible are staple items of worship in a family.  If any would like a copy of the Old School Hymnal just let one of our deacons know.  They are $9.00 apiece and would make an excellent present. P.S., there has been some talk of meeting the first Wednesday night of each month to learn songs from our new book.  What do you think?

I have always wanted to do something special with our young people and I hope to one day have the opportunity to take them to the nursing home after lunch one Sunday a month to sing.  By this they learn to minister to others.  Parents, if you believe this would be a blessing for us, I need your help!

FELLOWSHIP

Our next outing is scheduled for the first Sunday in May.  After lunch, we plan on going to Lake Catherine State Park for our annual picnic.  This has always been a wonderful time for our Church as we enjoy the handiwork of God's creation.  I hope you will mark your calendar and enjoy the fellowship of the Saints.  A towel, sun-block and an extra pair of shoes would be a good idea because last year some people got WET!!!  

Book review

Since we have a new songbook, I have chosen the book by Paul Drumond entitled, "A Portion for the Singers", for our book review.  This book is well written and goes back into Primitive Baptist history as it tells of the compilation of many song books used among our people.  You will find it interesting that Elder Wilson Thompson compiled his own song book.  It cites the compilation of both books we use, "The Good Old Songs" and "The Old School Hymnal".  We have some video tapes in our library that I hope to make available to our church soon. 

GRADUATION

It has been brought to my attention that we have several high school seniors graduating this year.  Wesley Boyce, Spencer Burroughs, Richard Morrison and Neil Phelan.  I ask our church to hold them up before God in prayer that they would always hold a special place in their hearts for the Lord, His people and His house and that they would remain faithful to His cause.  Let us also pray that the Lord will bless the decisions they make for the future. 

REMEMBER IN PRAYER

Sister Anita Loy has been suffering with heart problems which include an irregular heart beat.  Latest report is that she is doing much better. 

Sister Barbara McAnally has suffered from a broken tail bone.

Sister Judy Newman a broken ankle.

Brother Jack Clayton surgery resulting from a torn ligament.  

p.s.   Brother Jack and Sister Judy have matching cast boots!!!!

Sister Gloria Ledbetter has recently undergone gall bladder surgery.  She is recovering at home as we write.   

Memoir: Joe Cox

Personal Memoir: Joe Cox

Given to Pastor: 3/02

My great grandmother was a Primitive Baptist and died at age 93 in 1919.  Only her oldest daughter became a member of Primitive Baptist faith.  One son became a Methodist minister of renown in Mississippi and Arkansas…1890’s to 1930’s. He was a graduate of Emory U. My grandmother and one sister and three brothers became Southern Baptists.  

The main thing I remember was them talking about all day meeting, and how tired they (children) were at days end.  Also, laughing about shape note singing and foot washing.

Somewhere along the way great-grand maw forgot to instill in her children the wonderful doctrines and beliefs of the Old Baptist Church. After I joined Harmony in 1980 I did some research on great grandmother and found she joined Mt. Olive Primitive Church in Opalika, Alabama in 1854 and took her letter from the church 1878 but never joined at Farmersville, Texas Primitive Church where she attended occasionally with her oldest daughter Nannie (Mrs. Jim Jackson).

Due to lack of teaching of her children I was the first one in five generations to become a member of Old Baptist in 100 years.  

Beulah Hawkins, my mother in law joined Primitive Baptist Church at Waldron around 1915.  She was established in the faith but again failed to instill it in her children when they were growing up.  

Ved became a Primitive Baptist at age sixty when she, Elaine and I joined Harmony in 1980. I flirted with Old Baptists for 30 years.  I would go to Associations about once a year.  That was the only time I thought Old Baptists had church.  That was when mamaw went to services at the “sosation”.  I loved the singing.  I would say when I wanted to hear a good sermon I would go to Old Baptist, but I really didn’t understand what I was hearing, but it sounded good. 

We went to the same church for 30 years where I was a Sunday School teacher and deacon for most of that time, but I was starving to death spiritually; I realized that I couldn’t give enough or do enough to get to heaven- I was miserable and so was Ved and Elaine. 

Finally one Sunday morning, Elaine announced she was going to church at Harmony D in Donaldson- We could go where we wanted but she was leaving.  

Elaine didn’t receive her revelation from preaching but from an unlikely place, Henderson State University, where she taught history, art and the humanities, all the different religions and she knew when she found what she was looking for in Primitive Baptist doctrine.  We started coming to Harmony with her after two months and joined four months later.

I really didn’t understand completely what I was hearing, but when I read, particularly in John and Romans, where Christ said all that God has given me- I will lose none…sweetest sound I have every heard and the nicest congregation I’d ever met. 

I hesitated for several weeks because I was happy with my baptism when I was baptized in my grandfathers (tank) pool when I was 9 years old. It was a hot Sunday afternoon in August.  We buried up in mud at least to our ankles and my pet goat was there and chewed on the preachers shoe laces as he was reading the Holy scriptures.  The other 9 year old boy that was baptized with me was saved the same night I was at the tabernacle behind little country church in our community.  The invitation song was “Oh Why Not Tonight”.

But the one special event in Primitive Church to me is Communion and foot washing.  It is the most humbling ceremony I ever experienced.  I didn’t know you could wash another man’s feet, cry, and tell him that you loved him.  

The twenty one years at Harmony has set me, Ved and Elaine free to enjoy our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The one person that influenced me to come to Harmony D the most was Arnold Sandage.  I thought all Primitive Baptists were like Arnold… did I ever have a shock…but I love you all any way.

I’ve told Sonny one of the worst things wrong with Arkansas and Primitive Baptists is an inferiority complex.  We have the most beautiful state and we have the best doctrine and the most wonderful people anywhere; but we failed in many instances to tell our friends and neighbors and children what we have.

The Church has many good traditions, which I love; but we also have some that need to be observed more closely, to see if they are biblical traditions or man made traditions. 

I would probably come to Old Baptist 20 years earlier if some one had invited me back or come and visited, but no one did.  I don’t mean you weren’t friendly,  because you were.  On the other hand, I’m sure I wouldn’t have come until the Lord showed me the light and Elaine carried the torch to Harmony D and a child shall lead them.

However I can’t talk, I’ve been at Harmony nearly 22 years and so far, as I know, I haven’t been responsible for any new members. I’ve tried, but again, I know that none of God’s children will ever be lost, maybe missed some blessings here on earth.

I’d always heard Old Baptists were narrow minded, but I have found them to be broad minded on whose going to heaven—thank goodness you let unworthy me in. 

Sonny, this is just some of my thought about Primitive Baptists.  Your sermons are very enlightening, and well delivered; and it is evident that you study a lot and are open to the Lord’s will in your life.

             Brother Joe

January 2002

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

January, 2002

From the pastor

Greetings in the name or our Lord Jesus Christ.  Since the time of our last newsletter we have had some wonderful services at Harmony Church.  We have been blessed, not only with faithful attendance by our membership, but also with many visitors over the last few months.  We are thankful for the many new faces that God has sent our way and we hope we will minister to their needs by both word and deed.

I am thankful for the love that is manifested at our church.  Surely, it is a reflection of Christ.  I personally encourage each member to pray for one another.   

What is happening at donaldson

Over the past few Sundays, we have been studying subjects that have to do with a "Balanced Church".  If you missed any of these messages, I hope you will obtain a copy and listen to it.  As a new year's resolution I encouraged the church to focus in on the purposes of a New Testament Church as we try to fulfill those purposes in the year to come.  

I personally believe that the reason many churches cease to exist is because they become unbalanced by focusing only upon one purpose of the church.  Though one of the greatest blessings of the church is knowledge, knowing that guilty sinners are saved by God's amazing grace, there are additional blessings and benefits to be enjoyed.  One of those is the benefit of ministering to and being ministered by people who love us for Christ's sake.  Knowing doctrine is the foundation for our ministering to one another and those around us.  Thus, he encouraged the brethren to use their knowledge to evangelize, to baptize new members into fellowship, to worship, to minister to others and to grow in grace.  A balance of these principles will make a healthy church.

Our first message was entitled "Spiritual Maturity".  Maturity is what every pastor hopes to see in his congregation.  Spiritual maturity means to become more like Christ in our thoughts, feelings and actions.  Paul wanted the Ephesians to, "grow up into Christ"(Eph 4:15).  As every parent desires to see their children grow up and mature, so the pastor the church.  I gave the church an example of different levels of spiritual maturity as follows:

Unchurched = The Community

Casual Attendee = The Crowd

Regular Attendee = The Congregation

Baptized Member = The Church

Devoted Member = Discipleship

Devoted Ministering Member= Martyr for Christ.  When we become devoted ministering members we have grown up in God's house and become mature Christians.  

     Someone might say, "I thought a martyr was a person that died for something."  Spiritually, when we become ministering members we have died to self and it is then we live for Christ by ministering to others. We might all remember the time we were among the unchurched.  

I gave the church the famous words of John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather, ask what you can do for your country".  I asked them to substitute the word "country" with "church" and with "Jesus".  By doing that, we see the mindset of Christian maturity.  Can you remember the last time you ministered to someone in your congregation?

Some might ask, "What is ministry anyway."  The word ministry scares some people.  They think it means to pack up their bags and move to a jungle and give their entire life in some foreign field.  Actually, the word ministry is a word that brings comfort when understood and applied.  In most places it is translated from the same word we get our word "deacon". It means to serve.  It means doing something, anything for another person expecting nothing in return.  Consider the good Samaritan.  He did not know as much about the scriptures as the priest and the Levite.  Yet, Jesus commended him because he showed mercy to his neighbor by ministering to his needs.  

Ministry is as simple as bringing a cup of coffee to your loved one or leaving a note of "I love you" when you leave for work.  The husband ministers to his family by bringing in the bread and the wife ministers to the whole family by seeing to their needs.  This is Christ honoring and it brings joy.  Any way that we might help another person physically, emotionally, financially or spiritually is ministry.  Here are a few examples:

PHYSICALLY: Acts 28:8; Acts 5:15; Acts 3:6; Mat. 9:3.

EMOTIONALLY: John 8:11; John 11:3; John 20:16; Luke 8:52

FINANCIALLY: Romans 15:27; I Cor. 9:1-14; II Cor. 8:1-7; II Cor 9:1-14; II Cor 11:8.

SPIRITUALLY: Mat. 4:23; 9:35; Acts 2:40,41; 8:4; 16:14;II Cor 10:14. 

When Jesus spoke to people, He spoke to them on the basis of their maturity level.  To the community, He said, "come and see".  To the disciples, he encouraged to take up their cross and "follow me."  There are at least four ways to measure spiritual maturity. Can you name them?  The answer will be at the end of this newsletter.  I believe the greatest level of spiritual maturity is found in ministering to others.  When I think of Jesus, that is what I see most in Him. Even His death on the cross was a part of His ministering to others.

     As you might guess, our second message was on the subject of "Ministering to Others".  This is as much a part of being a member of the church of Jesus Christ as knowing the doctrine.  When Jesus spoke of those on His right hand that were blessed to "inherit the kingdom", he did not identify them as a people who knew something.  He identified them as ministering servants, "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me"-Matthew 25:35,36.  

Jesus knew that our nature might be somewhat judgmental concerning people who have needs.  We might say, "that person deserves it.  They are reaping what they have sown."  Yet, Jesus praised the actions of the good Samaritan who ministered to a person going the wrong way.  He was going down and away from the church.  Thus, Jesus puts our ministry on a personal level.  When we minister to others we are ministering personally to Jesus, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"-Matthew 225:40.  What an encouragement it is when we realize we are personally ministering to Jesus when we minister to others.  

We learned that day that there are many gifts available to the New Testament Church today and every baptized member has the gift of ministry(I Peter 4:10; I Cor. 12). That Sunday, I ordained every church member as a minister of Christ and encouraged them to go and do likewise, both within our church, and in the community.  A good slogan for us to remember is, "Every member is a minister."

Ministry compliments maturity.  Maturing is becoming more like Jesus in our thoughts, actions and feelings.  If we would truly emulate Christ, we will remember His words, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many"-Matthew 20:28.  If we are to truly emulate Christ, we will become ministering martyrs for others.

We ended our message citing examples of those showing their religion by ministering to Paul and to Christ.  Can you name some of these ministering servants?  Answers are given at end of this newsletter. 

     Our third message continued on the subject of ministry as we noticed how much this subject occupies the scriptures.  On that day, I gave the church an acronym for maturity and ministry:

I asked them to remember their time of arrival to maturity.  It is like the little screen you see when you go to an airport and look for arrival times of the planes.  The acronym goes like this:

ETOA….Estimated Time Of Arrival.    If you can remember that, you can remember the fundamental principles of ministering and maturity.  Consider.

"E" stands for Experience.  Our own personal experiences in life equips us to minister to others with similar problems.  If we have lost a loved one, experienced a financial loss, had problems in a marriage, or faced a devastating disease we have gone through the trial and our experience tells us what another person may need.  This is how we bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ(Gal. 6:2).

"T" stands for Time.  It requires time to minister to others.  This is a sacrifice in itself.  The most valuable asset we can give to Christ is our time.  We know that some have more free time than others.  We would not expect a mother of several young children to have the amount of time to minister as one who has retired.  Their children are their ministry.  Yet, a portion of everyone's time should be spent in ministering to others.  Your lot may be to minister to an aged parent.  I believe our own families should come first in our areas of ministry.  

The best way to invite a person to church is to minister to their needs.  It is more effective than arguing over the scriptures.  Perhaps, they have moved into your area and need some help.  Perhaps you have a friend who needs some comfort to help them through the day. We put on Christ when we minister to others.  If they are looking for the church of Jesus Christ, they will see His face in our ministry.  

"O" stands for Opportunity.  God opens doors of opportunity to minister to others.  The good Samaritan found the man half-dead in his particular pathway of life.  He did not have to go out of his way to find an opportunity to minister.  I believe that the Lord purposely places people in our path that need us.  This opens the door of ministry, allowing us to reflect Christ and show that our religion is sincere.  

"A" stands for Assets.  What do we have?  Do we have a lot of time on our hands?  Let us give it to Jesus by ministering to others.  Do we have more money than time?  Give it to a place that it will do the most good.  Do we have a gift; a talent; a skill; use it to the honor and glory of God.  If you can screw in a light-bulb you can help a widow.  Some think they have arrived because of what they know.  Jesus measures our arrival by our participation in ministry because ministering is becoming Christ-like.  

A ministering congregation is essential for church growth.  In this sense, a church is like a business.  It can only grow according to the number of people it can wait on or minister to.  As a business grows, it must hire new employees to take care of their customers.  When customers are unattended, they go somewhere else.  A church can only grow according to their ministry.  Being a bivocational pastor I know very keenly the blessings of helpers.  I will never forget the times I visited some of our shut-ins only to find that some of our church members had just left.  I appreciate our church for their gifts of ministry.

When we look at Acts, chapter 6, we discover this to be true.  The deacons were ordained to minister to those the apostles did not have time or opportunity to help.  Murmuring and criticisms arose within the body and thus the office of deacon began.  The result: "And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly."-v5a.  

     Our last two messages dealt with "The Purpose of the Church".  I gave the church an assignment.  I asked the church write down their own personal feelings about what they felt to be the purpose of the New Testament Church.  Disneyland's purpose statement is, "To provide people happiness".  What would you write for the church?  I loved and appreciated the response and the many thoughts the membership shared with me during that week.  If the pastor and the membership do not agree on the purpose of the church little will be accomplished.

     During the message we defined the purpose of the church with two scriptures.  The great Commission which is found in five places: Mat. 29:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47-49; John 20:21; and Acts 1:8.  These two scriptures alone teach us that the purpose of the church is to publish the good news of Jesus Christ to all we come into contact with, wherever and to whomever a door of opportunity is opened; to baptize them into fellowship with Christ and His believers; and to then teach them how to live.

    The second scripture that defines the purposes of the church is the Great Commandment: Luke 10:25 and Matthew 22:37.  This talks about ministering to others by loving our neighbor as ourselves.  I like what one man wrote: "A great commitment to the great commission and the great commandment will make a great church."  As the old saying goes, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." The purpose of the church is the same today as it was 2000 years ago.  The pastor and the congregation must be on the same page concerning church purpose.  The church must not be driven by tradition, personalities, finances, programs, projects, or public events.  It must be driven by New Testament principles.

In our last message we focused on five distinct purposes of the New Testament Church, found in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment:Evangelism, Baptism, Worship, ministering, and maturing.  During that message I asked the church what they had written as their purpose statement for the New Testament Church and I gave them mine.  Here is what I wrote: "To help ourselves and others become more like Jesus Christ by fulfilling the purposes of the church as described in the great commission and the great commandment which include evangelism to all people, baptizing them into fellowship with the Saints, worshiping in spirit and truth, and ministering to the needs of others."  I appreciate the encouragement received during these messages.    

     During our last conference the church voted to include the Old School Hymnal as one of our song books.  We are looking forward to singing some of the wonderful songs from this book.

Since our last letter, we have incorporated a phone tree.  There have been several questions regarding the phone tree and who we should call.  The phone tree begins with the pastor.  It is designed to communicate information to the whole church without any one member having to make more than one or two calls.  Just call the person listed under your name.  If that person is not available, skip down to the next name and call the person back later that you missed.  This will prevent a break in communication.   

TAPE MINISTRY

We have added several new names to our tape ministry.  If you know a person who would receive a blessing from our messages, please let us know.  As you know, sister Judy Newman is handling our tape ministry.  Please feel free to contact her for any tapes.  This is her way of ministering in God's house.  I can tell she gets a blessing from it.

FELLOWSHIP

During the messages on ministry, the church gave fruit baskets to our senior members and shut-ins.  On the last Sunday of the year, at the end of the song service, the young people of our church passed out baskets to those present in the congregation.  This brought old and young together in a way not soon forgotten.  After services I was blessed to see many come forward with a desire to carry a basket to our shut-ins.  Then I knew the message on ministering was well received.  

Book review

Recently, on one of my visits to another church, I was given copies of several biographies of some of the reformers.  Here are their names: Martin Luther, John Knox, Zwingli, Calvin, Wycliffe and Huss.  I have placed these in our library along with a biography of John Gill.  These are all wonderful biographies of men who stood up for Christ in a very unfriendly world.  I am sure the reading of them will be a blessing to all. 

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

Four methods to measure spiritual maturity: 1) Talents – Matthew 25:14

2) Fruit bearing – Matthew 13:23

3) Faithfulness – Luke 19:12-27

4) Discipleship – John 8:31

Those who ministered to Paul:

Onesimus: Philemon 1:10-13

Onesiphorus: II Tim. 1:16-18

Epaphroditus: Philip. 2:25

Timothy and Erastus: Acts 19:21,22

Luke: Acts

Those who ministered to Jesus:

Angels: Mark 1:13

Many women: Luke 8:2; Mark 15:41

What did they do for Jesus? 

REMEMBER IN PRAYER

Grace Huskey recently suffered from a heart attack.  She is home now.  

Nick Morrison suffered from an accidental gunshot to the big toe.  He is home now doing well. 


For fun and learning let's write our personal purpose statement for the church below and post them on the bulletin board(No name is necessary):

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

October 2001

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

October, 2001

From the pastor

Greetings in the name or our Lord Jesus Christ.  I am writing this newsletter from our new study!!!!  It is a beautiful addition to our facility and looks as though it was always a part of the building.  A lot of work went into this project and I want to thank everyone who contributed their time, labor and expenses to further this project along.    

As the church and friends began to give, we discovered we not only had the funds to complete the project, but to furnish it as well with desk, chairs, book cases and a copy machine.  I have enjoyed this space and I am using the equipment to send this little letter your way.  I pray that I will use it to the honor and glory of our Lord.  For the record, my first ministerial call in the new study was from Elder Edward Cagle.  What a wonderful surprise and blessing. 

Since January, we have added new front doors to the meeting house, new doors to the sanctuary, new windows, resurfaced the front steps and sidewalk, put on a new roof, and added the study.  What a wonderful testimony. To all I say "Thanks" on behalf of Harmony Church.


What is happening at donaldson

We are having a wonderful season of revival at Harmony.  It seems to me that when people labor and sacrifice, God pours out His blessings.  On Sunday, September 2nd, the church rejoiced to receive Brother Mitchell Burnett and Sister Christian Burnett upon confession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Their baptism was September 9th.  The following Sunday, September, 16th, our rejoicing continued as Sister Helen Burnett and Sister Courtney Burnett came forward requesting a home in the church.   Their baptisms were September, 23rd.  For those who might think there is little benefit to baptism they should see the happy faces of our new members.  Peter and the apostles said, "And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him"-Acts 5:32.  Even though baptism is a believers ordinance, an extra measure of God's Spirit is given when we obey.  We give the Lord all the honor and praise for our new members and pray that we will be to them as brothers and sisters in Christ should be. 

Harmony Church hosted the South Arkansas Association over the weekend of September 13th-16th and felt the meeting was very blessed.  Tapes of each service are available upon request.

We are working on a phone tree for our membership to use to contact one another with news and information.  Brother Doyle Loy is currently working on a rough draft that we hope to have before the membership in the next few Sundays.  Please feel free to make any suggestions as to the placement of your name.  We hope this will be a blessing for our church. 

Since the time of our last newsletter we have been saddened by the loss of three precious members: Brother Bob Huskey, Sister Ved Cox and Sister Addye Jacobs.  As the songwriter has so aptly expressed, "Mixtures of Joy and Sorrow I daily do pass through".  We are all saddened by our loss and will miss them greatly.  The Church received the following letter from the family of Sister Ved.  It was read at the church and I share it with you at this time:

Dear Brethren & Sisters of Harmony Primitive Baptist Church:

For the last twenty years people have been asking us, "Why do you go to that little Primitive Baptist Church?  Don't you know we have churches in Arkadelphia?"  We have tried to give a good answer to that question, but I guess our answers were not good enough because the same old question would surface again in a different form like, "Why do you drive so far to church, when there are big churches in Arkadelphia?"  

Well, thank you for answering that question once and for all by the demonstration of your honest, caring nature and loving spirit during the death of Sister Ved.  Our non-Primitive Baptist friends have noticed that there was a different feel and spirit about the funeral service.  

We have received a lot of interesting and positive comments about the service and Primitive Baptist behavior in general.  Let us share a little sampling of these comments with you.  They would go something like this: "I loved the music; it wasn't the same old canned organ funeral music.  Where did you find those professional singers on such short notice?  I bet they cost a pretty penny. The music was so beautiful that it had two effects on people.  It either brought a tear to their eye or caused cold chills to go up and down their spine.  You know, I wish our church music put you in a spiritual mood like that at Ved's funeral.     

Now the funeral message was a little different, why, no one got preached to hell.  You know they even used some passages from the bible, the King James Version no less.  That message was comforting; it made you feel at peace.  Your young preacher sure has a lot of liberty; wish I could hear him preach a whole sermon.  By the way, from which seminary did he graduate?

You know there was just a different feel about that service.  Why some people observed that those Primitive Baptist seemed to genuinely care for one another.  You know those Old Baptists seemed almost HAPPY at a funeral."

My response to that comment was "When you leave the graveside of a loved one with a tear in your eye, a smile on your face, and a song in your heart, you know you have been to a Primitive Baptist Funeral."

It says over in 1 Corinthains 13:13, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity"  Thank you for being so GREAT in the expression of your love during the time of our loss. 

Love, Contented sheep,

Brother Joe & Sister Elaine Cox. 

Thank you, Sister Elaine, for sharing your feelings with us.

When we were receiving memorials in remembrance of Sister Addye Jacobs, this letter was received:

Dear Pastor Phelan,

I am five years old and my brother Seth is to years old.  When we were born I spent 3 months in the hospital and when my brother was born he spent 10 days there as well.  Both times, Mrs. Attsy Jacobs took a great deal of interest in our well-being.  She always inquired about our health and constantly kept us in her prayers.  This meant a great deal to our parents and us.  For the past year we have prayed for Mrs. Jacobs every night at bedtime that she might not be sick anymore.  We understand she is in heaven now and although we are sad that we will not see her at Dick and Penni's house, we know she is feeling much better.  With my parents help, my brother and I are enclosing a donation for your church in her honor.  We will miss her shining face!

Sincerely,

Zachary Schultze and Seth Schultze

What a wonderful testimony to one of our members and the Lord Jesus Christ.  By the way, the signature was precious.

On Thursday night, November 15th, we have a special appointment at our church.  Elder Gus Harter and four ministers from the Phillipinnes are scheduled to be at Harmony Church.  They will be with Point Remove Church, at Russellville, on Wednesday night.  Elder Harter has been a special blessing to our church over the years.  I can still remember the first time I head him preach at Harmony.  I am looking forward to seeing brother Gus and meeting our brethren from another country who share "Like precious faith". We will have supper at 5:30 and singing will begin around 7pm.  I hope you will make a special effort to welcome these men as they travel many miles to be with us.

I am scheduled to be with Zion Rest Church, in Jasper, Alabama on November 17th and 18th following the appointment with Elder Harter. Elder Charles Kitchens is their pastor and I am looking forward to being with them at this special meeting.  

TAPE MINISTRY

 We are receiving a good response from our tape ministry. It has been a blessing to many people.  Each service of the South Arkansas Association was taped.  Please let us know if you would like a copy of any of the messages. This is just one of the ways that we endeavor to spread the gospel and fulfill the joy of evangelism.  You can be a part of this. If you know of anyone who is interested in our church, we will be happy to place them on our tape mailing list.

FELLOWSHIP

Our last outing was at the home of Brother Leon and Sister Patty Burris.  It seems that every outing gets better.  We enjoyed home-made ice cream brought by several of the members and watermelons from Brother Leon's garden.   Brother Leon and Sister Patty did a wonderful job as hosts.  Everything was well organized.  Some of the activities included sack races, egg toss, a softball game and a basketball shootout.  I am already looking forward to this again next year!  The attendance was great and the fellowship blessed. Thanks Brother Leon and Sister Patty.

Book review

In our library you will find a little book entitled, "The Remarkable Record of Job".  It is written by Henry Morris.  This book focuses on a portion of the book of Job and the eye witness accounts of the great land animals "Behemoth" and "Leviathan" which we know today to be the dinosaur and the dragon.  Yes, just as CNN has their reporters on the scene, God had His in that day who give us eyewitness reports, not by satellites, but by inspiration of the great animals that once roamed the earth, not 1 million or 1 billion years ago, but rather about 5,000 years ago.  This gives us the wonderful opportunity to teach our children about these great animals that once roamed the earth, not from inaccurate dinosaur books written by nonbelievers, but from the word of God.  As a parent, you can share God's word with your child with a subject that will certainly interest them.  

From the news

As you all know, our country is presently engaged in a war against terrorism.  It seems almost an impossibility that a country so great as America could be plagued with such catastrophic events.  On September 23rd, I spoke to our church on the subject of "Perspective" as I endeavored to put in perspective the events surrounding our families.  I encouraged the church to remember the words of the beloved apostle Paul to Timothy, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness an honesty." – 1 Timothy 2:1,2.  Certainly, a quiet and peaceable life is something that many of us have taken for granted.  It has been good to see people calling upon God during this time and I pray that it will turn this nation back to a people who will once again say, "In God we trust". 

REMEMBER IN PRAYER

The families who have lost loved ones.

Sister Velma Cothern possible heart blockage. If you know of others who need our prayers, please let us know.

July 2001

HARMONY NEWSLETTER

July 2001

From the pastor

Greetings in the name of our great Lord Jesus Christ.  We have much to be thankful for.  Our annual meeting was very blessed. I have received several letters and phone calls from ministers and visitors expressing the blessing they received at the meeting.  We enjoyed visitors from our sister churches, friends and family in the immediate area, as well as brothers and sisters from several states.  Every sermon seemed to be blessed.  During the meeting I observed children asking preachers questions, I saw people weeping, I saw people rejoicing, I saw people convicted by the Holy Ghost and I heard of several who made mention of their desire to confess their Lord by public Baptism.  If your were not there you missed a blessing.  I appreciated the spirit of the ministry present.  I was also blessed by the variety of subjects that were addressed by the ministry.  I have listed the ministers and their topics in our tape ministry section.  If there is a message you would like to obtain, please let us know and we will be happy to send you a free copy of the discourse.    

What is happening at Donaldson

Harmony Church is scheduled to host the South Arkansas Association beginning September 13th, Thursday night, before the 3rd Sunday.  Let us begin to pray for this meeting, mark our calendars and invite our friends that God's house will be full.  I hope that every member of Harmony Church will make a special effort to attend each service as we welcome and minister to our visitors.

As I write this letter we are breaking ground for our new study which will be added to the south east corner of our meeting house.  In our last newsletter we made mention of the options that were available to us depending upon the funds available to us.  We must give thanks to the Lord for His kind hand upon us.  Just a few weeks after our last newsletter we had the funds to begin our study project on the back corner of our facility which was the most desirable, yet most expensive location.  I appreciate the response we have received from the Lord's people for this project.  Too many times the Lord's people do not go forward with the burdens before them because they fear defeat. Israel would not cross Jordan because they feared the giants in the land, the great walled cities and their numerous inhabitants.  Yet, God's promise was to give it to them. All they had to do was believe God's promises and go forward, putting forth some effort.  God provides His people with all the gifts and assets they need to accomplish His particular purpose for that people.  As pastor, I say, "let us arise and build."  There is much land to yet be possessed.  Let us not be complacent and accept the status quo.  Let us seek God's face and ask Him what He would have us to be today.  I appreciate the financial help we have received for this addition, "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver".  I know in my heart that there are those who cheerfully gave to this project  that are rejoicing as they read these words of victory.  Yes, it is a victory every time Zion prevails in a project.  I wonder many blessings satan has defeated.  To me, one of the saddest statements in the bible is, "And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief"-Mat 13:58.  Yes, God was able, yet their unbelief obstructed their blessings.  God wants us to believe in His mighty power and act accordingly.  I appreciate the labor that has already gone into the ground breaking as I look forward to this additional space for study, counseling and projects.  Truly, our people "have a mind to work."  We hope to have it finished by the time of our association. 

Over the past few years I have felt a need to spend some one on one time with each family, as well as with our visitors.  Not only is it important for the members to fellowship and know one another as we mentioned in our last newsletter, it is equally important for the pastor to fellowship with every member and give them the opportunity to ask questions and minister to the particular needs of each individual.  Whether it was grade school, high school, or college, it seemed to me that the best teachers were those who were approachable and offered their personal time for individual students.  Many did not need it.  But there were those students, who either needed it to survive, or those who wanted to learn every detail, that would frequent the office of these teachers.  The teaching of God's word should be taken just as seriously.  It was Elder Edward Cagle who encouraged me to take the time to visit with each family personally.  I remember a show I saw when I was a child and the parson showed up at a home unannounced and the response was, "Oh, no, here comes the parson".  I do not want to intrude upon the privacy of our families, yet, I know there must be a happy medium.  I hope to begin at the beginning of our church directory, in alphabetical order, and contact each family.  If they do not want or require such a visit that is fine.  I will have at least afforded each member the opportunity and privilege of a pastoral call.  If you have had biblical questions, or your children have had questions, I encourage you to keep a notebook of them that we might discuss them on our visit.  Also, I will be contacting our visitors and see if they would enjoy such a visit.

Over the past few years there has been some discussion of an additional song book at our church.  On one occasion, I put a loose leaf copy of the Old School Hymnal out for people to choose some songs they would like to have printed in a supplemental book for our church.  Since that time I have realized that the cost of printing a supplemental book would be more than actually purchasing brand new copies of the Old School Hymnal.  I spoke to Elder Bradley today and learned that the new edition will be out at the end of August and the cost will be about $10.00 per copy.  This book has many songs in it that our book does not have, songs like, "Great is Thy Faithfulness", "Blessed Assurance", "A Mighty Fortress", "He Leadeth Me", "How Great Thou Art", "Precious Memories" just to name a few.  I believe it is good to have some fresh material to sing as long as the songs are biblical and "Spiritual songs".  At this time I will ask our church to pray about this additional songbook and see if there is an interest in adding it to our worship service. 

TAPE MINISTRY

As we have said, the preaching was outstanding at our annual meeting.  Sister Judy Newman has done a wonderful job in our tape room.  She reports to have made over 200 copies of tapes from our meeting.  There is no charge for our tapes as we enjoy this evangelical effort to publish the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I pray the Lord will bless these messages to the hearts of the hearers.  We have also received a great response to our Sunday morning messages.  I hope to post some of the letters we have received on our web page.  The following is a list of the sermons preached at our annual meeting.  If you would like a copy of any of these sermons please write to us and let us know.

Thursday night:

Elder Donnie Halbgewachs-"Christ, Our Passover"

Elder Edward Cagle-"Search the Scriptures"

Friday morning:

Elder Carl Staten-"Who is our vision"

Elder Loyce Fuller-"Forgiveness of Sin"

Friday Afternoon:

Elder Harold Stumbaugh-"The Word of God"

Elder Vince Hardy-"Search the Scriptures"

Friday Night:

Elder Charles Kitchens-"Faith, belief and practice"

Elder Ronald Lawrence-"Our Countenance"

Saturday Morning:

Elder Ronald Lawrence-"The God of all Comfort"

Elder J.R. Rakes-"Why hast thou forsaken me?"

Saturday Afternoon: 

Elder Andrew Huffman-"Better than magic"

Elder Steven Bloyd-"God of all mercy"

Saturday Night:

Elder Glen Blanchard-"Be a Peacemaker"

Elder J.R. Rakes-"Our fellowship is with God and His Son"

Sunday Morning:

Elder Dickie Halbgewachs-"Redemption through His blood"

Elder Glen Blanchard-"Be Baptized"

FELLOWSHIP

Since the time of our last newsletter we enjoyed our second annual visit to Lake Catherine State Park.  Our membership enjoyed some good fellowship and got a little exercise as we hiked the beautiful trials of the Ouachita mountains.  Brother Jack Clayton cooked some hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill after our hike.  This seems to be one of our favorite places.

We have set aside the 3rd Sunday in July as another time of family fellowship.  Members Leon and Patti Burris have graciously offered their beautiful home to us.  We plan on having home made ice cream, watermelons as we enjoy an old fashioned picnic with sac races and other games.  Bring your ice cream makers and favorite recipes.  

Book review

We recently began a series on the books of the Bible.  Presently we are in the book of Genesis.  In our library are several books on the subject of creation.  One of my favorites is a book written by Scott Huse, entitled, "The Collapse of Evolution".  This book contains some wonderful information defending the biblical account of creation.  It can be easily read by any age group.  Please remember to fill out the cards on the inside flap of our books and don't forget to return them after you have read them.  We have several books that have been out for over a year.  

REMEMBER IN PRAYER

Sister Addye Jacobs receiving chemotherapy

Brother Dallas Stafford urinary tract infection

Sister Leona Sandage suffer from a fall in her home

Sister Theresa Cothern's daughter is to undergo cancer surgery.

Sister Jean Thomason respiratory tract infection

Brother Mike Burnett heart surgery

If you know of others who need our prayers, please let us know.

For THE CHILDREN 

The following questions are from sermons delivered over the past few months.  Parents, if you want your children to grow in grace and learn from His word, you must faithfully bring them to church.

(1) From the Father's day sermon, what does God's word tell us the primary role of the father in the home is?

a. To buy the children toys.

b. To buy their teenagers a car.

c. To provide a college education.

d.To be prestigious in the community. 

e. To be the spiritual leader of his family. 

(2)  What does "Bible" mean?

a. Stories  b. God  c.  Holy  d.  Book

(3)  What version of the bible has God preserved for us today?

a. The RV-Revised Version of King James Bible

b. The NKJV-New King James Version of the Bible

c.  The NIV translation

d.  The AV of the King James Bible

(4)  What verse in the bible is most criticized and condemned by our enemies?

a. John 3:16

b. The ten commandments

c.  Genesis 1:1

(5)  Is there anything wrong with mothers staying at home with their children and families?

(6) How many days did God use to create all things?a. 7  b. 1 c. 40 d. 6

(7)  What does "Genesis" mean?

     a. genetics  b. God  c. beginning

Answers:

(1)e. (2)d. (3)d. (4)c. (5)no (6)d. (7)c. 

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